written for the hogwarts forum, challenge #7.

A Study of Magical Healing: Anapneo; Task: Write about a person who finds a way to breathe again. You may take this literally or metaphorically.

a/n: i got the draco muse just thinking of this prompt. but then i was like 'you write too much draco' so i decided to go with harry, and then i was like 'fuck this shit, i'm writing draco.'

also, harry seems like a man-whore in this one; it's hyperbole. draco is a drama queen, as we are all quite aware. also, draco/ron friendship.

. . .

Draco sighs. He doesn't like this crap about 'assigned community service' that the Ministry pulls; it doesn't escape his notice that most of his co-workers tend to skive off the mandates, while Draco knows perfectly well that if he misses one session he's at risk of fire. Apparently, those in his work line "don't get time in the field" and that the service is supposed to "keep things level." That excuse is a load of dragon dung if he's even seen any.

No, Draco doesn't like it at all. But he'd barely managed a position in the Ministry, and he would very much like to feed himself for the rest of his life, thank you very much.

His 'position in the Ministry' is literally just data analysis. Nothing much. Practically Muggle Science if it weren't for the decidedly magical twist on everything. And Draco had versed himself in Muggle Science from an early age; wizards were supposed to blend in with Muggles, and Draco wasn't going to go parading about in terrible fashions like an ignorant idiot. Therefore, he had learned, begrudgingly, the way some Muggle things worked, the more acceptable ones that could also apply to the wizarding world — such as science and physics and chemistry. Draco had always been fascinated by the way the world worked.

Sometimes he works confidentially with the Unspeakables, and this process is very messy and involves Unbreakable Vows; right now, Draco is analyzing some of their experiments, writing small notes in the margins and giving feedback, polite stuff, of course, because he rather fancies having a home.

It's not much of a home. A small flat in Muggle London after he'd cleaned up Malfoy Manor and sold it to some Muggles. Draco had converted the Muggle money to wizard money and stored it safely in a vault at Gringotts, to tap into in emergencies.

Of all the things. A Malfoy living in Muggle London, surviving off those blessed things Muggles call cup noodles and takeout?

Draco rolls his eyes at his own train of thoughts. He goes back to scribbling in the margin of a report.

. . .

Draco kicks back the door to the flat; he places the piles of papers into the desk in his bedroom, and flops into a green armchair.

What is he doing here?

. . .

The Gryffindor Golden Trio of his old Hogwarts days are all, of course, working in the Ministry. Granger is in some branch of Magical Creatures, and Potter and Weasley are both Aurors.

Draco tries his best to avoid them, but it cannot be avoided sometimes; he'll be in the break room filling his cup of coffee, and then suddenly Potter and Weasley will materialize — Draco will stand awkwardly to the side until he has enough coffee, and then leave with polite nods at the two.

Sometimes Granger and Weasley will in there, kissing. Draco will try his best not to cringe too openly.

Today, that's what he starts his day with — today is when the tangent begins. Draco needs coffee, because his job is so unbearably dull, but of course, he has to survive somehow.

Unfortunately, Granger and Weasley are both pushed against the coffee machine. Draco tries to edge around them, then realizes it's a fruitless endeavor, and then tries to subtly gesticulate to the two, but of course, their eyes are only on each other.

Finally, Draco loses it. There is a time, and a place, for these kinds of things — in the break room when other people are trying to get coffee is not it. He coughs a little bit, and points a finger to the machine silently.

Granger and Weasley spring apart, both turning shades of splotchy red.

"Oh..." mutters Weasley, "er — uh — sorry..."

"No problem," Draco says swiftly. His cup is nearing full capacity; he switches the liquid off, caps the cup, and drives himself out of there as fast as his legs can take him. He feels oddly lonely, and sips his drink to give himself a feeling of companionship.

. . .

Potter's conquests are also there. Apparently, he and Ginevra Weasley split up, and Potter snogs various people, both men and women in the break room, much to Draco's annoyance, because they love the coffee machine. It's not as if Draco has a problem with who Potter chooses to snog — it's where they kiss that irritates him greatly.

"Does everyone in this damn place have a coffee fetish or something?" Draco murmurs to himself when this happens for about the fifth time in a week.

Potter and his companion break away from each other — reluctantly, Draco can tell.

"Of all places," Draco complains quietly, "why the coffee machine?"

. . .

These particular instances happen so often Draco begins to wonder if the Trio is doing it on purpose.

"If you would snog over there" — Draco points to a wall in the corner — "instead of by this coffee machine, this incredibly awkward occurrences would not happen nearly as often," he tells the members of the Trio.

Weasley and Granger look admittedly bashful, but Potter shrugs; he says, "This machine is quite —"

"— I don't want to know," cuts in Draco sharply. "I am merely trying to get my coffee, so if I could not be traumatized first thing in the morning, it would be wonderful!"

. . .

Why is Draco doing this?

Sometimes, he'd rather be in Azkaban.

Don't think like that, he tells himself, but it's hard not to.

. . .

What is his purpose? Draco feels like he's wasting away.

. . .

Draco stumbles upon the Trio again.

"Thank Merlin they're not snogging," mutters Draco as he makes his way to the coffee machine.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Weasley snipes, looking up from his conversation with Granger and Potter.

"What?"

"'Thank Merlin they're not snogging?' What's that supposed to mean?" he repeats.

"Oh, you heard that," Draco says, unaware his soliloquy was audible. "It's just that every time I walk in here, at least one of you is snogging someone."

Potter snorts. "I don't snog that many people."

Draco disagrees. He doesn't say anything.

His coffee cup is full. Draco caps it.

"Good day, then," he tells the Trio, and leaves, feeling oddly alone.

. . .

"Hey, Malfoy," says Weasley one day, sliding out of the break room to...catch up with him? Odd.

"Weasley," Draco greets politely, inclining his head.

"Well, so — and I realize I'm about to sound so stupid — but, well, would you help me propose? To Hermione?"

Draco, who's been sipping his coffee, promptly chokes on it.

Weasley's eyes widen; he scrambles for his wand.

Draco's suffocating — dear Merlin, he's going to die — there's liquid seeping into his lungs, it's going the wrong direction, and it's going to end up in his windpipe, it's going to kill him, he realizes as he coughs and coughs —

"Anapneo." Weasley points his wand at Draco. His throat clears; he isn't going to die, after all.

"Thank you," Draco says hoarsely.

"Sorry for the bombshell, but everyone else is rubbish at keeping secrets, and Hermione's so smart, she'd pick up, so I decided —"

"To go with the unexpected?" asks Draco. He sighs, contemplating. "Well — I suppose — I suppose I might be able to help."

Weasley's positively beaming. "Thank you, really, you don't know how much it means..."

"I've got nothing better to do, anyway," Draco mutters, but apparently, he's not very good at muttering, or Weasley has very sharp hearing.

He says, "Haven't you got anything? Nothing to do?"

"Nobody to do anything with," Draco admits with slight shame. "It's fine —"

Weasley's eyes narrow. "This is not fine. You are helping me get hitched, so from here on out, I, Ronald Weasley, begin 'Operation: Get Malfoy Laid.'"

Draco splutters. "What?"

"You heard me, Malfoy. I am going to make sure you get laid. And hopefully in a relationship."

"What in the name of Merlin's most baggy Y-fronts —"

"Shut up. I want to play matchmaker. I've never done it before, and Harry keeps rubbing it my face that he called it, 'Romione' or whatever that is."

"I digress, Weasley. What in the name of Merlin's most baggy Y-fronts?"

. . .

"Ooh, that girl Astoria Greengrass is cute."

Draco steadfastly ignores the blush spreading across his cheeks.

"...Wait — you like her. Draco Malfoy has a crush!" exclaims Ron. He's gone from "Weasley" to "Ronald" to "Ron" and from "Ronald Weasley" to "Ronald Granger-Weasley." It's a nice progression. And to think, Draco made it happen.

. . .

"Oh, Merlin," says Ron, wiping tears from his eyes, "I called it. 'Drastoria!'"

"What in the name of Merlin's most baggy Y-fronts?"

. . .

Somehow, in the midst of snogging and coffee machines and the Golden Trio, Draco Malfoy, the youngest Death Eater, found something. He found out how to breathe.