Only three years
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately
Summary: It has been three years since Hermione and Ron have seen Harry. Hermione feels she has to change that.
Hermione Granger-Weasley sighed for 32nd time in the last hour, while watching her husband pace up and down their living room.
There were various sighs, some of them said 'I swear, if you pace one more step I'm going to strangle you, others were less aggressive 'I am still staring at the same page in this book as I did when I picked it up' or 'this room could do with some cleaning' or maybe more like 'it's the same every year' then they became sadder 'if only I could do something'… Hermione used to squeeze her eyes shut and force her tears back after those…
Then the most often, the most hurtful, the most true sigh of them all 'I miss him, too'.
It took another half hour, before she was close to actually strangling the redhead, but then decided that it wouldn't solve her problem, either.
Well, she was supposed to be a Gryffindor, too, wasn't she? There indeed was one thing she could do…
She suddenly stood, let the book drop carelessly to the floor and stepped in front of a very startled Ron.
Ron froze in his pacing and stared at Hermione, confused… which became curious after a few seconds of Hermione just standing there and not saying anything… and finally angry.
He was about to demand an explanation, why she felt she needed to interrupt him in his pacing, but Hermione stomped around him and into his office.
Ron followed her with his eyes and a puzzled expression. He heard a drawer being opened and closed and Hermione marched back to him, waving a piece of paper.
She shoved it into his hands.
Ron recognized it immediately. He opened his mouth to shout a very determined 'No', but of course Hermione – being the top of the relationship, after all – didn't let him.
"Oh, yes, we will! I have had enough. I miss him! And I know that you bloody well miss him, too! That's it, I can't take it anymore!" She breathed deeply and screamed: "I just want to talk to him again!" She didn't even have to fake her upset tone of voice.
Ron tightly gripped the leaflet in his hand. He didn't know what he could say… He did miss him, of course. But it had been so long… Three years was a long time.
Three years had passed exactly, since the leaving ball, since they had graduated… since they hadn't seen their friend anymore.
He stepped closer and held Hermione to his chest… Maybe he would be able to think of something to say after a while… or maybe find a reason why visiting their former best friend, now, was a bad idea.
His eyes wandered to the crumpled piece of paper that held the address of one Harry Potter. It had been easy for Ron to get it… And he did, over a year ago. But it had been lying in the very same drawer ever since.
Hermione was still breathing rashly, clearly expecting Ron to talk her out of it.
Hermione Granger-Weasley knew her husband quite well… In all their years together he only ever managed to surprise her once… (Which was back in their school time and he actually answered a question in Potions correctly. Professor Snape was so startled that he even gave five points to Gryffindor – a lapse in judgement the man could proudly say never occurred again.)
But today… Yes, today was the second time that Ronald Weasley surprised his wife.
"We'll go see him."
So after half an hour of dawdling on Ron's part, the couple apparated in front of a wizarding upper-class apartment building.
Ron gulped audibly. Of course, with both his and Hermione's income, they lived quite well, themselves… But this was obviously still way out of their league.
For Ron it was a justification for never having come here, before. A man living like this was not the boy he once knew… He cleared his throat. "If he's not here, we're not going to wait until he comes back, or anything like that, yeah?" he asked hopefully.
Hermione steeled herself. "No. But we will come back if he's not here."
Ron sighed again. "You know, if he's not here, it might be a sign to just leave him alone."
Hermione shot him a very, very dark look and stepped up to the receptionist's desk, her head held high.
Ron tried hard to look a little less like this was the last place he would ever feel comfortable in – and that list included Filch's torture dungeons – barely managing it.
The receptionist looked up from his work and greeted the people in front of him with a polite "good afternoon". If he felt that the visitors didn't belong here, he didn't show it.
Hermione smiled politely. "Good afternoon." She cleared her throat to cover up her nervousness. "Uhm… could… could you tell us whether the man living in 302 is at home?"
The receptionist blinked, obviously knowing well who lived in 302… He looked at the couple over the rim of his tiny silver glasses and finally asked. "You are Mr. and Mrs Weasley, are you not?"
Hermione bit her tongue to keep herself from saying 'Granger-Weasley!' and wondered whether it was a good thing that the man knew them or not.
They both nodded somewhat meekly.
The receptionist smiled slightly. "Mr. Potter didn't leave, today."
Two stomachs in the room made flip-flops… either from nervousness or gratitude or both.
Hermione released a shuddering breath. "Thank you."
"However," the receptionist continued, "it is possible that he is not to be found in 302. Mr. Potter is not a very social person, I am afraid. He doesn't get visitors, often. But he seems to be visiting his neighbour in 301, quite frequently. Should he not be at home, you might want to try the apartment across the hall."
The couple nodded – while looking quite guilty about the 'no visitors' part of the little speech – both murmuring another "thank you" and heading for the stairs.
The inside of the building was in no way less impressive than the outside. Lush, dark red carpeting, exotic plants, expensive paintings… But it still had a homey air.
Even Ron had to admit to himself that he quite liked the place, apart from the fact that it reeked of money.
On the third floor they found only two doors. 302 and 301.
As the receptionist predicted, Harry didn't answer the door.
Ron fidgeted a bit. "Do you really think we can just ring on some guy's door?"
Hermione straightened her shoulders. "We can and we will."
"I knew you would say that…"
Hermione crossed the hall resolutely, pulled the chain and there was the muffled sound of the bell ringing.
For several long moments no other sound than their breathing could be heard. Then… steps… obviously nearing the door from the inside.
Hermione gripped the seams of her robes nervously and Ron bit his lips.
The door opened.
For one moment Hermione remembered her thinking earlier how Ron could hardly ever surprise her… Harry on the other hand had surprised her every chance given… So, naturally, the first thing the Boy Who Lived would do, after not having seen him in three years, was surprise her.
In the door stood an elegantly clad young man. Black trousers, short-sleeved, black silk shirt, neatly trimmed blonde hair, aristocratic features, steel grey eyes.
Ron no longer bit his lips. His jaw fell open the moment he recognized the man opening the door.
Hermione wasn't off much better.
Neither knew what to say. They must have had the wrong door…
Draco Malfoy lifted one eyebrow, the only outward sign that he was surprised. He nodded at both of them in turn, coolly. "Granger. Weasley."
"Granger-Weasley," Hermione corrected automatically.
"Ah," was Draco's comment.
None of them said a word for a very long time.
Hermione wanted to ask about Harry, but it seemed so ridiculous to ask Draco Malfoy whether Harry Potter was in his apartment or not.
Ron didn't want to say anything at all, he just wished with all his might to either be swallowed by the nice red carpet or that he could apparate through the wards the ritzy building had.
Draco on the other hand refused to say anything at all. He was way too amused to watch the two in front of him struggle with the situation.
The three of them played that game for another few very long seconds, until a familiar – if a little more mature – voice called out:
"Baby? Who is it?"
Ron staggered a step back at that and his eyes darted towards the voice from within the apartment.
Hermione looked like she had swallowed her tongue and tried not to suffocate.
Draco's lifted eyebrow settled down and a very wide smirk bloomed on his face. Oh, how he enjoyed this… Without turning away from the guests he called back: "It's for you."
Through an open door to Draco's right hand side, there was the sound of cutlery hitting the floor. "For me?" came the incredulous reaction. A man stepped out of the kitchen door, putting away his wand without looking up.
"Who would be here for me...?" That was the moment that Harry did look up. The carefree look on his face froze. "Hi," he murmured and turned to Draco. "I cleaned up the kitchen. We're all set."
Unfortunately, Ron thought this to be the right time to wake up from his stupor. "What? Are you cleaning after that prat?"
Harry's jaw set and he threw an ice cold look at Ron. Without another word he slammed the door in their guests' faces.
Draco sighed and raked his fingers through his hair. "You're as stubborn as he is," he noted.
Harry now used his freezing-hell-over look on Draco, who didn't seem impressed. "He can't just come to your home and insult you!" he yelled.
Draco crossed his arms. Calmly he replied: "For once I'd say he had a reason to be a tad upset. He didn't exactly expect to see me here."
Harry stared at him incredulously. "You're taking his side?!"
Draco snorted. "Hardly. The stupid weasel can go grow buttercups in Nicaragua for all I care!" He didn't say more. He didn't have to.
Harry understood. "But I care?"
Draco nodded. "Yes, you do." Then he pointed to the other side of the apartment. "You. Into the living room. Wait there. I take care of the two idiots outside."
Draco lifted his trade-mark eyebrow again. "Go."
Harry threw up his hands exasperatedly, but did as Draco told him to.
Draco nodded satisfied and opened the front door once again, not surprised at all that both Gryffindors were still there.
Hermione was angrily lecturing Ron about his temper while Ron defended himself with not having expected the ferret opening the damn door.
Both halted immediately.
Draco leaned against the door frame. "Your subtlety amazes me time and time again, Weasley."
Ron was about to launch for him, but Hermione grabbed him by the front of his robes.
"Can we talk to him?" Hermione asked desperately.
Draco shrugged. "He's in the living room. You can try to talk to him, again... You might want to try a nice 'haven't seen you in a while, how are you?' instead of calling him my house-boy right away," he added sarcastically.
"Ron!" hissed Hermione. "Stop it!"
Draco stepped closer to Ron. "I don't care about your insults, I never did. But if you can't keep your temper in check, if you hurt Harry again after what you pulled three years ago, I will throw you out. And that will be the last time you saw him. Got it?"
Ron crossed his arms over his chest. "I'd like to see you try and throw me out."
Draco very calmly replied. "No. You don't." He made sure to capture Ron's eyes with his. "Your wife is a medi-witch, you yourself write the Quidditch articles for the Daily Prophet. However Harry and myself are fully trained Aurors." He stepped aside and gestured for the two to enter. "You might want to keep that in mind." He nodded to their right where the spacious apartment opened in a warmly lit living room.
Hermione walked ahead, her eyes darting around, taking in their surroundings. The whole apartment looked… lived in. Very homey and warm. The shiny wooden floor creaked just a bit, there were large windows letting in summer sun, and finally in the living area – since it wasn't really a closed off room – sat Harry on an arm-chair next to a very comfortable looking couch at a low coffee table in front of a fire place that would probably warm the whole room in winter.
Draco directed the guest towards the couch and frowned at Harry who was angrily chewing on his thumb nail. "Harry, stop that," he admonished.
Harry narrowed his eyes at the blonde, telling him silently that he was walking on very thin ice.
Draco just smiled at him, amused and offered graciously: "How about a comfort drink?"
The narrowed eyes widened immediately, hopeful.
Draco bit back a laugh at that.
"Lots of cognac?"
Draco did laugh then. "Of course. I'll be right back." He left and closed the kitchen door discreetly behind him.
Which left the former friends in an unpleasant silence.
Harry stared blindly ahead, refusing to look at his guests. "Why are you here?" he asked finally, the cold in his voice startling the two who had known him best for years.
Ron didn't answer, he didn't trust himself to.
Hermione's hands shook as she forced out: "I missed you. We missed you."
Harry snorted. "Oh. That explains it, then." He finally turned to look at them. "You abandoned me," he stated flatly. "What on earth makes you think I would want to see you again?" he asked, actually somewhat curious.
Ron's head shot up angrily. "You know exactly why we couldn't talk to you, anymore!"
Harry lifted one eyebrow, something he had obviously picked up from Draco. "Of course," he said sarcastically. "Let me see, if I get it right." He tapped his lip with his index finger in mock thought. "During my last fight with Voldemort I was supposed to interrupt the spell that was going to finish him off for good, to save your sister – of whom I didn't even know was there – and let the Dark Lord get away, again. Did I get it right?"
Ron shot back: "What is that supposed to mean? She was right behind you, when that Death Eater killed her! How could you have possibly not seen her?" he demanded.
Harry shook his head in disbelieve. "That's right, Ron. She was behind me. Unless anatomy has changed drastically since I last heard of it, people do not have eyes on the back of their heads!"
Harry was breathing heavily. "In addition to that, I couldn't have seen her, had she been standing right in front of me! During the spell I had to bind myself completely to Voldemort. I wouldn't have noticed a herd of Hungarian horntails stomping through the room!" Harry grasped the arm rests of his chair with both hands. All the anger and frustration he had felt three years ago came bursting to the surface. "But you know what? Had I been able to see her, I would have stopped the spell, and Voldemort would have escaped the one chance to kill him, and he would still be around killing people!" He couldn't restrain himself anymore and shot from his seat. "But the best is yet to come. I wake up from several days of coma, thinking that I am finally free to live my life, because, well, I did what everyone wanted me to do, right? Wrong! I wake up and all my trusted Gryffindors turn away from me in fear." He lifted his hands dramatically and said in a mock conspirator voice: "He killed the Dark Lord. You can never know what he will do next…" He snorted. "Courageous, my arse. But it wasn't going to end there. Oh, no. My two best friends can't look me in the eye anymore, because I don't have eyes on the BLOODY BACK OF MY HEAD!"
Harry slumped back into his seat, exhausted. He closed his eyes and calmed down rapidly, after having said all that had burdened him.
Of course he had blamed himself for Ginny's death as soon as he heard of it, and had Draco not been there and hammered into his head that there was nothing he could have done to change it, he probably still would.
"Ginny was my friend," he said finally, quietly. "But there was nothing I could have done to save her." When he looked up, Hermione was crying openly and Ron squeezed his eyes shut.
Harry sighed. "I would have needed you. But you weren't there." The fact that hurt the most, no doubt.
Ron lay one arm around Hermione and let her cry on his shoulder. He didn't know where the anger and disappointment he had felt for the last few years suddenly disappeared to… He did remember the hurt at his sister's death, but looking at Harry, now, he couldn't see the hero who was supposed to be able to save his sister… He simply saw Harry. The boy he had met what seemed like a whole lifetime ago: brave, uncertain, happy, little, best-friend, Harry.
Ron swallowed heavily. When had he stopped seeing his friend and started seeing the Boy Who Lived?
He hadn't meant to abandon his friend, truly, he didn't, but losing Ginny had hurt so much. "I'm sorry," he croaked.
Hermione just nodded.
Harry blinked back tears. "But how can I trust you? How can I trust you not to…" he swallowed, "… not to turn your back on me, again?"
Hermione wiped her eyes. She didn't like to cry; and she hadn't, not in years. She got to her feet and stood in front of Harry. She took a deep breath. "We were stupid kids. We were hurt and didn't know how to handle it."
Harry stood, as well. He breathed several times, started to say something, but not managing to form words. Until: "I missed you."
Hermione froze for the full of two seconds, before she crushed Harry close in an embrace.
Harry clung to her, laughing. He softly swayed her from side to side. He had missed her, both of them. So much.
When he peeked to the side, he saw Ron, looking like he wasn't sure if he had the right to be here.
Harry just laughed some more and opened one arm to him. "Come here, you big idiot."
Ron got to his feet, cautiously. But once Harry reached for him, he returned the embrace, forcefully. "I'm sorry, Harry. I'm so sorry."
They stood for a long time, until an amused voice interrupted them. "Gryffindors. So predictable."
Hermione and Ron had forgotten who's apartment they were in, so they were startled enough to forget getting angry at the moment.
Draco stepped aside and let the tray that floated behind him settle on the table. It held four steaming mugs.
Harry beamed. "Just what we need! Thank you, Draco." He steered Ron and Hermione back to the couch but sat between them, this time.
Hermione peered curiously into the mugs and sniffed. It smelled sweet and had whipped cream on top. "Hot chocolate?"
Harry grinned widely, nodded and handed each of his friends a mug. "Draco's own recipe."
Draco settled into the chair Harry had occupied, before, holding his own mug. "Comfort drink. With lots of cognac, as requested."
Harry took a sip, leaned back in his seat and sighed happily.
Draco smiled fondly at him, when he saw the bit of cream left on the tip of his nose. He chuckled and pointed amused to his own nose.
Harry wiped the cream off self-consciously but smiled back.
Hermione bravely tried her drink… and actually moaned in delight. "Oh, my God. Malfoy, this is…" She decided not to find a word to suit the taste exploding in her mouth and just took a larger swallow.
Ron stared at his own mug sceptically, clearly unsure whether it was wise to drink something of Malfoy's doing, or not. He finally just went for it, and his eyes widened in surprise and darted to Malfoy.
The young heir smirked an unbearably smug smirk and saluted with his mug. "Cheers, Weasley."
After a few moments of happy drinking, Draco interrupted the silence and asked Harry: "From what I caught back in the kitchen, you yelled at them for being awful friends, they apologized and you forgave them. Is this about right?"
Harry smiled weakly. "Just about. Only that…" he hesitated.
Hermione cleared her throat. "Only we have to regain your trust, again."
Harry kept silent. That was exactly what he had been thinking. "I don't want to lose you again." And definitely not because of his insecurity… But a small voice in his head told him that he had every right to be insecure and not trust them with his feelings again so soon.
Ron shifted on the couch. "I guess… sticking around will show you in time that you won't lose us. That is… if you want us to."
"'Course I do," Harry mumbled.
Draco sat in his chair like a king on his throne. Gryffindors… So predictable.
Hermione watched the blonde out of the corner of her eyes. His silent amusement, his confidence, his air of superiority… and the slight sparkle when he watched Harry.
"Uh…" she cleared her throat nervously and turned to Harry. "If you don't mind me asking… how did this happen?"
Harry grinned widely. "You mean Draco?"
Hermione blinked a few times. "I mean… it's not like you ever were close or anything."
Harry smiled into his hot chocolate. "It's kind of a long story."
Draco snorted. "No, it's not," he protested and casually crossed his legs. "We shagged after the leaving ball at Hogwarts and decided to stay… close." He smirked and was quite certain that he could actually hear the sound of Weasley's jaw hitting the floor.
"Draco!" hissed Harry.
Ron's eyes bulged out and mouth was wide open. "You… he… wadda…" He drained his cup in one large gulp and closed his eyes for a moment. "Harry… Do you have something stronger?"
Draco bit his lip to keep himself from bursting out a loud laugh. "Firewhiskey okay?" he asked, eyes sparkling of mirth.
Ron just nodded and Draco went to the cabinet in the corner.
Hermione found her voice again. "The leaving ball, Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "I didn't feel like partying, so I left and looked for a spot to get drunk on my own. Draco had a similar idea… We drank and talked… and… well…"
"We fucked," Draco added while handing Ron his drink.
Harry shot his partner a dark look. "You're not helping."
Draco chuckled. "Hell, no." He sat down again. "They deserve being shaken up a little."
Harry laughed at that. "Point."
Hermione's thoughts were still circling around the fact that the two had come together at the leaving ball… "Oh, dear," she whispered.
Harry blinked – while Ron looked scared at what else could be revealed today – and asked the young witch: "'Oh, dear,' what?"
Hermione hesitated. "When we were at the door… and you said you were all set…" She looked at Draco. "It's your anniversary. You were going to go out, weren't you?"
Draco smirked. "Not to worry. I couldn't have gotten him a better present, had I tried."
Harry chuckled. "You mean to tell me, you haven't got a present for me?" He lifted an eyebrow.
Draco sniffed. "Of course I do, speccy git. In fact," he said and got up, "I'm going to get you another one right now."
Harry shook his head, smiling. "Don't be that way. Come on, sit back down."
"Nope. No can do, love of my life," he replied, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "Besides… you'll like this one."
Harry leaned back in his seat and beamed at Draco. He had an idea what he was up to…
Draco continued: "I'm going to leave you to your Gryffindor party and buy some groceries to cook dinner for you and your guests. How does that sound?"
"YOU cook?" burst out of Ron.
Draco tilted his head and smirked. "Other guys grow their hair and pierce their ears to rebel…" he said, clearly indicating that he knew the unconventional Weasley brother, "I cook. Drove father mad."
Ron nodded numbly.
Hermione bit her lips to keep herself from laughing.
Draco didn't even try. He turned to Harry and pecked him on the lips. "Any requests?"
Draco smirked evilly.
Harry's eyes widened. "Uh… that is…" He tried to think what kind of picture was running through Draco's mind. "No escargots!"
"Oh, damn! I thought you wouldn't catch that one."
"But you like them!" Draco whined playfully.
"Because you didn't tell me what I was eating the first time."
Draco laughed at the much treasured picture of when he told Harry what had been the entrée that day… "Fine, I'll be good." He turned around at sauntered to the front door. "Later, lover boy," he called and left.
After the door closed there was a long silence… that Ron finally broke: "Should I even ask what he was talking about?"
Harry snorted a laugh and Hermione giggled.
"What's so funny?"
"It's a French delicacy…" Harry explained.
"EURGH! He made you eat snails?"
Harry laughed and re-took his seat in the chair. "Easier to talk to you this way," he explained. "And, yes, I ate snails. Draco's awfully good at making a sauce for them."
Ron shuddered – and he didn't even have to fake it.
Hermione emptied her cup and patted Ron affectionately on the knee.
Harry tilted his head. "Maybe now you see why I was cleaning the kitchen… He cooks, I clean up, afterwards. It's only fair."
"Can't believe he cooks… and snails no less," Ron mumbled. "And what did he put in the hot chocolate? Beetles?"
"Don't be silly, Ron," Hermione admonished.
Harry chuckled. "Of course not. Molten chocolate – his favourite – milk, sugar, some spices… and cognac. I don't know the exact recipe."
Hermione seemed interested. "He actually uses molten chocolate?"
Harry nodded. "You know him… Nothing if not the best."
"So," she went on and leaned back. "Tell us about him. He must have some redeeming qualities hidden under that expensively coiffured head, or you wouldn't have stayed with him for three years."
Harry smiled. He couldn't help it… The way Hermione had phrased it, it described Draco perfectly. Yes, he was a snob. Yes, he was arrogant. Yes, he was a spoiled, rich, brat at times.
And he liked to show it.
But there were qualities. And Draco was a master at hiding them, only letting them show when he wanted to.
And because of all this, Harry answered, still smiling: "I love him."
Ron emptied his glass and sighed deeply.
But Hermione smiled right back. "He's good for you," she noted. "If he can make you smile like that."
Harry's smile widened. "You should see him smile, sometime. Not the smirk… though I kind of like that, too… but an honest, happy, smile. It'll take your breath away." His eyes became distant. "He actually is happy, and I know it, but getting him to truly smile is miraculous. Simply because he does it so seldom."
Ron cleared his throat and got Harry's attention. "Harry… I might agree that he did some growing up or something equally character-forming." He shook his head in thought. "I mean, even my dad said something nice about him the other day, when he mentioned that he had to work with him…" He squeezed his eyes shut. "But, please, refrain from going mushy on me about him, okay?"
Harry laughed out loud and Hermione giggled.
"Alright! Laugh at me, why don't you?" Ron sulked.
Harry bit his lips. "Sorry, Ron," he said, looking not sorry at all.
Ron played with his empty glass. "Uhm… What I still don't understand is… he hadn't changed back then… Not that I noticed, at least… So, what were you talking about that day that you would let him… you know…"
Harry smirked. Another thing he obviously caught up from Draco. "What makes you think that he wasn't the one who let me… you know…?" He snickered.
Ron buried his face in his hands and Hermione tried very hard not to laugh.
Harry shook his head. "Sorry. Uhm… What were we talking about?" He frowned, trying to remember. "I guess we started out trading insults. But it wasn't the same. We were both tired of fighting..." He laughed lightly. "And a little drunk, already. I think we didn't even notice that we went from insulting to actually talking. And we talked about everything. The war, friends, enemies, loss, hurt… the future." Harry shrugged. "It just sort of happened. And all I could think was 'Why didn't we do that before, it's so much nicer than fighting'," he laughed.
Ron pulled a face and Hermione listened intently.
Harry continued: "In retrospect… We were almost like two puzzle pieces. Only that at the beginning we kept trying to put them together the wrong way and we clashed. But once we found out that all we had to do was turn them around, we fit perfectly." He cleared his throat. "And then there was the subject of our future… Up until that evening neither of us knew that the other had planned to do the Auror training, too. So we decided that we didn't want to give up what we had discovered that night, we both enrolled for the training and looked for two apartments that weren't too far apart." He smiled again. "And we're still here. So I guess we made the right decision."
Hermione tilted her head. "Wouldn't it be easier if you just shared one apartment?"
Harry's smile faltered. "That's actually kind of a moot point… I hardly ever go to my apartment, and Draco keeps telling me to sell it and finally get my remaining stuff over here." The corner of his mouth lifted just a bit. "But… I like having my own place. I like the thought that I could return, should I want to… even if I never do." He shrugged again, helplessly. "I'm weird at that, I guess."
When Draco stepped through the front door again, the first thing he heard was Ron's incredulous voice:
"You mean to tell me that LUCIUS visits you, here?"
Draco snorted and directed the floating groceries into the kitchen. He turned to the living room. "Of course he is. He's my father."
Ron spluttered. "But he's… he's…"
"All bark and no bite since Azkaban, I'm afraid." Draco smirked.
Hermione leaned forward slightly in her seat. "How did he get out of there in the first place?"
Draco shrugged dismissively. "An army of lawyers and one of his Gringott's accounts." His eyes lost focus. "But he's changed, even after only five months."
"I get along with him as well as can be expected," Harry threw in. "He treats me like I'm not worth to kiss his feet, but that's how he treats everyone who's not a Malfoy…" he snickered.
Draco chuckled as well at that. The two were seemingly sharing a private joke of some sorts. "Well, I got him to behave, at least. And he stopped complaining that when he comes for dinner, I am the one who cooks it."
Harry snorted. "Not when you can hear it, you mean. When you're in the kitchen, I have to listen to him rant about how we need to get a house elf."
Draco huffed. "I'm not getting one of those nosy little creatures. I don't trust them. Besides, the maid coming over twice a week is sufficient." He looked at the old grandfather clock in the corner. "I'll be off to the kitchen, then. But I'll need you for the salad dressing," he declared.
"Sure." Harry then turned to his friends. "He can't get the dressing right."
"Hey! I'll have you know, I make excellent dressings, thank you very much!" he sulked. "I just happen to like yours better."
Hermione lifted a questioning eyebrow at Draco. "Why don't you just ask him for the recipe?"
Draco answered with an incredulous look. "Magic," he said, as if that explained everything.
Draco blinked. "Since I don't cut, mix, shake and boil by hand but use my magic, it shows in what I cook. You can taste my magic." He shook his head. "Muggles…"
"Hey, I didn't know that, either!" Ron protested.
Draco shrugged, again. "I guess it was part of my upbringing. I had chefs cook for me all my life." He trotted off into the kitchen. The last thing he heard was Ron whispering to Harry.
"Does that mean I drank a hot chocolate with Malfoy parts in it?"
Draco shook his head and closed the door, listening to Harry and Hermione laugh.
Later that evening found the four of them enjoying their desserts. The anniversary couple next to each other and their guest in front of them.
"I'm still curious," admitted Hermione to Harry.
Harry chuckled. "I'd be surprised if you weren't."
Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "As I was saying, I am curious about Lucius."
"Good, old daddy," snorted Draco and continued to extinguish his crème brulée. "What about him?"
Hermione bit her lip. "Well… actually… I was wondering, how you could sit with him, Harry, without the two of you ripping each other's heads off. I mean… I don't think you're what he would have chosen for Draco."
Harry smirked. "Not really."
Draco swallowed another spoon and cleared his throat. "Actually… Harry isn't so far off that mark."
Harry snorted. "You're kidding, right?"
Draco shook his head. "You destroyed Voldemort. That makes you the most influential, strongest and most famous wizard. A likely choice."
Harry shook his head, laughing. "I would have thought he wanted a nice pure-blooded breeding machine for you."
Draco grinned madly. "What do you think we're discussing, when he joins me in the kitchen? You think we're trading recipes?"
"What? He shows you lists of potential girls?" Harry didn't know whether he should be amused or angry by this.
"Oh, no, no. Not at all. He keeps giving me lists of the latest pregnancy potions." He winked. "According to him, it is high time to knock you up."
Harry turned an interesting shade of green. "I like the list of girls better…"
Draco laughed and kissed Harry on the cheek. "Calm down. I told him again and again that we're both working, and that we like to work. I think it's a bit soon for kids, don't you?"
Harry blinked rapidly. "Well… uhm… It's not like I ever thought about it… I didn't think it were even possible."
Draco smirked. "If you want to think about it, by all means, go ahead. Lucius will be thrilled."
Harry answered that smirk with a stunningly similar one of his own. "And why should I be the one getting pregnant?"
Draco shrugged. "You don't have to be…" He laughed. "Lucius would have kneazels, but, yes, of course I could carry it, as well."
Ron very, very slowly lay down his spoon. "Are you two talking about having children?" he squeaked.
Hermione poked him in the ribs and the two men in front of him laughed, lightly.
"Easy, Ron, we're just considering the possibility. We both like our work way too much right now."
Draco nodded. "We have time. And there are other issues we should take care of, first."
Harry nodded, silently. They both knew what he was talking about.
Draco finished his dessert and his wine and clapped his hands. "Anyway! Time for presents, darling." He smiled.
Hermione discreetly cleared her throat. "If you would like to be alone for that, we won't mind to leave you to it…"
Draco stood up. "Don't be silly. I want to show off."
Harry laughed. "I'm sure, you do."
Draco grinned, walked to the large wood-framed mirror on the wall and reached behind it.
"Did you shrink it to hide it there?" Harry asked and snickered.
Draco huffed. "Of course not." He returned to the table with an envelope in his hand and put it on the table in front of Harry.
Harry smirked. "Did you draw a picture for me?"
Draco smacked him. "Git," he said fondly. "Open it, already.
Harry smiled and did as he was told. He found a letter from their department in the ministry and two tickets. A huge smile grew on his face.
Harry turned to Draco and kissed him, deeply.
Ron tried to distract himself with some more wine and Hermione smiled. Those two were a sight to behold.
Once they parted, Draco smiled and said. "Simply because we like work doesn't mean we don't need a holiday every once in a while…"
"Oh?" Hermione leaned forward. "You're going on a holiday?"
Harry gave her the tickets. "He's taking me to Australia. I always wanted to go there."
Her eyes widened. "Ooh! You're going on a trek!"
Ron peeked at it, as well. "Your job not interesting enough?"
Harry shrugged. "It's something we always wanted to do, but never had the time for." He laughed, again and pulled Draco towards him. "Come here, you!" He kissed him once more, and they looked lovingly in each other's eyes.
Ron cleared his throat. "Uh… Not to interrupt you, or anything. But what about your present, Harry?"
Draco snickered. "I'd like to remind you, Mr. Weasley, that subtlety is not your strong suit."
Harry smiled. "He's right, though. I've already gotten two presents from you and you're still waiting for mine." He reached into his pocked, put a tiny little box on the table and enlargened it only just a bit.
Draco lifted one eyebrow. "You didn't get me an engagement ring, did you?" he smirked.
Harry smiled, if a bit sadly. "No. As you said… there are other issues to solve, first."
Draco pecked him on the cheek, silently telling him that he understood. But then he opened his gift, hurriedly. He lifted the top and froze.
Inside were three keys. Two of them identical and a third, smaller one.
Draco took a deep breath and looked at Harry, his eyes glistening suspiciously.
Harry smiled a watery smile. "I thought you would like to turn them in…"
Draco dropped the present and the keys fell on the table. He grabbed Harry's face with both hands and kissed him passionately. "Love you, Harry," he whispered between kisses. "So much."
Harry pulled back a bit. "Love you, too." He kissed him softly. "Told you there were other things to solve, first."
Draco laughed happily.
And now Hermione understood what Harry had meant with Draco's genuine smile. It was breathtaking. He was handsome before, but now he was radiant.
Harry smirked. "Of course, it's not as fancy as your present…"
Draco laughed, again. "Oh, fuck off! It's the best present, ever!" He wiped away a single tear in the corner of his eye, poured himself some more wine and took a large swallow. "Best present, ever!" he declared, again and smiled widely.
Hermione looked at the keys, puzzled. "What's so special about those keys, Harry?"
Harry sighed. "They're the keys to my apartment and the cellar. I emptied it last week and Draco can give back the keys to the owner."
Draco giggled and said: "Did I mention I love you, recently?"
Harry laughed. "Half a minute ago."
Draco's neck and cheeks blushed beautifully, either from the wine or the present or both. "Way too long," he declared and kissed his partner again.
This time neither of them seemed inclined to stop.
Hermione and Ron shared a sort of embarrassed-amused glance and nodded in silent agreement.
Hermione emptied her wine and put the glass back on the table with a noticeable cling. "I think… this is where we take our leave."
Their host separated, breathing heavily.
Harry grinned, timidly. "Sorry… We'll stop."
Hermione shook her head and stood. "No. We've taken enough of your time. It's a special day for you, after all."
Ron got up, as well. "Yeah. I can see that…" He laughed. "Thanks for dinner. It was great." He cleared his throat. Some part of him still couldn't believe that he had been here, practically devouring something of Malfoy's doing... Never mind all the sappy goings-on. "You'll be hearing from us after your holiday."
Harry stood, quickly and showed them to the door. "I am sorry… It's…"
"Harry, stop," Hermione interrupted him. "We'll see you, soon, but not now. You'll need the time for yourselves."
Harry smiled. "Thanks, guys," he whispered.
"No problem, mate!" Ron clapped him on the back. "Have a nice… evening."
Harry snorted a laugh.
Draco waved from his seat. "Bye, Weasleys!"
Which made Hermione shake her head and smile and Ron and Harry laughed.
"Goodbye, Draco," she called.
Ron cleared his throat, again. "Yeah. Bye, Malfoy."
Harry pulled both his friends in a hug. "Thank you… Thank you so much for coming."
They parted, smiling with barely held back tears. Well… it had only taken three years, after all.
Hermione smiled impishly. "He can cook. Keep him."
Harry laughed. "Get out of here!"
"Bye, you guys."
The door closed and Ron and Hermione could hear some muffled laughter from the inside that soon became a humming noise.
For a long time neither of them moved.
Ron shook his head. "Somebody pinch me…"
Hermione giggled. "You can say that again." She tilted her head. "Come on, let's go home."
Ron nodded. "Yes, let's."
While they trotted down the corridor, Hermione asked: "How long does it take for them to get married? What do you think?"
Ron sighed heavily. "Not long."
"And have kids?"
"… … Good grief! Spare me!"