A/n: Written for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. All prompts are at the bottom.
This was inspired by this Reddit Writing Prompt: Every person has a tattoo only their soulmate can see. You see tattoos on everyone. This is my first attempt at writing a Soulmate!AU so hopefully it's not too cliche or cringe-worthy lol.
This is dedicated to all the Drarry lovers out there, especially Sammie (MissingMommy), Lizzy (SiriusMarauderFan), Ana (obscurialdefenceclub) and Bex (DobbyRocksSocks), who're amazing writers I idolise and have had the honour of recently befriending. And Emily (DolbyDigital) for being the most adorkable person, an excellent writer, and the best mod-mate ever.
Thanks to Bex for beta-ing.
(I swear I'll be updating the epilogue for my Drarry multi-chap Iridescent Lies soon, I promise. Until then, I hope this serves as an adequate apology for the delay.)
A Rose by Any Other Colour
The universal symbol of love.
A token of one offering their undying feelings to another.
An ever-romantic gesture sure to thaw even the coldest of hearts.
The most beautiful of all flowers—
—but the one that he despised the most.
He looked up at the sound of the shopkeeper's bell, breaking into his usual, ready-to-serve smile as a pretty lady walked towards him. "Hi, welcome to Narcissa."
"Hi," she said with a nervous laugh. "Um, I heard you make the best flower arrangements in town?"
His smile widened as he gestured to the wall behind him that was covered in photographs of his masterpieces. "Would I come off as sounding too arrogant if I were to agree?" he asked, although he was rather smug.
She laughed, a little lighter now, her eyes sparkling as she examined the display. "They're all breathtaking," she said. Her cheeks were flushed and she seemed determined when she looked back at him. "I need a large bouquet, with maybe about fifty roses, for this evening, and I'm hoping to hide a ring inside it."
When she placed her hands on the counter behind which he stood, his eyes were drawn to her wrist, where a small mockingbird peeked out from under her sleeve, and his heart clenched involuntarily. His expression must've given away his momentary pain because her face fell. "It isn't possible, is it? Oh, this is what I get for leaving everything until the very last minute."
"I'm sorry," he said, composing himself. "I'm all out of roses. I just sold the last few I had to the customer before you."
She began chewing on her thumbnail, looking distraught. She looked so miserable, like the worst case scenario had just occurred, that he decided that he wasn't that heartless. "How about this," he said, leaning forward with a smile. "I could make you a bouquet of assorted flowers that also signify love and happiness." When his customer didn't look too convinced, he added, "Don't mind me saying this, but don't you think it would look even better if you went with anything but roses, considering Valentine's Day was yesterday?"
The brunette pondered over it for a long moment, eyeing the racks of flowers lining the wall beside her and then the photographs behind him. Finally, she nodded. "Alright. That makes sense. It's not like my girlfriend loves roses or anything anyway." She smiled up at him. "Plus, I'm sure you'll do a splendid job."
He smiled and took a half-bow. "I'll make it the best bouquet your girlfriend has ever received." As she giggled, he picked up a small card from the holder on the counter and pushed it towards her. "If you leave your details here, I'll contact you and let you know when you can come pick them up. It shouldn't be longer than an hour."
"I'll be around the neighbourhood for another hour or two—gotta get some long-pending shopping done—so I'll come by just before I leave, if that's alright?" she said, writing down her name and number. She handed back the card. "Thank you so much for doing this so quickly; I really appreciate it."
"It's my pleasure," he said, placing the card under a paperweight.
She stayed for a while longer to ask about the specifics of the bouquet's arrangement and the flowers he would use, looked around the shop for said flowers—all the while keeping up a steady stream of high-spirited chatter—and finally left when he pointedly looked at his watch to remind her she had other chores to do.
He had just turned around with a sigh to get to work when the shopkeeper's bell tinkled again. "Hi, welco—" he began, looking over his shoulder with a ready smile, but broke off when he saw who it was. "Ugh, get out, I'm busy."
"A very good afternoon to you too, Draco," the man said, strolling around the shop before coming up to the counter. "Has the new shipment not come in, yet? Your racks are nearly empty."
"Harry," Draco said, not bothering to conceal his annoyance. "I told you I'm busy. A big order just came in and I have no time to entertain the likes of you."
Harry raised his eyebrows, the corners of his mouth tugging upwards in a teasing smile. "Wow, now I'm dying to know how you would've entertained me had you not been busy."
Draco rolled his eyes and waved a hand in dismissal. "I really don't have time for this."
"You're in quite a mood," the other man commented, placing something on the counter. "What, did someone ask for roses again?"
The blond scrunched his nose. "I told her I was all out. She's proposing to her girlfriend this evening, though, so I offered to make a bouquet with a bunch of other flowers," he said, walking around the counter to pick the flowers.
Harry hummed in thought, his gaze following Draco around the small flower shop until he returned to the desk. Harry pushed the paper bag he'd placed on the counter forward. "Alright, I'll leave, but only after I see you finish this." He reached into the bag to pull out a box containing a pasty and a sausage roll, a paper coffee cup, some paper napkins, and two sugar-glazed Yum-Yums.
Draco inhaled the smell of the freshly-baked goods and swallowed. He glanced up to see Harry watching him with an expectant smile. "I brought all your favourites," he said. "So you have no excuse not to finish every last crumb."
"Anything baked by you is my favourite," Draco muttered as he picked up the pasty and took a big bite, humming in contentment. "Despite how annoying you are, I begrudgingly admit that you're still the best baker in town."
Harry's grin could've lit up the entire shop. Draco turned around and hopped on the counter, focusing all of his senses and attention on the pasty in an attempt to ignore his racing heart. Harry's childlike smiles were deadly, especially when directed at a Draco who was in a sensitive mood at the moment. Coupled with his amazing baking skills and lovable personality, he was a man to die for. Which meant he was way out of Draco's league.
He jerked back when Harry tugged at the ties of his apron. "You're awfully silent this afternoon."
"Can't a man enjoy his pasty in peace?"
Harry hopped onto the counter too. Now that they were eye-level again, Draco was forced to look into his piercing emerald eyes. Harry smiled, and Draco promptly looked away.
"You don't have to talk about if you don't want to—"
"Then I won't."
"—but I'm feeling a bit blue myself, and could use a shoulder to cry on."
Draco rolled his eyes, but he couldn't quite reject the brunet. "Only until I'm done eating. And if you get any bodily fluids on me, I swear I'll—"
"Bodily fluids, he says," Harry interrupted, chortling. "Ah, man, you're such a riot." He sobered down when Draco glared at him and said, "Alright, alright. Anyway—this couple came into the bakery today, and what started off as them being cute and lovey-dovey turned into them competing to see which one could get their tongue farther down in the other's throat."
Draco pulled a face. "What did you do?"
"I interrupted them, obviously."
"I walked up to them and loudly asked if they would like the bill, and—you will not believe it—" he paused, like a teenager spilling the school's hottest gossip, "—they didn't even stop! They just kept going at it, and I was just standing there like—"
"Yeah, OK, I'll talk so enough with your melodramatic tall tales," Draco said, washing down the sausage roll with some coffee. He smacked his lips at the bitterness.
"I only exaggerated a tad," Harry said. "But please, do tell."
Draco sighed. "I saw her tattoo."
Harry shifted, and Draco could feel his concerned gaze even without looking. "Whose? That woman just now?" When Draco nodded, he asked, "You mean like her tattoo tattoo?"
Just then the bell tinkled, and they hopped off the counter, both donning their trademark business smiles. "Saved by the bell," Harry muttered out of the corner of his mouth as he bent over the counter to place the Yum-Yums under it and picked up the paper bag. "Our plan for tonight's still on, yeah?"
"Hi, welcome to Narcissa, how can I help you?" Draco said, ignoring Harry and directing his attention to the couple that had walked in. Harry waved and exited the shop, and Draco couldn't help but watch him until he couldn't see the other man anymore.
"We'd like to buy a dozen roses, please," the woman said.
Draco gritted his teeth while he smiled back at her. "I'm sorry, I'm all out of roses."
Draco dove sideways and picked up the receiver, cradling it between his cheek and shoulder as he continued wrapping the bouquet he was working on. "Hello?"
"You better be here exactly at eight or else," Harry said from the other end of the line. Draco couldn't help but think, once again, that he loved how deep the brunet's voice sounded on the phone.
"I already told you I'm not going," Draco said, tutting when a flower slipped from the arrangement.
"But it's Friday night."
"We work weekends too, remember?"
"Exactly why we need to take a break every once in a while."
Draco sighed. "Harry, you know I don't like parties."
"I'd hardly call it a party," Harry said, and Draco smiled at the whiny tone of his voice. In all the years he'd known the man, he had come to learn that Harry only behaved childishly with Draco, and that was something the latter revelled in.
"Alright, a social gathering. Of your friends. I'm going to be an uninvited guest."
"What're you talking about; Ginny invited you herself."
Draco sighed again. "Harry—"
"Nope, not listening to any of your old-man excuses. Get your pretty arse down here in two hours."
Draco was about to argue, but he could hear some commotion in the background. "Sorry, some kid seems to have spilt his drink. I'll see you soon, OK? Bye!"
He stared at the receiver for a moment before replacing it. "Who's an old man," he muttered to himself as he held out his handiwork and examined it from all angles. Nodding in satisfaction, he spritzed it with some water and picked up the card with the customer's details on it.
Despite all his resistance, he had closed the shop at exactly quarter to eight and walked next door. Pushing open the door to the dimly lit bakery, he walked to the back and peeked in.
"Harry?" he called.
"Here," Harry said from behind him, making him jump. Draco placed his palm on the side of his neck, still feeling Harry's hot breath lingering, and frowned.
"After ordering me around, you're still not ready?" he demanded, crossing his arms.
Instead of replying, Harry began to undress, and Draco spun around, his heart jumping into his mouth. "At least warn me before stripping, won't you?"
Harry snorted. "What's the point acting all shy now when you've already seen everything that's there to see?"
Draco flushed and spluttered. "Who's seen—"
He broke off abruptly when he felt Harry behind him. The bespectacled man reached over Draco's shoulder to pull his shirt off the hook, and Draco stood frozen, every cell in his body focused on the feeling of the other man pressed up against his back. "Pass me my hairbrush, will you? It's right there," Harry said, his voice low and rumbling right next to Draco's ear.
"Mm," was the only response the blond could muster as he reached up for the brush, trying to contain his movements to the minimum. In the process, however, he almost dropped it, and Harry used his free hand to reach around Draco to catch the hairbrush. They caught it at the same time, and Harry tightened his grasp around Draco's fingers.
"Clumsy," Harry murmured, and Draco squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to calm down. He knew what Harry was playing at—it wasn't the first time he'd pulled stunts like this—and he refused to let the other man win.
So, in an effort not to back down, he pushed up against Harry for a fraction of a second and turned his face towards Harry's so his lips nearly brushed the other's cheek before pulling away and holding the hairbrush out. "Don't take too long. I'll be outside."
He spun on his heel and stormed out, slamming the door shut behind him, the image of a wide-eyed, startled Harry bringing a smirk to his face. Two can play this game, he thought before shuddering and pressing his palms to his burning cheeks. This is why I don't want to go tonight.
"The Drarry couple's finally here!" Ginny said as they walked into the small flat, throwing her arms around Harry and kissing him on the cheek. She was wearing a weird, colourful hat that had champion written on it that Draco guessed she probably bought as a souvenir while touring with her team.
"Hi, Ginny," Draco said, not having the energy to rebuke the awful nickname she'd given them the last time they saw her, and moved out of the way before the drunk ginger could bear-hug him too.
Ginny reached towards Draco, puckering her lips, and Harry placed his palm against her mouth before pushing her back. "Easy there, tiger. What, are you already wasted? Nobody's even here yet!"
"As if Ginny needs an excuse to get pissed out of her mind on a Friday night," Hermione said dryly as she appeared from the kitchen. Putting down a platter of assorted snacks, she turned to hug Harry with a smile and waved at Draco. "I'm really glad you came," she said, hugging him too. "I needed some intelligent company, considering tonight's lineup."
Harry always insisted Draco come with him when he hung out with his friends, and considering Draco had distanced himself from his handful of friends years ago, he was grateful for Harry's persistence. Draco and Hermione, although they had started off on a rough patch, had ended up as fast friends when they had realised they shared very similar interests. Sometimes, Draco even liked to entertain the idea of himself dating Hermione if he wasn't head over heels for Harry.
They watched Ginny wrap her arms around Harry's neck and swing around him, and then looked back at each other. "So glad," Hermione said seriously, and Draco couldn't help but laugh.
While Harry was trying to calm Ginny, Hermione and Draco settled down on the sofa and opened up the box of treats Harry had brought along with him. "Ooh, mini quiches!" Hermione exclaimed in delight as Draco eyed the crate of alcohol in the corner.
"Is there nothing but beer?"
"Ginny finished everything else we had so I sent Neville and Ron to buy some more."
"That explains why they aren't here. Do you want a drink?" Draco said, cracking open a can of beer and handing it to Hermione in exchange for a mini quiche.
Hermione scoffed. "You think Ginny'd throw a party and not invite those two?" she replied. "Thanks."
"This is hardly a party," Harry said, coming up to sit beside Draco. "There's one already sloshed girl and two boring book nerds."
"There are so many empty seats; why're you squeezing in beside me?" Draco complained, trying to push the other man away.
"Because this seat is close to both the food and the booze, and it's right in front of the TV." Harry waggled his eyebrows at Draco. "It's also the perfect excuse to sit beside you.
Before Draco could retort, Hermione stood up with a, "God, you two," and stormed over to the bathroom, where Ginny could be heard retching.
"Seriously, quit it," Draco hissed at Harry. "If you're going to keep hitting on me all evening, I'm leaving."
Harry's eyes darkened and he squared his jaw. "Way to take a joke, mate." He rose and followed Hermione, leaving Draco feeling like he was the one that had done something to apologise for. He swore under his breath and reached over for a can of beer, cracking the seal open and chugging it down. Grimacing at the taste, he popped another mini quiche into his mouth, unable to not admire Harry's skill despite being mad at him.
He looked towards the bathroom door when Hermione and Harry exclaimed, and Hermione rushed out to the bedroom and back with a towel. Draco sighed and stared at his beer. "Some party."
It wasn't long before Neville and Ron returned, and Draco gladly made conversation with the former about the latest research work he was conducting with his interns while the latter yelled at his sister for causing a mess before anything had even begun. The evening passed quicker than Draco had thought it would; between discussing the book Hermione had lent him recently and the sad game the Chudley Cannons had displayed with Ron, as well as the alcohol that was going down by the gallon, he had managed to avoid Harry for most of the evening.
He was standing at the balcony sometime past midnight, eyes closed and enjoying the cool night air, Neville and Ron's cheers as they watched the match the only thing distracting him from the drunken stupor he was slipping into, when his mind wandered back to the first time he had met Harry.
It was five years ago when he had heard that the late baker's grandson, a young man around his age, had inherited the bakery next door to his family's flower shop.
He had hated working part-time at the shop, mostly because of the "curse" he bore, where he could see various designs tattooed on people's skin. He had eventually figured out it was something that was reserved only for one's soulmate, yet there he was, trespassing on grounds he had no business being on, tarnishing something that was meant to be precious, and realising what it meant: that he would never be able to tell if ever there was someone meant only for him out there. He hated seeing tattoos appear or disappear on customer's skins, hated watching their loved ones caress it with tender affection, hated knowing he was the only one who could never share that secret bond.
But that all changed when he had been introduced to old man Dumbledore's grandson. He had unkempt hair and spectacles that were always a little askew; he dressed in baggy clothes that did nothing to complement his otherwise well-built physique; he looked and behaved nothing like the sort of people Draco usually befriended. Still, there was something about the way his green eyes twinkled when someone complimented his baking or his carefree laughter when one of the neighbourhood kids cracked a joke that had piqued Draco's curiosity.
Despite being neighbours, they hadn't interacted much—much to Draco's chagrin, although he would never admit it—until the fateful day his mother had dragged him over to the bakery next door and the blond had had the chance of tasting Harry's baking.
It was love at first taste.
Everything about Harry's baked goods was perfect. It was moist enough to melt in your mouth but not too soggy that it left a wet aftertaste, it was sweet enough to make you hum in delight but not too sweet that you couldn't eat more. And his pasties—his pasties were Draco's go-to lunch on busy days because of the perfectly savoury blend of spices melded together with the filling and blanketed in dough baked so skillfully that it was crispy along the edges but soft at the core. You could tell, just by eating what Harry made, that he came from a family of skilled bakers.
At first, Draco would go to the bakery just for an excuse to see Harry at his best, kneading and baking with so much passion that you couldn't look away. But on days the shop got too busy and Draco resented the fact that he wouldn't be able to visit the bakery, Harry would come over with something or the other for Draco and his mum to eat. He smelled like freshly-baked bread and there was always some flour in his hair or clothes. Draco loved it.
They fell into an easy friendship revolving around their love for baked goods—or, in Draco's case, his love for Harry's baking. The months turned into years, and their relationship turned into something neither of them had really anticipated or wanted. They didn't dare define it, but it was there—tangible, but rough around the edges; subtle, but leaving behind a sense of longing.
Then, just when everything was going a little too well, his mother had passed in an accident, leaving him all alone with nothing but flowers surrounding him, overwhelming him with their vibrancy and pungent fragrance, leaving him unable to look at a rose without thinking of her, lying in a pool of her own blood. He had distanced and isolated himself from everyone and everything, unable to cope with the sudden loss.
Harry had been there then, when Draco insisted he was better off alone but had needed someone desperately. Harry, and his baked goods, slowly attempted to return the sweetness to his life—to remind him that he didn't have to stand amongst the flowers like the sole thorn.
Draco was grateful. He was grateful, but his mother's death had changed him. Now, every time he saw a tattoo on someone, his heart ached like he was being stabbed. He could no longer ignore them as he had all his life; he could no longer pretend like he couldn't see that which others longed to see. And this heartache and fear left him always wary and on-edge, unable to focus on anything but the flower arrangements he could lose himself in—the fragrance he could drown himself in.
Which meant Harry, whom he wanted so badly it was even more painful than his heartache, could never be his. Because he could have no soulmate, which meant Harry would never be his.
Despite the fact that it was Harry who had pulled him out of the darkness of his curse—Harry, who had made him want to consider taking a leap of faith—his mother's sudden death had destroyed the last shred of hope he had held onto. And now… now, as he stood staring out at the pitch black sky, he wondered if the dawn would ever come.
"How drunk are you?"
He glanced sideways as Harry came to stand beside him, placing an arm around his waist when he swayed. "Drunk enough to apologise for snapping at you before," he murmured, bowing his head. "That was presumptuous of me."
Draco squinted at him. "What?"
"It wasn't presumptuous of you." When Draco continued to squint at him, Harry chuckled and said, "I would've continued to hit on you all evening if you hadn't told me off."
Draco scoffed. "Knew it. Typical." His thoughts were muddled and he was still hung up on what he was reminiscing about earlier, so before he could reconsider it, he said, "You know, you break my heart."
Harry turned to him wide-eyed. "I do?"
"Break my heart," Draco muttered again, turning away to go back inside. Harry grabbed his arm and pulled him back, caressing his cheek gently. "Draco," he said, his eyes wide and pleading. "Do you like me?"
"Like?" Draco attempted to laugh, but it came out sounding like hmm-hmm-hmm. "Who likes you?"
Draco belatedly wondered if he was drunker than he thought he was. He said, "'Course not."
Harry frowned. "Draco—"
"As if I can stop at just like," Draco said, slapping Harry's hand away. "I'm going inside. It's cold."
Harry grabbed him again. "Wait, do you… do you love me, then?"
Draco squinted at Harry again. Why are you always pestering me? Is it a fun hobby? he thought and said, "Yes," before realising he'd spoken what he was thinking out loud and thought what he was supposed to say. "Ah, I'm too sloshed. Love is such a silly thing, anyway. Flimsy, really. Stupid, useless emotion. Take me home, now," he said in an attempt to make up for his mistake.
"I will, once you answer me this."
Draco sighed. "Ok fine. What?"
"Why didn't you say anything?" the brunet asked, tightening his hold on Draco.
"Hurts." Draco flapped his arm, and Harry let go of it.
"I'm sorry," Harry said somberly.
Draco looked at the empty street below, wondering if it was a good idea to keep talking. "I can see it, you know."
The blond poked Harry's forehead, where a lightning bolt-shaped mark was engraved into his skin. "This, this. Your tattoo."
Harry grabbed his hand and said slowly, "Draco, that isn't a tattoo. It's a scar from when I was a child. You know that; I've told you."
"No," Draco insisted. "It's your tattoo."
"No, it's no—" Harry cut himself off with a frown. "Why do you think that?"
Draco leant back, wondering why he thought that. It took him a while to answer. "Because I can't see any other tattoo on you."
Harry's eyes widened, and his jaw dropped. He stared at Draco for a long moment before saying, "I can't see any on you either."
Draco frowned and pushed away from the other man. "I know! I know, OK? You don't have to rub it in."
"No, no," Harry said, holding him by his shoulders. "Draco. Don't you get it?"
"You can see tattoos on everybody, right?"
"But you can't see one on me."
Harry brought his face close, wrapping his arms around the blond's waist. "Don't you see what that means?"
"It's too dark to see; stop annoying me," Draco snapped, leaning his head on Harry's shoulder and closing his eyes, revelling in the warmth of the embrace. "I'm sleepy."
Harry chuckled. "I've never seen you like this before. You better not get this drunk with anybody else, OK?"
"Let's go home."
Thank you for reading! I hope you liked it!
Assignment #8: Arithmancy. Task 2: Write about someone bringing another person out of the dark. (I've used this metaphorically.)
Also written for the Writing Club.
AU of the week: Week 2 - 8th - 14th November - Florist!AU
OTP Challenge: Prompt: Write about your OTP at a party. Optional Prompts: (dialogue) "Do you want a drink?" (object) Hat, (word) Colorful
Shannon's Showcase: Raven - CBBC (2002 - 2010) - character making a leap of faith
Showtime: One Step Ahead - (dialogue) "You know you broke my heart."
Count your Buttons: (song) "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons, (AU) Soulmate!AU, (object) Bouquet of flowers, (dialogue) "Love is such a silly thing. Flimsy, really. Stupid, useless emotion.", (character) Ginny Weasley, (word) Champion