Disclaimer: All characters and situations are based on those owned by J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros., etc. No money is being made, nor is any trademark infringement intended.
Author's Note: I believe in the books it said that Ginny liked cats, but for the purposes of this story, she doesn't! Also, I would like to cite the following book as a reference used for this story: Kirshenbaum, Mira. Our Love is Too Good to Feel so Bad: Ten Prescriptions to Heal Your Relationship. New York: Avon Books, Inc., 1998.
Draco buttoned the sleeves of his shirt, making sure the Dark Mark was covered. Not that it was a big secret, but formalities needed to be observed. As long as the evidence wasn't blatantly staring people in the face, they could maintain the polite little charade that Draco had never had anything to do with the Dark Lord.
Twisting where he stood, Draco Apparated to the Ministry. The place was really lit up tonight. Draco paused to admire the new fountain the Ministry had installed. This one featured a witch, wizard, house-elf, and centaur shaking hands and smiling at each other. Draco smirked and tossed in a galleon. Formalities must be observed.
He was just entering the banquet hall when a murmur ran through the crowd. Draco turned around, but he already knew who had just appeared. Only one person could inspire that mixture of awe and lust. "Hail the conquering hero," Draco muttered.
Potter stalked by Draco, not deigning to notice him, of course. The miraculous Harry Potter would never sully himself by consorting with former Death Eaters. Draco wished he could hex the bastard, but this was the Ministry, not the hall in front of the Potions classroom.
A few minutes later, Ginny Weasley arrived. She glued herself to Potter's side, blithely ignorant of the scathing looks up-and-coming socialites sent her way. Potter tucked her arm under his and held a glass of wine in the other hand. Draco watched them from a corner where he was lounging under a Hungarian spotted fern. He supposed the wedding announcement would be out any day now. The thought made him want to throw up. Potter and Weasley having babies together – disgusting.
Potter gave a speech halfway through the evening. Some crap about how he had been an orphan and knew how hard it was, but how the wonderful people he had met had made him realise life was okay after all, and wouldn't all you nice people like to donate some money? A good three quarters of the women were in tears by the end of it. Draco started laughing halfway through and had to pretend a stuffed mushroom had gone down the wrong way.
Potter left a short time later. After handing a large sack of galleons to the Minister. Daily Prophet reporters hovered around, flashbulbs going off. Draco hung around for awhile, but decided the whole affair was rather dull. He retired to his study and a glass of firewhiskey.
By the fifth glass, he had decided the world was very unfair. Growing up, he had thought all he needed to be happy was a lot of money and a high ranking place by the Dark Lord's side. Usually it transpired that the Dark Lord liked taking long vacations in Sicily and left Draco in charge. A large castle often appeared as well. They were modest ambitions, Draco thought, pouring his sixth glass. But could he obtain even those? No. Oh, he had the money, certainly, but money wasn't everything. The Dark Lord was dead. Draco couldn't say he was sorry about that. The man had been a bastard, after all, and a Mudblood. That piece of news had certainly caused dissension in the ranks. Still, Draco hadn't done anything noteworthy during the war except fix a cabinet. Indeed, he had something of the reputation of a coward. Now, all people respected him for was his money. No – they didn't even respect him; they just wanted his money. Scowling, Draco decided it was all Potter's fault. It was Potter's fault that he was an unhappy, borderline alcoholic. Raising his seventh glass, he tried to think up a really terrible curse to put on Potter. Unfortunately, by that time the walls were going blurry and all he could come up with was to hope that Potter got terrible hay fever and attracted stray cats.
By his fourth glass of firewhiskey, Harry had decided the world was very unfair. He had never wanted much – a family and some peace, that was all. Not an unreasonable wish, really. In fact, he could cut family down to someone who loved him. But no – peace looked further away every minute. How many owls had he received today? At least twenty five fucking owls all from people wanting something from him. And as for someone who loved him... Well, to be fair, Harry decided there were people who fit the bill – Mrs. Weasley, Remus Lupin, Ron and Hermione, Ginny. But he wasn't Mrs. Weasley's real son. Remus had Tonks now. Ron and Hermione were so wrapped up in each other that he hardly saw them anymore. And Ginny... Harry sighed. Yes, he had been attracted to her, but that was what – six years ago now! He had still been at Hogwarts – still a teenager! He glared at the bedroom door. They had gotten in another row tonight, all about how Harry had told Ginny once before that they couldn't be together, but things were different now, and Ginny would never leave Harry. Dammit! You just couldn't get rid of some people.
Speaking of people you couldn't get rid of, Malfoy had been hanging around the party tonight. Skulking around under a fern. Scowling, Harry poured his sixth glass, downed it, and decided Malfoy was to blame. He had always made Harry's life miserable at school, after all, and he hadn't stopped. It was Malfoy's fault that Harry was an unhappy, borderline alcoholic. Raising his seventh glass, Harry thought up several really nasty curses. But then he felt a little guilty and could only muster the hope that the ceilings in the Malfoy manor leaked, and Malfoy stubbed his toe every morning when he got out of bed.
Draco vaguely heard thunder rumbling, but it was the raindrop landing on his nose that jerked him into consciousness. Why the hell was he outside? He blinked and looked around. He wasn't outside. He was lying in his bed. He had a headache and felt like hell and – a drop landed on his ear – the fucking ceiling was leaking. Groaning, Draco rubbed his forehead. He hated mornings. Getting out of bed, he walked two steps and stubbed his toe on a wooden chest.
"Harry, wake up!"
"Harry. Wake. Up."
Harry opened his eyes to an amazingly bright light and Ginny's face glaring at him. He sneezed. "This has got to stop," Ginny said, prodding the empty bottle of Firewhiskey with her foot.
"Go 'way," Harry mumbled.
Ginny went into the kitchen and began banging pots around. Much louder than necessary. Harry pressed his hands to his aching head. He sneezed again and felt around for a tissue.
He heard Ginny open the door to get the milk and then – "Harry!"
"What?" he yelled back... and sneezed.
"There's a cat sitting here."
"I hate cats, you know that."
Muttering, Harry got to his feet and stumbled to the door. A gray cat was sitting there, washing its paws. It looked a bit mangy and the tip of one ear was missing. When it saw Harry it meowed and started rubbing itself against his legs. "Shoo," Harry said, prodding it. The cat made a plaintive noise. "I think it's hungry," Harry observed, and sneezed.
"Well, I'm not feeding it, that's for sure," Ginny said. "Feed one and pretty soon there are twenty hanging around the place." She went back inside.
Harry looked at the cat. He didn't mind cats, really. He reached down and rubbed behind its ears. It purred. "Wait here," he whispered. He sidled into the kitchen and eased the refrigerator door open. There was an open can of tuna sitting there. With a guilty glance at Ginny, he picked it up and hurried outside again. "Here you go," he said, setting it down in front of the cat. "You better leave after you're done, though, or Ginny won't be too happy." The cat looked up from the tuna briefly, and then resumed eating. Harry sneezed again. He must be allergic to something – probably red headed women.
Draco had run out of pots by ten and was moving on to flower urns. If he had just one house-elf the goddamn ceiling would have been fixed in seconds. But no, all house-elves had been freed by Ministry Decree, and now London was having a serious problem with intoxicated elves flooding the bars. Draco had heard that last week on the wireless. Not that he was a complete idiot when it came to fixing ceilings – he had tried Reparo and all that, but nothing had worked. Draco was beginning to suspect foul play.
Harry walked down to the corner shop that afternoon and bought a potion for allergies. As he went by the local pub, an orange tabby detached itself from the doorway and began following him. Passing by the cemetery, he looked back and discovered that a calico cat had joined the first one. By the time he got home, a black cat and a white one with a missing ear had queued up as well. Ginny wasn't around, so he put out more tuna. The potion didn't help at all. Harry sat on the couch staring at the clock. Every forty seconds he sneezed. He began to consider the possibility of a curse.
The dripping sound was going to drive him insane. Silencio did nothing – the entire house seemed to be under a no-spell moratorium. Draco tried to soothe himself by perusing the Malfoy genealogy charts, but was unsuccessful. Finally, he stuffed cotton balls in his ears and went to bed early.
Harry checked on the cats before going to bed. He had decided to call the grey one Snuffles. He put out a saucer of milk and turned out the light, making sure the tissue box was next to his bed.
An earsplitting screech and a piercing yowl woke him some hours later. "Goddammit, Harry! What are all these cats doing out here?" Ginny yelled. Harry stuffed his head under his pillow.
Draco woke up early. Cautiously, he removed the cotton balls. There was silence for a moment and then – plop, plop, plop. Gritting his teeth, Draco got out of bed and stumbled towards the window. A large copper kettle met his toe halfway there, and he hopped around, cursing. Opening the curtains revealed rainy skies. Draco resigned himself to another day of running around emptying the various rainwater receptacles that now decorated the Manor.
First he had some tea and toast – stress did horrible things to his digestive system. He perused the Daily Prophet while eating. Weather – sunny and warm. Draco blinked and read it again. He went to the window and peered out through the rain. He could just make out the trees on the next ridge over. They were bathed in sunshine. That did it – it was time to call in a professional.
Madam Rue arrived promptly. Her numerous shawls in clashing colors and jingling bangles gave Draco a headache. "I think I've been cursed," he told her.
Madam Rue muttered and waved her wand around. She took a large book out of her bag and opened it. "Just as I suspected," she said.
"What?" Draco demanded, craning his head to look over her shoulder.
Madam Rue slammed the book shut, and a large cloud of dust billowed up. They both coughed for several moments. "You are under a C.P.B.M.E.A.T.S.T."
"A Curse Performed by Mortal Enemies at the Same Time."
"Potter!" Draco howled. "I knew this was your fault!"
Harry was on the phone, placing a bulk order for tuna, when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, Harry found Malfoy standing on his front step. Malfoy's hair was mussed, and he was wearing galoshes. Harry sneezed.
"We need to talk," Malfoy said, and pushed his way into the house. Unfortunately, Snuffles was lying directly inside the door, and Malfoy stepped on her tail. There was an ear-splitting yowl. Malfoy yelped in pain as Snuffles scratched his leg.
"Be nice to my cats," Harry warned him.
"Damn you and your bloody cats," Malfoy muttered. "Do you have any Firewhiskey?"
Harry almost told him no, but then realised that it gave him a perfect excuse to start drinking at eleven in the morning. Being nice to guests and all that. Soon they were settled on the couch, glasses in hand, and the bottle between them.
"So why are you here?" Harry asked Malfoy suspiciously.
Malfoy downed one glass and poured another. "Have you noticed anything…strange lately?"
"Not really. No Dark Marks appearing in the sky. No reports that Voldemort has risen from the dead. I wouldn't put it past him either, the bastard," Harry muttered, taking a drink.
"Forget about Voldemort for two seconds, Potter!" Malfoy shouted. "I'm talking about your personal life!"
Harry pondered. "Well, I do seem to have developed a previously unknown allergy to something. And the cats – the cats are new."
Malfoy groaned. "She was right."
"Who was right?"
"Madam Rue. Gypsy – itinerant fortune teller."
"Oh, sure." Harry grinned and started singing. "I didn't know if it was day or night. I started kissing everything in sight. But when I kissed the cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine, he broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Niiiiine."
Malfoy stared at him. "You're insane, Potter."
"Oh, come on – I took my troubles down to Madam Rue. You know that gypsy –"
"Stop singing!" Malfoy was breathing heavily. "Look – have you, in the past few days, wished that my ceiling would leak, and that I would stub my toe every morning when I got out of bed?"
Harry gaped at him. "How did you know?"
"Because I wished that you would get hay fever and attract stray cats. Apparently we both wished it aloud at the same time while we were drinking our seventh glass of Firewhiskey. And we're mortal enemies."
"So we inadvertently performed the C.P.B.M.E.A.T.S.T.!"
"I'm not joking." Malfoy paused. "How did you know what that stands for?"
Harry shrugged. "Hermione."
Malfoy wrinkled his nose. "Oh, her. Well, did she happen to tell you what we have to do to get rid of it?"
"Uh, no." Harry looked at him. "I'm guessing it isn't anything good."
"Damn straight." Malfoy downed another glass of Firewhiskey. "We have to…" He gulped and shuddered.
Harry clapped him on the shoulder. "Buck up, Malfoy."
Malfoy glared at him. "I'll tell you what we have to do, Potter. We have to hug each other and say we're sorry for all the things we've done to make us mortal enemies! And –"
"There's more?" Harry said, aghast.
"We have to mean what we say! We can't just lie and pat each other on the shoulder. It has to be heartfelt and sincere!"
"This is bad." Harry leapt up from the couch and began pacing. "This is very, very, very bad. How in the hell are we supposed to apologize to each other and mean it?"
"I don't know," Malfoy moaned. "And until we do, my ceiling will keep leaking, and I'll be injured every morning."
"I don't really mind the cats," Harry said, pausing thoughtfully. "Ginny moved out this morning you know, and it was all because of them." He smiled gratefully at the queue of cats lined up outside his door.
"To hell with your cats!" Malfoy shrieked. "I am not going to be flooded out of my own home! We have to do something!"
"What is this?" Draco asked suspiciously. He had been sitting in his study under an umbrella since leaving Potter's house a few hours earlier, frantically looking through spell books in hopes of finding a counter curse. Then the doorbell had rung, and he opened it to find Potter standing there, dripping wet and grinning. He ushered Potter into a sitting room, and Potter had thrust a book under his nose.
"The answer to our problem, Malfoy," Potter said, sounding smug.
Draco took it and read the title. "Our Love is too Good to Feel so Bad." Draco blinked and read it again. "What the hell is this, Potter?"
"It's a Muggle self-help book for fixing relationships."
Draco shuddered. Trust Potter to manage a sentence in which practically every word offended him. "What the hell, Potter, do you think we're married or something?"
"Of course not. I just thought that maybe, if we read some of the chapters, we could talk through our…problems."
Silence fell. Draco glared coldly at Potter, who shifted uncomfortably and also looked a little sulky that Draco hadn't jumped for joy at his idea. If you could call this idiotic notion an idea. As the silence stretched, Draco once again became aware of the steady dripping of water into a soup tureen nestled in the corner. He gritted his teeth. "Fine." He threw the book at Potter. "What do I have to do?"
Potter cleared his throat and opened the book. "Well, how about if we start with Love Killer #2 – 'Making Your Partner Feel Small.' It mentions 'negative labels'." Potter sniffed and looked up at Draco. "You know, every time you called me 'Saint Potter' or 'Scarhead,' it really hurt."
"Oh, get over it, Potter," Draco snapped. "Do you think I liked being called 'Ferret'?"
Potter snuffled into a tissue. "I guess not," he mumbled.
"You guessed right." Draco drummed his fingers irritably. "I'm not feeling any upwelling of pity for you, Potter."
"Maybe if you didn't use my last name – you always make it sound like you hate me when you say Potter like that."
"I do hate you."
"Well the book says –"
"Fine! I'll call you Harry. Happy, Harry?"
Potter – Harry – glared at him. "Another love killer is 'Sexual Depression'."
"I think we can safely skip that one," Draco said hastily.
"Sex life all fine and dandy, Draco? I don't notice any leggy blondes hanging around the place."
"What about you, Harry? One girlfriend since Hogwarts and you couldn't even hold on to her."
Harry blushed and flipped hastily through the book. "Uh, Love Killer #8 is 'Toxic Build-up From the Past'."
"Well that will keep us busy into next year."
Harry glared at him. "It doesn't help when you keep making these sarcastic remarks, Malfoy."
Harry sneezed. Draco handed him a damp tissue. "I was raised in a cupboard, you know," Harry mumbled.
"Why would I possibly care about that?"
"I'm explaining the toxic build-up from my past!" Harry shouted.
"Oh." Draco thought for a few moments. "My father didn't love me."
"I never knew my parents."
"Well I was forced to take the Dark Mark!"
"I had to fight Voldemort on a regular basis!"
"He forced me to try to kill Dumbledore!"
"I was responsible for my godfather's death!"
They subsided, both breathing heavily and glaring. "Your life sucks," Draco finally said.
"Yours too," Harry retorted. "And I still hate you." He stood up. "I'm going home. The cats need to be fed."
Draco resolved over dinner that night – a rather watery Vichyssoise – that if he couldn't fix the curse, he would just have to live with it. Fire crabs would freeze before he and Harry would ever get along.
To that end, he wrapped a large wad of cotton around his foot before he went to bed and resolved to look into a nice hotel where the ceilings didn't leak. Perhaps because of the turmoil of the day he slept badly and had a dream where Harry and he were crammed into a little cupboard, Harry was sobbing "You don't love me anymore," and he was attempting to explain that he had never loved Harry, all his affection had been centered on a gray tabby cat, who was currently washing her paws and presently switched to licking Draco's ear. He woke up abruptly and realized it wasn't a cat, merely more drops of water.
"He could have at least tried to be nice," Harry said to the cats. It was dinnertime – the cats' dinnertime, that is – and they were all clustered around the kitchen, meowing. Harry thought there were about fifteen now, although it was hard to make a definite count when they wouldn't sit still. "At least you like me," he added, and reached out to pet a Siamese, who hissed and swiped her paw at him.
"Fine. No tuna for you," Harry said, wounded. He left the cats to their bowls and wandered into the living room, dabbing at his nose. Maybe he should consider buying stock in a paper company.
Sitting down on the couch, he stared morosely out the window. He was lonely and there was no one he could talk to. Ron and Hermione were on vacation in Majorca. Lupin and Tonks were off on some top secret Auror business in southern Finland. Ginny had sworn she would hex him if she laid eyes on him again – then hit him with a frying pan for good measure. He curled up on the sofa, hugging a pillow to him. There was nothing for it – he'd just have to go visit Draco tomorrow. Even if all Draco did was yell, it would still be better than hanging around here bewitching tissues for the cats to play with.
Draco, however, was not at home when Harry came around the next morning. He peered up at the roof of the Manor. He couldn't see any holes. And it was a beautiful, sunny day. Maybe Draco had been making up that whole thing about a curse. Although it did explain a lot. In fact, he could see a cat lurking about over by the Malfoy family cemetery, just waiting to hurry over and beg to come home with him. Harry Apparated. A man had his limits.
The rest of the morning passed slowly, and he was just contemplating introducing the cats to some of the gnomes that lived in the backyard – cruel, yes, but he was desperate – when the door banged open, and Draco strode into the room.
"Oh, hi!" Harry said brightly. "I went looking for you this morning…" he trailed off at the look on Draco's face. "Um, are you okay?"
"Disgraced," Draco whispered. "A black shadow has fallen on the family."
"Er, what?" Harry asked.
"I'll never be able to show my face in civilized society again," Draco said and sank down onto the couch, burying his head in his arms.
Harry sat down next to him and tentatively laid a hand on his shoulder. "What happened?"
An eye peered up at him. "A plebian like you couldn't possibly understand."
"Now wait just a minute!" Harry said indignantly. "I'm not a – whatever that was you called me."
"Would you recognize a fifth century mermaid vase?" Draco demanded, looking up. "Would you know the difference between a decommissioned Persian flying carpet and this – this rag currently under our feet? Would you?"
"Well, no," Harry had to admit.
"I do. And thanks to this stupid curse, I may never get to experience them again!" He punched the armrest savagely.
"Why don't you just tell me what happened instead of blathering on about vases and carpets," Harry suggested, getting annoyed.
Draco glared, but took a deep breath. "I decided that if we couldn't break the curse, I would just have to live with it. So, early this morning I went to one of the finer magical hotels in London – The Magnifique – I don't suppose you've ever heard of it."
Harry opened his mouth, closed it.
Draco rolled his eyes. "At first, it was perfect. I had a hot bath, a light petit dejeuner and then I was going back to bed to get my first decent sleep in days. I lay down and…" his voice trembled, "a drop of water hit me on the nose." He took another deep breath and clenched and unclenched his fists. "I couldn't believe it – within seconds, water was practically pouring through the roof! Do you have any idea," he went on, his voice rising to a shriek, "what water can do to a decommissioned Persian flying carpet?"
Harry mutely shook his head, feeling oddly fascinated by the recital.
"I leapt out of bed and absolutely slammed my toe into the bedside table. The fifth century mermaid vase sitting on it toppled," Draco paused for dramatic effect, "and fell – breaking into countless pieces. Just then, the concierge came bursting in, wanting to know why there was a rainstorm going on directly above my room." Draco closed his eyes. "How could I admit that I, a Malfoy, connoisseur of all fine things, had let a stupid, idiotic, ridiculous, annoying curse turn me into a whirlwind of destruction?"
"So what did you do?" Harry urged, sitting on the edge of the cushion by this time.
Draco shook his head. "I fled. I'll never be able to show my face in polite society again because I bring my own personal hurricane with me! Not to mention that I'll probably be a cripple soon." He thrust his foot into Harry's face. "Go on – look. I'm sure my toe is broken." He leaned back on the cushions with a long sigh.
Harry gingerly removed Draco's sock. "Well, it might be a little bruised," he said, examining the toe in question.
Draco snatched his foot back with an outraged glare. "I can barely walk!"
"You made it here, didn't you?" Harry pointed out.
Draco sniffed. "I hate you." He looked away.
Harry felt guilty. He picked up a passing cat. "Do you want to hold Coco?"
"No." Draco peered down at the cat. "Where do you come up with these stupid names?"
"They aren't stupid." Harry lifted Coco so they were nose to nose. "He likes his name, don't you?" Coco meowed.
"You're bloody weird, Harry."
"Hey – you called me by my first name!" Harry grinned.
"I thought that's what we agreed on in your stupid Muggle sit-and-sob session yesterday," Draco growled.
"It was just nice," Harry explained. "Not to have you calling me 'Potter' like before. Or 'The Golden Boy' or 'Saint Potter' or –"
"I get the point, thank you," Draco snapped, but Harry noted that he still hadn't called him "Potter."
Two hours after Draco arrived, the rainstorm moved in, and the roof began leaking. The cats were not pleased and several fights ensued when they all tried to hide under the couch at once.
"I'm going to go mad," Draco announced calmly, staring into a saucepan as the water dripped down.
"It might be an improvement," Harry replied, but he said it in a joking sort of way, and Draco didn't get angry. "We won't have anything to cook dinner in," he added, rummaging in the rapidly emptying cupboards.
"You cook?" Draco asked, sounding surprised.
"Yes," Harry said firmly. "In fact, I'm quite good," he added, throwing modesty out the window.
Draco looked at him for a few moments. "Do you make," he lowered his voice and glanced over his shoulder, "meatloaf?"
Harry nodded, puzzled. "Yeah. What's wrong with meatloaf?"
"It's a bit of a low class food," Draco replied, sniffing. "Mother would have killed any house-elf who dared to make it in our kitchen. But, I had it once and…" He blushed. "I really liked it. It had some kind of red sauce all over it."
"Ketchup." Harry opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle. "You're in luck."
Draco licked his lips. He looked at Harry. "Make me some meatloaf, and I might forgive you."
Harry almost burst out laughing, but he sneezed instead, took a look at the cats and the dripping water, and nodded. "You're on."
It wasn't easy, what with the cats underfoot and the limited supply of pans. Plus, Draco hovered at his elbow the whole time, making Harry increasingly nervous.
"This next part – you can't be in the kitchen for it," Harry said, pushing Draco towards the living room.
"Because I'm adding my secret ingredient."
"A secret ingredient? This is a recipe, not a potion to create world peace!"
Harry crossed his arms. "Out. Or I won't make it."
Draco muttered and glared, but finally went back into the living room.
Harry finished assembling the meatloaf and popped it in the oven. "An hour and a half," he announced, coming out of the kitchen. Draco grunted, still staring morosely into the saucepan.
"Game of exploding snap?" Harry suggested, holding up the deck.
"Okay," Draco agreed, somewhat grudgingly. "If there's nothing else to do."
Unfortunately for Harry, he kept sneezing at inopportune moments and ended up with half his eyebrows singed off. Draco looked quite smug. "Sometimes curses can come in handy," he said, whistling nonchalantly as he placed his card.
He was saved from an almost certain hex by the beep of the oven. Holding his breath, Harry rushed in and removed the meatloaf. It looked good. He cut several slices, put them on a plate, and slathered them with ketchup.
"Can I come in now?" Draco asked testily from the doorway, although he was sniffing the air hopefully.
"Yep." Harry set the plate on the table. "Take a bite of that."
Draco sat down, picked up the fork, and took a generous mouthful. He closed his eyes, chewing slowly. Harry waited, breathless. Finally, Draco swallowed and looked up. "I had forgotten how wonderful it was," he said.
Harry burst out laughing. "You need to get away from those vases and carpets more often." He sat down across from Draco. "So?"
"So?" Draco repeated around another mouthful.
"So what about your promise? Do you forgive me?"
Draco laid down the fork. "I guess I do," he mumbled. "You aren't as bad as I remember."
"Oh, thanks," Harry replied, grinning. "Same goes for you." He stood up quickly, then shuffled his feet. "And what about the other part?"
Draco grimaced, then stood up, too. Gingerly they put their arms around each other. "Sorry," they both muttered and let go quickly.
"Do you think it worked?" Harry asked eagerly.
Draco shushed him. They stood listening. Everything was quiet. No dripping water. No sneezing. Then a flood of sunlight burst through the window.
"Yes!" Draco pumped his fist in the air. "It's over!"
"We did it!" Harry crowed, jumping about. "This is brilliant!" He grabbed Draco for another hug.
They held each other for a moment, and then it hit Harry that he had willingly wrapped his arms around Draco Malfoy for a second time. He let go quickly and cleared his throat, embarrassed.
"Right. Well. I'd better get going," Draco muttered.
"Oh. Okay." Harry rubbed his nose. "You have some ketchup on your chin, by the way."
Draco blushed. "Thanks." He rubbed at it with a napkin. "Gone?"
Draco stood there for a few more seconds, then pulled out his wand. "I guess I'll see you around."
Harry nodded and watched while Draco Apparated away. He stared into space for a moment, then blinked, coming back to the present. The cats had discovered the meatloaf. "You guys are still here, huh?" Harry scratched Coco behind the ears.
He sighed, feeling depressed. He shouldn't be – the curse had been lifted, all was right with the world again. Except that it wasn't. He was right back where he was before this whole thing started – alone with only a bottle of Firewhiskey to look forward to.
He wandered over to the window and stared out at the sunny street. Maybe he'd go over and visit Draco tomorrow, annoy him a little, maybe convince him to play some Quidditch –
No. Harry stopped that thought. Sure, Draco had forgiven him, but that was it. Now they were just ex-enemies. Not friends. Not… Harry realised where that thought was going and blushed. Great. Now he was attracted to Draco Malfoy. A really excellent reason to go get drunk.
Draco slept in until noon the next day. He lay in bed, reveling in the peace and quiet that surrounded him. Finally he went down to the kitchen and made himself a sandwich, remembering, with some regret, that amazing meal Harry had made for him yesterday. He'd have to get the recipe. Wait a second – no, he wouldn't be going to get the recipe. It wasn't like he and Harry were friends now. That curse had merely been an embarrassing interlude that forced him to be in Harry's company. Admittedly, it hadn't been such bad company, and Draco had forgiven him, and Harry had felt quite nice in his arms – Wait. No. No, he was absolutely not going to develop any sort of romantic feelings for Harry Potter!
Draco busied himself emptying the water from pots and vases and putting them back in their natural homes. When that was done, he realised that the rest of the day stretched before him, long, empty and boring. Good thing he kept the liquor cabinet well stocked.
Harry woke up the next morning missing Draco. Sometimes he wished the ceiling would just fall on him and end it all. Snuffles leapt onto his chest and nudged him under the chin. Harry managed a smile and rubbed her ears. That curse hadn't been all that bad, really. It had given him some permanent company at least and… He paused and a slow smile spread across his face. The curse…
Draco woke up, feeling like hell, and felt around the space next to him on the bed. Empty. He wasn't surprised – he hadn't expected to find anyone and would probably have suffered a heart attack if someone had been there, but still…it would have been nice. Then he heard a noise. Plunk. Plink. Plunk. Draco stiffened. No – it couldn't be.
Plink. Plunk. Standing up, Draco moved numbly into the bathroom, following the noise. The faucet was dripping. Gulping, he tightened the handles. The dripping continued. He cast Reparo. Nothing changed. A horrible thought struck him and he raced down to the kitchen. The faucet was dripping here, too. Plink. Plunk.
"Harry!" Draco screamed. "You – you –"
Madam Rue arrived ten minutes later. "I have seen this one before," she said, flourishing her wand. "A very nasty curse."
"And what do you have to do to get rid of this one?" Draco asked weakly.
"It is called a C.P.B.L.T.A.E.O. – a Curse Performed by Lovers to Annoy Each Other." Madam Rue winked at him.
"Lovers?" Draco repeated, stunned.
"Yes. To cure it, the two lovers must declare their passionate and undying love for one another. Sealed with a kiss, of course," she added.
For a minute, all Draco could do was stare at her, his mouth open. Slowly, the words penetrated. Kiss. Love. Harry. Kiss.
Gripping Madam Rue's arm, he ushered her swiftly to the door. "Thanks for the help. Sorry to rush you." He grinned. "But I have some curse-breaking to do."
Harry's Magical Meatloaf
2 ½ lbs. ground meat
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated – the secret ingredient :)
¼ cup ketchup
Several dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix together well. Plop into a 9x5x2 ½ loaf pan. Bake at 375 for 90 minutes, pouring off fat as it accumulates. Remove from pan, wrap in foil, and let cool overnight before slicing.
Note: Not guaranteed to inspire forgiveness of past wrongs or make attractive blond men fall in love with you.