Harry stepped out the door of his London terraced house into the bright sunshine and promptly burst into laughter at the sight that greeted him: Draco Malfoy was casually leaning against a sleek silver Porsche with arms crossed over his chest and a smirk firmly plastered on his face.
"What is that?" Harry asked with grin as he walked to the kerbside and raised a brow at the well-dressed blond.
Draco stepped back and looked at the Muggle car with pride. "My new toy," he replied smugly.
Harry laughed and rolled his eyes; Draco loved to spend money on anything that screamed wealth. He'd really taken a liking to extravagant Muggle luxuries when Harry had opened his eyes and introduced him to the Muggle world after the war. The Slytherin now wore Muggle clothing almost exclusively, much to Harry's amusement. Today he was wearing a stylish suit that perfectly complimented his pale skin and blond hair. Harry suspected that the man used a stylist although he adamantly denied it.
"You can't drive me to this thing in that," Harry complained.
"Of course I can." Draco smirked and opened the door for him. "You look nice Potter, who dressed you today?"
Harry glared at his friend as he reluctantly climbed into the low car. "I did."
Draco chuckled as he walked around and got into the driver's seat. The engine roared to life then settled into a gentle purr as Draco signaled and moved out into traffic. He loved to drive and Harry wasn't going to complain, he hated driving in London.
"Seems my good taste is finally rubbing off on you Potter," he quipped as they drove along in the summer sun.
Harry turned in his seat to look at him. "Actually, Ralph gave me this outfit," he informed him flippantly, knowing that the fact that designers gave Harry free clothes to wear to public appearances irked him - especially because Harry didn't fully appreciate the act of wearing not-quite-released clothes from the upcoming fashion season.
As expected, Draco suddenly frowned as he stared through the windscreen and Harry grinned in amusement.
"You can have it when I'm done with it," Harry offered teasingly.
Draco scoffed. "I don't need your cast-offs Potter, plus it would be miles too short for me."
Harry laughed and faced front. Draco loved to mention the fact that he was a whole two inches taller than Harry.
The two had fallen into an unlikely friendship during their last year at Hogwarts. Their usual animosity and squabbling suddenly seemed like too much work, not to mention absurd after everything they'd both been through. Since the population of the special eighth year students was so small, all the students decided to stick together - regardless of house loyalty. They had all gone through an unforgettably horrific experience and found comfort in being with people who could relate.
Ron and Hermione had officially paired off which left Harry feeling on the outside and quite lonely most of the time. He resented feeling like a third wheel and so began to spend more and more time on his own. It seemed Draco was feeling the same, and so it happened that they were off being alone in the same place at the same time enough times that they eventually began to talk to one another.
Their tentative friendship quickly grew stronger as they discovered how much they actually had in common - and they also began to enjoy their differences as well. Harry grew to appreciate Draco's wry sense of humour and biting wit, and Draco came to relish their heart-to-heart conversations in which he could spill his guts without being judged and knowing that Harry understood. Much to everyone's surprise, their unlikely friendship remained intact all of eighth year.
Harry slowly began to realise that he wanted more than just friendship from Draco but never got the sense that Draco wanted the same thing in return. So in order to forsake ruining their new friendship, he buried all those feelings of longing and affection as deep as they would go.
Glancing at Draco out of the corner of his eye now, Harry never for a moment regretted his decision; it was one year after leaving school and Draco was still his closest and most dear friend.
"So are you going to practice your speech on me along the way?" Draco asked.
Harry rolled his eyes. "I only want to spout that drivel once today thanks."
Draco chuckled. He always made time to accompany Harry to these Ministry events where the Boy-Who-Lived had to make a grandiose speech full of meaningless proclamations - while he drank expensive champagne and made fun of his friend. Harry put a stop to him sitting in the front row attempting to make him laugh quite early on, so now he just meandered around in the back drinking and eating to his heart's content while Harry steadfastly ignored him.
Almost an hour later they pulled to a stop in front of the entrance to a large and beautiful park that was currently surrounded by magical wards meant to dissuade Muggles from entering for the next twenty-four hours; they would suddenly remember that they had something else to do and walk in the opposite direction.
Harry opened the car door and slipped out, absently straightening his clothes with a nervous tug as he walked over to the footpath. He hated public speaking but he didn't currently have a proper career and the pay was rather good for these things. After many a late-night discussion with Draco at Hogwarts, he had decided that he just didn't want to be an Auror anymore. Unfortunately that had been his goal for so long so he hadn't given any thought to doing anything else and was now just kind of drifting along until something inspired him. He had enough to live on so he wasn't in any hurry to jump into anything.
Draco, on the other hand, dabbled in multiple pursuits; investing in various businesses in both the wizarding and Muggle world, as well as experimenting with his love of art and painting. Harry had once taken one of Draco's paintings to a local art gallery without his knowledge - and they sold it within a week. This had prompted Draco to start painting seriously and his artwork now sold at a few of the prominent London galleries. Draco had given Harry his very own painting as a thank-you for the push and it hung in place of pride in Harry's lounge.
"Nervous?" Draco smirked as he walked beside Harry into the park, following the crushed gravel pathway underneath the white latticed archway.
Harry spared him a withering look. "Yes."
"I don't know why, you do these things all the time."
"And I hate it every time," Harry replied sullenly. "They don't really pay attention to what I'm saying, they just sit there gawping."
Draco chuckled. "Perhaps this time you should throw in something completely bizarre just to see if they notice."
The thought cheered Harry immensely. "Yeah like, 'I miss Voldemort'."
Draco laughed. "Or 'I have erectile dysfunction'."
Harry laughed, trying not to read too much into Draco referencing his penis.
The two walked across the lush green grass towards the crowd of gathered witches and wizards, most of whom were wearing white as the theme of the gathering was 'Summer Garden Party.'
"Draco! Hey Draco!"
Harry and Draco turned to see Blaise Zabini jogging over to them in a white suit with pale pink tie.
"I didn't know you were going to be here Malfoy," he said, bright blue eyes glancing at Harry before returning to Draco's face, "should've known since Potter was scheduled."
Draco frowned slightly. "What are you doing here?"
Blaise shrugged as he glanced at the crowd. "A party's a party." He turned to Harry. "Plus I do so enjoy your speeches Harry."
Harry rolled his eyes and looked away. He had never got on with Blaise, even though he was a friend of Draco's. His arrogance and humour had always seemed a lot nastier than Draco's. Draco's attitude was usually entertaining while Blaise just appeared cruel.
Of course, he could be biased because he knew Blaise and Draco had fooled around in school and it made his blood boil with jealousy.
"Ah Harry, you're here."
Harry was relieved for the distraction as Minister Shacklebolt came to collect him for his speech.
"Show time," Harry sighed aside to Draco.
"Don't forget about your erectile dysfunction," he murmured so that only Harry could hear.
Harry snorted and walked off to do his duty.
"So," Blaise said casually as he followed Draco to the large buffet table, "when are you going to fuck him?"
Draco deliberately took his time selecting a tall flute of champagne before turning to Blaise with a long-suffering look. "You are beyond vulgar Zabini."
Blaise smirked and grasped his own glass of champagne. "From you, I'll take that as a compliment. But seriously Malfoy, I'm tired of you dancing around him like a dog in heat. Just fuck him already and move on."
Draco turned to watch as Harry was led to a large white gazebo at the front of the crowd, his dark head nodding at something the Minister was saying. "It's not like that Zabini," he said quietly.
"What? You don't want him?" he asked disbelievingly.
"Not like that."
"Oh well, in that case, you wouldn't mind if I…?
Sharp grey eyes turned on Blaise. "Yes I certainly would."
Blaise frowned for half a second before his expression brightened in understanding. "Holy fuck, you're in love with him!"
"Would you kindly keep your voice down?" Draco hissed.
Blaise sniggered as Draco glanced around them nervously. "Why haven't you told him?" he asked, his tone finally losing its superior drawl. As much as he adored taunting Draco, he truly did care about the man deep down. "It's obvious he's crazy about you."
"What makes you say that?" Draco asked; trying to keep his voice down as Harry began his speech up at the front, his familiar voice echoing out from the microphone.
"Merlin Draco, the way he looks at you when you're not paying attention… It's not just a one-night stand he wants from you either, I can see it in his eyes; he's imagining a wedding and little Malfoy-Potter babies." Blaise smirked.
Draco snorted, his eyes travelling back to Harry standing alone in the middle of the raised gazebo; he looked strong and confident, not a trace of his previous nervousness showing. Draco shook his head with a look of admiration and affection. This was the reason he came to these things, Harry looked incredible up there and he could just stare at him to his heart's content without raising suspicion.
"You're lying," Draco finally replied, turning back to Blaise.
"Honest Malfoy, would I joke about something as tawdry as love?" he asked, wrinkling his nose with distaste.
Draco smiled softly. He never honestly thought Harry would be interested in dating someone like him, the Gryffindor hadn't dated anyone since Hogwarts and Draco just thought he was extraordinarily picky and hadn't met the right man yet. He'd teased him a few times about his lack of a love life but Harry was always very quiet and shrugged off any prying questions. Could this be the reason why? Could Harry be secretly harbouring feelings for him?
Blaise whistled at his friend's expression. "Man, you have it bad," he said as he turned to grab a cucumber finger-sandwich and tossed it into his mouth.
Draco shook his head. "It's a nice fantasy Blaise but Harry would have confessed his feelings to me, he's a Gryffindor through and through."
Blaise waved his hand in the air dismissively as he swallowed. "He hasn't told you, you haven't told him… It's a classic hide your feelings because you're too scared of being rejected and hurt scenario."
"But we have such a great friendship, why ruin it?"
Blaise stared. "Why ruin a perfect friendship by adding hot sex? Yeah, you're right, that would be pointless."
Draco smiled and bumped Blaise's shoulder with his own.
Blaise took a sip of his champagne then turned to his friend. "Alright," he commanded sternly. "Promise me that you will tell Potter tonight?"
"Blaise…" Draco sighed.
He shook his head. "Nope, tell him tonight - or I will."
Draco glared at him a moment before relenting. "Fine."
Blaise grinned and raised his champagne. "Good boy."
Draco allowed a small smile to stretch his lips. "You're insufferable. If this all goes pear-shaped, I will hold you accountable."
"Yeah, yeah, and if it doesn't then I am best man at your wedding." Blaise countered with a wink. "Come here."
Draco startled as his friend pulled him into a hug.
"I'm happy for you man," he whispered into his ear.
"And you're pissed," Draco surmised, half embarrassed and half amused.
Harry, who had been droning on into the microphone with his Ministry-approved speech suddenly faltered as he spotted Draco and Blaise embracing near the buffet table, a smile on both of their faces. A hot and angry swoop of jealousy flashed through him and he forced himself to look away and continue speaking.
Harry was so distracted by his thoughts that he didn't have a hope of reaching his wand in time.
A bright burst of red light suddenly erupted off to his right, followed by the whistling sound of a spell being thrown through the air with great force. The gazebo Harry was standing in suddenly exploded with light and the sound of cracking stone and splintering wood.
Harry's head jerked up to see the roof caving in towards him and he quickly threw himself down onto the floor, pulling the metal podium he was standing in front of down on top of him in an attempt to cover his body from falling debris.
He couldn't quite fit underneath the short podium and he blacked out with a cry of pain as heavy stone fell on top of his exposed lower legs.
Draco turned at the sudden noise and could only watch, frozen in horror, as a spell hit the gazebo and the whole thing suddenly collapsed in on top of Harry. Within seconds, only a huge cloud of dust remained where the structure had been standing moments before.
There were screams and people running, wands being drawn and directed towards a figure in black at the edge of the crowd - but Draco only had eyes for the crumbled gazebo.
He withdrew his wand and sprinted towards the rubble as fast as he could, Blaise hot on his heels.
A dry sob wrenched itself from Draco's throat as he came to a stop in front of the pile of debris, knowing that no one could survive such a thing. This was Harry though, he reminded himself firmly, and got to work with determination.
He raised his wand and carefully began to levitate the broken pieces of stone and wood off of the pile and let them fall off to the side onto the grass. Blaise stood beside him and lent his own wand to the task, copying Draco's movements and helping him to remove the wreckage as quickly and carefully as possible.
Draco continued to work, his heart pounding madly in his chest and a sinking feeling of dread filling his gut. He removed a large piece of stone and nearly choked when he spotted a pair of legs crumpled beneath it. Draco felt all the blood drain from his face and his wand hand shook, but he pushed on, removing more and more fragments until he could see that Harry was lying mostly underneath a hollow metal podium. He levitated the podium up and away as delicately as he could.
"Please…" Draco pleaded fervently under his breath as he dashed forward to crouch next to Harry's unmoving body.
It didn't take long to ascertain that Harry was still alive; his breathing was shallow but it was steady and Draco let out a breath of relief.
"Are you alright to Apparate him to St. Mungo's?" Blaise asked with quiet concern, coming up beside them.
Draco's gaze didn't leave Harry's pale face as he replied. "Yes."
Then, ignoring the crowd and the questions being shouted his way, Draco carefully pulled Harry into his arms and Disapparated with a loud crack.
. . . .
An hour later, Harry's eyes slowly opened and squinted around the too bright hospital room of St. Mungo's. He quickly spotted the tall, lean form of Draco standing next to the window; gazing outside with a furrowed brow, his once pristine clothes covered in grime and dust.
"Draco?" Harry's voice came out in a husky whisper and he promptly coughed.
Draco's head immediately whipped around to look at him and he quickly strode over to hand him a paper cup full of cool water.
Harry smiled gratefully and drank down the soothing liquid. "Thanks," he said roughly as he set the empty cup aside and sat back against his pillows.
"How are you feeling?" Draco asked as he pulled up a nearby chair and sat down next to Harry's bed.
Harry swallowed. "My throat is sore and…" He stopped and frowned down at his legs. "My legs are… tingling."
Draco nodded. "You probably inhaled a lot of dust, and your bones were broken and they had to give you some potions to repair them. There's no lasting damage though. In fact, you can go home as soon as you're ready. You just have to take it easy for the next day or so."
Harry tore his gaze from his legs to look at Draco. "What happened?" he asked, not really remembering much.
The look of pain and confusion, and even a trace of fear, stabbed Draco straight in the heart. He cleared his throat. "Someone attacked you, I don't know why or who yet, but they've arrested him and he's in Auror custody."
Harry looked as though he wanted to ask why again, but then shook his head and turned away.
"I thought you were dead."
Harry turned back to look at Draco, surprised by the intensity of the anguish in his voice.
"I don't think I've ever been that scared." Draco swallowed. "And you know how much I've been through in my life."
Harry's lips parted as he watched his friend; his friend who was acting more like a lover falling apart at his hospital bedside than a friend.
Draco licked his lips nervously but held his gaze. "Harry, I… I care for you - as more than just a friend. I want more from you than that."
Harry could only stare as so many different emotions flooded his body - the most prominent being joy. His parted lips slowly lifted at the corners into a tiny incredulous smile. "Really?" he finally replied then frowned. "This isn't because of what happened today, is it?"
Draco couldn't help but laugh. He reached for Harry's hand. "Believe me Potter, this has been a long time coming."
Harry felt a thrill race through him as Draco laced their fingers together on top of the white bedsheet. "How long?"
"Too long, probably since Hogwarts, but I didn't fully realise it until the day of our leaving ceremony and a part of me was suddenly terrified that I would never see you again; that you would go off to do great things and I would get left behind and forgotten."
Harry smiled; amazed that Draco could ever feel so insecure. "I could never forget you ferret."
Draco's responding smirk was decidedly fond. "Scarhead."
Harry's gaze fell to their entwined fingers and his smile widened. "I've wanted this - you - for far too long as well, but I was too afraid to tell you." He looked back up. "Some Gryffindor, huh?"
Draco smiled. "Seems Blaise was right, he said we both wanted each other but were too afraid to say so. Of course, he said it a lot less eloquently than that but… he was right."
Harry blinked in surprise. "He knew?"
"Yes, he told me that I had to tell you tonight or else he was going to. I promised that I would right before you were attacked." A flicker of sorrow shot across his handsome face. "I almost didn't get the chance."
Harry squeezed his hand. "I'm here," he said reassuringly.
Draco reached out and stroked a finger down Harry's cheek. "Boy-Who-Lived…" he whispered affectionately.
Harry closed his eyes and leaned into the tender contact. "Take me home?" he implored quietly.
Draco nodded when Harry's eyes opened and he saw the heat in them.
He gently took Harry's other hand in his and helped him to his feet where he wobbled unsteadily on weakened limbs. Draco quickly wrapped his arms around Harry's waist and held him close.
Harry smiled up at him as he slipped his arms around Draco's neck, hands fisting into his shirt, kneading the fabric as he drowned in silver grey eyes. Finally, was all he could think as he looked upon the man he was in love with without having to hide his feelings from him.
Draco smiled and leaned in to gently press his mouth to Harry's waiting lips. The kiss was soft and warm, with the promise of more to come when Harry was well enough.
He pulled back and tightened his hold on Harry. "Let's get you home."
Harry nodded and buried his face into the crook of Draco's neck, inhaling his scent and closing his eyes. "Stay with me tonight?"
Draco nodded, knowing he could never deny Harry anything, and they Disapparated; ready to start a new life together, knowing how close they came to a very different ending that day.