A/N: I was supposed to post this chapt a few days after the first but I got stuck near the ending and things got busy… But tada! Last chapt done!
This fic isn't crime centered, so don't expect too much crime around.
Considering I see this piece as an inspiring and experimental write, I'll probably use some ideas here and incorporate them into future fics. If I write them.
Have fun and thanks for reading/reviewing!
"Don't say a word," is the first thing Fred tells his twin when he enters the shop, all drenched and creating wet shoe prints around.
George can only stare at him while he dries himself and the floor. "I don't even know what to say or where to start."
They carry on with their own business in awkward silence, before George's curiosity breaks it. "Why did you kiss him?"
"I… just felt like it." Fred answers in slight confusion, something George has never seen on him before.
"It was raining…" Fred continues, "and he was just… so…"
He had seen Draco under the rain, retched and looking so dejected. A sudden feeling came over him as he watched the blond, his wet matted hair slightly covering those watery eyes that blended in with the rain. Those doleful eyes looking at him, so… helpless...and sad. Then, he just did it without thinking.
However, he didn't expect Draco to shove him after a moment, unshed tears hanging by the edges.
"I know you hate me." He glared, voice hoarse and tense. "But I didn't think you'd go that far."
"Wait! Malfoy! I don't…" Fred trailed off after the quickly disappearing figure, "…hate you."
"So what are you going to do now?" Verity asks.
Fred ponders a bit before he lightens up and starts forming a plan. "Do what I do best."
"I told you, I was attacked that night, by this hooded man. It was late and I was coming back from the manor. I'm not sure if anyone saw me. Only Fred I guess."
"Wait, what happened with Fred?" Astoria asks, which Harry explains to her.
"But that's so sweet!" She gushes teasingly, looking amusedly at Draco who denies immediately.
"Sweet and Fred do not go together."
"Usually. That's why that side of him is only shown to special people."
"He's my brother, but no way is he sweet." Ron makes a sick face.
"You do know you're blushing right now?" Astoria says to Draco.
He clasps his cheeks with both palms, feeling the heat rising up his face. Do not think about the k-k-ki- that.
"Anyway, you recognise this guy?" Ron asks, showing him a picture of the murdered body.
"That… yeh." Draco answers in surprise, staring at the familiar looking face, trying not to feel sick at the sight of blood. He looks away to the aurors. "That was my ex ages ago." The arrogant one. The one whom he wanted to hex so badly.
"Brunet Turner. He was killed on the same night by his own wand and a Dark artifact. More specifically, the Reinscyre Blade," says Harry. "It was stolen from Borgin and Burkes a few days before."
At that, the two workers perk up. "The blade that enables the welder to kill or injure any way he wants?" Astoria says. "As long as the blade touches the victim, it will kill them immediately or according to the welder's wishes, cut other parts of the body as well."
"Like how I was injured." Draco recalls the moment when he was cut at the shoulder, but also bled at his head. "So the hooded man could be the killer? But I couldn't see his face."
Harry observes him, his bright analytical eyes seemingly reading into Draco's soul as he replies. "Your blood. It was found at the scene. As well as on the victim."
"But… that's impossible! I wasn't even there."
"Witnesses saw you quarrelling with him in the jokes shop, and later on the streets."
"Because he was an arrogant fool. He lied to me and treated me like I was below him. Never took me seriously." Draco explains in defense.
"So because of that, you killed him." Ron says.
"No." Draco firmly denies.
"The murderer could have taken your blood and framed you, but we won't rule you out as a suspect." Harry concludes while finishing up his Awakening cocoa.
The blond shakes his head. "I don't kill my exes. If I did, all of them would be dead." Then, he mutters, "as well as Fred."
"Huh? What does my brother have to do with this?" Ron responses, eyes narrowing suspiciously.
At this moment, an owl flies into the café through the window, settling a bunch of flowers onto the table in front of Draco who unties them from its leg. The bunch fills the café with a smell of fresh blooms. He checks for a name but there isn't a card.
"Who's that from?" Astoria asks.
"No name." Draco waves his wand for any dangerous charms, before chucking them to the side. "Anyway, I've nothing to do with this murder case. My conscience is clear."
Astoria shakes her head, vouching for her friend. "He's not a killer."
"Yeh." Draco nods.
"He'll be the last person on earth to kill anyone or anything."
"Look at him. He doesn't even look like a killer."
"You never know." Harry says.
"Oh please, he's too cowardly to even touch a live chicken. He's more likely to be one himself."
"Ye-hey!" Draco protests, highly affronted. He isn't a coward. He's just more cautious and clever in trying to stay alive.
Getting ready to leave the café after some questions, Harry pauses and looks at Draco, a warning glint in his eyes. "I once told you not to kill anyone during your manhunt. So did Fred actually." He bites his lip. "Never thought it would be literal, but now I mean it. I will hunt the thieves and murderer and everyone involved, down to every inch of the world, if that's what it takes. We'll be watching you and I hope for everyone's sake, you're not part of it."
"I know your style, Potter. I'm not part of it." Draco stares back. "And I wish you luck. Catch them soon, Potter."
Bidding them goodbye, the aurors startle slightly at the sight of the café's boss coming out from the kitchen. "Goodbye Madam Rosa. Have a um… enjoyable day."
"Thank you, boys." She smiles at the retreating aurors.
Draco eyes his boss accusingly. "Told you it's your make-up! I told you not to wear it too thick and dark. See what happened!"
"Why, Draco. Maybe it's you who should smile more, yes?"
Fred has been observing Malfoy for awhile now. The blond man does his own shopping in the jokes shop, never turning to look at him. Never once did he look him in the eye, as if Fred's non-existent. And that annoys him so much.
He runs out of the shop after that, catching up to Draco who's walking quickly back to the café.
"Malfoy!" He runs in front of Draco who stops, but does not look at him. "You're avoiding me."
"I'm not." Comes the terse reply.
"I… did you… this morning…" Fred tries to ask without being obvious. "I heard you received flowers this morning?"
"Oh. Yeh I did. But I crushed them."
Fred freezes, feeling as if he has been electrocuted and frozen into ice. "What?"
Draco shrugs. "It was probably from some creepy old stalker, but it'll be a waste if I threw them, so I crushed them as ingredients. At least they're pretty useful."
Fred gapes disbelievingly. "How cou- those were from… that was-" he takes a deep breath and tries again. "I didn't mean whatever you thought I meant you know."
"I don't know what you mean."
"I didn't... I wasn't making fun of you. That time. When I… on the street." Fred waves his arms around in explanation.
"Then what was that for?"
"I just… felt like it. At that time."
At this, Draco looks at him for the first time that day, frowning. "Oh. So, Malfoy looked so pathetic, Fred felt like doing that to laugh at him later."
"I told you, I wasn't making fun of you!"
"Malfoy was dumped again so Fred had to, what. Do that just to get into bed with him then break him over again?"
"No! I would never do that!" Fred yells, appalled.
"Malfoy was drenched so Fred wanted to stick his tongue out to taste rainwater and mock him?"
Fred furrows his brows. "What? That's just-"
"Like Malfoy makes rainwater acidic and stink huh." He glares.
"Why would I even think t-"
"Malfoy was sad and Fred had to do that to confuse him further."
"Can you stop with the third pers-"
"Well screw you!" He jabs Fred hard on the chest for him to take a step back. "I'm not going to be a joke so you can play and make fun of me again."
Fred gapes at Draco storming off. He splutters, trying to understand what just happened.
"Damn it!" He pulls at his hair, wondering how it ended this way and how the hell Malfoy's brain works. "Damn it!"
The annoyed twin enters the joke shop, not in a very good mood. He opens up a bottle of water and drinks it, wanting to refresh himself before he starts plotting further.
George eyes him fleetingly, trying not to look too blatantly curious as he pretends to check items in the shelves.
"So…" He starts. "You're in love with Draco Malfoy?"
Fred sprays out his drink, choking and coughing.
George hands him some tissue. "Seeing how gross you're acting, I'll take it as a yes."
"I'm not in love with Malfoy!" Fred says a little too loudly, earning a few glances to their way.
"But, aren't you chasing him? With flowers?"
"I'm just… trying to apologise to him." He lowers his voice and explains. "Hyacines and Claytonia are flowers of forgiveness."
George looks at him in suspicion. "You've always been a little too happy when he breaks up with his exes. Not to mention that weird look on your face whenever he claims to have a new one."
"That's… I was just trying to annoy him," he explains. "And I do not have a weird look or whatever it is. It is funny seeing how he gets so worked up when he breaks up. And the reasons are hilarious. Don't you think so?"
"Not as much as you make it out to be."
"I heard he's going on a date tonight." Verity speaks up. "With two hot guys, no less."
At that, Fred frowns. "What? But… but he can't."
"Why not? He's single and available. And he wants a boyfriend." She says casually.
"He just broke up!" Fred paces restlessly, little wrinkles deepening on his worried head and seems to be talking to himself. "He can't just jump into another stranger's arms right after a broken relationship. And he was crying. He looked like he didn't want to start that soon." He stops pacing and heads for the door. "I'm going to stop him."
"I was just pulling your leg!" Verity says loudly, stopping Fred in his steps. He removes his hand from the doorknob and turns around, staring at her. "He's not going anywhere tonight." She smiles knowingly at him.
George hangs his arm around Fred's shoulder and pats his chest where his heart is. "Admit it, my brother. Just do whatever you need to do."
"I gave it to Verity," is what comes out of Draco's mouth the next time Fred asks about the second bunch he sent.
There is even a card this time: These Acacias represent my friendship and love. Don't throw them away- FW
"Why?!" Fred barely stops himself from shaking the shorter wizard.
"It was from an unknown person. 'FW' could have meant Ferocious Wizard whom I don't want to offend, or Final Warning to keep away, or Freaky Way to scare and stalk me, or a Fuck Wizard who wants to sexually harass me." He sniffs, making a warm cup of Happiness Sneeze-free coffee for a customer.
"Fuck wiz… sexually harass you!?" Fred gapes, voice creeping higher than usual at the end.
"At least I got to make a better friendship in Verity. And I didn't throw those flowers away."
"You… you!" Fred says vehemently as Draco looks up at him. "Should… stop trying to smile like that," he ends weakly.
"I'm practicing my smile." Draco says with crinkled eyes and upturned lips. "Madam Rosa says it can stop aurors from thinking I'm practicing Dark Arts and also make customers feel more comfortable."
"That. Is not a smile." Fred says, rubbing his arms to fend off the chills. "That. Comes out of horror potion effects gone wrong and does not make anyone feel comfortable at all!"
"Why Weasley, perhaps you should try smiling. Weren't you once very good in it?" Draco snarks.
Fred leans over the counter and narrows his eyes carefully at him. Lowering his voice in a surprisingly warm and gentle tone that tingles Draco all over, he tells the blond, "I prefer your natural smile."
Draco's fake smile twitches and falters as he looks away. What is he saying? He thinks, but before he can ponder further, Fred is already moving out towards the door.
"Verity!" Fred's voice booms inside his busy shop. "Why did you accept the flowers?"
"They were friendship flowers." The girl with bright pink and blue pleated hair tied at the side amongst brown, answers casually while she works. "I couldn't just refuse them. And I thought you said you were going to do what you do best."
"I am doing what I do best. Malfoy's just…" Off the rocker? Different? "Insane!" He plops onto a chair in frustration.
"And you're insane for chasing an insane person."
"Never thought I'd say this," George chimes in, "but your wooing skills need some work."
"I thought all girls like flowers!" His brother exclaims.
George looks at him with a lifted brow.
"Fine, I see the problem here. But how can anyone not like flowers? He looks like the type to like flowers. It's like his middle name. Draco Flower Malfoy. It fits."
"First of all, I can't believe you're actually currently, realistically, wooing Draco Malfoy in this very precious moment in history in our family line."
"Congratulations on being the first Weasley to woo a Malfoy." Verity smiles smugly at him and sticks her hand out momentarily, which Fred grins and shakes it.
"Second of all, never expected you, my twin who's a charmer for all men and women, needs help in wooing."
"Always a first for everything. Draco must be one hell of a guy." The chirpy woman winks at the older twin.
"Third of all… Draco Malfoy." George lifts his hands. "I don't know whether to wish you good luck or send you to Mungos. And stop encouraging him, Verity."
"You can wish me good luck and send me some mangos. It's in season now." Fred grins at his twin.
George shakes his head. "It's moments like this I wonder why we're twins sometimes. You're making it clearer that we're two individual people who think differently. Similar but different. And sometimes, very different." He pauses and adds in horror. "We might be aging too much!"
"Hey I thought you were alright with Malfoy. I thought you encouraged it."
"Well… I wanted to see how you react, to be honest. Never thought you would really act on it. Not that it's bad."
"But considering the current Malfoy, I think he's a pretty good catch. Despite not having much luck in his relationships." Adds Verity and Fred cannot deny that. Draco really is one of a kind and just might be the missing piece that spices up his life. "He just needs to find the right person, who could be someone closer than he thinks."
"I did say things that prompt you to chase him, didn't I?" George grins cheekily at his beloved twin. "You two might be good for each other afterall."
"It was caught by the glass eye this time. The dark figure looks like a woman." Ron says, munching on his crunchy strawberry Brainy biscuits together with Harry and eyeing Astoria who is grinding some kind of powder.
The glass eye displayed in one of the shops that sell Dark Arts antiques has captured the scene of the crime and finally shine a new light on the perpetuator of the theft.
"It's not me." Astoria snaps at Ron, who jolts back slightly.
"What's up with her?" He asks, seeing the usually friendly girl looking a little on the grouchy side.
"Boyfriend problem." Draco explains quietly. "Says Malcolm hasn't been paying much attention to her for months. Been worsening lately. She fought with him last night."
"He wants me to take care of my own needs and not bother him because he's very busy." Astoria rolls her eyes. "Then he comes and passes his precious coat bought from Gladrags Wizardwear and asks me to mend it. One of three kinds, he says. As if it's more important than me. And I saw him with Edgecomb a few days ago. Enough time to have tea with friends but not the girlfriend. If I'm his girlfriend at all."
"And I've never seen him entering this café for a visit except when he needs help." Draco looks at her and says carefully. "Might consider leaving him?"
"Actually, I might." She nods and washes her hands. "In fact, I'm meeting Theo and Hermione for lunch now to discuss it." She says and makes her way out of the café.
"Wait, Hermione's in touch with Nott?" Ron asks, looking more alert like a dog perking its ears, and it's not from the effects of the biscuits. "Isn't he working really far from Diagon Alley and the Ministry?"
"Malfoy, do you happen to know where Astoria keeps the coat?" Harry asks.
The blond nods and disappears before he comes back with a chocolate brown coat. "It's been here for days. Astoria's not too keen in mending it back. What do you want it for?"
Harry scans the coat, checking the buttons and designs. "It's the same design from the same shop."
"Only the colour's different." Ron adds, looking slightly disappointed.
"Got a new lead on the case?" Draco asks in curiosity, wanting to know how the investigation is going.
"We found someone who was wearing a coat with buttons of the same design left in the murder scene." Harry shares. "So we investigated this guy for days, but it's not him. He had an alibi that night of the murder."
"And his coat buttons are grey, not blue." Ron continues on.
"Can't you ask the shop keeper for the names who purchased it?"
"His memory was altered recently and some pages in the book of records were torn out."
"Bummer. At least you've found two out of the three." Draco ponders. "This design only has three cloaks available." He looks at them. "And I don't own any."
"Might have thrown it away." Ron says, prompting the blond to scowl at him.
"That coming from an auror who takes weeks to apprehend a measly thief."
"Anyway, we'll question Malcolm later." Harry sips his coffee, interrupting a potential fight. "And you're still a suspect." He has to kindly remind him.
Draco grits his teeth and gives them his signature smile of horror. "I hate aurors."
The café's bell rings as the door slides open, catching the attention of the blond who is getting ready to leave for the night.
"Blimey, it's been raining for days." Ron complains as he steps out of the night rain and shakes off rainwater from his cloak.
"Why do we always not think of using the waterproof spell until we're sheltered?" Harry wipes his glasses, swishes his wand and instantly dries.
"Ooh! You guys decorated the café! It's lovely!" Hermione says in astonishment. Flying stably around the ceiling and sitting prettily on tables are the toys from the Weasleys' joke shop that Astoria had wanted to decorate with. They give out a more cheery mood, yet integrate perfectly with the café's atmosphere.
An aristocratic pair of legs steps into the café as well, revealing Theodore's completely dry and charming face, smiling as he greets Astoria and Draco.
Behind him, George runs in and shakes the water off his hair before using the drying spell.
Draco watches another figure running in the rain before the door opens.
Then, as if time has magically slowed down, pretty flowers appear, blooming brightly around Fred Weasley who steps into the shop with a pink glow. Sparkling rainwater drip over his pure, radiant face, slowly trailing down his neck and hiding under his dripping wet shirt. He shakes his head with closed eyes, revealing long beautiful eye-lashes gently resting against his skin. Golden red hair flies left and right gracefully in slow-motion, rendering glittering droplets of water flying out like a beautiful dance. Then, swiping a hand over his hair from his eyes, he tilts his head up, revealing more of the glistening, smooth neck. Long elegant fingers trace down his shirt, lift the bottom up and start squeezing out water, with muscled arms flexing rhythmically. Then, that shirt starts lifting further and further up. And up. Over the head.
"Oh. My. Merlin." Draco breathes out hoarsely, mouth hanging open as he stares openly at that solid looking sculpture.
That. Is unreal. How can a Weasley have such… such…
"Devastatingly beautiful abs?" Astoria suggests from beside him.
He gulps, just realising he has said it out loud. "In other words."
"You should try touching them."
Draco's mind goes overdrive as he thinks about how hard those tan Beater abs will feel under his hand. He blinks and shakes his head, snapping out of his daze. "What? No! Why would I do such a t-thing to a Weasley? Ew!"
Astoria squints. "I swear you're Year One in Hogwarts."
"And you're… you're Year Zero!"
Astoria shakes her head, looking at him as if it was the end of the world. "You don't even make sense anymore. Fred's abs has muddled your mind."
"No it hasn't! And it's not like he's-"
"Coming over. He's coming over!" She squeals and Draco has no idea why she seems so excited.
"What?" He turns around and there, Fred is indeed three steps away from them. "You!"
"What, Malfoy? Never seen a handsome guy before?" He winks.
"You…" He points and blurts out, "why are you naked?" Then, he covers his mouth in horror.
"He wants to touch your abs." Astoria says helpfully.
"I want to touch his abs?" Draco glances at her, but his eyes are drawn back to those moist, defined abs.
"You want to touch my abs?" Though a little taken aback, the red-head looks like he is considering, and then, "sure."
"Sure. In exchange, go out on a date with me." Fred smiles, staring deeply into Draco's eyes.
Draco gapes. A date? A date. What is a date?
"He is undeniably smitten." Theodore shakes his head along with the rest, whilst they enjoy the delicacies the café has to offer.
Unfortunately, the short moment is broken when Fred's eyes shift to the side, attracted by a familiar bunch of flowers lying on the table, with the card that says: IT'S YOURS. KEEP IT – Fred Weasley.
"This…" He stretches a hand to touch the flowers, but is flabbergasted when he feels an invisible barrier surrounding them instead. "Why is this lying in a protective barrier?"
Draco clears his throat. "It's cursed, isn't it?"
"It's not cursed! When have I ever cursed you!"
Draco gives him a stink eye. "That's rhetorical and I don't even want to respond to that, so I won't remind you the time when Butterbeer exploded all over me or when my shirt kept growing flowers or when those teapots kept biting me or when-"
"Those were ages ago! Like two over years ago! History!" Fred blinks. "Or a month ago for the teapots. But that was funny!" He says defensively. "These flowers aren't cursed or charmed in any way. Just, ordinary flowers. I promise."
Draco tilts his head and looks at him critically. "Then you must be cursed. You should go to a Cursebreaker. I only specialise in potion making."
"I'm not cursed! No one's cursed. Nothing's cursed. Can't you just accept those damn flowers? Just… take that barrier down!" Fred says, overly frustrated as the two wizards start arguing back and forth.
Harry tries to straighten his face from gaping unbelievably at the unexpected reality chick-flick moment between his ex sworn enemy and his brother-in-law. His hot coffee puffing out smoke, making that scene look even dreamier. Snapping out of it, he quickly blows away the smoke, erasing any stray thoughts. How can those two happen so quickly? When did they start? Or has he been missing it right under his nose?
Astoria exchanges looks with George and sighs, "at least the Slow-Motion Sparkling charm worked for awhile."
Theodore sips his tea and hums in contentment. "Thanks for inviting me to such entertainment. Draco's love life and his love-sick face, live in action. It was worth coming here."
Ron agrees, adding, "Though I'd rather not see Malfoy's weird face, even I have never seen Fred fail so much. That's… pretty satisfying."
"Hey that's my twin you're talking about!" George punches Ron on the arm. "Although… I do agree with you."
The night ends with the usual cheer, an unexpectedly agitated twin and a hot-headed blond.
Burglaries have been getting more frequent as the days pass. It is as if the thief is getting more brazen or may be in a rush to get more valuables. Somehow, the shops' alarms are always slipped past, rendering them useless. Besides Dark objects, simple things like newt eyes and lotus sap are not only reported missing on odd days, but are becoming more constant as well.
It is until one stormy night during their stakeout, that the two partners catch a glimpse of the burglary happening in Knockturn Alley. A shadow fleets pass the windowsills and scurrying noises with some clanging sounds can be heard if one listens carefully.
The wooden door of the shop crashes open, startling the dark figure who pauses in mid-search. Spells fly through the air, clashing against the table and things lying around the dim shop. Lightning flashes outside the window, revealing part of a cheek under the dark hood.
"Impedimenta!" The binding spell zooms past a stack of animal bones and crashes against a table, causing a dent as the figure ducks.
"Incarcerous!" Although missing the target, the stool hits the figure who stumbles onto the ground. The hood that has been concealing everything falls back slightly, enough to see a glimpse of the face.
Casting a sequence of spells in retaliation, the tall figure scrabbles up, grabs some kind of mask, before waving the wand and disapparates.
Harry casts a tracking charm, revealing coordinates and turns to face Ron. "We have t- Malfoy!" He utters in shock as another figure stands by the opened door, lightning flashing behind him.
The blond man stares at them, eyes wide with recognition and disbelief, unable to utter a word.
"Ron, take care of him, I'll go after Theodore." With that, Harry apparates, leaving Ron walking towards the unmoving man.
"Malfoy, what the hell are you doing here? Are you part of this?" Ron questions, wand still pointing out.
Draco shakes his head in confusion, "it's… it can't be him."
"Look at me. Look. Why are you here?" Ron asks, feeling increasingly impatient as Draco slowly focuses on him.
"I… I was walking down the streets. Heard the commotion and came to see what's happening."
Ron makes a disbelieving face. "Again? On the streets when crime's happening? That's really too coincidental even for you."
A cracking sound and Harry appears before them. "He's gone. He apparated too many times and too fast for me to keep track." He sighs and motions to Draco. "We need to talk."
"Everybody likes me, so why would he not?" Fred complains, unable to accept Malfoy's several rejections. Hadn't Malfoy easily accepted other guys? How can he be having more trouble than them? He is Fred Weasley, the most handsome twin in Hogsmeade!
"Maybe you're doing this the wrong way. Try giving him something else besides flowers." George suggests.
"Like… Happy Bubble Box?" Fred considers. "He could use one. How about our fake moustache?" He whistles, imagining Draco wearing one, and cackles. "Oh, oh! Self-Propelling Custard Pie! Or Diabolic Dare Devils and some Exploding Whizz Poppers." He grins, rubbing his hands in anticipation.
"… Something more… useful, that he can appreciate and not get laughed at." George deadpans.
"But he's rich! He can get anything he wants."
"Maybe give him something that is just you." Offers Verity. "Something that shows an inkling of who you are?"
Fred contemplates, and in ten minutes, he enters the tea shop.
A minute later, he walks out.
"So what did you give him?" His twin asks.
"I just gave whatever I wanted to give. Which is very me. Not sure if he likes it though."
"How did he react?"
"He looked a little annoyed. Not much reaction really. Maybe I should give him something else next time." He sighs, as he wonders about Draco's reaction.
When he entered the shop, he stood beside the handsome man behind the counter, apparently having a lunch break and in a middle of what looked like a serious conversation with Ron and Harry whom he greeted. He borrowed the Slytherin for awhile, pulling him slightly away from them.
"You're not supposed to be standing here." Was what first came out of those mean-looking pink lips ripe for kissing, as Fred tried hard not to stare at them.
"I just wanted to give you something. You know, since you kept rejecting my flowers, I thought I should give you something else. Something that I feel like giving." Fred breathed and rambled on. "Not that I'm buying your love or anything. That's not my intention. I just… want to… entertain you. Make you happy. Happier. Without the fake smile." He quickly pointed at the face that was about to break out into a creepy rendition of a smile, stopping it from fully developing. "And to show you my sincerity. Reveal a bit of who I am."
Draco folded his arms, tapping a finger impatiently. "What. Is it?"
"Dragon roasted nuts. It's scrumptious, try them first." Fred popped some into his mouth as he handed a bag of the roasted nuts to Draco who took them warily. "Unless you've already tried them since they're just outside our shop."
Draco tried one, an indescribable look on his face.
Fred looked expectantly at him, waiting. "So?"
With some hesitation, he finally replied. "Not bad."
Immediately after he said that, Fred smiled widely and clasped his hands together, slightly startling Draco. "Lovely! Great! Now, to commemorate your first try of Dragon roasted nuts, here." He shoved a box towards the other man.
Staring back at him was a colourful box with 'Fred Weasley's Basic Blaze Box' imprinted on top.
"I made it. I was the one who came up with this delightful box of fireworks." Fred explained, prizing him with his invention. "Explosions, fun and unexpected things are a part of me and you'll never have another boring day in your life."
He looked at Draco who was still staring and blinking at the box. Tentatively, he took something out from his pocket and held it out. "Or if you don't like them, this… this is a picture of me. And my toy broom. Love that toy broom. My favourite when I was kid." He smiled as he reminiscence the good old times. "It's precious so keep it well."
After a moment without a reaction, Fred added. "So what do you think?"
Draco looked at him with an adorably confused look. "What is this for?"
"That Blaze box has fireworks like whizz-bangs and I specially added Silver Sparkling Snakes inside." He wiggled his brows. "They're used for-"
"I know what they are, Weasley. I mean, what are you doing this for? All of this. Giving me these… things. Why?"
"I just told you. To make you smile. And prove to you that I'm serious."
Fred stared at him, noting the curious eyes, a bit wary, a little disbelieving. "You… don't know?" He swallowed, wiping his hands on his pants, wondering where in the world his confidence had disappeared off to. Maybe he didn't like anything that he had given. Afterall, he probably couldn't compete with a hundred galleon gift given by his exes. But he was still giving his best and he could only hope it was appreciated.
"Anyway, I hope you like these things and if you don't… well." He sniffed. "You can always share your likes and dislikes and all those little things about yourself and we can work it out."
Draco eyed him in bafflement just as Fred leaned over to him. "What are you tal-"
Leaning back, Fred looked at Draco who was staring blankly downwards. "So... I'll see you later for our date." He said awkwardly and left the shop.
"I should just go back to giving flowers." Fred concludes. It's puzzling how anyone can have such weird reaction when it comes to him. What's wrong with giving things? Probably just weird Malfoy genes and their reaction to gifts. And flowers.
Meanwhile, Draco continues freezing on his spot staring at nothing, not moving a muscle. What. Just happened?
He can still feel that lingering feeling on his temple. Gentle and soft, yet firm and promising. So… intimate. And it happened so suddenly. He could feel the heat consuming his entire face.
He shakes himself from his musings and walks back to where the aurors are questioning Astoria since morning.
"Theodore didn't say anything about having an alibi so how would you know he's not the thief?" Harry asks the woman who looks hesitant. "Ron and I saw him. Malfoy too."
"It's just not him." Draco cuts in. "Theodore was telling me about how he was starting a relationship and felt that it was serious. Why would he suddenly go around stealing Dark objects for? Can't you aurors dig deeper than surface value? Theodore-"
"Was with me."
Draco looks at his friend who seems to have given up whatever burden she was holding on to.
"He was with me. Last night." She explains, glancing at Draco, as if determining his reaction. She purses her lips before revealing, "we're dating."
"What?" Is Draco immediate response.
"We've been dating for a few days, weeks. Malcolm wasn't there for me. Theodore was always lending me his listening ear and… we discussed it with Hermione. She supports us."
Draco swallows the bitter taste of disappointment, but there is also much relief in there. "And you didn't tell me?"
"I wanted to, after our relationship is certain. I told him to keep it quiet first. Didn't want anyone to know until we've decided on things. You would be the first to know." She turns to the aurors. "We were together last night." She gives a small smile. "Dating, dinner, looking at stars. Never once got out of my sight. We left after 12."
The aurors ask a few more questions before finally leaving the café.
Astoria catches Draco peering at her in a frown and gives a tiny smile, "don't worry about me. Theo and I are great. I'm fine. He's going to be fine. Worry more about yourself. I saw what Fred did there." She smirks.
The whole day after that, all he can quietly think of is Fred Weasley and his lingering touch.
Finally, some time before their work hours end, he reacts out of the blue.
"What's wrong with him?" He says, frowning and furrowing his eyebrows in confusion. "I swear he's acting weird. He keeps giving me flowers as an apology which I keep refusing. And then the presents. And he… he… forehead… and… for what?"
Astoria, after piecing what he just said, responses. "Draco, you thick head… he's chasing you."
"What? Where?!" He quickly looks around for any red-heads.
"No, I mean… he's… wooing you."
"Woo… wooing me? What do you… he… wooing… he can't do that!" Draco cries out.
At this exact moment, a toy dragon comes flying into the shop and hovers in front of him. A message can be seen appearing clearly on its body: Follow this dragon. It'll take you to where we're going on a date.
"Well, he did, and he is doing that." Astoria motions to the toy dragon and nudges him. "That's pretty sweet by the way, sending dragons down. He's really one of a kind."
"He can't just… that doesn't make sense at all. He's just doing that to trick me! The flowers, the smiles, all this time, it's an elaborate plot to trick me." He nods to himself.
"Or he probably got cracked on the head." Astoria mumbles. "Both of them."
"Cracked on the head? Yeh… that's right… that must be it." He assures himself firmly.
"Who's got hit on the head?" Madam Rosa asks when she appears from the kitchen.
"Oh, that poor man!"
"Yeh. Big crack there. Since he's cracked in the head Draco, you should quickly go on your date right now and solve whatever's between you two."
"I will." With determination and over-powering confidence filling him, Draco straightens up. "I'll get to the bottom of this and prove that he's a trickster." And so, he follows the dragon and leaves the café, ready to confront whatever Fred has to say.
"So how did that poor man hit his head?" Madam Rosa asks.
His eyes trail the flying toy, mesmerise by its wings flapping up and down, looking like a real dragon. Before he even notices, he is already walking into a small forested area. As the area becomes darker, the dragon's body suddenly lights up, glowing bright red. He continues to follow the red dragon, wondering where it will take him to and what Fred has installed for him.
He comes into a clearing and stands in the dark with the dragon hovering around. He is about to start feeling uneasy when all of a sudden, to his left, a blue light appears in a form of a flying car. Then, a yellow bird and slowly, lights of different forms and colours appear in succession before his widening eyes, brightening the forest clearing from left to right and all around him in a wave, like a myriad of scintillating stars blinking and joyfully dancing in the forested grounds.
He watches in awe as they move around, seeming to be doing a playful flamboyant performance of sorts, before they gather to two sides, creating a harlequin pathway forwards. He follows down the aisle, admiring the scenery, before stepping out of the clearing and into the plain fields, feeling the cool wind blowing at his face.
The flying lights follow him out, spreading themselves. At once, something shoots upwards out of nowhere, bursting into a mini firework. Mini strings of light in forms of slender dragons fly across the air, some swirling gracefully around him before they shoot up and explode up into the sky, sending little sparks of orange and red floating downwards. Tiny jade green balls of light appear from the explosion, floating with the descending sparks and soon cover the area.
Draco stretches out his hands, watching the balls of light touch his palms and vanish into thin air. He has a strong want to stretch out his arms and just twirl around like a happy kid, with fields of magic light surrounding him.
"They might not be as good as the ones in Pilliwinkle's Playthings but… it's an improvement." A warm voice cuts through the air.
He looks at Fred in wonder. "This… is amazing!" He feels as though he has not felt so carefree in a very long time. In fact, he can't remember when was the last time he had truly felt so happy.
Fred is looking back at him with a soft look in his eyes and a tinge of surprise. He beams and laughs lightly. "You're smiling. A real smile."
Somehow, those words jolt Draco's heart. Has he been seriously waiting to catch that look on his face? He tries to question the sincerity, the reality of all these that Fred has done for him, but comes out short.
"What's with the flashy performance?"
Fred shrugs. "I was hoping to impress you. And to make it memorable like an anniv…"
"Anniv- what?" Draco asks, wondering what the red-head is thinking.
"Um… a… an event! That's right, feels like an event doesn't it? Ha ha…" The twin quickly corrects himself. Afterall, they have not officially gotten together yet. Something might go wrong, like a firework bursting on Draco's face, or he might say something wrong and get rejected once again. But on the other hand, he's Fred Weasley. Which equals to all things awesome and wondrous and exciting and possibly perfect… but then again, no one rejects him. Plus, that's Draco. Unpredictable and… something might go wrong, like having-
He is cut off from his thoughts by something against him squeezing him tight.
"Oh." He says softly, looking down at the blond hair beside his cheek. He gulps, hoping Draco will not be able to feel his thundering heart. His hands hover in the air, wondering where to put them. He is about to place them on the blond's back, when said blond releases him all too soon and moves back.
"I… um… that… thank you." Draco finally stutters out, not looking at him. "And you looked like you didn't know what to do, so I… just… thank you."
They lapse into silence, both avoiding the other's eyes and shifting on their feet.
Fred finally coughs and says, "I've prepared dinner." He motions to the grassy fields where the food is.
The two men settle down on the fields among the floating lights under the stars and start talking about random things that have not been shared between them.
Droplets of rain start to pelt down. Draco casts a waterproof spell, shielding them both from being soaked to the skin. As they stand to leave, Draco finds himself leaning a little too closely to Fred's face, so he jerks back slightly, trying to rein in his discomfort. His attention is seized when he glances at Fred who is staring at him as if nothing else exists except him. No one has ever looked at him like that.
As if there is something pulling him, Fred cannot help leaning forward, closing the gap between them, pressing his lips hard against the other. He moves his head back, brows furrowed as he takes in the glazed grey eyes, the slightly wet look. He has a moment's thought of how alluring the man in front of him looks, before he dives into a deeper and longer, more fervent kiss where arms wrap tightly around each other and tongues collide so ardently.
Nothing can feel this right in the world.
"I'll see you tomorrow." Standing outside the teashop, Draco watches until Fred walks out of sight, before he steps into the shop, ready to call in for the night and dream of that wonderful date he just had.
He does not expect to be met with drawers and cabinets opened and thrown messily around in the unlit shop.
He does not expect a shadow to be moving around as if searching for something.
He does not expect to be hit with a Stunner before he can even touch his wand and everything goes completely black.
Morning comes with a nervous energy lingering in the Teashop that has closed for a day for ongoing investigations. Fred is greeted by a horrific sight of broken glasses and things strewn over the shop's floor, while Madam Rosa and Astoria talk with Ron and Harry, apparently distressed.
"Some ingredients are missing and everything's in a mess." Madam Rosa says, rubbing her arms together.
"Draco has not come in for work and… he's not upstairs either." Astoria says urgently.
"What do you mean he's not here?" Fred cuts in quickly. "I sent him home last night."
Ron explains, "apparently, something happened in the shop and he's now missing."
"What? Missing? But…" Fred remembers walking away before Draco even steps into the café. Before he makes sure he gets inside safely. He realises it's his fault. If the robber had taken him before he even entered, or had been inside all along and Draco was to enter the shop… of course it could have happened when Draco was upstairs in his room before the robbery, but still. He should have taken better measures, knowing that Draco had been attacked once. "We've to find him. We've to find him, Harry."
"But we don't even know whether Malfoy really has been kidnapped."
"No, he would be here now if he could. Draco has never been this late for work nor does he just disappear on everyone." Fred deduces, partly surprised that he knows this. "He's not upstairs, he's not nearby, and we need to find him now!"
"Fred, calm down. They will do their job." George takes his arm, trying to assure his wretched twin.
He clenches his brother's sleeve, trying to control himself, trying not to be so edgy. "George, I was here. With him. Right outside when the robber could have been behind the door. I didn't make sure. He was attacked once and it didn't cross my mind that someone would attack him another time, especially with all these robberies going on. I didn't think of it. I left him here. Just outside." He feels George's hand on his back, the only thing that's stopping him from pushing everyone away and flying off to find Draco this instant.
"We haven't confirmed whether Malfoy's innocent in the murder, but," Harry quickly continues before Fred can say anything, "we'll find him. So far, we've got Theodore but we're pretty sure he's innocent. We're almost able to track where and who the female thief is. We just need to deduce where she might be hiding."
"Plus, we've got info about the last place Malcolm was seen at." Ron adds. "Suspicious activity in a shack and he went missing right after there were more thefts and after we found two cloaks relevant to the case. We'll be able to catch him soon."
Astoria frowns angrily. "That's why he's been abandoning me? Being part of a crime? That prude!" She looks at the aurors pleadingly. "Harry, Ron, please, you've to find him. I can't lose… after Theodore…"
"Harry." Fred looks at the auror with his mind made up. "I'm coming with you. I can't just sit by and do nothing."
"Count me in." Says George.
Unable to deny Fred's request, Harry alongside his partner and the twins, begin their hunt to track down Draco and his kidnappers, leaving Astoria and Madam Rosa to only hope for the best.
The first thing Draco hears when he stirs awake on a cold hard floor, are low voices. One male, the other female. That, and the fact that his hands and feet are bound.
"Why did you kidnap him?" Comes the harsh voice.
"Isn't he the one we're supposed to get?"
"No! No you blockhead! It's the one I alone kidnapped!"
"But the list says-"
"That's not the right one."
There is a pause before the voices go quieter. Draco pushes himself into a sitting position and blinks, eyes scanning around. He can see two figures standing outside his musky cell, the woman's back facing him. He also spots a tiny window opposite.
"Draco!" A hush voice startles him as he turns around, meeting blue hair at a corner of the same cell. "They kidnapped you too."
"Max? What-" He struggles, feeling the tightness of the bindings. "What are you doing here? What's going on?"
"Apparently, we were kidnapped. I thought I was the only one. She told me I was the one they need. Never mentioned you at all." Whispers the blue-haired man who looks overly frantic, tear tracks strewn along his cheeks.
Draco sighs. One of the last people he ever wants to see or be associated with. How did he ever think he was the one for him? "What do you know?"
"Those thefts that's been going on, they're the ones stealing everything. They're trying to sell them in a Black Market worldwide." Max explains urgently, looking terribly scared that Draco tries to stop himself from reflexively rolling his eyes. "They kidnapped me because I'm the son of a wealthy man who's apparently one of the high-end dealers in the Black Market. I swear I didn't know all of these! Oh Draco, I want to get out alive!"
"I know. And we will. Even if we can't save ourselves, the aurors- Potter will save us." He pauses, scrunching his face. "Not that I want him to. I mean, no way do I want to be saved by him again. After all these years, I-"
"Draco!" The trembling guy cuts off his ramblings. "What do we do?"
"Get out of here." He says, trying to look for his wand which is absent from his pocket.
"My my, little Malfoy's awake." When Draco looks up at the woman, he sees plain disgust in her eyes as she unlocks the cell. Malcolm is standing slightly behind her, carrying a full, plain smirk directed at him.
"Heard you've been trying to sell Dark items in the Black Market. Only the two of you involved in the robberies?" He questions, trying to gain more information.
"Of course. Don't want to share too much of the loot. Pretty good aren't we?" She preens, proud of her work. "Never got caught. And it's been what? Weeks? The aurors aren't very good at their job."
"Oh but they're going to find me, Edgecombe." He glares at her. "You ransacked my workplace and they're going to find you before you know it."
"Actually, I was the one who-" Edgecombe nudge Malcolm hard, cutting him off.
"Hah! Everyone knows you're not on good terms with them. Everyone knows how you got dumped every time." She snarls at him, looking at him as if she has the upperhand. "No one will care enough to look for you. A day or two and they won't even remember you're missing."
Hiding his relief, it is lucky she knows nothing about him and Fred. Nor of Astoria or Madam Rosa. And that Harry's visit to the café with how they interact back and forth isn't exactly what it seems to observers. Not completely anyway. It seems as if Edgecombe isn't very in tune with the latest news.
He shifts his focus towards Malcolm. "Seems like you kidnapped the wrong person. I'm glad Astoria dumped you. Should have done that long ago."
The change is visible on Malcolm's face which morphs into one of annoyance as he clenches his fists. "She was hindering my way to riches and a better life. At least now, we can make use of you." He takes out a piece of paper, squats in front of him and shows it to Draco. "Why's your name there?"
He scans the paper and snorts out loud. "Because, stupid, that is my grocery list."
He watches Stupid frown in confusion, then realisation and anger. "This was on the table. I dropped the real list and took yours instead."
"No wonder I couldn't find it after that. You stole it." Draco looks condescendingly at Astoria's ex. Good thing she broke it up. Merlin knows how this douchebag even got into her good graces before. Mistaking a grocery list for a robbery list? Hah. "I have a question. What did you steal from my shop?"
Whether it is because he wants to prove that he's smart or not, Malcolm answers. "Dry Calendulas. To make an enhancing potion."
At that, Draco gapes. "Dry calendulas are different from Calendula oils and from Calendula powder. You can't use dry Calendulas for enhancing potions."
"They have the same name." The captor mutters.
"Really? Really?! They're different! How can you get that wrong? Do you know your English? Do you know your flowers? Or your potion ingredients? Did you even attend school?" Draco cannot help but blurt out.
"Do you know the situation you are in right now?" Max whispers to him. "Aren't you scared?"
"I am! But he's just so… frustrating! Is he even born here in this Wizarding world?"
"Don't mind Draco. He's from the crazy side of the… crazy family." Max tries to explain, worried that it will anger their kidnappers.
"I don't think he's a pure blood." Draco shakes his head.
"Shut up! Shut up! I can kill you right now and you won't even care what ends with what." Malcolm snaps.
"'What ends with what?' That doesn't even make sense! Definitely not from Hogwarts." Draco continues before Malcolm can react further. "Were you the ones who killed Brunet?"
"We did." Edgecombe confirms. "He was too… self-centered."
"Like you?" He retorts.
She ignores his jibe and continues, "He wanted to get more profit, acted like our leader and being obnoxious about it."
"Sounds like him."
"I couldn't stand him. So I stabbed him. Wanted to use the cursed necklace you used on Katie Bell, but this… seems more fun." She grins manically and withdraws a glinting, silver knife from under her coat. She moves the smooth blade across his face and gently slaps his cheek with it. "The Reinscyre Blade…" She whispers. "How did it feel?"
So she was the hooded one who cut him that night of the murder! "What about Theodore?"
"Polyjuice. Simplest trick in the book. Easy target too, since he stays pretty far away. He comes here and becomes the thief everyone's looking for."
He clenches his teeth and glares.
"That look." She drawls, looking at him with loathing. "Always hated your haughty, holier than thou ways in Hogwarts. How you were in Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad was just disgusting."
"Oh the traitor certainly knows it all."
He receives a slap that almost topples him sideways, then, another one comes hard on the other cheek, the force pushing him, but once again, he stays upright.
"You have no idea how much I hate you." Edgecombe whispers sharply. "You think you're all grown up and everything's forgotten? Joining Umbridge and the Death Eaters like it wasn't enough trouble for the rest of us. Probably having the most fun of your life while everyone else suffers in fear. And now… now you have a job, friends, money, as if you deserve anything at all!"
Draco licks his lips and looks up at her. "And stealing Dark items is righteous? You should grow up. It isn't Hogwarts anymore. Everyone's moved on, while you're stuck in your own little whiny world where you think you're the only one who suffered. You've learned nothing. People change. And it's time you should too."
Edgecombe presses the blade harder against his cheek, trailing it down to his neck and drawing a bit of blood. She grits out, her eyes crazed with anger. "You are in no position to anger me, Malfoy. I'm going to ensure you're not getting out alive."
Without warning, she slashes the blade against his side. He winces at the sudden hot pain, feeling his blood start to seep out.
"You were able to heal your wounds before because I allowed it. But this is not going to heal. You'll slowly. Bleed. To death." She smiles viciously and walks out of the cell, followed by Malcolm who simpers, all too happy to see Draco dying.
"Really? I get dumped all the time, finally on the right track to love, and now someone kidnaps and attempts to murder me?" He takes a shaky breath in and feels a bulge in his pocket, ignoring Max at the side who is asking about his wellbeing and fussing over him. He wonders how an accidental kidnapping ends up being all about him. When the two thieves walk out of sight, he summons his magic, managing to move the hidden silver green snitch out and places it on his lap.
"What's that?" His cell partner asks curiously.
"A help line." He says, concentrating on the toy snitch, composing a short message in it. "Go to Fred." He whispers, watching the snitch fly up and out of the window, glinting under the sun.
Harry will not say that he and Draco have a friendship. He might have gone to Madam's Rosa's every day to drink one of the best made beverage ever, and also keep an eye out for anything bad Draco might be doing, alongside making fun of him and secretly laughing at the various comical reactions of his nemesis, and trying to rile him up as subtly as possible, and laugh again at how Draco always, always falls for it, especially since he's a Slytherin, which never stops amusing him. And… well… it isn't really a friendship, but, it is close enough that things have improved over the years and they no longer have a distinct hatred for each other.
He might have actually gotten used to Draco's presence around. Or possibly enjoyed making trips to the café where things flow so normally and peacefully, but not so normally and peacefully due to Draco's presence, that the café starts to have a comfortable, family-like atmosphere.
Thing is, he doesn't realise how much Draco has been filling a gap, how much he is part of the atmosphere until he goes down this morning and finds the place in a mess and the blond man missing, something else missing along with him.
Ron might not show it, but Harry knows he feels the same way.
As he and his partner with Fred and George go around investigating and re-checking any clues they could have left out before, he thinks about various possibilities of the missing blond. If he were part of the crime, Harry doubts he would make a huge mess of the shop, no matter how convincing he wants it to be. The old Malfoy might have done that, but not now. Not this one who captures Fred's heart and the looks that they've been giving each other. True, he might have only discovered that only a few days ago, but there is no denying the attraction between the two. He knows he must be blind to not know how obvious it is much earlier, but he's Harry Potter, the dense one. Never really good at picking out relationships.
Fortunately, that doesn't include his talent for investigations. He remembers when he warned Draco what would happen if he were involved. The determination and honesty that reflected in those grey eyes were just pouring out to him, as if wanting to show him that he wasn't lying.
And he knew. Okay, he doubted. Slightly. But later he believed. He does believe that Draco isn't part of the burglary and involved in anything illegal.
He glances at Fred who has a hard look on his face, blend with worry and determination to find Draco. As if Draco's already a part of their family.
And their family will never let anyone hurt one of their own.
Funny thought, that. Draco being family. A Weasley. Harry shakes that thought away and focuses on investigating.
It took a few hours to trace Malcolm's steps, asking the whole of Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, and using tracing spells, scent spells and fingerprint spells. They find out who Malcolm's partner is and where they were last at, and are about to trace further when something gold and sparkling caught his eye.
Something is flying nearer and nearer towards them and he squints. Is that… a snitch?
The golden ball flies towards them and hovers in front of Fred.
"It's Draco's" Fred says in surprise, quickly stretching out his hand towards it. The ball lands onto his palm and some words appear.
Kidnapped by Malcolm and Edgecombe.
Stolen dark items selling in Black Market.
Not sure where we are. Max's with me.
Might need St. Mungos.
And then, Harry calls in reinforcements and he thinks, it'll be alright. They're almost there. Just a little more time.
"What if we don't get out alive? What if my dad doesn't care whether I live?" Max babbles on at the side. "But he's been good to me. But he's a Black Market dealer! If one of us gets out alive, we should promise to tell each other's parents our last words. We should, Draco. I've never even travelled to other countries yet. Or seen the Eiffel Tower. Or been to…"
Draco tunes out the sounds around him, checking for anything else in his pockets that might be helpful. To his dismay, he finds his pockets relatively empty, except for a few change, a sweet wrapper and a photo. He reminds himself to get a portkey for himself and Fred.
He pulls out the photo, carefully avoiding the messy blood that is starting to pool around and stares at it. A face of a red-head waves happily at him, showing off a toy-broom, his twin in the background bouncing up and down and waving at the camera. Draco rubs a thumb against the face and cracks out a smile. The young boy looks so lively and even at that age, he was already looking so mischievous.
Draco sighs. Damn that twin. He should have given him a photo with his older face. He would have enjoyed it even more if there was a grown up, more mature looking face that crinkles up warmly, looking right back at him. What if that's the last face he'd ever looked at? Realisation creeps up. It could be the last time he'd ever see Fred and it would be in the form of a photo. A photo of his younger self. That situation makes him feel a little ridiculous and he is stuck between laughing and… and… what?
He takes a deep breath. There is a moment when he feels his heart rate rises, nervousness coursing through him that is probably making his fingers tremble. And he is probably, slightly panicking. He sees Fred's face smiling and laughing and telling a joke. He remembers the flowers sent to him and how he only knew it was from him from the second bunch. He remembers the first sudden kiss in the rain that was surprisingly comforting. He remembers the magical first date, the warmth from that strong body he can only feel safe in. The warm smile given only for him. Then, he realises that he might have fallen for that face months before he even knew what was going on.
And he regrets.
He regrets not doing those things earlier. So many boyfriends and yet, the right one… has been right there before him, every single day.
He only notices he has closed his eyes when a hand touches and wraps around his. He opens his eyes and looks to his left, Max's worried but surprisingly gentle eyes silently asking a question. He smiles back and grasps that hand tightly, the only physical comfort in the dark cell and for once, he is glad that Max is here with him.
It's awhile before the kidnappers appear again, this time pulling Max out of the cell.
"Where are you taking him?" Draco demands, struggling to stand up but failing as he watches the blue-haired man whimper and cry out his name.
"Somewhere we can negotiate with his father." Edgecombe replies, a dark, sinister smirk crosses her face, before the door closes and Draco is stuck alone with Malcolm.
Twirling the wretched blade around, his captor sneers at him.
Draco interrupts whatever he is about to say. "I don't see how useful I am here. I have nothing to offer and I'm not involved in whatever fishy business you are in. it would be prudent to release me."
"That's what you think? I'm starting to be glad I accidentally kidnapped you. You can be pretty useful for a couple of things. Like this."
Draco feels his hair being grabbed and pulled and a second later, a sudden pain vibrates all over the back of his head. He feels something punching his face as he falls sideways, hitting the cold ground. Something slams into his stomach, hitting the wound that the blade had caused. He chocks out a painful groan, enduring the pain that courses through him.
"Useless git. All those years strutting in Hogwarts like you own it, you spoilt, rich child."
"In case you're blind," Draco pants out. "I'm not a child anymore."
Another kick hits his chest. It doesn't stop him from asking another question, even though it hurts like a thousand hippogriffs trampling on him. "How much are you selling the things from the café for?"
"Three galleons of course."
"Are you kidding?" He croaks out mockingly. "Most anyone would pay for that… would be 90 sickles and 3 knuts. And that's only for those… who're desperately… desperate. You're never going to sell them."
Draco squeezes his eyes shut for another round of kicks, before he hears something that sounds like banging and shouting.
Malcolm perks up and without warning, he pulls Draco up. "Stand up. You're coming with me."
Draco finds the binds around his legs disappear, only leaving those around his wrists. He struggles to stand, dizziness hitting him straight on as he half blindly follows, being pulled along.
They are out of what Draco just realises, is a rundown shop house, before he hears voices and they come to a sudden stop.
"Draco!" Someone calls him. He looks up and sees Fred and George, alongside Harry and Ron who are all pointing their wands at Malcolm.
"Fred." He whispers, looking at the red-head who is staring at him in concern, his gaze flicks back with vehemence towards Malcolm. Draco is pushed forward and trapped in a fierce hold, the Reinscyre blade touching his neck.
There is a shriek and from the corner of his eyes, Draco sees the figure of Edgecombe being held and lead away by aurors, her wails and screams echoing around. At least Max is safe now.
"Don't come any closer or I'll kill him!" Malcolm digs the blade against Draco's neck and he doesn't know if it has already cut into him.
"Believe me when I say this." Harry calmly warns in a dangerous tone that Draco hardly hears from him. "At least one of these four wands pointing at you will strike you quicker than you can even twitch your wand or utter a spell."
"You don't want to mess with Britain's top aurors." George glances at Draco. "Or a Weasley love interest."
"Drop your wand and the blade right now, and raise your hands in the air." Ron adds.
"I've got a knife! Recognise it?" Malcolm snarls. "If this thing cuts him just a little, he'll be dead instantly. If you hex me, my hand is going to shake and cut his throat."
Draco half grins. "See what I told you?" He tells his kidnapper. "People are bound to find me. Even faster than I expected."
"Shut up." Malcolm growls, gripping him tighter. "If you want to stay alive, shut your mouth."
"But as you said, since no one cares about me, holding me hostage isn't going to make a difference." Draco continues. "Even if you threaten to kill me, they'll still hex you. Easier to give up now."
"If I go down, I'll bring you down with me." Malcolm tugs his hair none too gently. "Move it." He pulls him backwards, making sure Draco is in front of him blocking most of his body.
"Malcolm. I'm warning you." Harry repeated. "You've nowhere to go. So just drop it."
Malcolm chuckles darkly. "Oh I've somewhere to go. I've a portkey. Which is why I'm going to be out of here before you can get to me. And this Slytherin here, is going to be my leverage."
Harry waves his wand. The ground behind Malcolm explodes lightly, causing grasses to shoot up. It startles Malcolm who pauses and grips him tighter. "If I kill him right now, you wouldn't be able to save him." The panicking kidnapper threatens, causing Fred to step forward with a growl.
"Let. Him. Go."
"Or what? If you want to hex me, hex him as well."
Draco sighs, feeling himself getting weaker due to the blood that is still flowing out of him. It is starting to get blurry and whatever conversation that Malcolm is having with the four men are starting to get softer. He stares at Fred whose hand is trembling from the overly tight grip on his wand, face taut as if he is trying to rein in his emotions. His eyes glance from Malcolm to Draco, trying to determine the blond's condition.
He finally finds a love with flowers blooming everywhere and Draco isn't going to lose it so easily. He sees the toy snitch clench in Fred's palm and tries to move it. He catches Fred's eyes, conveying silently to him that he needs the snitch. The palm loosens its hold and Draco moves the toy, careful not to catch Malcolm's attention.
The snitch hovers silently down, hiding among the grasses and makes its way towards Draco. It drifts behind him before flying upwards, stopping just behind Malcolm. Or at least he hopes it's behind Malcolm. It seems like the four Gryffindors understand his plan as soon as they spot the snitch.
"It's all his fault! If he didn't… if YOU didn't drop the list, I wouldn't be confused! I wouldn't have screwed up. Blame yourself for being in his situation, Malfoy." Draco hears Malcolm yelling at him and his head is starting to throb.
"If you want to kill me, kill me now. All your shouting is giving me a headache." Draco groans.
"Say your last words, Malfoy."
"I can?" Draco says, before looking at his current love. "Well… Fred… I enjoyed last night."
"We do not want to know what you two did last night." Ron cries out in horror as Harry shushed him.
"It was lovely... in the forest."
"In the forest?" Ron whimpers at Harry. "In the forest, Harry."
"I love… what we have together. Which is why… Malcolm, you're going down."
He doesn't wait for Malcolm's reaction before hurling the snitch as hard as he can against his head, knocking them forwards. The knife drops to the side as they topple onto the grass. A series of "Stupefy" and other stunning spells are uttered by all four wizards.
Kneeling on the grass, Draco pants from the adrenalin and the pain that is increasing, his hand comes away with blood from the wound. He feels an arm behind his head and a warm hand tilting his face up to look at panicking, trembling brown eyes.
"Draco. Draco. You'll be fine. Understand?"
"Fred." He utters, the face in front of him starting to blur out. "Can't…"
"What? Draco, it's alright. You'll be sent to St Mungos now. You'll be fine."
"Can't… stop bleeding. The blade. It won't heal."
"We'll make it heal. We will." Fred leans forward, kissing his forehead and Draco smiles, closing his eyes as he remembers the intimate gesture that was first done at the café.
"Next time…" He whispers, causing Fred to lean nearer towards him. "I want… an older picture… of you."
He feels something soft pressing his lips, before darkness claims him.
Arranging the forth bunch of flowers into a vase, Fred settles down on a chair next to his twin, before a cup of warm beverage is placed in front of him. He takes a sip.
"How's it taste?"
"Hm. Not bad from the first bunch of flowers." Fred winks at the hottie behind the counter.
"So what happened to the Black Market and all the stolen things?" Theodore asks.
"We managed to catch a few of them." Harry replies, humming from the taste of his cocoa as he feeds Ginny a sip of it. "Might take months to shut it down though."
"Max's father was caught too. At least Max's dealing with it well." Ron adds, stealing a piece of cupcake from Hermione's plate, quickly biting into it before she can snatch it back.
"Hey Draco, remember the list you wrote that the kidnapper took?" Hermione questions. "Why were there ostensible dark magic items listed?"
"Oh, that. I was recalling some interesting items that I saw in those shops and made a reminder to check them out." The blond explains. "It's not because I really want to curse someone… except Potter…"He whispers the last part to himself, missing the way Harry rolls his eyes.
"I wonder where Madam Rosa got so many ingredients from all of a sudden. Did you see the bags lining in the kitchen?" Astoria smiles at him, leaning against Theodore with his arm around her.
"I think, considering how she isn't always in," The blond drawls as he relaxes against the counter, "I could take over the shop, change it to my name, be the benefactor and she won't even know what hit her."
As soon as he finishes, something soft slap against his back, startling him. "Ow! Merlin!"
"Guess what hit you?" A familiar voice sounds dryly behind him.
"I just got out of the hospital, woman." He scowls.
"Which is why I used the papers to hit. Doesn't hurt at all." The boss chuckles.
"Could always ask a certain someone to kiss it all better." George cackles, eyeing his twin, whose grin slowly widens, while Draco looks like he's trying to control the heat from rising in his face.
Apparently, that is a cue for Fred standing up and going straight beside him. "So. Need me to kiss it all better?"
That earns a nudge and a scowl from Draco, who misses the sparkle in Fred's eyes and the biting of his lip. "There are people around." He whispers.
"Makes it more exciting eh?"
"Why do I even love you?" As if just realizing what he just blurt out, Draco tries to rectify it. "I… I mean…"
Fred gives him a big fat grin. "Of course you love me. Everyone does."
Then, he kisses Draco before the blond can respond.
"Hey hey, no PDA in my shop! Get that hand out of Draco's shirt." Madam Rosa calls out.
"Stop squeezing his butt!" George mock yells, laughing and cheering with Verity beside him.
There is a spluttering sound coming from beside Hermione, and all is well and chaotic again.
And yeh, working in Madam Rosa's Teashop?
Best decision ever.