"Confidotuom. I wanted to play professional Quidditch after school. After the war was over."
"Yeah. My father had a friend, Seeker for Puddlemere, Gary Astons-"
"Not the one who was killed by Aurors on the Hogsmeade raid, was it?"
"Yeah, that one. Anyway, he'd told me that I had a lot of talent and potential – maybe not enough for first string on a really good team right away, but definitely good enough for the Wasps, as an alternate. I held on to that, repeated it to myself during a lot of the time I was in hiding. And I practiced whenever I could do it safely. It was something to aspire to, you know? Trying out was going to be one of the first things I did, once my name was cleared."
"So what happened?"
Draco shrugged. "I lost my nerve."
"In the try-outs?"
"Never even got there. I'd circled the dates on my calendar; there were five try-outs scheduled right after the trials, when I was finally exonerated. Two of them were after I got the Order of Merlin."
"Why didn't you go?"
He shook his head. "I pictured being in front of all those people, doing my best and failing, or doing my best and getting in but having people say I'd got in on my name or my fame. Or doing my best and succeeding, but still not being picked for security reasons or for political reasons... and I just never went."
Harry was gazing at him seriously. Too seriously, and Draco had to look away from the sympathy in his face. "Probably doesn't count as all that earth-shattering, I know. But it... was hard. Watching those dates go by, finally realizing I was never going to go. I never even told anyone I was thinking of trying out. Didn't want to talk about it, have them ask how I did, anything like that."
Harry nodded. Draco picked up his wand and did the necessary spells. Definitely a marked reduction in the aura. He started to write down his observations as Harry got up and went to get them both tea.
"D'you think your dad would've been proud of you if you'd made it?" he asked as he sat back down.
"Probably not," Draco said absently, nodding his thanks for the tea and continuing to write. "He didn't think Quidditch was a suitable occupation for a Malfoy. Then again, by that time his main occupation for the last four years had been growing his hair, so his opinion might have changed. Or not. Don't suppose I'll ever know."
Harry nodded thoughtfully, resting his chin on his hand as he slowly stirred his tea. "I wanted to play Quidditch too," he said quietly. "After everything was done, I mean. I didn't have the choice," he made a vague gesture at his leg. "But I'd also wanted to be an Auror, since before leaving Hogwarts. After the war, it didn't sound all that attractive. I'd pretty much already been an Auror forever; I wanted to do something with my magic other than use it to track and fight Dark wizards. Besides, I figured after Voldemort, hunting down old men smuggling flying carpets into the country probably wouldn't hold much appeal."
"No, I suppose not."
"And I was... tired. And..." he trailed off, observing the swirls of brown and white in his cup, his eyes distant as he seemed to try to find the right words. "And scared."
"Scared?" Draco repeated after a long pause.
"After everything you went through?"
"I survived a lot of horrible stuff. I fought incredibly powerful people and won, time after time. And every time I looked back and saw how narrowly I'd escaped, I knew it was mostly luck."
"No, really," Harry took a sip of his tea. "Luck and a prophecy."
"The prophecy didn't say which one of you would be killed; it just said one of you would kill the other."
"Which means that every time I survived against Voldemort I could tell myself it was because of my skills or strength, but every time I survived against somebody else – Quirrel, or your father, or Bellatrix – I probably could've defended myself with a limp quill and still got away. Because they couldn't kill me, because of the bloody prophecy."
"Rubbish," Draco repeated bluntly. "If nothing else, they could've left you incapacitated and easy for Voldemort to finish off. That would've satisfied the prophecy just as well."
"Maybe." Harry sighed. "But I'd had a lot of narrow escapes. I didn't want any more. I wanted a job where I could go to work and be pretty sure I'd come home at the end of the day."
Draco nodded. "So you became a mediwizard."
"Yeah. About as far from dealing with Dark Wizards as possible."
"Why didn't you do Healer training?"
"Two years studying, plus another three of apprenticeship? And getting an E in Potions NEWTs? You're dreaming."
Draco smiled and made one final notation on his report before taking a sip of his own tea.
"It's not that I regret what I didn't do," Harry said quietly. "I like being a mediwizard."
"Yeah, it's not a bad career."
"Just wish I'd chosen to do this only because I wanted to, and not because I couldn't play Quidditch and I was too scared of being an Auror."
"Yeah, that's the problem," Draco nodded. "Neither of us has a bad job, but... they're still not what either of us ever planned to do with our lives, are they?"
"No, they're not." Harry shrugged. "Could've been worse, though. We both could've ended up hating the jobs we ended up doing."
"I suppose so."
"Did you ever think you'd be a Healer, when you were growing up?" Harry asked.
"No. I always thought I'd follow in my father's footsteps." Draco smiled wryly. "This is better."
"Yeah, I suppose so." Harry toyed with his spoon thoughtfully. "You know, I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that you'd ever go into Healing. I didn't know what to think when I found out you were coming to Muckle Roe."
Draco hesitated for a moment before speaking. "Actually, I've always wanted to ask... why did you welcome me into the clinic like you did? I would've though that would've been the perfect opportunity to get back at me for a lot of things."
Harry's eyebrows went up. "Why would you think that? I didn't make things difficult for you during the war, did I?"
"We were in contact a grand total of three times," Draco pointed out. "And the situations weren't exactly conducive to working out any old grudges, for either of us."
"The war was over," Harry said simply. He hesitated, then went on. "Actually... to be honest, I did a bit of digging on you before you got here. Found out you'd done really well in Healer School. Got nothing but praise from your teachers and your supervisors at St. Mungo's. It looked like you were really trying to get past your... well, your past. I was trying to do the same thing." Harry shrugged. "I didn't see any reason to make things unpleasant for you."
Draco nodded thoughtfully and took a sip of his tea. This wasn't the right time to tell Harry that he was still grateful for that. There was no need, and he certainly didn't want the warm glow that Harry's smile would give him if he said anything of the sort.
In fact, it had been a bad idea to ask the question in the first place, because hearing that Harry had taken the time to look up Draco's record instead of just assuming he was the same person he'd known before the war... that he'd understood what it was like to want to start over...
And all of that on top of knowing now that Harry also knew what it was like to have to leave behind childhood dreams, and settle for just doing the best you could with what was left of you...
Damn it to hell, this was even worse than thinking of how fit Harry was, how green his eyes were and how nicely he filled his jeans. Now he was just feeling warm and... understood. Basking in Harry's approval like the pathetic lovesick idiot he was turning into.
He sighed deeply as he glanced at his report and realized the last sentence he'd written was gibberish, and picked up his quill once more.
Harry stood up. "Here, you finish up your notes, I'll get us some breakfast."
"All right. Thanks," he said, and tried to take comfort in the fact that the confession he planned for noon should have little or no unwanted emotional consequence whatsoever.
"Confidotuom. I went Muggle for about six months, after the war."
"What?" Harry's teacup rattled and spilled a bit as he put it down.
Draco smirked at the shock on Harry's face. "I did. I was living in London and one day I wandered out of the wizarding areas. Started getting to know Muggle London and decided to see if I could live there."
"Why in buggery would you want to do that?"
Draco laughed at Harry's complete bewilderment. "Why wouldn't I?"
"They're... Muggles," Harry said, and Draco raised his eyebrows.
"Weren't you raised by Muggles?" Harry looked at him askance and Draco chuckled. "Sorry. I've heard about your relatives. Still, you've been friends with Muggle-borns all your life, surely you aren't prejudiced against them?"
"That's Muggle-borns. Not Muggles."
Draco tilted his head quizzically.
"I'm not saying Muggles are inferior or anything," said Harry defensively, mopping up his spilled tea. "Just... why would you want to live with them?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Harry looked at him, at a total loss, and Draco took pity on him. "I... I was tired of the looks, the idea that anybody who looked at me knew who I was. I was tired of the Howlers and the marriage proposals and knowing that half the wizarding world thought they knew me, just because they'd read all sorts of rubbish about me, for good or bad. I wanted to see what it was like to not have anybody recognize me."
"You could've gone somewhere else in the wizarding world, then. America, the continent... even here."
"Not the same. I'd always be spotted as a foreigner, by my accent if nothing else. In Muggle England I could be just a regular person."
"Did it work?"
"What was it like?"
Harry laughed. "I can imagine."
"I've no idea how those people survive entire lifetimes without magic. I mean, it was a fascinating challenge in its own way, I suppose, but god, so bloody inconvenient. No Impervious, no Apparition, no Accio. It rains and you get wet, unless you've got an umbrella. You have to walk or drive everywhere. You have to go pick up things from across the room." He shook his head. "And can you imagine trying to live in Shetland as a Muggle? Without Lumos, half the year you're almost always in pitch black, and right now without Nox Fabrico it's daytime for about four months."
Harry grimaced and nodded. "What I can't stand is how... dead everything is in the Muggle world. Did you notice that? You walk into a home, and nothing moves. Nothing talks to you, nothing looks at you... it's like being in a bloody cemetery."
"At least cemeteries have statues you can talk to."
"Muggle ones don't."
"Oh. No, I suppose not." Draco tilted his head, puzzled at Harry's manner.
"It's just surprising to hear you saying things like that about the Muggle world. I guess I thought you'd be at home in it."
"God, no. I hate it. Never go there if I can help it."
"It didn't tempt you to leave the wizarding world after the war?"
"I thought of leaving the country, but never going Muggle. For one thing, I'd be a cripple."
"You could still use the compensation spells."
"Too much trouble making sure they were hidden, or I didn't relax and let them drop," Harry pointed out. "So what happened? Why did you leave?"
"Oh, just got tired of it." Draco realized he'd been talking for a few minutes and started. "Bugger – Finite Incantatum," he said, ending the Trust Spell and lighting Harry's aura.
"Mmhmm..." He squinted in concentration. "That one didn't do much, but overall you're getting better. I may not have to fellate any cucumbers after all."
Harry laughed. "So did you learn anything?"
Draco frowned, puzzled. "Yeah, you're better."
"No, I mean about Muggles. About yourself."
"About Muggles, yeah, I suppose so. They're bloody unfortunate sods who take five times as long to do half as much as we do. About myself..." he trailed off and mulled it over a bit, then shrugged. "Nothing that the war hadn't already taught me."
Harry gazed at him thoughtfully.
Draco looked away, not particularly wanting to go down the conversational path of his war experiences. There was a brief silence, broken only by the scratching of his quill as he wrote down the results of the latest confession.
"My turn," Harry said.
"Mm, yes. Do tell," Draco put his quill away and sat back with a smirk.
Harry rested his chin on his hand. "It's interesting, isn't it? Thinking about things you don't normally talk about. Asking yourself why not, why you keep them private. Wondering what it'll feel like after you've shared them with somebody. It's... interesting." He took a small sip of his tea.
Draco smirked. "Harry, if this doesn't lead up to a very interesting confession involving a selkie or a succubus, I'll be incredibly disappointed."
"No, it's not... it's not anything that strange... well. Maybe." Harry stirred his tea, and Draco could almost feel him tensing up slightly before he finally spoke. "I... I like speaking Parseltongue."
"I like it. It's... it's interesting, talking to snakes. It's a very... unique language."
Draco blinked. Of all the...
"I know, you probably think it's quite bizarre to confess to that."
"It's a rare talent. Why wouldn't you like it?"
"See, I didn't know it was bad, the first time I used it in public. I didn't know Salazar Slytherin was a Parselmouth, let alone that Voldemort was. I didn't even know that when I spoke to snakes I was speaking a different language; I just thought it was something strange that I could do, that probably scores of other wizard folk could too."
"Well I found that out, didn't I? Everybody looked at me like I was Jack the Ripper. I got the impression that it wasn't something to be proud of."
"Ah. Yeah, I suppose it wouldn't be, to a lot of people. Especially that year." And Draco was absolutely not going to think about the first time he'd seen Harry speaking Parseltongue, because Harry had been twelve at the time and he was definitely not in any way shape or form going to think of that twelve year old child as hot. That speccy boy had nothing to do with the man Draco and Gwen had seen, not three weeks ago, softly speaking to one of the garden snakes near the clinics. With an absorbed, peaceful look on his face, and a tongue that was doing things that...
Augh, not so good to think of that tongue right now either. Draco's arousal had been shockingly sudden at the time; he'd had to discreetly adjust his trousers, and had the strangest flashback to that time when Marcus Flint had taught some of the younger Slytherin boys a spell to get rid of unwelcome erections, and Adrian Pucey had stepped in and said, "Don't bother, unless you're desperate. It'll hurt like a kick in your bollocks and probably make a mess in your pants. Just thank god for robes, or put a stack of books in front of yourself if you're out of uniform."
Well he wasn't wearing a robe right now, and he didn't have any books. Thank god for kitchen tables.
"So you're still self-conscious about it?" he asked, and Harry shrugged. "Is that why you looked so embarrassed the other day, when Gwen and I saw you speaking to that snake?"
Harry nodded. "It's... it's one of the only things Voldemort left me that I actually appreciate. And it's fascinating, what snakes speak about. D'you know they have insults?" He smiled to himself, gaze turned inwards. "The stripey one that lives under the blueberry bush hates the garter by the aconite, they're always competing for mice. The other day she called him a-" Draco had no time to brace himself before Harry hissed, strange syllables passing through his lips and leaving Draco unexpectedly hard as a rock and flustered as hell. "It means 'soft-shelled wet-skinned tadpole.' He got really angry. Called her a," and again with the hissing; Draco firmly clamped down on a whimper. "'Female so stupid she'll eat her own eggs.'" Harry's eyes were dancing with humour, and Draco returned his smile wanly. Harry pressed his lips together, his face going blank, clearly thinking he'd made Draco uncomfortable.
"Erm. Sorry." He ran his hand over his hair, and before Draco could figure out a way to let him know he wasn't put off by the Parseltongue – while still not encouraging Harry to say any more so he wouldn't come in his pants – Harry cleared his throat. "So, erm. Why did you leave the Muggle world? Did you mean to only stay six months?"
Draco blinked, off-balance. "No, I thought... to be honest I didn't put a time limit on it."
"What did you do?"
"Lived like a Muggle."
"How, though? Did you just go to their restaurants and clubs, or go to school, or what?"
Draco smiled. "Ah. No."
"What did you do?"
"This should count as a confession, actually. No, probably not."
"Oh, so it's something you haven't told people about, but it has no emotional weight for you to use as a confession?"
"Not now that I've told you I was a Muggle, no."
"Now I'm dying to know."
"Worked?" Harry's eyebrows shot up. "As what?"
"No, I'm joking. Exotic dancer."
Draco laughed. "No, god. Taxi driver. And I'm serious this time."
Harry blinked. "You're taking the piss."
"I'm not. I already knew how to drive, didn't have to talk to people, got to spend a lot of time by myself or observing Muggles without having to interact with them, and I could very easily use magic to figure out where I was without anybody seeing me use it. It was perfect."
"You drove a taxi."
"Not a bad job, really. It was one thing I didn't mind at all about being a Muggle."
"So what did you mind? Computers, telephones? Light switches?"
"Oh, I mastered light switches just fine. Did pretty well with most of it, as a matter of fact. I managed to convert money into Muggle currency, and I rented a flat, and signed a lot of their weird little contracts. Had a bit of trouble with their bank machines, but really if you think of them as particularly stupid metal goblins, you're fine. Same with their internet – it's just a wireless on a flat piece of glass. Mice are just oddly shaped plastic wands that you move in a bizarre way, but it's just point and click instead of swish and flick, isn't it? Though it was a real bother remembering to contain my magic around electronics. I shorted out quite a few of those bloody boxes."
"So it wasn't the computers that did you in, then?"
"No. It actually was the bloody lights that finally did it for me. I mastered the switches, hadn't said Lumos in days, I came home, flicked the bloody thing in my front hallway – and it didn't work. I ignored it and just used Lumos spells, then another light went out. Then the one in the study went – and I couldn't do Lumos there because magic interfered with the computer and the telly. I tried everything. I was even thinking of moving out when my next door neighbour popped in. I guess I'd been swearing for a while, and she wanted to get some sleep."
"What did she do?"
"I'd gone on the internet, believe it or not. Asked what would make a light not work. Tried to figure out if the switch was broken, if the power was down, everything... and then this girl comes in, takes one look around, flicks the switch, asks me if I've changed the light bulb. Well of course I'd no bloody clue what she was talking about. So she looked at me like I was an idiot, went over to one of my lamps, took the light bulb out, screwed it into the broken light, and of course, there was light. I moved out the next day."
Harry laughed. "It's so funny, the things that trip you up, going from one world to the other. I still envy half-bloods sometimes."
Draco blinked. "You are a half-blood."
"No, I mean half-bloods who grew up knowing both worlds, like Seamus Finnigan. I was in the same boat as Hermione or any other Muggle-born when I first came to Hogwarts; the simplest things caught me by surprise. Still do, sometimes."
"She didn't seem to have much of a problem with any of it. It drove a lot of us in Slytherin crazy, that a Muggle-born could do so much better at school than us."
"I can imagine," Harry chuckled, and drained his teacup. "That's Hermione, though. Drives people mental wherever she goes." He stood up. "So, finished your notes?"
"Oh – oh, yeah, I am," said Draco, and carefully rolled up his scroll. "We should get lunch."
"Yeah I was just thinking that too," said Harry, and they got up to get themselves sandwiches.
"Actually, I suppose I did learn some things," said Draco, uncomfortable with silence as they worked and still somewhat uneasy over the whole Parseltongue experience. Though happily, he'd at least brought his body under control. "I learned a lot of self-discipline. Not that I bothered to do things the Muggle way when I was by myself, but it was a bit trying sometimes, remembering to not do magic in public. That discipline helped, later, in Healer training."
"Yeah, I suppose it would. Can I have the butter?"
Draco passed it over. "Did you ever want to go back to the Muggle world?"
"No. Nothing there I'd want. Other than computers. I mean, I grew up knowing about computers, but by the time I'd gone to Hogwarts, most people had computers but not so much internet access. So I do get curious about the internet. But otherwise, I've never thought about going back." He cut a few slices of tomatoes. "It would be nice to be anonymous, though. Not have anybody care who I am."
"Yeah, that was the best part for me."
"Although coming to Shetland does that pretty well too, doesn't it?" Harry said, spreading the tomatoes on top of the butter.
"Yeah, it's nice to be apart because you're a foreigner, not because of who you are."
"I haven't noticed the foreigner thing as much, to be honest."
"You've been here longer," Draco pointed out.
"Learned the language a fair bit, too."
"You should try it. It's not really that difficult."
"Oh... um. No, I don't..." Draco trailed off, reluctant to admit that he had indeed studied a bit of Shetlandic in his scarce spare time. It was nice, having some secrets. And he didn't particularly want to make a fool of himself telling anybody he understood or spoke Shetlandic, then getting things wrong. He cleared his throat and murmured a toasting spell at his bread, then started slicing into a piece of leftover mutton. "So it's just computers you miss, then?"
"Nothing else worth missing." Harry waved his wand at his sandwich to warm it up. "And I was definitely glad I was in the wizarding world when I was dating Robin. I mean, I didn't even think about being discreet, other than keeping out of the way of the Prophet. But right at the time we were dating, a Muggle man was beaten almost to death in London, just for being out in public with his boyfriend. Robin and I had been out walking down Diagon Alley at the exact same time." He shook his head somberly. "It was... it was a little sobering. That could've been us."
Draco stopped in mid-slice. "Could've... you mean Robin was-"
"A bloke, yeah," said Harry, heading back to the kitchen table with his sandwich. "I remember thinking at the time, I sometimes feel like I have to hide the scar or look like someone else in Diagon Alley, so I won't feel like people are watching me, but at least I never have to pretend to be a girl when I'm with a bloke, just to not get beaten to a pulp."
"So... Robin was male." A faint scent of smoke startled Draco and he looked down at the cinder that had been his toasting bread. "Shite, Finite Incantatum," he murmured, and tossed the bread into the trash.
"Yeah, I'm bi." Harry frowned, looking at Draco. "Oh. Sorry, thought you knew that. There's more bread in the-"
"Yeah, I've got it," Draco got himself another slice and decided not to risk the toasting spell again. "No, I didn't know."
"Oh. Damn, what a waste of a perfectly good confession, then," Harry grinned, taking another bite of his sandwich. "Except, not really, as I don't much care who knows that. Sorry, I really thought you knew."
Harry suddenly seemed to register Draco's unease, and his eyebrows drew together. "Erm... it doesn't bother you, does it?"
"What? No, no. It's just a bit of a surprise. I didn't know you dated men."
"I usually date women. Just not exclusively."
"Since... erm... six, seven years ago? I was with Ginny on-and-off since Hogwarts, though, and we didn't see a lot of people other than each other. I've only dated..." he narrowed his eyes and appeared to be thinking. "Four blokes. I was with Robin the longest. Three months, give or take a bit."
"So, not at school, then."
"No, though I knew since fifth year."
Draco raised his eyebrows.
"Erm. I had a bit of an... incredibly stupid crush on a classmate," Harry smiled ruefully.
"Really? Who?" Draco asked despite himself.
"Oh god no," Harry laughed, blushing. "It was embarrassing." He took a large bite of his sandwich.
He swallowed. "As in, more embarrassing than Ron and Lavender Brown."
"Oh Merlin, it wasn't Longbottom, was it?"
Harry laughed. "God, no. I thought it was just the craziness of the year, but the craziness left and the attraction stayed. Nothing ever came of it, though." He took another bite. "Shouldn't you test-"
"Right." Draco took out his wand, taking refuge in automatic action and frowning as the aura came to light. "That didn't do as much as I'd hoped."
"Yeah." Draco made himself keep his voice light and his eyes on his work. "Sorry, I'll have to go over... I must've done something wrong..."
"Right." Harry finished his lunch and stood up. "I know, never disturb a Healer in deep thought. I'm going for a walk. D'you want a warming charm on your lunch?"
"Yeah, thanks. I'll probably be a while."
Draco waited for Harry to leave the room and put his head on the kitchen table, barely stopping himself from banging it onto the hard surface in frustration.
Harry was bi. And he'd said it so casually. Didn't even think about it. Assumed Draco knew.
This was absolutely not fair. He was stuck, in Muckle Roe Quarantine House, with Harry Potter, who was single and gorgeous and who actually understood, deep down, so many things that Draco had resigned himself to never being able to tell another person, but found so easy – and pleasant – to talk to Harry about. Harry Potter, who also seemed to get more outrageously clueless by the minute, who had just hissed Draco into an erection he could've pitched a Quidditch Cup tent on, and then oh by the way, told him he was bisexual.
And Draco was running out of confessions almost as quickly as he was running out of sanity.
He headed for the loo, firmly shutting the door behind himself and noting ruefully that although he'd been able to dampen down his arousal enough to make it through lunch without embarrassing himself, the moment the bathroom door shut behind him, there he was again. Hard as a rock, and not even thinking of Jessica would make this go away.
Fuck. He touched himself through his trousers, swallowing back a moan and not even bothering to try to control the images his mind came up with. And, no surprise, there was Harry and some faceless man, walking down Diagon Alley, holding hands. Yes, gay wizards sometimes got annoyed stares from some of the older folk, but being openly gay in public was no more serious a social faux pas than snogging in public was for heterosexual couples, so there they were.
In his mind, Robin looked a great deal like the Kestrels Keeper. Ironic, seeing as how that's who was shagging Harry's ex-girlfriend, not Harry himself. But there were Robin and Harry, walking down Diagon Alley, and Harry was smiling and maybe leaning close to kiss him, and Draco cast a Silencio around himself automatically as he opened his trousers and finally felt some relief.
He closed his eyes. Image of Harry and Robin, smiling, maybe Harry whispering in Robin's ear, tongue appearing between his teeth as he whispered Parseltongue, and Draco breathed in deeply, guiltily allowing the image to build, what would it be like to hear that himself, Harry's mouth close to his own ear, and of course Robin was gone, he'd known that wouldn't last long no matter who he imagined Robin to look like, now it was Harry holding Draco, and putting his hand down Draco's trousers and whispering in his ear, and Oh god.
Hearing that tongue hissing incomprehensible syllables, imagining it hissing in a slightly more intimate setting no, do not think of Harry giving you a blow job, he's your co-worker for the love of there he was, kneeling before Draco, grinning up at him and taking Draco into his mouth, as Draco whimpered and felt pressure and pleasure building up almost maddeningly, and Harry pulled away long enough to hiss something at Draco and the feeling of his mouth and tongue and the sound and the sheer power of Harry's magic had Draco biting back a cry as-
Fuck, this was impossible, Draco thought as he panted, his knees feeling weak and his libido almost stretched to breaking. Damn it.
"Confidotuom. Not sure how much this will help, but I'm bi too."
"Really?" Harry laughed. "So it really doesn't bother you, then."
"No, it really doesn't. I've known since around third or fourth year."
"Well it's not really that big a thing here, is it. Though I had no idea you were. Wait – wasn't there that rumour that you'd dated Justin Finch-Fletchley after the war? I just thought it was because he had a bit of a," he cleared his throat, "reputation."
"Just a bit. I didn't date him, though. We just went to a lot of the same parties."
"How many blokes have you dated?"
Draco paused, thinking. "Erm... five? Six? Depends on what you mean by dating, I suppose. Some were just one-nighters." He ended the Confidotuom spell, lit Harry's aura. "...and that really didn't help much."
"Blast. No change?"
"That's too bad. It does seem to be getting better overall, though."
"Yeah, we could probably Floo back to the clinic and test it on a couple of the-"
"Erm, no, that Kneazle of Brian's nearly took my eye out last test. I'd rather wait till all the purple's gone, if it's all the same to you."
"Yeah, that's fine." Draco took a deep breath. "All right, well, I was hoping I wouldn't have to do this one, but here goes-"
"Wait, don't you have to wait-"
"Latest scroll from St. Mungo's said they've determined it doesn't make a difference if you do a new confession right after an ineffective confession." Draco smirked cynically. "Personally I think they made up the whole 'wait a few hours between confessions' because they just didn't have time to do one confession after another with the same patient, what with caring for quite a few people other than their aura patients. Then they got two new cases, put some Healers on it full time, and surprise surprise, they're now saying you probably don't have to wait."
Harry nodded and looked at him expectantly, and Draco took a breath to steady himself. Because damn, he really didn't want to do this one. Unfortunately, it really seemed that confessions with "little or no unwanted emotional consequences whatsoever" weren't going to do the trick – or at least, they weren't going to do it fast enough to keep Draco from going insane in this blasted quarantine house. And this was a big confession, and could quite possibly clear the last of the taint off Harry's aura. Certainly worth it if it got them out of here.
But damn it, he still really didn't want to do it.
"All right. Confidotuom." He took a deep breath. "I'm in the middle of getting a divorce."
There was a profound silence as Harry stared at Draco.
"Oh my god," he finally said softly. "You... I had no idea."
"Well, no. Nobody's supposed to. But it's happening. She's moving to London and I'm staying here. And I would very much appreciate it if you didn't say anything about this at work."
"No, no of course not," Harry said quickly. He paused for a minute, then spoke up hesitantly. "What happened?"
Draco smiled ruefully. What a simple question, and how complicated the answer had been to figure out.
"Did you know Muggles have this expression, 'men always marry their mothers'?" He shook his head. "First time I heard it, I thought, well, that explains a great deal of why the Muggle world is such a mess."
Harry chuckled. "And ours isn't?"
"Good point," Draco admitted. "Anyway, I thought it meant something, you know, rather disgusting, but no, they just believe that men often end up marrying women who remind them of their mother. Happens in our world too, obviously. Very common. Just not very smart, when your mother was Narcissa Malfoy."
"Y'know, I wondered about that. She's quite pretty, but every time I saw Jessica she looked... erm..."
"Like Shetland had a noxious odour that no amount of freshening charms could get rid of?"
"A bit, yeah," Harry chuckled. "I take it she didn't like Shetland, then."
"'Didn't like' doesn't do it justice. She's about as fond of Shetland as you were of Dolores Umbridge."
Harry frowned. "But you're only here for two more years."
"It's not just Shetland."
"What is it, then?"
"She... she wanted to marry the Malfoy heir. Live in the old purebred wizarding society the way it used to be before the war. I thought I did too, but..." he trailed off. It felt strange, saying this out loud, when he'd only really thought it to himself. Such a huge revelation, that had taken so long to be understood and accepted, and shaken his world and destroyed his marriage. And it could be expressed in so very few simple words. "I've no use for it any more. Even if I did, what's left of that world after the war doesn't have anything I want. I'm fine here. I like being a Healer, and I don't particularly want to try to re-create something that has no meaning any more."
"So she's divorcing me. She's going back to London, then probably flitting off to the continent. She has connections in Marseilles; I'm sure she'll find some nice young heir over there and get what she wants out of life."
Draco firmly ignored the pity on Harry's face as he ended the Trust Spell and checked his aura, then grimaced in annoyance. "What a surprise, that helped a good deal."
"Why did you get married to her, anyway?" Harry asked curiously, as if Draco hadn't spoken.
Draco pressed his lips together as he started to write. "Why does anybody get married? Seemed the right thing to do at the time. We just realized too late that we really weren't looking for the same things out of life at all."
"When did you meet her?"
"The year before I went into Healer School."
"Didn't that give her a bit of a hint that maybe you weren't interested in the same things? I can't imagine too many Malfoys have gone into Healing."
"Oh no, she encouraged me to do that."
"Well, it was Healer School or a Potions Master apprenticeship. Or doing nothing, but Jessica didn't want that any more than I did. I mean, I didn't have to work for a living, but I didn't want to just sit and spend what was left of my family's money. That wasn't going to get me accepted anywhere other than among other people who were doing the same thing. And they were rather... pathetic, really. All of these people, who used to have so much power and wealth, but now... far, far less wealth, and almost no power at all. Sitting around, still trying to pretend nothing had changed."
"It is. Neither of us wanted that, so we both decided to do something with our lives. She's an artist; rather highly regarded. I was leaning towards Potions Master, but she pointed out that if I did that, there would still be some doubt about me. Potions Masters may be highly respected, but even if I did nothing but make medical or cheering potions, there would probably still be rumours that I was making illegal potions on the side, or doing some kind of Dark magic. With Healing, that was far less likely. It's doing something for the public good, and it's difficult, and it's far less likely to result in anybody being suspicious of me."
"Is that why you went into it?"
"It's sound logic. I went into Healing and everything seemed to be working out relatively well." He sighed. "The problem is that we wanted different things from it. She was happy to come to Shetland for my training, at first. Said it would make my 'social rehabilitation' even more credible if I did a difficult apprenticeship in the middle of nowhere. Nobody could accuse me of partying in London and scraping through just by getting lost in the St. Mungo's shuffle."
"What changed her mind?"
"She started talking about our triumphant return to London, and I realized I didn't want to go back. I like it here."
"Really. It's small and dull sometimes, but it's still much better than London. I don't want to go back to the parties and Ministry functions and lord it over the poor sods who are still under suspicion and falling farther out of relevance every year. I don't even want to lord it over the new people in power who thought they were finally done with the Malfoys." He shrugged. "She does."
"So. She's off in London, getting ready to move back there. We're selling the house in Lerwick and I'm moving at the end of the month."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
"Sounds very... civilized. I thought divorces were a bit more dramatic."
"Tell me you can picture Jessica getting dramatic."
"Point. Where are you moving to?"
"Clett Head. I found an old house that's been abandoned since Gridenwald, but it's still a beautiful place. Almost no Muggles to be seen. If I ever get tired of it, I'll probably go back to Malfoy Manor, but for now, I'm happy to let that sit empty."
Harry shook his head. "I never would've pegged you to be the type to settle in Shetland."
"No, I wouldn't have either."
"Clett Head. There's some beautiful land out there. You can just go out there and breathe fresh air. It's so quiet you can hear yourself think. I was looking out there before I found my place at Benbridge."
Draco blinked, surprised. "That's on Papa Stour island, near what the Muggles call Kirstan's Hole, isn't it?" Harry nodded. "I've been there. Didn't see your house."
"No, it's Unplottable. I've always lived in Unplottable land."
"Ah. I'll probably make mine Unplottable too, once I've moved in."
Harry nodded. "Shetland's a beautiful place. Jessica doesn't know what she's missing."
"No. I don't much feel like telling her, either."
"Did you try?"
"Not very hard," Draco admitted.
"I love it here." Harry smiled as he spoke, and a dreamy, faraway expression crept over his face. Draco felt his heart give a little lurch. "And I love my place. It's mine. It's not somebody else's family home, or something I inherited from my parents or from Sirius, or a school where I'm only allowed to stay as long as I'm a teacher or a student. It's a place I made my own. It feels like putting down roots. My roots, nobody else's." He breathed deeply. "Feels clean."
Draco swallowed hard and looked down. Fuck. When did Harry get eloquent and thoughtful? When did he gain a link to Draco's mind and heart that let him say out loud what Draco only thought to himself?
He made himself smile at Harry and stand up. "It's almost dinner time. D'you want me to make it?"
"Oh, I already made sandwiches, I'll bring them out. And speaking of my place, I should go back to check on my plant-watering spell. D'you want to come with me? I'll show you around my land."
No. No, very bad idea. Watching Harry talk about his home was excruciating enough. Actually going there would be the height of stupidity.
"I'd love to," he said.
Harry wandered into the kitchen sleepy-eyed.
"You're up. How long have you been up?" he said fuzzily.
"A while," Draco said into his coffee cup.
"Forgot Nox Fabrico last night."
"Myeah, I hate that." Harry yawned. "Dunno how Muggles do it, sleeping through when it's always bright out. D'you want more coffee?"
If only it was just the daylight that had woken him up, Draco thought as Harry puttered about getting himself breakfast. He was getting used to Shetland's endless summer days, and could usually just set the spell and go back to sleep. This morning, though...
He couldn't get Harry out of his mind. Thinking about his expression as he showed Draco around his land. The peaceful, contented smile, the brightness of his eyes. Thinking of how much he had ached to touch Harry, tell him how he felt, hear Harry tell him he felt the same way. Feeling so strongly drawn to him, and so painfully aware that Harry didn't feel the same way. Unless he was a bloody fantastic actor, which he wasn't; not when it came to romance, anyway. Draco had seen, back at school, what Harry looked like when he was attracted to somebody; the way his eyes lit up, the way he smiled. He couldn't hide it back then, and Draco doubted very much that he could hide it now.
And there was no hint of any of that in his eyes or face or body language with regard to Draco.
"Owl from St. Mungo's came in," Draco said quietly when Harry came back to the kitchen table. "They're doing everything I said for their patients, and it's working. Two of their patients are totally cured. And they said there's one thing that worked in both of their cases."
"You know they switched to using one relative or close friend as Trust Spell caster for each patient, right? Well they got the Trust Spell casters to... never mind, it's technical and rather difficult to explain anyway." He sighed. "Let's just say they made it clear what I'd have to do in order to get us the hell out of here. And..." he trailed off. Cleared his throat. "I don't know if I can."
"And if you can't?"
"Your aura's pretty close to normal. The purple's nearly all gone and the pulsing has gone down drastically. Even if I don't do anything else, probably all that would happen is the staff at the clinic would just be very suspicious of you. And some patients might not want you treating them. But it's a potion; give it another two or three months and it'll probably wear off on its own."
"Two or three months. That's not terribly appealing."
"No. It's also likely that during that time, things might happen that would damage your relationship with the people you work with and treat, even after the potion's worn off. The Healers said if you can, you should take those months off."
Harry grimaced. "Wonderful. It's a good thing I don't need to work for a living either, but this is not when I wanted to take my holidays." He slumped back on his chair, hands clasped loosely around his coffee cup. "That's wonderful. I probably shouldn't go visit Hermione or Ginny or the twins either, should I?"
"I wouldn't recommend it. I also wouldn't recommend being around other wizards unless you absolutely have to."
"Wonderful. A two or three month vacation, when I least want it, by myself. Lovely." Harry pushed his chair back with a scrape, and went to the window.
Draco stared into his coffee, idly stirring it, wondering if he'd be able to see anything but the random play of light on the surface of the liquid if he'd taken Divination way back in school. Trying to avoid looking at Harry as he stood at the window, gazing at the rocky beach outside, the serenity he'd shown last night in his home replaced by resentment and resignation.
It wouldn't be that bad, Draco reminded himself wearily. Two or three months of solitude. That's all Harry would have to endure. Possibly less, if he went to St. Mungo's and they worked on him some more. Granted, the Healers had said that starting Draco's spells over with another caster didn't seem to help, but they didn't know why that was. If they did figure it out, maybe Harry could get Hermione Granger or Ginny Weasley or somebody to help him out of this.
And even if he didn't, this wasn't a tragedy. So he'd spend two or three months lonely and cut off from the wizarding world. He could go live in the Muggle world. He might hate it, but it wouldn't kill him. And Draco had done enough for him; he certainly didn't need to risk any more embarrassment just to spare Harry a bit of unpleasantness.
I'm sure ye can understand that there were many people who doubted that someone with your... background and history would ever be able to put the needs of a patient ahead of his own, Helga had said.
"I can try to get rid of it before that," he said slowly.
"They said this has to be cleared by a big confession, something that really hurts to say."
"The problem is what," Harry said ruefully. "You've already told me a lot more than you've told most other people. Painful things, things you didn't want me to know... I mean just how many secrets can you possibly have?"
Draco gave him a wry smile. "You do recall a little something about being a follower of the Dark – of Voldemort, right?"
Harry blanched a bit. "Draco, that's... we have to work together, if there's anything from your days as a Death Eater that I don't know, I don't think I want to know-"
"No, I'm joking. Trying to, anyway," Draco said heavily. "There's nothing there that you don't already know."
"Good. Because that would be awkward. Not to mention I'm still under Ministry oath to reveal anything I hear about Voldemort or his followers."
"Yeah, I know. And my pardon was only for what I admitted to, not a free ride for everything I did. Don't worry, I don't have any more secrets there."
Draco paused, delaying the moment. "If it weren't for the Ministry oath, would you still not want to know?"
"Not really, no. I'm done with all of that. Besides, we're colleagues. It would make things unbelievably difficult, I would think."
"Yeah, it would."
"So we're back to square one, unless you've got something awkward to tell me about your relationship with your vegetable garden. There's nothing else that-"
"Yes, there is."
Draco took a deep breath, fixing his gaze on the floor. "I had a reason for not wanting to come here with you. It wasn't just that I didn't want to share very personal things with you, because remember, when we first got here we didn't know that would be the only cure." He paused.
"So why didn't you want to?"
Draco steeled himself and moved his wand. "Confidotuom. I didn't want to because... because I'm attracted to you."
Harry blinked. "What?"
"I'm attracted to you," Draco repeated, keeping his face averted and his voice flat and expressionless through sheer force of will. "I have been, for a while. It's why I didn't particularly want to take on this assignment; I thought it might make things hellishly awkward and I didn't need that at work. Home life has been bad enough in that respect; I did not need a stupid... crush on a co-worker to make the clinic damned uncomfortable too."
Harry made a sound in his throat and put his elbows on the table, leaning forward, and Draco could imagine what his face looked like right now, intent and serious and still somewhat shocked. He didn't raise his gaze from the table as he forced himself to continue. In for a Sickle, in for a Knut. There was no way he could do any more of these confessions if this one didn't finally clear Harry's aura.
"Besides, it's not just... it's not just a crush, which was bad enough. I think I've fallen in love with you. You – I hated you so much in school. And I resented you when you basically saved my arse by testifying on my behalf during the war. I never expected to see you after that, but then... here you were. And you've been decent to me, and you're... you're nothing like what you were at school. And... well, you're very fit, I'm sure you know that."
Harry took a breath to speak and Draco put up a hand. "Don't – don't, I just want to get this over with, all right?" He took another deep breath. "I can talk to you about things I don't talk to anybody else about. I know you feel the same way about a lot of things that are important to me. I haven't – ever since the war, I've been pretty much alone. Most of my friends either died or went to prison, and the few that didn't, hate me for turning on them. I thought Jessica... but she's the kind of girl I would've liked before all of that."
"You're the only person I've got anything in common with at the clinic, and you're... pretty much everything I want in my life. So I've been slowly falling in love with you for almost a year, and this week hasn't made things any easier." He picked up his wand, still avoiding Harry's gaze, and ended the spell.
"Wait," Harry said quickly. "You're – you can't just drop this on me and then-"
"Hang on, let me see-"
"Wait, stop that," Harry said, batting away Draco's wand.
"Look, I don't particularly want to discuss this, right? The confession is made, I need to check its effect."
Harry sat back, quietly allowing Draco to examine his aura. Draco frowned.
"Did it work?"
"Quiet." Draco narrowed his eyes, glancing down at his notes from previous confessions and from St. Mungo's.
"It didn't work, did it?"
"I said be quiet," Draco snapped impatiently.
"Maybe it wasn't the truth?"
Draco smiled grimly. "Believe me, none of that was anything I'd be likely to say just for amusement." He sat back, finally forced himself to meet Harry's gaze.
"I think it worked. Do you feel up to taking a walk through the Floo?"
Harry hesitated. "Are you sure? I don't particularly want to go through what happened last time-"
"The other day there was still something wrong with your aura. There isn't now. There's nothing there."
Harry stared at him, his expression difficult to read. Finally he stood and they both stepped through the Floo.
"Oh, hello – Harry!" Pepper did a double take as she registered the fact that Harry was right in front of her and she wasn't cringing. "Harry! You're – oh my god! Brian! Gwen!" she turned and shouted. "Draco did it!"
There was a quick scraping of chairs from the next room and hurried footsteps and the rest of the staff burst into the Floo room, all talking over one another.
"Oh my god, congratulations!" Pepper and Gwen hugged both of them and Brian slapped Draco on the back while Helga beamed at them all, and a general jumping around celebration began. The one patient in the clinic peered at them curiously and asked Gwen something in Shetlandic that included the word 'Potter,' and from Gwen's happy babble Draco gathered that she was explaining. The old witch gave Draco a wide, toothless smile.
"God we've got to go out and – it's closing time anyway, let's go to the pub in Waddersta," Brian said enthusiastically. "Draco, free round on me!"
"What finally did it?" asked Helga.
"Trust spell," Draco said shortly.
"Did they no try that at St. Mungo's? I thought it didn't work," said Pepper.
"Had to use a slightly different spell, different personal dynamics. Different confessions."
"Huh," said Pepper.
"Ooh, different confessions? So what did he tell ye?" Gwen asked Harry.
"That's private," Harry said quickly.
"Och, Merlin, ye canna leave it at that," Pepper laughed, then seemed to take in their hesitancy. "Oh all right, never mind, I probably don't want to know. Ye wear plaid knickers, is it?"
Draco forced himself to give a small laugh and shook his head, heading back to the Floo.
"Wait–" Harry stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Aren't you going to stay and celebrate?"
"No, I'm going to write it up. Let the St. Mungo crew know what's happened."
"Come on lad, this is your moment!" said Helga. "You're a Trainee and ye helped St. Mungo's beat a bloody Death Eater poison!"
"No, it's all right. You go on ahead. I might join you later," he said, and stepped back into the Floo.
Draco sighed wearily as he finished arranging three dozen vials of skin-ailment potions on the counter in the potions storage room, his textbook open, studying for his next examination. He and Harry had ended up having to Floo to St. Mungo's the day before, where Harry had been examined and formally cleared and Draco had shared with the other Healers the details of what he had done. Not the way he wanted to spend his time, when he still had another bloody exam in five days.
The blue vial had a spot-removing potion, he remembered, which would've been fascinating to study at Hogwarts; not so much right now. Not a lot of teenagers in Shetland; most of them were at Hogwarts most of the year. Rather a lot of sheep, though. Draco made a mental note to pay particular attention to sheep-related skin ailments as he tried to focus on the vials and clear his mind of extraneous thoughts.
'Extraneous thoughts'. What a nice euphemism. He pressed his lips together, pushing away thoughts of Harry, grimly reminding himself that there would be plenty of time to deal with him tomorrow, when they'd both be working together here again.
Hopefully things wouldn't be too awkward. He could be a professional about this situation, and surely Harry could be too. It would just be hellishly uncomfortable, but he'd get through it. He'd already dealt with it a bit yesterday, handling Harry's attempt to talk to him with equilibrium when Harry had cornered him in between his examinations and Draco's debriefing with the other Healers.
"I need to talk to you," Harry had said, drawing him into a small alcove.
"I just wanted to say thanks. For... for everything."
"No problem," Draco had said tightly. "Just doing my job."
"No, you... you went above and beyond for me. You could've just let me get shipped here in the first place. They probably would've figured it out eventually."
Draco shrugged uncomfortably and there was an awkward silence.
"You could say you're welcome, you know."
"You're welcome," Draco said stiffly.
"And I... I'm sorry-"
"Don't worry about it," Draco had said. "I can't stay, I have to debrief with the other Healers." And he had escaped to the relative safety of the Healer's meeting, where he wouldn't have to try so damn hard to not show how vulnerable he felt in Harry's presence, and how much he was already mourning the end of the easy camaraderie they'd slipped into at the quarantine house. Where he wouldn't have to think about how hollow he felt. How empty.
The orange vial held an antidote to a lot of burns caused by potions ingredients, Draco thought. Except for doxy venom, powdered dragon skin, and dried nundu tongue. He checked the text, blowing out his breath with impatience as he realized he'd forgotten shrake spines. Closed his eyes and started to repeat the list to himself five times. Bit back a curse as he heard a soft cough at the door.
"Yes?" he said, and his stomach did an unpleasant flip as he saw Harry at the door. "What are you doing here? You're not on shift till tomorrow."
"Neither are you," Harry pointed out. "I wanted to talk to you."
"Harry, it's really not necessary-"
"It is." Harry stepped into the room and closed the door behind them, looking nervous but determined. "I, erm. I never gave you my confession back, at the end."
"It's all right, I didn't expect you to-"
"I know. But I want to anyway." Harry came closer, hitched himself up onto the counter next to Draco and sat, swinging his feet slightly, seeming to brace himself. "I've been thinking about what you said, all day. And." He swallowed hard. "I can't say I feel the same. You're a colleague. It's never occurred to me to think of you as anything else."
Draco spared a moment's thanks for the forethought that had made him turn away and start sorting potions as soon as Harry had started to talk. Firmly quashed down the part of him that felt devastated, despite all his efforts to keep himself grounded in reality on this topic. "No, I didn't expect you to," he said, his voice sounding hollow even to himself.
"Not to mention I thought you were married."
"Well, I am."
"Yeah, but..." Harry swallowed again. "I was attracted to you once. A long time ago."
Draco quickly grabbed for the vial that had just slipped out of his hand, catching it right before it rolled off the counter. "What?"
"Back in fifth year. I hated you more than I'd ever hated anybody before in my life, but I still - remember when I said I'd fancied another bloke in fifth year, and it was really embarrassing? That was you."
Draco firmly put the vial back in place and turned around. "Fifth year was the year I was on the Inquisitorial Squad."
"I know," Harry said sourly. "You've no idea how unpleasant you were. But you were... you were very attractive. You still are," he said, and a blush spread across his face.
"Erm. Right. Thanks," Draco said, also blushing deeply. "It's... erm, nice of you to say so," he said inanely, and wished the floor would swallow him up. Quickly headed off that thought – it had been known to happen that wizards and witches in great distress sometimes caused the floor to literally open up and swallow them, and the damage was hell to repair. Rather mortifying, too.
"Right. Well, thanks. That's... nice to know." He cleared his throat and picked up a vial again.
"No, I'm not done," Harry said, putting out a hand and taking the vial from his. "Like I said, I was attracted. Once."
"But you're not any more."
"Were you attracted to me, back then?"
"No, of course not."
"So, things can change," Harry said, giving him a small nervous smile.
Draco looked at him seriously. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying I got to know you this last week. I mean, I knew you already, I knew you'd changed since Hogwarts, but I didn't know just how much. And," he pushed his glasses up awkwardly. "And I was thinking it was nice to finally have a friend in this place. I was thinking I've been alone for a long time, because Hermione and Ron and Ginny all have their own lives and I don't fit there any more, and I – I like being alone, but so do you, and it might be nice to get together outside of work in a way I can't get together with Brian or Pepper or Gwen or Helga because they have families and they're about a million years older than I am..." Harry paused as he seemed to run out of breath.
"And... and if you'd like to...I mean, I'd still like that"
"I..." Harry rubbed his hand over his hair nervously. "Look, I'm not good at this, right? I was rubbish at this back at school, and I haven't gotten much better, believe it or not." He took a deep breath. "I'm just saying I might... if you want... we could maybe go out for drinks. I was thinking we could, just as mates, but... erm... if you wanted to, as... erm..." he flushed and trailed off.
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Are you... asking me out on a date?" he said cautiously.
"Erm. I suppose so."
Draco felt an unexpected laugh bubbling up inside. "You're... you're asking your married colleague, who just treated you as a patient, out on a date?"
Harry chuckled. "When you put it like that it sounds a little sordid, doesn't it?"
"A little." Draco suddenly realized that Harry was smiling at him, his grin growing wider, and realized with shock that he was smiling too. "You know, Muggles believe you should never date your patients."
"Muggles don't even know how to make light without a working light bulb."
"So are you saying yes?"
"Oh. Oh, right, of course," Draco said quickly. "Yeah, that would... that would be good."
Harry grinned, slipped off the counter, and hesitantly moved closer to Draco.
"Erm... do you mind?" he asked, slowly putting a hand out and taking Draco's hand in his.
"I'msorrywhat?" Draco blinked and cursed himself for an incoherent idiot, and cleared his throat. "Mind? No, go ahead." Warm. Harry's hand was warm, and dry, and he had small calluses, probably from a broom handle.
"'Sfunny, I wanted to do this so much in school," Harry said, bemused, and Draco reminded himself to breathe. "Two bloody years – off and on – I wanted you, and I hated you for it. D'you know Ron and Hermione used to say I was obsessed with you? 'Course, we all thought it was because I hated you so much."
"I take it they never knew there was anything more to it than that."
"Actually I told Hermione a few years ago, when Fred Weasley came out to his parents. I said something like, I didn't know what my parents would've thought if I'd come out to them, and we ended up talking about a lot of things. I'd almost forgotten about it, by that point."
Draco nodded, having a little difficulty following Harry's words with the distraction of Harry's hand warm in his, Harry's thumb slowly rubbing a small circle on the back of Draco's hand.
"I'm remembering it now, though," Harry said, his voice pitched low.
"Yeah?" Draco said, and damn, he was breathless, but it didn't matter at all.
"Yeah. You're still rather fit. Only now you don't cover it up by being an obnoxious git."
Draco started to laugh, the tension easing a bit.
"I'm remembering a lot, Draco," Harry said. "I remember I wanted to touch you – mostly to hit you, I'll admit, but sometimes I also wanted to..." Harry touched Draco's face, then drew him closer, and Draco fleetingly wondered if there was time for him to attempt Marcus Flint's charm wandlessly before Harry realized that he was rather excited about all of this.
Harry cleared his throat nervously. "Can I?" he said, looking down at Draco's lips.
"Oh. Yeah, sure," Draco said, his voice coming out as a whisper, and Harry gave him a gentle kiss that did nothing to stop Draco's trembling.
"Mm. That's nice," Harry murmured, and leaned in for another one, and Draco felt something break free inside him as he reached up and carefully drew Harry closer, part of him still not quite believing he wouldn't wake up any moment now, and the rest of him not caring, as long as he could kiss Harry back.
"This could work out better than going out to a pub," Harry said with a smile, and their lips met again.
Oh... that was so very, very good... Draco firmly quashed the urge to whimper but gave up trying to keep his breathing steady or dampen down his arousal. Harry was a mediwizard, just as well-versed as Draco in the ways of human bodies, and from what Draco knew of him, not terribly prudish anyway. He allowed Harry to bring them closer, smiling into Harry's lips as their bodies came into full contact and he sensed Harry's arousal as well.
"Erm, yeah, that's – I've been thinking a lot since yesterday," Harry said a little sheepishly. "I mean I didn't know if, you know, you'd want to even if I did, what with still being married and-"
"Harry," Draco stopped his words with a kiss. "Stop talking," he pulled away long enough to say, then came back to Harry's mouth.
"OK," Harry sighed and moved his lips to Draco's cheek, making his way to his ear. "Why didn't you say anything sooner? What," he bit Draco's earlobe gently and Draco closed his eyes, "did you think I would do? Run screaming?"
"You're," Draco drew in his breath sharply as Harry moved down to his neck, "straight. I thought. And we work together. And," he moaned, god Harry was good at that, "you never seemed to like me in school."
"We're not at school any more."
"We also work together," Draco repeated breathlessly.
"And this is a problem because...?"
"We live in Shetland. You could fit the entire wizarding population into the Great Hall and still have room for a troll or two." He broke off and Draco lost the plot a bit as Harry nibbled his earlobe. "D'you really think anybody's going to disapprove of any two people dating, if they're lucky enough to find someone they like here?" He chuckled. "You haven't lived in Shetland long enough, mate," he said, and captured Draco's lips with his own again.
"And what - mm - what if this doesn't work out?"
"Cross that bridge if we get to it," Harry said, and pressed himself against Draco.
"Right," Draco gasped. "You're very persuasive." Draco gasped as a hand stole down and touched his waist, slowing down, almost as if asking for permission.
I've tossed off to the thought of you going down on me more times that I can count in the last few days, Draco wanted to say. I think I'm all right with your hand on my arse. He settled for simply nodding.
"Hang on," Harry hurriedly waved his hand towards the potions storage room door and it swung shut, the lock clicking.
"Just in case you're about to slap my face if I, erm..." Harry slowly started to move his hand to the front of Draco's trousers until Draco, impatient, grabbed it and placed it right where it would do the most good.
"Does that – oh – answer your question?"
"Excellent. Oh!" Harry sucked his breath in as Draco's hand found its way to the front of his own trousers. "God! Don't stop!" he hissed.
Draco swallowed hard. "Erm, don't do the Parseltongue thing," he said hurriedly.
"I – I wasn't," Harry said, pulling back a bit, his voice a tad annoyed. "I thought you said you didn't have a problem with-"
"Erm, I don't, it just... erm. It's a bit more arousing than I'd like, all right?"
Harry's eyes widened slightly. "You're... joking." He seemed taken aback. "It's – you find that hot?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," he said, seeking out Harry's lips again.
"You're joking," Harry said, breaking off their kiss with an amused smirk. "I'll have to keep that in mind."
"Not at work, please," said Draco hurriedly, and grasped him more firmly through his trousers.
Harry gasped. "God, that's-" he groaned and buried his head on Draco's shoulder, resumed his own stroking movements, then put a finger in the waistband of Draco's trousers and waited a half-second for Draco to nod enthusiastically before slipping a hand inside.
This was going to kill him, thought Draco vaguely. After so bloody long with no better company than his right hand and fantasies of people who very definitely did not remind him of Harry, followed by fantasies that very vividly did remind him of Harry, and the roller-coaster of emotions he'd gone through in the last few days – hell, in the last few minutes – this was going to do him in.
What a perfect way to go, though. He groaned as Harry caressed his aching erection, closed his eyes in delight as Harry responded to Draco's own movements eagerly and bit down on his lip, and by god he was about to come blindingly hard in the potions storage room at the clinic and this was probably neither the time or place for this kind of thing but he wouldn't have wanted to stop it for all the-
The door rattled.
He and Harry froze, Draco suppressing a vehement curse and both of them pulling back slightly, staring at the door handle.
"Bloody hell," Gwen's voice muttered, and Draco barely had time to realize that she was most probably taking out her wand to open the door when Harry spoke.
"Gwen, don't open the door!" he said, his voice steady despite the fact that he was panting and flushed.
"Harry? Why's it locked? Ye all right lad?"
"We're all right, just spilled some, erm, asafoetida," said Harry quickly, grabbing a vial and upending it. "We're just trying to clean it up!"
"Ugh. Who's we? Is Draco in there?"
"Yeah, we'll be out in a minute!" called out Draco, his eyes starting to water as the foul stuff wafted through the small room.
"Take your time," said Gwen. "Don't want that smelling up the whole clinic." Her footsteps receded down the hall.
"Ugh, that's quite-" Draco began, and Harry chuckled.
"Foul, isn't it? Here," he flicked his wand and muttered a spell and the noxious odour seemed to clear itself miraculously.
Draco took a deep breath and ran his hand through his hair, then laughed.
"All right, that probably wasn't the most professional thing I've ever done, but what a way for it to stop."
Harry pulled him back into his arms. "I know," he said with a kiss. "We'll have time enough to continue this later, though." He gently pushed Draco away and they both straightened up. "Tonight? Dinner in Brae?"
Draco grinned at Harry's eager, shy expression, the flush on his cheeks and lips, the brightness of his eyes.
I did that, he thought, a little floored. And: Miserable Anonymous Death Eaters who brewed that foul potion? Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
"I'd love to," he said.
Author's Note 1: OK, so, like I said, this was written for a fic exchange. This was my exchangee's wishlist:
I particularly enjoy fics featuring a plausibly smitten! and pining! Draco who resents the fact that he is smitten and yet pines anyway. Clueless! Harry works well with this Draco, but then so does an equally smitten! and pining! Harry who thinks he'd never have a chance. I think I'd like a post-Hogwarts, maybe with one or both of them as aurors? Or working together in some capacity? One working as a healer and the other under treatment has a lot of potential too. And then there's the scenario where they're both living together under the same roof for one reason or another--one under the protection of the other, in hiding together, one just down on his luck, etc. Lots of room for UST (that becomes RST) in all of those scenarios. Kinks include wank, frottage, angsty confessions, and sometimes parseltongue, but they're certainly not necessary for an excellent story, and I'm not looking for a PWP. The plot is my favorite part. :) Don't feel that you need to work anything in that doesn't fit in with the mood of the story.
I got to thinking, although "angsty confessions" are sometimes great, many of my favorite fics don't feature them. Or they feature angst combined with unintentional confessions. Or post-angst confessions. I think what I was going for was...emotional vulnerability.
What rating would you prefer? PG-PG13
Author's Note 2: The places linked to in Part II of the story are:
Draco and Jessica's house, Lerwick Midgard Cresc (10) S
i9 . photobucket . com / albums / a71 / AnnaFugazzi / II -1LerwickMidgardCresc10S . jpg
View from Draco's new home, Whalsay - Clett Head S
i9 . photobucket . com / albums / a71 / AnnaFugazzi / II - 2Whalsay - ClettHeadS . jpg
View near Harry's home, Papa Stour Island, Kirstan's Hole E
i9 . photobucket . com / albums / a71 / AnnaFugazzi / II -3PapaStourKirstansHoleE . jpg
Pub in Pub, Wadddersta N
i9 . photobucket . com / albums / a71 / AnnaFugazzi / II - 4WaddderstaN . jpg
I've also got a larger map of Shetland with all the locations mentioned in the story highlighted, for the truly obsessed among us. Unfortunately, photobucket doesn't let me show it full size, so if you want to be able to read the map, you pretty much have to download it.
i9 . photobucket . com / albums / a71 / AnnaFugazzi / II - 5LargeFullShetlandMap . png
No, we didn't have a Geography Club in my high school. But I would've been president if we had :)