Draco Malfoy is curious.

He has known practically from birth of the existence of soulmates, those who complete you, make your heart whole. His parents are each other's, Auntie Bella and Uncle Rodolphus too.

Even Uncle Sev has one, even if he doesn't like to talk about her.

Draco has a clock of his own, counting down to a date far, far away to his five-year-old mind, some sixteen years in the future.

He hopes his soulmate is Pansy. She's full of adventures, always with scraped knees and messy hair, to the constant detriment of her mother. To a quiet boy like Draco, she seems alive in a way his house, full of empty rooms and cold splendor, rarely sees.

Draco wishes that whoever they are, his soulmate has that same sparkle of perpetual wonder in their eyes that Pansy does.

Draco Malfoy is angry.

How dare that nasty Potter brat show such a blatant disregard for what Draco knows to be the order of things? He just wanted to save him from himself - associating with Weasleys is social suicide, everyone knows that.

It doesn't help that he knows that when he writes home for the first time later tonight, his father is going to pace his study for a long time, silently fuming at his son's incompetence at what should have been so easy, Draco, Merlin, how could you possibly bungle up something that simple, pathetic, honestly, how did I ever get so unlucky to get saddled with you as a son, the Dark Lord-

Draco flops back onto his new bed in the dungeons, seething with resentment and not crying at all. His clock has a little over ten years left, and he still doesn't know who his soulmate is, not that it matters-

Crabbe shifts heavily in his sleep, startling Draco from his thoughts. He rolls over and covers himself in the heavy green comforter, losing himself to sleep.

Draco Malfoy is not panicking. Not at all.

It's just that how dare Potter keep looking at Cho Chang with that dopey expression, as if she (that boring sap of a Ravenclaw with dreadful hair, honestly) had managed to hang the moon without anyone else noticing.

And he wasn't at all happy that Pansy tried to kiss him last week at Hogsmeade (not one bit, even if her dress robes did set off her eyes), even if Theo and Greg would eagerly murder him for the same opportunity. Not that there is anything wrong with Pansy, it's only that whenever he ...thinks about ...kissing, there's always green eyes and golden, muscled limbs, and-

Okay, so there may be the ever-so-slight possibility that Draco doesn't like Pansy because he doesn't like women like that. Which is entirely irrelevant and has no bearing on his future. Because he's still going to marry a nice, rich, pureblooded girl from a nice, rich, pureblooded family, and have nice, rich, pureblooded sons to carry on the Malfoy line. No matter how good Potter looks in a Quidditch uniform.

Draco is fifteen, his clock is constantly ticking down to somewhen, a little less than six years away, and Merlin why doesn't he know-

But Blaise is calling him, and he turns away after one last lingering look at Potter's messy shock of hair.

Draco Malfoy is terrified.

Not only is the Dark Lord inside Hogwarts, but his classmates are dying at the hands of his father's friends, his mother is nowhere to be found, and for some unholy reason, his timer has stopped counting.

It's not that it's at zero, oh no, it still has three and a half years left, no, it has just. Stopped. Right in the middle of a fucking battle. As if Draco doesn't have enough on his mind already without his stupid soulmark deciding to go haywire.

He whirls around, parrying spells fired from both sides, not caring who sent them, just trying to find his mother, and in the back of his mind is the constant whisper of Potter where's Potter that bloody son of a banshee did he go did he answer the Dark Lord's summons where is he where-

Because he can't stop thinking about the fucking Chosen One even in the middle of trying not to die. Of course.

And then he feels a burning in his wrist and there his timer goes, counting down like it should be, and oh thank Merlin, I'm not any more broken than I already am.

And Draco hears the Dark Lord's voice echoing around Hogwarts, effectively halting the firing of curses in the wake of -

Potter.

Dead.

At the Dark Lord's hand.

And there, the half-breed Hagrid, carrying something - no, it can't be, that's not -

But it is.

And Hagrid is sobbing while the Dark - no, Voldemort - laughs.

The chaos around him blurs as Draco's vision tunnels, focusing on that fucking hair, messy even in -

Wait. Was that a -

Breath?

And his heart skips a beat or five as Potter rises from the ground and thank all the fucking gods he's not dead, Potter isn't dead, but how?

And as the battle resumes, Draco's train of thought is lost again in the all-consuming panic of my parents where are they I must find them, is there anyone -

He doesn't notice when Nagini dies at Longbottom's hands, or even when the whole gaggle of ginger heads clustered together around their dead son. His parents are alive (and so is Potter), and so is he, and that is enough for now.

Draco Malfoy is, for once in his life, calm.

Three years after the Battle of Hogwarts, as it has come to be known, and his life has finally returned to some semblance of normalcy. Or, you know, whatever normalcy can be when Ron Weasley is beating him at wizard's chess in his own parlor.

He is still reeling that he's somehow become - can they really be friends, after all this? perhaps so - something, anyway, with the very people he took such delight in tormenting half a life ago. Yet here he is, living in a comfortable flat in London near St. Mungo's, not in Azkaban, with Harry Potter attempting to teach Hermione Granger his aunt's recipe for treacle tart in his kitchen.

"Check!" Ron crows, and Draco's attention returns to the chessboard, analyzing possible moves in his head. He hesitates only slightly before directing his remaining castle to a black square across from Ron's king.

He is stopped from declaring checkmate by a sudden burning scent emerging from the kitchen, immediately followed by the distinctive sound of the Chosen One swearing while attempting to remove a treacle tart from an oven barehanded. Draco rises, stepping towards the commotion, as Ron rushes to ensure his fiancee is unharmed.

Harry waves with his left hand, perched on the countertop and seemingly calm once more, as Hermione attempts to bandage the other, scolding him all the while in a shrill tone remarkably similar to that of Ron's mother. Draco can't help but grin at the fate the poor dessert has befallen, poking at the blackened crust. "How on earth did the two of you manage to kill this innocent tart in the five minutes since it was in the oven?" he asks, shaking his head. "If there is a speck of damage to my kitchen, Potter, I swear on Merlin's left nut -"

He is cut off by Ron simultaneously kicking his shin and rubbing flour in Harry's untidy mess of hair.. Draco sighs dramatically. "Ronald Bilius Weasley, I will not tolerate such abuse in my own domicile. Leave this place at once, and take that poor excuse for a pastry chef you call Hermione with you."

In the midst of the bickering that ensues, he can't help but smile. One hundred and sixty-two days, three hours, and seven minutes until he kisses his soulmate, yet Draco isn't concerned about their identity any more. He's made his peace with his timer and with the world, or at the very least the three people covered in flour and plasters crammed into his kitchen.

No, Draco Malfoy is happy, even if he still gets nightmares about Charity Burbage sometimes, and whoever his soulmate is, they will come when they come. In the meanwhile, he will learn to cook and play chess and finish his potions apprenticeship (and if he still checks out Harry's arse during pick-up Quidditch games, well, a man can dream, can't he?).

When Harry Potter finally kisses Draco Malfoy on a crisp September afternoon, one hundred and sixty-two days, three hours, and seven minutes later, Draco can't kiss back because he is smiling wide enough for three people. His wrist is tingling, his nose is cold, Harry is laughing, and all is well.