I know, I know, I'm late for Valentine's Day! Please forgive me. This was just me using the holiday as an excuse to write a fluff filled story I guess. This turned out WAY longer than I originally intended it to be… Oops. Hope you enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter. This is just for fun.
An oddly shaped, brightly colored box landed on Draco's desk with a dull thump. His eyes darted up to find his partner standing before him. The man had somehow entered their shared office silently enough that Draco had been unaware of his presence until that moment. The box he had essentially chucked at Draco now sat innocently atop a report Draco had been attempting to read.
"What the hell is this, Potter?"
"Chocolate," Potter said with a shrug.
"For me?" Draco asked dubiously.
Potter nodded. "You love chocolate."
After a long pause, Draco confirmed, "I do love chocolate."
Potter shrugged again. "So, I figured I'd give you some. You know, since you just got out of St. Mungo's. A sort of 'welcome back' or 'hooray you're healthy' gift." He punctuated his reasons by awkwardly making quotation marks with his fingers.
Draco had spent the past two weeks in the hospital following what should have been a standard raid. Except the group of criminals they had been dealing with had unwisely attempted to fight off Draco, Potter and the other Aurors. Of course, the criminals had been taken down in the end. However, the man Draco had been dueling had managed to hit him with a violent and powerful spell, propelling him backwards into a stone wall. He had broken many bones, but the worst by far had been the fractures in his skull. Head injuries were very serious, apparently, and he had been rushed to St. Mungo's immediately.
The Healers had been able to mend his skull, along with his other bones, easily enough. He had felt mildly groggy for three days, but after that he'd been sure he could leave the hospital. But the Healers had insisted on keeping him there for monitoring, to make sure no symptoms of neurological problems popped up unexpectedly.
Draco hadn't been discharged until that morning, nearly a fortnight after the incident. While his boss had been willing to give him more time to recuperate at home, Draco had demanded to be cleared to return to work immediately. He was sure he'd go mad if he had to spend one more day in bed. It made him feel utterly useless.
"All right," Draco said slowly, still trying to figure out what Potter's deal was. He wouldn't let himself think this gift could be for any other reason than the one Potter had already given him. But still, he had to point out, "While it is ever so sweet of you to bring me chocolates after my suffering through such a terrible injury, that doesn't explain why the box is pink and shaped like a giant heart."
Potter scoffed. "Malfoy, have you forgotten today's date? It's the tenth of February. It's not my fault it's almost Valentine's Day. When I decided I wanted to get you something, I knew the best gift would be these fancy chocolates I happen to know you're very fond of. It's not exactly a secret that you have one hell of a sweet tooth. I apologize that the packaging is not to your liking, but this was all I could find anywhere. I'm positive when you eat them you will enjoy them regardless."
Draco was very much aware of the date. He had not forgotten that Valentine's Day was just around the corner. However, being single and hopelessly in love with one's straight work partner did not exactly leave a person thrilled about that particular day. This gift from Potter had nothing to do with the holiday. Sadly, this was the only form chocolate seemed to come in during the month of February.
Draco brought his attention back to the box Potter had dropped on his desk, giving it a closer look past its tacky design. He saw that it was made by his favorite Swiss chocolatier. Draco was impressed. He liked that Potter knew him so well. Although, he knew these chocolates were not cheap (unsurprisingly, Draco had very expensive taste). Of course, Potter had plenty of gold in his Gringotts vault. Still, it was interesting that Potter had willingly spent that number of Galleons on one box of sweets for him.
Draco's lips curved into an impish smirk. "You claim this gift is only because of my recent hospital stay, but are you sure you're not secretly in love with me?" He let out a melodramatic gasp. "Oh, please excuse my wishful thinking, but that would simply be a dream come true."
Comments like this were not unusual for them. The lighthearted teasing and mock flirting was something they both did quite frequently these days, in place of their old habit of swapping of insults and harsh words. Some might say it was weird, but to them it was just a way to express their comfortability with each other.
"Oh, Malfoy, I can't deny it anymore. I am in love with you!" Potter jibed back. The way he fluttered eyelashes overzealously showed that he was unfazed by Draco's joke. But his fake infatuated expression quickly disappeared. He snorted and rolled his eyes. "As hilarious as we are, is it impossible for you to just say thanks like a normal person?"
Draco discreetly sighed in disappointment. That response made it more than clear that he would only ever be a friend to Potter. Draco didn't mind, really. They had come a long way since their Hogwarts days, and Draco wouldn't ever want to work with anyone else. He could accept that their relationship would always remain this way, regardless of how strong his feelings for Potter had become.
Draco lifted off the top of the heart shaped box, and his mouth watered just from looking at the chocolates (Potter was right, he did have one hell of a sweet tooth). He selected a piece to try and said, "Fine. Thank you, Potter." He then popped the confection into his mouth, and inadvertently let out a low moan. The chocolate was delicious.
"You're welcome," Potter murmured as he watched Draco savor his present. After a few seconds, he shook his head and turned his back on Draco.
As Potter made his way over to his own desk, Draco couldn't help but admire the man from behind. Potter had an exceptional arse. It was perfectly shaped, and Draco imagined it to have the right amount of firmness to it. He had missed being able to admire Potter during his time spent in a hospital bed. More than that, though, he'd just generally missed Potter. He sighed at the rather pathetic thought.
Potter's head turned to look back at Draco over his shoulder, and Draco tore his attention away from Potter's fit form as quickly as he could. He worried that his eyes had lingered a second too long, but Potter just sat down in his chair and said nothing, so Draco knew he was safe.
Potter began to fidget in his seat. He flipped through his paperwork without really looking at it, he tapped his quill against the wood of his desk, and he shook his foot incessantly. Draco was just about to snap at him to stop it when Potter glanced sideways at him and said, "It really sucked not having you here for two weeks."
Draco smirked. "Yes, it must have been dreadful for you. I do hope you weren't too lost without me."
Potter shot Draco a customary glare. But then his expression softened. "I was so worried about you the whole time, I could barely focus. And I just… missed you."
Draco was sure he flushed at least a little upon hearing that. He couldn't bring himself to make a mocking retort this time. Instead, he simply said, "Well, that's always nice to hear." Because it was nice to hear, especially from Potter.
They didn't say any more about it after that, instead they focused on the day's work.
Draco knew Potter didn't have a girlfriend. In fact, he knew Potter had not gone on any sort of date since he'd broken up with the Weaselette about a year ago. Draco sometimes wondered why that was. It wasn't like no one wanted to date Potter. Hell, Draco was sure half the population of the wizarding world (male and female) would jump at the chance for a date with The Chosen One. Either Potter was extraordinarily picky, or he genuinely wasn't interested in anyone. Draco suspected the latter, as he knew Potter wasn't shallow.
Potter knew Draco didn't have a girlfriend either. What Potter didn't know was that Draco was gay. Either way, Draco was single, but still.
After more than a year of being Auror partners, Draco and Potter were now very close. They weren't just coworkers, they were friends. But Draco saw no need to inform Potter of his sexual orientation. Draco did not know how Potter felt about such things. He did know Potter was likely the nicest person in the entire world, so it probably wouldn't matter much to him. Still, Draco worried about sharing that part of himself with Potter.
Mostly, he didn't want Potter to know he fancied him. Draco didn't want to risk losing Potter as his partner, since they worked so well together. He worried that if Potter knew he was gay, it might be easier for him to pick up on the fact that Draco liked him as more than a coworker and friend. If Potter did figure that out, Draco was sure he would immediately request a new partner.
It was best for him to never know.
It was Valentine's Day. Although, to Draco it was just like any other Friday. He woke at the same time he always did, ate the same breakfast, got to work a little early, focused on his reports (it was a dull day on the office), and did a lot of chit chatting with Potter. He planned to go straight to his flat after work, have his usual dinner and maybe a glass of wine, then settle in bed with a good book until he fell asleep.
It was the same thing he did almost every day. He did realize his routine could be considered pathetic for someone in their early twenties, but he didn't care. Being an Auror was grueling at times. As much as he loved his challenging career, he preferred his private life to be quiet and simple.
There were only twenty minutes left until Draco could go home for the weekend. He pushed his chair back so he could lift his legs and rest his feet on his desk, reclining slightly with his hands behind his head and his eyes closed. He figured he could relax for the rest of his time in the office, since he had done all his work. Plus, it was Friday and Valentine's Day, so no one seemed to give a shit.
As Draco lounged, he heard Potter growl. He was sure he knew exactly why, as that sound had been coming out of Potter's throat on and off all day. He peeked at Potter out of the corner of his eye and saw that, sure enough, there was an owl perched on his desk, holding its leg out for him to remove the package tied to it. The package was wrapped in bright red paper decorated with glittery hearts. This was only one of about a hundred cards and presents Potter had received today.
Potter took the package and placed it with the rest of his gifts, which were piled on the floor next to his desk. Draco knew Potter would never throw them away, no matter how much he didn't want or need them. He was too nice for his own good.
"Ah," Draco sighed, "It seems as if everyone is dying to show their love for our Savior."
"Shut it, you," Potter said bitterly. "You know I hate this shit. I don't even know half of the women who are sending me these gifts! They're only interested in me because of my name. Why can't everyone just leave me alone?"
Draco frowned. He didn't like when Potter was upset, especially over something so trivial. But Draco knew that the attention Potter received because of his fame truly did upset him.
"Potter, you are adored," Draco said soothingly. "That will never change. You are a celebrity, and a very handsome celebrity at that. I know you hate all the attention and the special treatment you receive because of that, but it's inevitable for someone like you. Just don't think too much about it, and don't let it bother you."
Potter eyed Draco curiously. He was plainly shocked by Draco's unexpected attempt to be comforting. Apparently, though, only one part of Draco's mini speech stuck out to him.
"You think I'm very handsome?"
Draco wasn't aware he had slipped up until Potter pointed it out. Everything he'd just said was sincere, and he was sure it had sounded sincere. The compliment had unknowingly spilled from his mouth so naturally and easily, making it clear he genuinely believed it to be true. Potter had clearly picked up on how serious Draco's entire statement was, and especially the comment about him being handsome. It would be nearly impossible for Draco to brush this off as his standard teasing. Still, he managed to recover quickly.
"Well, that's the popular opinion, is it not? Although, you're not nearly as handsome as me." It was a downright lie, but Draco needed a quick quip to cover up his mistake.
To Draco's relief, Potter laughed. His distinctive laugh was deep and rich. Draco loved hearing that sound, especially when it was a result of something he had said or done.
"You're far too modest, did you know that?" Potter said once he ceased laughing.
"I'm aware, thank you," Draco replied haughtily.
Potter gaze stayed on Draco for a second longer before he turned his attention back to his paperwork. Soon enough, he started fidgeting with his usual quill tapping and foot shaking. This was nothing new for Potter, he was known to fidget almost constantly. It nearly drove Draco mad, but at the same time he found it rather endearing. Draco was more bothered by it now, though, because Potter had been acting weird all week.
Recently, Draco had noticed that Potter seemed to become abnormally flustered during their jokingly flirty exchanges. This type of banter was nothing new for them, but it was almost as if Potter was embarrassed by it now. Draco was confident that Potter had not picked up on his feelings, as he had mastered keeping himself in check around Potter (well, excluding today apparently). He figured maybe Potter was readjusting to having Draco back at work and by his side all the time. Their two weeks apart while Draco had been in St. Mungo's was the longest they had gone without seeing each other since becoming partners.
Also, Draco could have sworn he'd caught Potter looking at him a lot more frequently than he used to. He decided that must be because Potter was still worried about his health after his injuries, despite the Healers saying he was fine to work. Ever the savior, Potter was probably just concerned and watching out for any sort of symptom that could indicate something was wrong. He would have snapped at Potter to cut it out by now, but really, he liked knowing Potter cared about him so much.
Draco was brought out of his thoughts when Potter addressed him again.
Potter was fidgeting worse than usual. Draco was becoming increasingly worried by his antsy movements, but also a little intrigued. What could be making Potter so nervous?
"Any big plans for tonight?" Potter finally asked.
Sad as his answer to that was, Draco replied honestly, "Not really. Unless reading The Great Gatsby for the tenth time counts as, 'big plans'."
"You know, it still amazes me that you like muggle literature," Potter said with a chuckle. "But no, those are not 'big plans'. I meant no date for tonight?"
Draco wanted to let out a harsh laugh. Did Potter really think he would be taking some beautiful woman out to a fancy dinner before bringing her back to his flat to drink expensive wine and cuddle on the couch while romantic music played in the background? Not likely, for multiple reasons.
"I'm not you, Potter. People aren't exactly lining up to date the Death Eater."
"Former Death Eater," Potter said adamantly. He always got worked up about this topic for whatever reason. "You're an Auror now, and people should respect that."
"Doesn't mean they do," Draco pointed out for what felt like the thousandth time.
For once, Potter cut short his 'former Death Eater' rant (which Draco had memorized some time ago), in favor of saying, "I'm sure there are plenty of people who would want to date you."
"Perhaps, but would I want to date them? That's another question entirely."
"Come on. There's got to be someone you fancy."
Draco felt his face heat up. "Irrelevant, Potter."
"So there is someone?" Potter asked, his expression indecipherable.
Draco desperately needed to turn the discussion away from himself. "What about you then? What are your big plans?"
Potter frowned, but let Draco get away with dodging his question. "I don't have any plans yet."
"Well, I'm sure you'll find something to do easily enough."
Potter didn't say anything at first. When he did reply, he spoke so quietly that Draco almost missed it. "I know what I'd like to do but it might not be so easy."
"What was that?" Draco asked.
Potter raked a hand through his hair. "Forget it."
Draco shrugged. "If you insist." He didn't like to push Potter into telling him things. Potter always talked to him when he needed to.
They fell into an uncomfortable silence, which was unusual for them. Draco wanted to break it, but he didn't know what Potter was thinking about, and he didn't want to bother him. Still, he surreptitiously watched Potter as the man began to fidget more.
After about a minute, Potter seemed to decide something. He ceased his anxious movements, nodded to himself, then announced, "We should go out for a drink tonight."
Draco's eyebrow involuntarily arched at that. The last time he and Potter had gone out for a drink together had been on Draco's birthday last June. Potter had mostly insisted on going because Draco had no friends to see. His parents now lived in France. Greg, Blaise, and Pansy had all moved out of the country as well following the war. When Potter had found this out, he'd said no one should spend their birthday alone. That was the day Draco realized he had feelings for Potter beyond their work partnership and their, at that time, tentative friendship.
Potter asking Draco to get a drink today seemed much different than Potter asking him to get a drink on his birthday (which Potter had likely only done out of pity). While Draco had always viewed Valentine's Day as a somewhat silly and unnecessary holiday, it was intended to be a romantic day. He pushed that insignificant fact out of his mind almost as soon as he thought it, though. That didn't matter, really. Maybe Potter just wanted to avoid all the attention he was receiving from his adoring fans.
He found himself blurting out, "You want to get a drink with me?" He internally cringed upon hearing the words out loud. He thought it might have come across as him inquiring if this would be a date which, while he wished it could be, he knew it was not.
Potter's shoulder jerked, which Draco thought might have been an attempt at a shrug. "Well, neither of us are doing anything. And I feel like we only ever see each other here. It's Friday, we should do something for a change."
Draco wasn't about to turn down an opportunity to spend more time with Potter, but he didn't want to make it too obvious how eager he was. "Alright, I suppose a drink or two would be acceptable."
Potter let out a short, sharp laugh. Draco got the impression that Potter had been expecting his answer to be no. He didn't question too much why Potter seemed so happy that he had agreed.
"We can probably get going now if you'd like?" Potter asked hurriedly, as if was worried Draco would change his mind if they didn't leave right this second.
"Sure," Draco replied as he stood up. He grabbed his cloak and scarf and put them on while Potter did the same.
"Don't you have a hat or gloves?" Potter asked as he shoved his own hat over his perpetually wild jet-black hair. "It's freezing out."
"I didn't think I'd need gloves. And hats fuck with my hair."
Potter snorted, "You're ridiculous. I'm sure your hair would still look fine."
"Oh Potter…" he sighed in an overly dramatic way. "So naïve. I spend a lot of time and effort on my hair, I'll have you know. I'm not about to ruin it just because it's a little chilly outside."
Potter rolled his eyes in a playful way. "Whatever you say, so long as you don't complain about the cold."
They made their way out of the office and over to the lifts. Once they were heading to the Atrium, Draco asked, "Where were you thinking of going?"
Potter smiled sheepishly. "Do you mind venturing out into muggle London? There's this pub I like, and besides when I go there I'm not…"
Recognized, Draco was able to finish his thought for him. He didn't mind going into the muggle world if Potter was with him. "That sounds fine."
Potter eyed him skeptically. "I must admit, I thought it would take a lot more convincing than that to get you to agree. I know you, you never go out into the muggle world."
"You're right, I normally don't," Draco replied. "However, I'll be with you so I know I'll be fine."
Potter's responding smile was dazzling.
Potter was right. It was freezing outside. Still, Draco refused to shiver or complain or show in any way that the low temperature was getting to him. Although, if the amused look on Potter's face was any indication, Potter knew how cold he was. He was almost regretting going into the muggle world. When he'd agreed to this plan, he'd forgotten he wouldn't be able to use magic. He couldn't risk pulling out his wand for even a second to cast a warming charm. As cold as he was, though, he didn't really regret doing this, simply because he was with Potter.
Luckily, the pub Potter took them to wasn't far from the Ministry of Magic. Potter had insisted they could walk there, and he had been right. Shortly after exiting the Ministry, they found themselves in a cozy, if somewhat shabby, pub. There weren't many people there, which Draco thought was strange for a pub considering it was a Friday evening. But then, Draco supposed, maybe that's why Potter liked the place.
"Take a seat," Potter said. "I'll get our drinks."
Draco eyed him suspiciously. "Do you know what drinks I like?"
Potter rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Well, yeah I do. But they certainly don't have any of the elf-made red wines you like here. So, I'm going to make you try something new." Draco must have looked frightened, because Potter quickly added, "Trust me?"
Draco already knew he trusted Potter in many ways. Apparently, that trust now included allowing Potter to choose his drink. He gave Potter a nod in response.
"I'll be right back." With that, Potter left Draco to find a seat.
Draco chose a table in the corner where he could watch Potter as he waited for their drinks. Potter was incredibly good looking, Draco couldn't help thinking yet again (he had this thought approximately five times a day ever since they had become partners). One of Draco's favorite hobbies was admiring Potter from a safe distance, and this was the perfect opportunity to do that.
As he watched Potter, he began thinking about the fact that, as stunning as Potter was, there was so much more to him than his just appearance.
Draco had accepted long ago that the Gryffindor traits he had despised for years were a big part of what made Potter who he was. He had even grown to like these traits, on Potter at least. Potter's bold disposition in combination with his altruistic nature made him an excellent partner, as well as an excellent friend. He was effortlessly and unnecessarily kind. His loyalty to those he cared about was unwavering. And he was fun to be around, possessing the ability to put a smile on anyone's face in a matter of seconds. Even on his worst day, Potter was a better person than anyone Draco knew.
Most of all, Potter didn't see Draco the way everyone else did. Potter had been the first person to look past Draco's not-so-great history as a Death Eater. He had taken it upon himself to get to know Draco far beyond his obligation as his work partner. It had not been easy, dealing with the residual personal problems from their Hogwarts days. But Potter had been persistent. Potter did know Draco now. And Draco liked to think he knew Potter too.
"Here you go."
Draco was startled to the point that he nearly fell out of his seat. He had been so lost in his reveries that he barely noticed Potter coming to the table with their drinks. Potter had placed in front of him a tall glass of some dark, amber liquid with a layer of foam at the top. Draco eyed it suspiciously.
"It's an ale," Potter replied, already taking the first sip of his own drink. A little of the foam stuck to his upper lip. Draco watched in fascination as Potter's tongue flicked out to lick it away. "I like this place because they have a bunch of good ones tap. I got us my personal favorite for you to try."
Draco forced his attention away from Potter's mouth and back to the questionable beverage in front of him. He had never tried such a drink before and, sad as it was, he wasn't one to step outside of his comfort zone.
Potter sighed. "Just trust me, remember? I promise it's good."
Draco did remember agreeing to let Potter pick his drink, so he cautiously lifted the glass to his lips and took a small sip. It was surprisingly good. Bitter, but rich and flavorful in ways Draco never would have thought he'd enjoy.
"It's not bad," he grudgingly admitted.
Potter grinned. "I'm glad you think so."
"How much do I owe you? For the drink?" He added the last part at Potter's confused expression.
"Don't worry, it's on me." Draco was about to protest, but Potter cut him off. "Look, I doubt you have any muggle money and I'm shit at converting currencies. Just forget it."
Draco didn't even know what muggle money looked like, so Potter had a point. "Oh, all right. Just know I'm not happy about this. First you buy me chocolates, now drinks. I am a Malfoy, I'm perfectly capable of buying these things for myself."
Potter snorted, but replied firmly, "Just accept the gifts."
"Fine," Draco conceded, albeit a bit petulantly. He took another look around the pub before saying, "This place is… nice."
Potter chuckled. "I know it's probably not up to your usual standards, but I like it. As I said before, the drink choice is excellent. Plus, it never gets too rowdy, like a lot of places can. I just feel… comfortable here."
Draco suddenly felt honored to be sitting in this shitty little muggle pub that was probably the last place on earth a Malfoy should ever be seen. Potter obvious didn't invite just anyone into his few safe places, yet he had chosen to open up to Draco with this part of his life.
"Yes, I suppose I can see why." Draco took another sip of his drink, which was growing on him more and more with each taste.
They drank in silence for a few minutes, but it wasn't unpleasant. Eventually, though, Draco had to ask, "Tell me, Potter, why spend the evening with me in some dinky pub instead of out with some gorgeous woman on this supposedly romantic holiday?"
Potter gently set his glass down and considered Draco's question for a moment. "How about this. Tell me, Malfoy, why agree to spend this supposedly romantic holiday with me instead of going out and wooing whoever it is you fancy?"
Draco shot him a sharp glare. "I asked you first. And who said I fancy anyone?"
Potter's responding grin was uncharacteristically mischievous. "You avoided my question earlier, when we were still in the office, so technically I asked you first. And the fact that you avoided it makes me think there's definitely someone you fancy."
Draco felt very warm, and he knew it wasn't because of the alcohol. Before he could stop himself, he snapped at Potter. "Why do you care?"
He instantly regretted his snippy comment when Potter visibly flinched. Potter sounded more than a little hurt when he replied, "Because I thought we were friends. Do friends not talk about this kind of stuff? My mistake."
Draco let out a long sigh, feeling like a total arse. "It's not that, Potter. It's just… Fine, I do fancy someone. But I know it's a bad idea for me to tell anyone who it is. Let's just drop it, please?"
Potter's expression became one of… understanding? The look on his face didn't make sense, but Draco figured at least Potter no longer appeared upset.
"Fine," Potter said. "Then I'll answer your question."
Draco's eyebrows shot up. "You will?"
"Well, I suppose," Potter mumbled. He started rapidly tapping his fingernails against the side of his glass as he continued, "There is no woman, no matter how gorgeous, that I'm interested in taking out on any day, let alone Valentine's Day. I know I like this pub, and I enjoy your company. This is what I wanted to do tonight, so I'm doing it."
Despite being pleased to hear that Potter liked being around him, Draco frowned deeply. "Potter, I know for a fact you haven't dated since you broke up with the Weasley girl. That was a year ago. Surely there's at least one woman you'd remotely consider asking out?"
Potter shook his head. "Nope, none at all."
Then, it occurred to Draco. "You're still in love with the Weaselette then?"
"What?!" Potter exclaimed. "No. I broke up with her, remember? And don't call her that."
Draco smirked and waved a dismissive hand. "Sorry, old habits and all that." Then he frowned again. "So you don't regret breaking up with her."
"Merlin, no. We're better as friends."
"I still find it hard to believe there's not one woman who catches your eye."
"Well, believe it because that's the truth."
Potter appeared tense as he abruptly changed the subject to Quidditch. He obviously didn't want to talk about their love lives anymore. Draco didn't mind that at all, so he dived right into the new topic. All the uncomfortableness from their previous conversation seemed to have passed.
Hours went by, but it felt like minutes to Draco. He and Potter took their time drinking as they chatted, consuming only three ales each during the three hours they had been in the pub. Draco didn't feel the least bit tipsy, only slightly warm, and he knew Potter must be the same. It was getting late, but Draco was too content with Potter's company to care. Besides, they didn't have to think about work for another two days, seeing as it was now the weekend.
Their conversation flowed effortlessly as they talked about everything. It was as if they had never had that awkward discussion about their romantic relationships (or lack thereof). Eventually, the time came when they agreed to have one last drink before calling it a night.
The second Potter returned with their final drinks, Draco could tell his mood had drastically shifted. Draco had never seen Potter like this before. He was entirely subdued. He didn't say a word, and he ignored his drink. His eyes were blank and not focused on anything in particular, making it clear his mind was elsewhere. And he was not fidgeting at all. No drumming of his fingers on the table, no foot tapping. Just nothing. Draco couldn't figure out what had brought this on, but he didn't like it. He couldn't take it for very long.
"That's it, Potter." He practically slammed his glass down on the table, causing some of the liquid to spill over the rim. "We were having fun. Why the long face now?"
Potter's eyes widened and focused back on Draco. He didn't reply, but Draco could tell there was something on the tip of his tongue that he was holding back.
Draco never tried to force information out of Potter, because he knew Potter always talked to him when he really needed to. But for some unknown reason, Draco found himself demanding, "Spit it out."
And with an unexpected flash of determination in his eyes, Potter did spit it out.
"Are you straight?"
Draco had not been expecting that. He blinked hard a few times, trying not to panic. He prayed he came across nonchalant as he replied, "Excuse me?"
Potter no longer had that intense look in his eyes, it had vanished about as quickly as it had appeared. He hesitated before saying meekly, "I've been wondering if you're straight. You see, I have this hunch…" He trailed off, his face now deeply flushed.
"You have a hunch that I'm straight?" Draco asked incredulously, despite already knowing what Potter really meant.
Potter couldn't look Draco in the eye as he said, "Well, no. Actually… the opposite."
And there it was. Realistically, Draco should have known this day would come. As unprepared for this as he felt, he had to remain composed.
He spoke calmly, but there was a noticeable tremor in his voice. "If you want to know if I'm gay, then just ask."
He was grateful that it took Potter a minute to respond. It gave him some time to think of how he was going to deal with this.
Potter eventually cleared his throat and made eye contact with Draco once more. "Are you gay?"
Draco decided he couldn't lie. Not to Potter. Not after everything they had been through. Not after all their time working together, getting along, becoming friends. He couldn't flat out tell Potter he wasn't gay now that he had asked so bluntly, no matter how scared he was to tell Potter the truth. Once he came to his decision to be honest, he opened his mouth to reply.
But Potter cut him off. "You know what? Never mind. You don't have to answer that. I shouldn't have even asked. It doesn't matter to me whether you are or not, but I've been wondering recently because…"
Now, Draco was curious. What was it that had given him away? "Because…?"
Potter took a moment again before saying, "The other day I thought I saw you checking out… some bloke's arse."
That confused Draco. The only bloke's arse he ever checked out was Potter's. But how would Potter have noticed that? It was impossible. Draco brushed it off as Potter misinterpreting how he looked at other men.
"All right," Draco said warily. "Any other reasons you think I'm gay?"
Potter opened his mouth to answer, but almost immediately clamped it shut again. After yet another pause, he said, "No, let's forget it. Obviously you're not. I'm sorry I asked."
"I never said I'm not, because…" Draco took a deep breath before confirming. "I am gay."
Potter's eyes were glued to Draco's, but he didn't immediately respond. Draco felt sick. He could only assume that Potter no longer wanted anything to do with him.
Draco now felt claustrophobic sitting in this stupid muggle pub with the man he had intense feeling for, more intense than he'd ever had for anyone else. The man who would never feel the same about him. After what felt like years, Draco decided he needed to get out of there.
He was on his feet a moment later. "Potter, I have to g—"
Both men turned their heads to find a group of three women watching them from a nearby table. They looked as out of place as Draco and Potter, dressed in cloaks that gave away they were witches. Not to mention their recognition of Potter gave them away even more so.
Potter looked horrified and devastated at the same time. Draco knew he had never expected to be found in the muggle world, in some little no-name pub. This could no longer be a safe place for him.
One of the women, the one who had addressed Potter, stood up from her seat and took confident steps towards Draco and Potter's table. She couldn't fully conceal her excitement when she said, "I thought it was you."
"Er, I'm sorry, but you are…?" Potter asked as politely as he could manage.
"I'm Janis Calloway… and these are my friends, Courtney and Marla." She included her friends' names almost as an afterthought. As she flipped her long, straight, shiny brown hair over her shoulder, Draco noted that she was quite pretty. He looked more closely at her friends, still seated at their own table, and saw that they were all quite pretty.
"I work in the Department of Magical Games and Sports," she continued. "I know how much you love Quidditch, Harry."
"Right," Potter mumbled in annoyance. "Listen… Er… Ms. Calloway—"
"Don't be silly, call me Janis." She smiled sweetly. "So, Harry, what are you doing all alone on Valentine's Day?" Her eyes snapped to Draco then, giving him a nasty look. She wasn't so pretty anymore, now that she was sneering. She hissed at him, "You were just leaving, were you not?"
Draco was still standing, watching this woman trying to worm her way into Potter's life in all the wrong ways. Draco knew Potter was not impressed by her, and would never be interested in her or her friends. They were nothing more than obsessive fangirls who were mainly interested in him for his name and his fame, which was something Potter abhorred.
But she was right. He had been leaving. Even though her contemptuous tone made Draco want to pull out his wand and send any number of appropriate hexes her way, he forced a smile and said cordially, "Yes, I was. Goodnight to you both."
With that, he wrapped his scarf around his neck, turned his back on them, and made his way out of the pub. He hadn't missed Potter's wide-eyed stare, begging him not to leave. But after their conversation about his sexuality, and Potter's (lack of) reaction to it, he felt it was time to go home.
Once outside, he searched for an appropriate location to disapparate. After walking a short distance, he found a dimly lit alleyway where he would be well hidden from muggle eyes. He was just turning into it when he heard what sounded like running footsteps behind him.
Draco slowed down upon hearing Potter's voice, but he didn't entirely stop walking. He moved farther into the alleyway, refusing to turn back around. But for whatever reason, as much as he needed to get away from Potter, he couldn't bring himself to disapparate yet.
"What the fuck, Malfoy?" Potter snarled as he caught up to Draco. He grabbed Draco's shoulders and forcibly spun him around so they were face to face. They were now standing so close that Draco could feel Potter's warm breath against his face as he spoke angrily. "I can't believe you just left me there with those crazy women! It's a miracle I got away!"
Draco tried to take a step back, but Potter's grip on his shoulders didn't slacken whatsoever. Draco settled for avoiding eye contact with him.
"What is going on with you?" Potter continued. "We were in the middle of a discussion and you just leave? What the hell was that about?"
Draco snapped. "We were not in the middle of a discussion. We were in the middle of you gawking at me like I'm some sort of freak! This is exactly why I never told you. I knew you'd think differently of me. You couldn't come up with a single thing to say after I shared something so personal with you? Something that you asked me to share with you? I'm sorry that I couldn't deal with being in your presence for a second longer, but your reaction fucking hurt, Potter. Besides, I was just giving you the opportunity for a real date. Don't worry about me, feel free to leave me here and go decide who you'll be picking as your new partner."
"What?" Potter laughed almost manically, which only served to make Draco feel worse. "Okay, there are so many things wrong with what you just said. First, you didn't even give me a chance to respond. I don't know if you realize this, but you stood up about three seconds after you answered my question. Next, you know me, Malfoy. You know I would never go for those women, or any woman like them. And finally, you don't actually think I'd want a new partner, do you?"
Draco didn't think he could handle talking about his sexuality with Potter anymore, so he skipped over that. He also dropped the argument about the women, because he did know Potter would never go for anyone like them. He did, however, continue with his argument about their partnership.
"Of course you want a new partner. I'm not stupid, Potter."
Out of nowhere, Potter started to calm down. Potter's hands, which were still holding Draco by his shoulders, moved to rub up and down Draco's arms. It took him a second to recognize that Potter was trying to warm him up because he was shivering dramatically.
"You know," Potter said softly, "I didn't think you were. But honestly? You're acting pretty damn stupid right now."
"How am I acting stupid?" Draco asked defensively.
"Because you should know by now there's no way in hell I'd ever want a new partner. Besides the fact that we work perfectly together, it took a lot for us to get where we are now. And I like where we are now. I won't let anything ruin that."
Draco was instantly reassured. He could tell that Potter's words were sincere.
"So, you don't care that I'm gay?"
"Not at all," Potter said. He leaned in, fully wrapping his arms around Draco to warm him up more. They were on top of each other, Potter's warmer cheek pressed against Draco's nearly frozen one. Draco felt Potter's chest expand as he took a deep breath. Then, he breathed out, "Can I tell you a secret?"
Draco felt a chill shoot down his spine, but not because of the cold this time. It was because of Potter's deep voice, Potter's strong arms around him, and Potter's soft lips brushing against his ear.
"A secret?" Draco's voice quivered. "What kind of secret?"
"My biggest secret. Something I haven't told anyone. Something I've been holding in for months now." Draco felt Potter's lips form a smile as he said, "It's about who I fancy."
Draco jerked back as much as he could while still being securely held by Potter. "You liar! You told me you didn't fancy anyone."
"No." Potter spoke like he was explaining something simple to a child. "You only asked me if there are any women I'd consider dating. And I answered that honestly."
It took Draco a second to register the emphasis Potter had put on the word women. "You're not seriously telling me you're gay, are you?"
Potter chuckled. "You know, I'm not entirely sure. It's all a bit confusing to me, which is the main reason I haven't told anyone this. All I know is I'm seriously interested in, not to mention ridiculously attracted to, one particular man. Perhaps I'm just gay for him?"
"Very funny. Now, spill. Who's the lucky man?"
"Now, do you really think that's fair?" Potter was smirking. "I mean, it's not like you told me who you fancy."
Draco was sure his face was flushed, even more so now that Potter was tenderly rubbing his back with both hands. Again, Draco evaded the topic of who he fancied, determined to find out who Potter fancied.
"You mentioned you've fancied him for months. Why haven't you told him? You're Harry bloody Potter, who wouldn't want you?"
"Good question." Potter paused for a moment. "I know my name doesn't mean shit to him, which is one of the many reasons I like him."
"It isn't Weasel, is it?" Draco asked, horrified.
"Merlin, no!" Potter choked out through a laugh. "Not even close."
"Then who?" Draco whined in frustration.
Potter ignored the question. Instead, he continued to answer Draco's earlier inquiry. "I haven't told him mostly because I didn't think he would ever feel the same. He's a tricky one. It's almost impossible to tell what he's thinking and feeling. So part of it was fear of being rejected, which is never fun."
Draco cut him off with a sharp laugh. "When have you ever been rejected?"
"Fourth year, when I asked Cho Chang to the Yule Ball."
"I bet that was the only time ever, when you were fourteen. That hardly counts."
"You're getting me so far off topic, Malfoy," Potter grumbled, to which Draco shut up and let him continue. "Anyway, it wasn't only fear of rejection. My biggest worry was that telling him would ruin everything."
Draco was even more lost now. "How could telling someone how you feel ruin everything?"
"Well, we're rather close, and I wondered if telling him would scare him off completely. As much as I like him, I didn't want to risk losing him as a friend. I didn't want him disappearing from my life altogether. It was a real concern."
"It was a real concern?" Draco asked, having picked up on Potter's wording. He only then realized that Potter had been talking in the past tense. He used to be worried about all these things, but it sounded like he now knew he could tell this man how he felt. "So, what, you think you have a shot with him now? You think you can confess your feelings to him?
"Yes. And I don't think he'd take it badly. In fact, I'm almost positive he feels the same way about me."
"Well then what the fuck are you doing here with me?" Draco exclaimed to mask his disappointment. He couldn't show it, but he felt crushed. Even though Potter could have feelings for a man, Draco would never be that man. "Go tell him how you feel, you imbecile!"
"I will." Potter was grinning now. "But aren't you curious as to how I came to realize there was no need to be so worried about telling him?"
"Not really," Draco grumbled. But Potter was his friend first and foremost. It was hard to hear Potter talking this way about some other man when all Draco wanted was to be that man. But if Potter needed to talk about this, then Draco was all ears. "You obviously want to tell me, though, so go ahead."
"Well," Potter started. "He certainly hasn't told me if he has feeling for me, probably for the exact same reasons I haven't told him. I could very well be very wrong, though, and he could feel absolutely nothing for me. But something interesting happened on Monday that made me start to think it might be possible." Potter paused, for what Draco assumed was dramatic effect, before declaring, "I caught him staring at my arse."
Draco immediately thought back to Potter saying he had seen Draco staring at some bloke's arse. But, no. That was a coincidence. Surely there were many men who stared at Potter's arse regularly. Draco refused to allow himself to entertain the idea that Potter could be referring to him. Before Draco could think of any sort of response, Potter was talking again.
"At first I thought nothing of it. Maybe I was imagining it. Maybe I just have a fine arse that anyone can admire."
Draco snorted at that. Potter ignored the minor interruption.
"But I started watching him more after that, really paying attention to our interactions. As I watched him, I saw that he was watching me too. It's now obvious to me that the physical attraction is mutual. But it's more than that. It's how we talk to each other, how we act around each other. It can only mean we fancy each other. I don't know how we've never noticed all the subtle flirting that goes on between us. Hell, there's even a lot of not so subtle flirting that we've never taken seriously. I never thought either of us could be so oblivious, but fuck, we really are."
"I'm very cold, Potter. Do you have a point to all this rambling?" Draco attempted to sound bored and annoyed, but really, he was more than a little intrigued.
"I'm getting there." Potter wrapped his arms even more tightly around Draco and started up with his rubbing of Draco's arms and back again. "Basically, I became convinced he has feelings for me too. As soon as I came to this conclusion, I decided to go for it. I asked him out. On Valentine's Day, no less."
Draco inhaled sharply, not daring to believe what he was hearing. He had to be misunderstanding Potter. Sure, he had certainly checked out Potter's arse on Monday (really though, he checked it out every day). But he was now remembering that day in vividly. That had been the day he had been discharged from St. Mungo's… the day with the heart shaped box of chocolates… the day he had thought he'd nearly been caught checking out Potter's arse. And sure, Potter had asked him to get a drink with him tonight, on Valentine's Day. But that didn't mean…
"I was so nervous," Potter whispered. With his arms still wound around Draco, he leaned just his head back so they could lock eyes. There was an adorable crooked half smile gracing his face, but he did look a bit anxious. "Who knows, maybe I'm reading too much into everything and he doesn't feel the same way about me. But I couldn't take it anymore. I had to at least try. So, I asked him to get a drink with me after work. I don't think he knew I wanted it to be a date, but still he said yes and we—"
"Potter, I swear if you do not shut up and kiss me right now, I'm going to—"
But Potter did kiss him, and nothing else seemed to matter. Draco was still shivering, but Potter's lips were warm and one of Potter's gloved hands moved up to gently cup Draco's jaw. If it was possible, Potter pulled Draco even closer with an arm around his waist, and Draco pulled Potter closer too with his hands at Potter's nape.
The kiss Potter pressed to Draco's lips was firm and tender, his desire for Draco more than evident. But Potter seemed hesitant to go any further past the initial, basic kiss. Draco, however, needed more. He had waited too long for this, and he was going to make the most of it.
Draco parted his lips and teased Potter's bottom lip with his tongue. To Draco's joy, that seemed to spur Potter on. Potter let out a low moan, so small that Draco almost missed it, and he parted his own lips. Draco's head tilted slightly to the side as their tongues met, and it suddenly became a fight for dominance. A fight which Potter won in the end. Draco didn't mind one bit.
Potter's deep, thorough kiss warmed Draco up better than any warming charm ever could. He tasted like a mixture of the ale they had been drinking and something divine that had to be uniquely Potter. And, fuck, was Potter a phenomenal kisser.
They were both panting by the time they broke apart for air. Draco didn't feel remotely cold anymore, so he fully intended to continue snogging Potter. Only Potter didn't let him. He reached up to grab Draco's hands from where they still rested at his nape.
"You're freezing," Potter said as he rubbed Draco's hands between his own gloved ones.
"I'm fine," Draco insisted, and he was sure he was.
"As fucking brilliant as that was, you nearly turned my neck into ice with your bloody hands," Potter chuckled, but his face only showed concern. "Let's get you home."
"Potter, I don't want to go home," Draco growled. "Stop playing the hero and snog me some more."
"Not yet," Potter insisted. "But fine, if you don't want us to go to your flat, then we'll go to my house."
"You want me over your house?" Draco asked in disbelief.
"Sure," Potter said with a shrug. "There's no way this date is over yet, but I don't want you frozen."
"Is that… appropriate?" Draco flushed at his own question. He was no prude, and he had certainly wanted Potter long enough. He just had no idea what Potter was thinking.
Potter looked amused, but he didn't laugh. Instead, he replied gently, "I'm not expecting anything. We can just eat junk food and watch the telly. Or whatever you want, really."
Draco's eyebrow quirked, "Watch the telly?"
"Oh, you're in for a treat," Potter said with a grin. "Hold on tight."
Before Draco could protest more, Potter took him in his arms again and turned on the spot. A moment later, they were on the front step of Potter's house. Draco remembered something.
"Isn't this the old Black family house?"
"Yeah," Potter replied. "I inherited it from my godfather. Don't worry, I fixed it up when I moved in."
Draco wasn't worried about what the house looked like. He was more concerned about what would happen once they entered the house. It seemed like the second Potter let Draco inside, everything would different between them. Draco knew what he wanted, but what did Potter want?
When Potter pulled out his wand to cancel his wards, Draco placed a hand on his wrist to stop him. "Wait."
Draco took a second to figure out how to voice his thoughts. "I don't take being invited into anyone's home lightly, but even more so now since it's you. Once you let me cross this threshold, everything with us will change, whether you like it or not. So, I suggest you seriously consider that fact before you let me in."
Potter gazed at him fondly, his emerald eyes shining brighter than usual, even in the dark. "I don't take this lightly either. I don't let just anyone into my home." He abruptly leaned forward and captured Draco's lips in another sweet kiss. He barely pulled back to speak, his lips still brushing against Draco's with every word. "And I don't mind change. Especially if it involves you and me snogging on my couch on a regular basis."
Draco threw his head back and laughed, feeling completely reassured by that corny response. "How charming, Potter."
Potter beamed. "What can I say? It's Valentine's Day. I had to pull out all the stops to win you over."
Draco let go of Potter's wrist so he could let them into his house. Once he cancelled the wards, Potter pushed open the door. He stepped inside, turned around, and offered a hand to Draco.
"Well, congratulations on a job well done," Draco replied as he reached for Potter's outstretched hand. "Because you've definitely won me over."
Potter practically dragged Draco inside, and Draco let him. Once over the threshold, he promptly shut the door behind them.
Hope you liked it! Happy (belated) Valentine's Day!