Prompt Number: # 111
Summary: After leaving Hogwarts Harry and Draco try their hands at different careers and are continuously encountering each other.
Pairing(s): Draco/Harry, insinuated Ron/Hermione
Word Count: 7,200
Author's Notes: Thanks to the serene Sri for not strangling me, and the brilliant Bei for being such a trooper. Any remaining mistakes are my own. Prompter, I couldn't get your prompt out of my head; so, I decided to write this. I wanted this to be immediately after leaving Hogwarts so the careers might seem a tad bit shoddy. I hope I at least did a little justice to your prompt.
Lock and Key
Having to sit through four of the most boring hours of his life was all it took for Harry to realise that the Auror Academy wasn't for him. Had it not been for the well-lit room, Harry was certain he would have been fast asleep. Still, he was determined to get through the orientation, after all, if he intended to become an Auror he needed to be well informed of all proper procedures.
Harry sighed as the lecturer, Milton Bramble, a rather tall veteran to the force, meticulously explained about the Auror programme. Harry could tell from the reactions of the other trainees that Bramble was a well-known and respected Auror.
Another sigh followed, and Harry couldn't help wondering why it was so important for an Auror to know the titles of all these forms, forms that really held no significance in Harry's opinion.
Merlin, there were even forms to request other forms.
What had really put everything into perspective was finally realising the bureaucratic nature of the Auror program. Aurors were expected to act and dress in certain ways, and there were procedures upon procedures that needed to be followed before an auror could do something truly relevant. It seemed, Harry would not escape the politics of the Wizarding World; especially, if he persisted upon the idea of becoming an Auror.
Harry sighed one last time.
Draco flopped down and sank deeply into soft cushions, sprawling and stretching as best to fit across the large chair.
"You do realise that is quite an undignified posture?" Draco heard his mother protest, though there was some teasing in her voice.
His mother had become rather light after the war and their subsequent acquittal from the Death Eaters' trials. She appeared less focused on manners and such these days.
Draco sighed and turned his head towards Narcissa. Perhaps feeling his stare, she looked up from the book she was reading.
"What is the matter, dear?
"I'm not sure. I suppose I feel out of sorts."
"I had wondered when you would become restless. You were never one to be still for too long."
Sighing at the patient and questioning look from his mother, Draco attempted to explain his thoughts, "I don't understand why I have to learn the family business. Why should I be involved when father apparently has everything in order?"
"Draco, you know your father expects you to take over."
"But I don't want to." Draco knew he sounded like a petulant child, but it all seemed so pointless to him. Two years ago, his family's stature and all their holdings had been rather important to him. After everything they had gone through, things he had once held to be of substance now appeared to be insignificant. He honestly had no idea why he had never realised earlier how having vaults of Galleons hadn't equated to happiness or fulfillment.
His mother stared at him with a curious expression on her face.
"Perhaps you should consider seeking something suitable to your liking?"
Before Draco could ask what she meant, she continued. "Go find yourself -- what it is you want in life. You know not what awaits your eager eyes unless you seek it out. You have acquired six O's in your NEWTS. I am certain that you qualify for a number of positions you had not thought to pursue before. Perchance you might consider these options?"
"What about father?"
"Leave your father to me, dear."
Draco continued looking at her until a new feeling of resolve settled in his mind. He kissed her, and turned to leave but held still when she grasped his hand.
"Know this, Dragon, you can do whatever you set your mind to do. Do not settle for the first thing that interests you. Be certain you find something that makes you happy."
She squeezed his hand before letting him go.
Draco stared at her a moment before nodding and leaving.
"Hmmm," Hermione said.
Harry had just finished explaining to her what happened in the meeting, and his decision to walk away from Auror training, or at least set it aside for now.
"You know, it makes sense." Hermione finally offered, looking at him.
Harry raised his eyebrow, glad it made sense to at least one of them.
"You were never one to follow rules, much less be patient. You are the truest Gryffindor I know, always leaping without looking. Also, you never were one to be influenced by politics."
"So, you think I made the right decision?"
"Yes, Harry, I do."
Harry smiled at the support, and finally relaxed his shoulders.
"Of course, there is the question of what you want to do now," Hermione noted, looking pointedly at Harry while taking a slow sip of tea. She looked very much like their ex-Head of House.
Harry glared at Hermione, trust her to state the obvious. If he knew what he wanted to do with his life, he wouldn't be here seeking advice from her.
"I really have no idea Mione."
"Hmmm," she continued, eyes still focused on Harry.
Harry huffed at her and sat back, watching her.
"Have you considered looking for something that is not so obvious a choice as being an Auror?"
Harry didn't feel the need to ask her to explain for he was certain his face had been expressive enough.
True to his thoughts, Hermione continued, "Think about it Harry. For the longest while you had this great burden on your shoulders, and let's face it: being an Auror wouldn't have been much different. I honestly believe what you need right now is something much more low-key."
"Hmmm," Harry responded.
Draco surveyed the tiny loft. It wasn't much, but for what he had in mind, it would do. He supposed had he encountered such a dwelling two years ago, he would have shuddered with scorn, but now things were different. The brown stains on the moulded walls were easily spelled away. For the colour, he wanted something that would be soothing but not to the point of being depressing. He decided that green would do. After trying a number of shades of green, he settled for one blended with yellow, producing a mild yet bright green that immediately lightened the room.
He found himself gravitating towards the large window that filled the entire room with sunlight, and the main reason why he had finally settled on this loft. Upon reaching the glass, he immediately became captivated by the sight before him. Below, life was thriving with the hustle and bustle of the wizards and witches hurrying up and down Diagon Alley. For a few minutes, he just listened to the indistinguishable voices of the people on the street below.
He sighed and returned to his tasks. After the conversation with his mother he had pondered what he could do. The first thing that entered his mind was his hands. He knew they served him well in the past, slicing and dicing potion ingredients. He had quashed the immediate impulse to take on a job in the Potions' field; it seemed too obvious a choice. He wanted to try new things. Yes, he liked potions but who was to say there wasn't something better for him out there?
His thinking had taken him to a small sculpture in one of the halls of Malfoy Manor, and found himself examining the structure of the little girl with one hand reaching out as though beckoning him. He considered her face, and was amazed at how life-like it appeared: the pleading eyes, the pert nose, and the pouting lips. He was so thoroughly fascinated by the figure, he even wondered if he could ever create such an intricate piece.
Then it had clicked.
Draco sometimes wondered how he was sorted into Slytherin when more often than not he leapt without thinking. So here he was in the small room he intended to make into his studio. His Art studio. Everything happened rather quickly. He knew that sculpting and other art forms typically take years to master but Draco didn't have years to wait. He had taken the next option and ordered a self-guide to sculpting, and took on a few hours of training from a nice old witch not too far from his studio.
He knew he hadn't mastered the artform, but he had learnt the basics, and had ordered the best supplies. He was a Malfoy, after all. He made a final check around the room before assembling the tools he procured on the mahogany work desk he borrowed from the Manor. His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of the bell above the door.
That ought to be the block of marble he ordered. He rushed to the door and without delay flung it open, and felt his jaw drop.
"Malfoy?" a surprised Potter asked.
"Potter?" Draco knew his voice echoed Potter's surprise.
"What are you doing here?" Potter managed to ask.
"Not that I owe you any explanation, but this is my studio." Draco was glad that he managed to get over his surprise.
"Malfoy, you own a studio?"
"I believe that's what I just said."
"Oh," was Potter's quiet reply.
Draco was beginning to get frustrated by Potter standing there staring at him, shuffling from one foot to the other.
"Dare I ask what brought you here?"
"Oh, sorry. I'm supposed to deliver this..." Potter gestured to a wrapped package resting besides his right foot.
Draco arched an eyebrow.
"It's a block of marble. I'm guessing...er, hoping you ordered it."
After Potter spent a few moments awkwardly looking back and forth between Draco and the package, Draco stepped back and let Potter enter. "Yes, Potter, I did order the marble and you may set it over there by the desk."
Potter sighed aloud, quickly Levitated the package and gently placed it where Draco indicated. Afterwards, he slowly sauntered about the room, pausing occasionally to stare at some of the knick-knacks Draco had placed around the room for inspiration.
"Yes, I thought to give it a try."
"Last time I heard, you were well on your way to Auror training all set on playing the hero."
Potter shrugged his shoulder. "Let's just say it didn't work out."
"How does one go from Auror trainee to delivery man?"
"Oh that. Arthur...er...that's Weasley knew someone who knew someone..."
When Draco moved towards his workspace, he felt Potter's eyes following him. Draco examined the sculpting nozzles neatly aligned on his desk. They were thimble-like units structured to fit on the tip of his wand. He had acquired twelve pieces in total. They all had a silver sheen and were cool to the touch. Each unit had its own unique sized hole at its outer tip and the opposite base contained a uniformed-sized hole for it to be fitted unto a wand. He selected one with a cavity at the outer tip that measured about one-fourth the diameter of his wand. He took out his wand and attached the tool to the wand tip. He watched as the tool moulded itself snugly to the wand.
Draco quickly removed and discarded the wrapping from the package, leaving the block of marble on display. He tried not to wonder why he was so distracted that he hadn't thought to simply vanish the wrapping. The marble stood about half a metre high, and quarter of a metre in width and depth. He carefully pointed his wand at the block of marble at the uppermost centre and quietly intoned, "Scindo.1"
Suddenly, with a low buzzing sound, a steady blue light emitted from the wand. Draco watched as the light penetrated the marble. He began to manipulate the wand in various directions and pieces of marble fell away from the bulk. Before long he became agitated because he could feel Potter staring at him. Finally, he ended the spell and turned to face Potter.
"Don't you have other deliveries to make?"
"Oh, right. Sorry, I'm probably distracting you. I'll...just go."
"Yes, you do that."
Potter turned and walked towards the door, opening it. Before leaving, he turned around. "It was good seeing you, Malfoy. Maybe, someday you'll show me your work?"
Before Draco could respond, Potter was gone, leaving him to stare at the closed door.
Harry inhaled and exhaled deeply a number of times whilst staring at the sign in front of the building. He read silently, "Wandering Hands." No matter how many times Harry saw that name he couldn't help thinking about how easily it could be construed for other, more inappropriate meanings. Wandering Hands was a recent addition to the media; rather than focusing on gossip and politics, the magazine tended to showcase art and other creative facets of the Wizarding culture.
Harry was not going to try and fool himself into thinking that his name had nothing to do with the offer he’d received to work at the magazine. It also helped to have friends in beneficial positions. Harry squared his shoulders, no longer planning on delaying submitting his piece of writing for review and editing. He marched through the well designed halls, stopping once in a while to admire some of the moving pictures of art featured by the magazine affixed to the walls.
He eventually arrived at his destination and trudged into the office. Sitting at a small desk opposite the entrance was Mrs Wittle; who as far as Harry could tell was probably at least 300 years old.
When Harry approached, Mrs Wittle looked up at him through her thick-rimmed cat-eye glasses. Yes, Harry knew what those were if only because Hermione made sure he knew all the types of frames before Harry had decided to take regular round but thin frames.
"How may I help you, dear?"
"Mrs Wittle, I don't know if you remember me, but I'm Harry Potter. Mr Dubblings...the publisher asked me to bring in my article for review."
"Of course, I know who you are, young man. Mr Dubblings is in a meeting, but you may take the article through there, the third stall on your right. The young man will help you, dear."
After thanking her, Harry headed for the door she had pointed out and stepped through. He counted the doorways of the cubicles, when he arrived at the third, he stepped through and came to an abrupt halt.
Hearing Harry call out to him, Malfoy jumped out of his seat.
"Potter? What the hell are you doing here?"
Harry stared as Malfoy stared at Harry. He felt nervousness seeping into him, a reaction he was beginning to associate with Malfoy. Harry knew he looked like an idiot, standing there shifting from foot to foot, but he couldn't seem to help it. He had noticed his behaviour when last he had encountered Malfoy; he had dismissed it but later found himself constantly thinking about his ex school-mate. Forcing himself to get a grip on his wayward emotions, Harry held out the article to Malfoy.
"I was told to give this to you."
Malfoy stared at the scroll for a while before hesitantly reaching out to take it from Harry. He unrolled and examined it, seemingly skimming through Harry's handwriting. He raised an eyebrow and looked up at Harry.
"You're a reporter now?"
Harry swallowed the knot in his throat and nodded quickly. Malfoy simply sighed and sat at his chair behind his cluttered desk, and beckoned Harry to sit in the chair on the opposite side.
"You sure get around, from delivery man to reporter, all in a span of a few weeks."
Harry flinched, thinking back to his brief career delivering supplies to artists and all the people who had tried to get Harry to model for various art forms. One old wizard had even asked him to pose in the nude. The nerve!
Harry took in Malfoy's appearance for a moment. If Malfoy had been the one to ask Harry to pose in the nude Harry wouldn't have refused. When similar thoughts regarding Malfoy had reared their faces in the past, Harry had stomped them into the ground. Nor had he been willing to admit that he had taken the job thinking that he would use it as an opportunity to go see Malfoy. No, that would have been stupid; especially, since he had gone looking for Malfoy but had found the loft closed and seemingly permanently vacated.
No, Harry was not admitting that at all.
"That didn't go as planned. Besides, I could ask you the same question."
Draco looked up from the article at the comment.
"That didn't go quite as planned," Draco echoed Potter's answer. He was definitely not telling Potter about his first sculpture which he had presented to the person whom the piece had been modelled from, his mother.
Narcissa had examined it and smiled up at Draco. "Darling, what a lovely cow."
Draco hadn't bothered to correct her that it was a sculpture of her. No, that would have been tragic... for Draco. Thus, it caused a swift ending to Draco's career as a sculptor.
"I decided to move on. It just so happened that the publisher was an acquaintance of an old acquaintance of mother's." Draco paused to look Potter in the eyes, daring him to mock Draco for getting the job because of family connections, but Potter nodded as though encouraging Draco to continue. "I learnt there was an opening for a junior editor, and since I had the NEWTS qualification, I applied, and now here I am."
"How's it working out for you?"
"It's something to do, and I get to read articles before most people do."
Potter sat there shifting in his chair, fidgeting with his robe, and looking at Draco. His throat bobbed before he turned away from Draco.
"So...what do you think of the article?"
"It's well written. It still needs some tweaking but I can tell it is highly thought through."
Draco had no idea why he hadn't told Potter it's not the type of thing he knew the magazine published. Somehow, he didn't want to see a look of disappointment on Potter's face. Draco thought the omission was worth it when Potter smiled a smile that could have brightened the brightest room.
It seemed Potter had been about to say something when another reporter came into the room but seemed to hesitate to interrupt their conversation. When he noticed Potter, his eyes opened wide and he rushed over to Potter, speaking to him rapidly. Draco couldn't understand a word of his blabbering. Instead of feeling irritated with the situation, Draco couldn't help being amused. Potter looked from Draco to the reporter to the doorway, and then returned pleading eyes to Draco.
Draco decided to take pity on him, "Walters, do you have something for me?" That had distracted the reporter long enough for Potter to slip out but not before sending Draco a look stating he owed Draco, and Draco returning the look with one saying, Yes, you do.
Harry couldn't help staring through the glass of the greenhouse. He admired the setting sun shrouding the sky with brilliant red, orange and yellow. He was back at Hogwarts, thanks to Neville. After his failed attempt at being a reporter, his friend had approached him about the new green house he was working on. Neville had never left Hogwarts after eighth year; instead, he had remained as an assistant to Professor Sprout. Everyone knew the young wizard was well on his way to taking over the position of Herbology Professor.
Harry had been intrigued by Neville's plan to construct a green house that would solely house dittany. Harry wondered why no one had thought to extensively cultivate the rare herb at Hogwarts before. He had seen how excited his friend had been and couldn't help feeling the same. When Neville offered Harry a brief position at the school, Harry couldn't see any reason to turn down the offer. The only thing that would have deterred Harry from returning was the school population, but it was weeks before the new school year began, and Harry was glad that so far he hadn't encountered anyone other than old friends.
After briefly examining their progress, Harry felt proud of how well everything appeared. They had managed to produce the correct mixture of soil, and Neville had been very happy with the result. Furthermore, Neville appeared truly grateful for Harry's help especially in setting up appropriate wards to generate the perfect temperature for nurturing the herb. Today, they had finally completed the green house, and Harry was content with the outcome.
Harry was brought out his reverie when Neville burst into the building. Harry became alarmed at his friend's agitated state and his appearance. Neville was utterly flustered, practically bent in half, breathing heavily and grasping his side. He walked over to his friend and asked what was wrong. Neville did his best to stand, pull in a breath, and tried to speak. When heaving sounds were all he managed to produce, he tried breathing in deeply a few more times.
"It's here! They'll be here any second now."
Harry stepped in front of the entrance, wand stretched out in alarm. He snapped his head around when he felt Neville's hand on his shoulder.
"It's not like that, mate. Sorry to worry you. The dittany, the dittany is here," Neville finished with an awkward smile.
Harry glared at his friend before snorting. He should have known the only thing that could get Neville that excited was something to do with the flora variety. He was about to begin his teasing when a familiar voice interrupted.
"Potter, why am I not surprised?"
Before Harry could respond, Neville had already been nearly up in Malfoy's face, "Is that it? The dittany?"
All eyes had turned to observe what had captured Neville's reverent gaze. A small leafy plant was hovering in the air a little ways away, levitated by Malfoy’s wand. * The plant had several branches extending from the main stem. Below the lowest branch were green and grey-spotted leaves reaching around and stretching towards the branches. On the tip of each branch rested a blooming flower with layers of petals that ranged in colours from mild pink to purple.* The entire pot and plant appeared to be encased in an orb of pale yellow light.
"Well now, who would have thought all it took to mesmerise you idiotic Gryffindors was a wee plant?"
Both Harry and Neville turned to Malfoy with owlish expressions.
"Right. Where do you want me to deposit this?" Malfoy nodded towards the Dittany.
Neville came alive once again, hurrying over to a cleared spot, and watching Malfoy with hawk eyes as he manoeuvred the dittany across the room before setting down the plant.
"I assume you know how to remove the stasis spell?" Harry wasn't sure which one of them Malfoy asked.
Since Neville seemed too preoccupied with the new arrival, Harry answered, "Neville seems to have everything under control."
"Yes, but who will control Longbottom?"
Now that they had all the excitement out of the way; Harry felt the nervousness creeping up. He scratched the back of his neck and glanced from Neville to Malfoy, "Er..."
Malfoy shook his head in what Harry hoped was amusement and turned to leave. After watching him for a moment, Harry rushed after him.
"Oi...Malfoy, hold up!"
Malfoy didn't stop, but he did slow down and allow Harry to catch up with him. He turned to look at Harry, an eyebrow raised.
"Do you want to go have a drink with me?" Harry blurted out.
Malfoy stopped abruptly and Harry, having continued a step ahead, had to turn around to face him. Malfoy appraised Harry with a wary expression. A few seconds passed before he shrugged and continued towards the end of Hogwarts' grounds. Harry took that as a yes and followed him.
"Merlin knows, Potter, after the day I've had, I could use a stiff one."
Harry stumbled then righted himself and continued following Malfoy, wondering if the teasing git knew what he had just said.
Draco sat observing Potter. He would never have thought that they could sit down and have a conversation without trying to hex each other within seconds. Surprisingly, Potter appeared willing to open up and to Draco nonetheless.
He listened as Potter talked about the Weaselette and her going off to chase her Quidditch dream and how Potter wasn't as hurt as he had thought he would be. Draco sat back and paid attention and sympathized with Potter as he talked about how the Weasel went to help the surviving twin at the Weasley's joke shop. He even sat through Potter talking about Granger and how she was trying to be part of, well, everything.
What surprised him even more was that when Draco spoke, Potter listened. He listened as Draco talked about Lucius, how he couldn't look at Draco without guilt showing in his eyes. Potter sat forward as Draco talked about Narcissa: how she seemed so relaxed, happier, and stronger than Draco had ever known her to be. In fact, Potter seemed rather pleased to hear that. All in all, Draco thought that if someone who didn't know their past had observed the two, they would have assumed them to be friends.
Harry ensured his attention remained focused on Malfoy while the other wizard discussed his family. Harry had been pleased when Malfoy agreed to accompany him to the Leaky Cauldron, rather than opting for something more upscale. Harry had explained that it remained one of the few places he could have privacy. He felt glad that Malfoy's family appeared to be, if not allright, then at least on the mend. Malfoy seemed to be finally letting go of the burden Harry knew he was carrying since their sixth year. Harry could feel his own heavy heart beginning to lighten.
"Which brings us to now. Potter, how did you get roped into returning to Hogwarts?"
"Oh, that. Well journalism hadn't really been my thing." Harry still had no intention to admit to taking the job as an excuse to see Malfoy. "Neville mentioned the dittany project. I didn't have anything to do, and it was weeks before Hogwarts was set to reopen."
"Yes, I recalled you being barraged by those crazed fans of yours during our eighth year. We wouldn't want that to happen again."
Harry wasn't surprised Malfoy used a teasing tone rather than a sardonic one.
"What about you? Dittany?"
"Hmmm. I was just helping out some friends. Blaise and Pansy started their own business, sort of dealing with supplies to Apothecaries, Potion Houses and such. It's still new, and they needed the help." He ended with a shrug.
"What about the magazine job? I thought you might have liked that one."
"There was only so much I could take of Mrs Wittle and her twitchy eyes. She always looked like she wanted to throw me on her desk and have her wicked way with me."
Harry spew out the mouthful of firewhiskey he had just swallowed and started coughing. After a few minutes, he managed to get himself under control.
"Mrs Wittle? You do realise she's old enough to be Dumbledore's grandmother?"
Malfoy simply scoffed at that, "Potter, you should consider having those eyes fixed. Otherwise, you would have been able to see I am temptation incarnate. I am irresistible."
Harry quickly tossed down the remaining firewhiskey. The burning coughing fit and Malfoy's amused look had been well worth it because it had stopped Harry from blurting out, Yes, yes, you are.
Harry performed a quick sweep around his flat, spelling away the mess and resetting things that were out of order. Draco was coming over and Harry needed everything to be perfect. After taking one final pass around his living room, Harry felt satisfied with his cleaning and headed towards his room. It was almost too good to be true, but Harry was certain things with Draco were finally about to fall into place. He smiled at the thought of his ex-schoolmate, now friend on the verge of something different, something better.
After their initial meeting for drinks in the Leaky Cauldron, they had encountered each other a number of times in their various career paths. They would usually go for a drink after meeting on whatever job they were currently undertaking. Harry couldn't help think back to the time things between them had begun to change from friendship to something more.
Harry had no idea what he had been thinking. He had only gone to Diagon Alley to be fitted for a set of new robes. He noticed Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour had opened and went inside to investigate. There he met Dorean Fortescue, Florean's brother, who had decided to reopen the business. Harry reminisced about Florean, and Dorean seemed to take a liking to Harry.
He had inquired if Harry was interested in the ice cream business. He had been in need of someone to help him make the ice cream. Harry knew if the public found out they would go into a frenzy, but Dorean seemed to like Harry and not Harry Potter. It had been a refreshing change. Coupled with the intrigue of making ice cream, Harry had agreed to accept the offer. A few days later, Harry felt ecstatic he had accepted the offer when Dorean introduced him to the new server, who turned out to be none other than Malfoy.
For a while things were going remarkably well. Often times, Malfoy would come in early just before Harry would begin the ice cream making process. It had pleased Harry beyond reason when Malfoy came into the back to watch Harry. He would sit and quietly watch as Harry assembled the ingredients. First came the cream, then the sugar, followed by the flavouring, and finally the secret ingredient arrowroot powder. Harry could tell Malfoy would sit up when he saw Harry lifting his wand over the combined ingredients before calling, "Congelo valde glacialis.2" for firm ice cream or simply, "Congelo glacius,3" for the more softer ice cream that the younger children seemed to favour.
Though Harry enjoyed seeing the ingredients transformed into the ice cream, he preferred to focus on Malfoy. There wasn't a proper way to explain it, but Malfoy would become utterly fascinated, and his facial features would look like those of a child. Harry had wondered if it was a new aspect of Malfoy, or simply an old part of him that Harry was only then discovering. He very much enjoyed those moments with Malfoy.
Harry had begun thinking that of all the jobs he could have chosen, this was the one he loved best. That was of course until things went to shite.
Harry had been having the best day. Malfoy had come in early as usual. They had both charmed the ice cream, and sampled their creations. They were playing around, each one stealing a bit from each other's container and giggling like three year olds. They hadn't remembered to activate the ward that would alert them of a customer entering. Harry assumed that a customer must have come to the back and seen him, to then spread the word. For soon the parlour was surrounded and overflowing with frenetic witches and wizards, all calling for Harry Potter.
This hadn't happened in such a long time that Harry was bewildered; all that he managed was an uttered, "Bollocks!"
Luckily for Harry, Malfoy hadn't been fazed and had quickly stepped up to Harry, wrapped him in his arms and Disapparated them. When Harry had regained his bearing his breath hitched and his heart skipped a few beats. He was encased in Malfoy's arms. They stood there a moment when Malfoy finally seemed to realise their position. He cleared his throat before releasing Harry and stepping back..
To clear the awkward silence that followed, Harry said something funny, "My Hero." He had been about to say something to explain the slip when he noticed Malfoy had his head lowered, failing to conceal his reddening cheeks.
Harry's heart had felt light.
Harry wished he knew why Malfoy seemed to be the one who always held Harry's attention. First it had been rivalry, then perhaps understanding and identifying with each other, followed by amity, and now something else. Not quite new, something that always lingered but was kept hidden.
Malfoy however, was quick to get himself under control.
"I suppose you can't always be the hero," he had grumbled.
"You're welcome to be my hero anytime." Harry felt his smile widen when he saw the blush reappear on Malfoy's face.
Sooner than Harry would have liked Malfoy had changed the conversation.
"Now that we are obviously out of a job, why don't we convene at the usual location?"
Harry sighed, disappointed with the change, nevertheless he had nodded his assent. When they arrived at the Leaky Cauldron, they were quickly ushered to their usual table. Harry appreciated the chance of anonymity, glad that Tom respected Harry enough to make sure they wouldn't be disturbed. He had wondered if he would ever get to a point where he wouldn't be overrun by demented fans.
Malfoy seemed to have been thinking along the same line.
"You do realise that things are not likely to change for a while?" he asked.
"Yes, but I can hope."
"Right, hope," Malfoy had said with a strange tone and look in his eyes.
After that, they had drifted into the easy company they had come to value in each other.
Harry smiled at the memory. Yes that day things had changed for them but it was the meeting two months ago that had really brought them to this point.
Fleur had given birth, and Bill wanted to spend time with his family. He didn't want his Curse Breaking business to suffer and was looking someone to take over for a bit. Harry had stepped in and soon found himself in the midst of taking on some of the strangest cases. Still, he did it without complaints. He was simply happy to help out his family.
One time, the case involved a cursed small pale blue teapot which ejected a yellow steam that smelled like rotten eggs. Anyone who had been exposed to the unpleasant gas was subjected to days of nausea, and pimples that oozed greenish pus. Harry had managed to suppress the magic of the item. He had needed to take the object to a private company contracted by Bill that specifically dealt with containment of questionable objects.
It turned out that Malfoy was the custodian assigned to aid Harry in securing the cursed dish. Harry hadn't tried to contain the pleasant feeling that had caused him to smile brightly. He accepted Malfoy's responding smirk as being good enough. After Malfoy was finished helping him store the teapot, Harry gathered his nerve and asked Malfoy out to dinner as a thank you. Following that, their dates ("friendly meetings," Malfoy continually insisted) went from impromptu to weekly, and then almost daily. Over the time, Malfoy had stopped pretending to be horrified when Harry called him Draco. Though Draco still referred to Harry as "Potter," Harry suspected it was Draco's sneaky way of being affectionate.
Harry took a quick shower and tried in vain to fix his hair, deciding it was a lost cause. He selected a cream jumper (not because Draco in passing mentioned he liked the colour), and the close-fitted dark trousers he saw Draco eying when he wore them a while back. He entered the kitchen and ensured the food that he prepared was still warm from the spell he cast earlier. Satisfied with everything, he was about to put on the kettle when he heard the floo. Excited, he rushed into the sitting room in time to see Draco brushing off his robes.
Harry smiled at the now familiar sight.
They had just finished supper, and migrated to the sitting room to enjoy their usual banter/conversation in front of the fire. Soon Harry would have to decide if he would bother to decorate for Christmas hols. He studied his companion, admiring his features illuminated by the warm fire. Harry couldn't help hoping that he would get to spend the holidays with Draco, his heart yearning to be closer to him. He had considered how to broach the subject of them to Draco. He wasn't able to come up with a good strategy, but his Gryffindor heart was roaring at him to take a chance.
"Have you noticed how all our jobs seemingly complement each other?" Harry managed to say.
"Well, you worked as a sculptor, I supplied the medium. You were an editor when I was the writer and so on."
Draco looked at Harry, head tilted with raised eyebrows as though encouraging Harry to continue with the conversation. Harry decided to try to further explain.
"It's...you appear to be my perfect counterpart...We balance out each other. It's similar to a lock and key: I'm the lock, and you're the only key that fits into my keyhole."
Hearing Draco sniggering, Harry stopped to wonder what he said that was funny. When he realised what he said a giggle escaped him. This response led to an eruption of laughter, and soon the two were tangled and rolling around on the floor.
"Quit your squirming, Potter."
"That's easy for you to say...s'not my fault you've never..." Harry was forced to end with a grunt.
"Potter...you haven't...grunt....either...groan...at least....moan...I knew what to do...grunt...so stop shifting around."
Harry was going to hit the git..."Ohhh...what you just did...do that again...no, a little to the left...yesssssss." Harry sank his nails into Draco's back pulling him closer. Draco hissed and growled before he devoured Harry's mouth and began moving at a punishing rate.
Harry moaned, feeling Draco's mouth sucking his neck on a sensitive spot just below his ear. Draco seemed to be able to find all of those spots without effort. They were lying on their sides with Draco's front pressed against Harry's back. Draco definitely complemented Harry in every way, even their bodies' contours aligned perfectly together. Harry fit his hand into Draco's, entwining their fingers and smiled at how they came together like puzzle pieces.
"You know I like you."
"And you like me, right?"
Draco pauses in his nibbling, "Right."
"And we make each other happy, right?"
Though Harry couldn't see Draco, he knew he was looking at him with a curious expression. "Well, since we like each other, and seem to make each other happy...Why don't we spend more of our time together and see what happens?"
Draco turned Harry to face him before looking into his eyes and asking, "What do you propose?"
"Travel the world with me? I've always wanted to see the world...and neither of us actually needs to work." Harry finished hesitantly.
"Hmmm," Draco said, but before Harry could argue with him, he heard a whispered, "Yes," before Draco's tongue was plunging into his mouth.
"You are happy?"
"I am, mother."
"I shall handle your father, dear."
Harry nodded at Hermione.
Harry shrugged at Hermione's puzzled expression.
After a while of looking at Harry intently and Harry not flinching from her gaze, Hermione finally sighed, "Don't worry Harry, I'll handle Ron."
Harry didn't want to think about how exactly Hermione would handle Ron. He managed to convince himself they spend their alone time singing about the adventures of Babbitty Rabbitty.
"So, how did your mother take it?"
"Rather well. Actually, she didn't appear all that surprised, and she promised to take care of father."
Harry snickered at that, "Hermione was the same. She took it quite well, and will...um...talk to Ron."
They were lying together once again in Harry's bed, though Harry now considered it their bed. His head was pillowed on Draco's chest. One of Draco's arm was snaked around his waist, the other hand lazily running through Harry's hair.
Harry was distracted by the pleasant feeling seeping into his nether region.
"So, we really are doing this?" Draco whispered
Harry pushed away from Draco, just enough so he could look into his face. He didn't see any regret or doubt, "Yeah, I guess so."
"You know, I think I'll like that, you and I together travelling...seeing all the sites and attractions."
Harry moved downwards, still looking into Draco's face, "I can think of a few other things we'll enjoy doing with each other." Harry smiled when Draco gulped. He had been about to tease his first and only lover, still amazed that he had been Draco's first as well, when Draco placed his hand in Harry's hair to guide him to the intended destination.
Harry didn't resist.
Harry placed the final piece of clothing into the trunk and closed it. He smiled; he had never felt this happy in his entire life. They're really going to do it; they were off to see the world, together. When he felt arms wrap around his waist, he stretched his neck to give Draco more space to kiss and nibble. When he glanced down he noticed Draco held a small package in his hand.
"Why don't you open it and see?" Draco placed one last kiss at the back of his neck before stepping away.
After raising a questioning eyebrow to his lover, Harry took the package and sat on the bed. He removed the wrapping and encountered a box a bit larger than the size of his palm. Curious, he opened it and gasped.
Inside the box rested a small bronze lion's head no larger than his index finger. A structure that resembled a handle extended from the upper part of the lion's mane. The lion's mouth was opened as though roaring and Harry could see what looked like the outline of a keyhole. Resting separately below the lion's head was a bronze serpent. The upper part of the serpent formed a circle with a reversed "S" in the centre, and the tail part stretched downwards. Harry noticed the tip of the tail had been curved like the shape of the keyhole in the lion's mouth.
"What's this?" Harry repeated, this time almost breathlessly.
Draco fitted himself behind Harry, wrapping his arms around his waist. He placed a kiss at the junction of Harry's neck and shoulder before tightening his arms and resting his chin on Harry's shoulder.
"It's us. A lock and key."
I tried to find out if Florean had any relatives but came up empty; hence the original character Dorean. I do not know Latin so I had a little help from this little thing we refer to as the internet.
1Scindo: Latin; meaning: to cut, rend, split, divide, separate.
2Congelo valde glacialis Latin; loosely translated: Thicken intensely Icy.
3Congelo glacius Latin; loosely translated: To congeal Icy.
Retrieved from: Translation-Guide.com
*The description of dittany was retrieved from: Growing Hermione's Garden Blog