WARNING: Rated PG-13. Herein lies m/m SLASH, so if the idea of two boys kissing bothers you, don't read on.
A/N: This was a delightful little plot bunny courtesy of Heidi and Ebony, which went along the lines of 'the one in which Draco shows up on the doorstep of #4 Privet Drive wearing nothing but a raincoat and rubbers... [Heidi:] the BOOT kind!' I promptly adopted this bunny and started feeding it with lots of alfalfa and cabbage. This is the result!- a generous mix of humour and snarkiness, as well as a dash of angst and a healthy dose of romance. I had such, such fun writing it, and I've become rather attached to this fic :) Thanks to Minx and Heidi for the beta.
In the light of all that has happened with ff.net recently, most fic discussion has been shifted to the various mailing lists. Although I will still continue to post fic to ff.net for the time being, I encourage all folks who read my fics to hop over to my mailing list, cassie_and_rhysenn, where lots of discussion of mine and Cassandra Claire's fics and our collaborations take place, as well as exclusive cookies and random goodies. Since Cassie's fiction is no longer found here on ff.net, you can get updates of her stories on the list. Click here to subscribe.
[ a sunny weather fic ]
Harry was sitting on the bed in his room, or rather, Dudley's second bedroom, which he had been given to stay in whenever he came back to Privet Drive during the holidays. The reason he had been allowed this 'luxury' of a bedroom, besides the fact that he probably couldn't fit into the cupboard under the stairs now that he was almost seventeen and much taller, was because Uncle Vernon was still tetchy about Harry's supposed murderer godfather and fellow wizarding folk in general. The trauma of Dudley getting his tongue swollen to the size of a python three years ago remained fresh in the Dursleys' minds.
Harry was trying to read through his set books for next year— he had his Transfiguration book held up in front of him, disguised by a book jacket from one of Dudley's old books about dinosaurs. It was a sunny, hot Wednesday afternoon in early June, and all Harry wanted was to be left alone to read. He was thoroughly absorbed in the chapter about Animagus transformations when the doorbell sounded from downstairs, twice in succession, followed by urgent knocking on the door. Harry ignored it. The doorbell rang again, this time three times in a row.
"Harry!" Uncle Vernon bellowed from down the hall, sounding sleepy and irritated. "Go answer the door! We're sleeping!" The entire Dursley family was having their daily afternoon nap, and didn't take at all well to being disturbed.
There was impatient rapping on the door now— whoever the person was, he or she was being very persistent. Harry scowled as he put down his book and trudged down the stairs crossly. It was probably a salesman, or the postman— the Dursleys didn't have many friends, anyway. Harry reached the front door, unlatched the lock and opened it— his eyes widened, and his jaw dropped in shock.
Draco Malfoy was standing on the doorstep to 4 Privet Drive, looking very chagrined— and he was wearing a red raincoat, wrapped tightly around him as if it was the dead of winter instead of the heart of summer. His feet were shod with bright yellow boots, which altogether made him look like Paddington Bear. To Harry's surprise, Malfoy actually looked relieved to see him.
"Oh, good, I was afraid I remembered the address wrongly," Malfoy said, still holding the raincoat tightly closed down the front, looking mildly ridiculous in wet-weather wear under the sweltering hot sun.
Harry looked incredulous. "I'd say you definitely remembered the address wrongly!" He was still gawking at Malfoy. "What the hell are you doing here, Malfoy? This is a Muggle neighbourhood!"
Malfoy gave him a long-suffering look. "Do you think I don't know that? Listen, Potter, I'm in a bit of a fix and I need you to help me out a little."
"Why are you wearing a raincoat?" Harry asked curiously, letting his glance run up and down Draco's body. "And what's with the boots? It's hot as hell today, why are you dressed like that?"
Draco looked aggrieved. "This is exactly my problem, all right?" He glanced around behind him, then turned back to Harry. "Look, can you let me in? I'll explain when we're inside."
"No," Harry answered automatically, frowning at Malfoy. "You can't just waltz over and demand to be let in! You turn up at my doorstep dressed like an Eskimo in the desert, and you think I'm going to let you into the house without first knowing what's going on?"
Draco made an exasperated noise. "All right, all right, here's the thing." He leaned closer, and lowered his voice, "I've been studying Apparition on my own during the vacation— and I tried to Apparate just now, to see if I can do it. Well, something went slightly wrong, and instead of Diagon Alley I ended up in some filthy old shed on Dias Avenue, which is just down the road from here." Draco looked very stressed. "And that's not the worst part."
Harry wondered how much worse, or perhaps more amusing, the situation could get. "What else happened?"
Draco blushed slightly; Harry privately thought Draco looked rather cute with his cheeks tinged an embarrassed shade of pink. "Well, I also kind of got splinched."
"Splinched?" Harry's eyes widened and he quickly gave Draco another look-over, horrified that he might find Malfoy missing a limb or two— but Draco appeared completely intact, and nicely so at that.
Draco saw Harry's alarmed expression and hastily continued, "Not splinched, as in I left behind body parts! Splinched, as in, I left behind... clothing parts." Draco turned an even more attractive shade of red, to match his raincoat.
Harry blinked, then burst out laughing as realisation hit him. "Oh my god! You Apparated naked?"
"Oh, shut up, Potter." Draco ran a hand through his hair, looking agitated. "This stupid raincoat is the only thing I found in that dirty shed I Apparated into. And the boots, too."
Harry smiled slyly, still looking highly amused. "So, Malfoy... under that snazzy red raincoat of yours, you're actually... not... wearing anything?"
Draco shuffled his feet, shifting his weight uncomfortably. "Quit rubbing it in, will you Potter? Just bloody let me in."
Harry was about to retort that being rude and snappy wasn't about to get Draco anywhere but kicked off the doorstep, when he heard Uncle Vernon's voice bellowing from behind. "Who the hell is that, Harry? Who're you talking to?" A sleepy, grouchy Vernon appeared by his side a few seconds later, and tried to poke his head out the door to see who was there.
Harry swore inwardly, and did some quick thinking before turning to Uncle Vernon. "Oh, um, this is Draco, a classmate of mine, from uh, elementary school." Harry reckoned that saying Draco was a classmate from anywhere else vaguely related to his magical education would send Uncle Vernon into a tidy fit. Harry cleared his throat, and continued, "He used to live a few streets from here, and now his father works at, um, Armani— he's a director there. Very rich and successful," Harry added for good measure.
The words 'rich' and 'successful' had a magical effect on Uncle Vernon, who suddenly eyed Draco with rapt interest. "Really? His father works at Armani, you say?" He pronounced it 'Armanny', and Harry rolled his eyes— of course, what would Vernon know about Armani, anyway? The most he'd probably ever done was molest a few Armani suits at the mall.
"Yeah," Harry answered, more confident now. "His father owns a third shareholding in Armani, actually— and since they're so rich and all, Draco here gets to tour on some of the fashion shows with his dad."
Uncle Vernon was now staring at Draco as if he was cloaked in gold and not a silly red raincoat. "Well, well, that certainly is very nice to hear! I'm Vernon Dursley, Harry's uncle, " he gave Draco a broad, fake smile, "it's a pleasure to meet you, Draco— and what a charming, unusual name you have, it sounds so exotic— but dear me, my lad, why are you dressed in a raincoat in this hot weather?"
"Uh, he's also a model for Armani's latest clothes range," Harry swiftly cut in, thinking fast, "and he's um, modelling Armani's winter collection now. Hence the raincoat. He just came back from the fashion show in London, actually."
Draco was smiling, and he played along very well; he was every bit the smooth accomplished young model as he stretched out his hand to take Uncle Vernon's, and exchanged pleasantries with flawless poise. Harry reckoned that Lucius Malfoy (non-existent shareholder of Armani Co.) must have taught his son proper manners for occasions as this.
Of course, Harry knew that the yarn he just wove had lots of loopholes— for instance, what was Draco still doing here in his modelling wear if the fashion show had been in London? Where were the chauffeur-driven cars if Draco's father was really so rich and famous? But thankfully, the mere thought of having a rich boy with a famous father standing on his doorstep was enough to sway Uncle Vernon from sound reason.
"Anyway," Harry continued, before Uncle Vernon started to question Draco more, "Draco left his luggage in London by accident, so he was just wondering if he could come in and take a shower, maybe borrow a change of clothes before he goes to meet his dad at the next fashion show in Brighton." Harry gave his best nonchalant shrug, "but since you folks are taking your afternoon nap and all, it's really not convenient at all, so I'll just tell Draco to go somewhere else..."
"NO!" Uncle Vernon rushed to reassure, shaking his head vigorously, "No, no, no trouble at all, feel free to come in and freshen up all you want!" He threw the door wide open for Draco to enter. "Come in, come in, make yourself at home..."
Draco shot Harry an amused grin as he stepped through the doorway, and Harry returned a small smile. Draco strolled into the house, strutting in a way that truly resembled a model's walk— of course, save the ridiculous raincoat.
Uncle Vernon didn't even complain that Draco was walking all over the house still wearing his boots; he was hovering around Draco, anxious to please. "May I take your coat, perhaps?"
"No! No, that's not necessary, thank you," Draco answered hastily, slight alarm in his voice; Harry had to duck aside to stifle his laughter. Draco gave Harry a mutely pleading look, which said Get me to your room now, for god's sakes!
"Who's that, dear?" Aunt Petunia appeared at the foot the stairs, looking puzzled at the voices she heard from upstairs. She was closely followed by a sleepy-looking Dudley, his sparse hair in a complete mess.
"Oh!" Vernon enthusiastically gestured for Petunia to come over quickly, "Petunia darling, this is Draco, his father is a director at Armanny and he's a model for their winter range... would you believe that! And he just wants to drop by for a quick shower and change of clothes..." Harry noticed that throughout his excited banter, Uncle Vernon adamantly refused to acknowledge that Harry had introduced Draco.
Petunia scuttled over with equal eagerness as her husband and started to fuss over Draco, commenting on how lovely the 'designer raincoat' looked on him and how she loved 'Armanny' clothes. Harry heard her remarking, "Oh my husband Vernon here has a whole range of Armanny ties...", and Harry snorted to himself. Yeah, on the sales rack in the high street, you mean.
Dudley had waddled over to join the Draco-adoration brigade. Vernon ushered him up and excitedly told Draco, "Oh, Harry went to the same primary school as our Dudley here, so you and Dudley must have been schoolmates, too!"
Dudley was staring unabashedly at Draco with a goofy smile; he was obviously smitten with Draco. "I don't remember seeing him..."
Draco gave him a dazzling smile. "You know something? I don't remember seeing you, either."
Vernon threw his hands in the air. "Oh! But it was a big school, you must have just missed each other... anyway, Draco, this is our only son Dudley..."
"I go to Smeltings," Dudley announced proudly. "I am in the sixth-best class in school!"
"Aren't there only six classes, Dudders?" Harry asked innocently, strolling up to the trio surrounding Draco.
Uncle Vernon shot him a look that dripped venom, and hissed, "Keep your mouth shut and go to your room, Harry."
Draco suddenly spoke up. "I think I'll just go upstairs with Harry and get changed," he said, offering another charming smile all around. Dudley melted into a disgusting puddle on the floor, his beady eyes transfixed on Draco; Harry retched inwardly. Meanwhile, Draco was holding his own very well, and continued smoothly, "I'll have to get on my way soon, anyway, and I really don't want to disrupt your activities planned for the day, Mr. Dursley..."
Despite frantic suggestions that Draco go shower and change in Dudley's room instead, Draco firmly declined, and finally the Dursleys dejectedly agreed to let Draco go to Harry's room. It was clear that they were immensely disappointed, but they just didn't want to kick up a big fuss in front of Draco.
"Oh, he's so pretty..." Harry heard Dudley loudly stage-whisper as he ushered Draco up the stairs, away from the Dursleys; Harry coughed to disguise a snort. Uncle Vernon glared daggers at Harry, who returned an infuriatingly smug smile.
"My god, Potter, your cousin is revolting." Draco hissed as they went into Harry's room and closed the door.
"For the first time, Malfoy, I couldn't agree with you more." Harry sighed and sat down on his own bed. "Imagine having to live with him for half of every holiday... at least you'll be out of here in no time."
Draco shuddered. "Thank god they didn't make me go to his room and change. I swear, I'd rather walk home wearing this raincoat than go into a room alone with that— that creature."
Harry couldn't suppress a smile. "Yes, Malfoy, by the time your clothes are intact, your modesty won't be." He burst out laughing at Draco's disgruntled expression. "Oh come on, Dudley is thoroughly infatuated with you now. I'm sure he'd leap at the chance to molest you. Be glad that I jumped in to save you just now."
Draco muttered something that sounded like 'Your family is stark raving mad', then started looking around Harry's room. "So this is where you live when you go home every holiday?" Draco eyed the peeling paint on the ceiling and the cheap wallpaper with distaste. "What a nicely furnished suite you have here."
"Oh shut up, Malfoy," Harry snapped, getting annoyed. He didn't need to be reminded of how miserable he was here. "Just get changed and get out of my way, will you?"
"Change here?" Draco turned to him with wide eyes, still clutching the front of his raincoat close to his chest. "In front of you?"
"You want me to go out and ask Dudley to come in instead?"
Draco looked miffed. "Well, I don't have a change of clothes. I need to borrow a set of robes."
"You can't have a set of robes." Harry shook his head firmly. "Firstly, because I have only one set of robes here, and I need them. Secondly, you're going to blow the whole Armani thing if you parade downstairs wearing robes, so you can't."
"What's Armani, anyway?" Draco asked curiously, sitting down on the foot of Harry's bed and taking off his yellow boots.
"Some posh Muggle fashion design label." Harry shrugged. "Nice clothes they make, though." He got up, went over to his drawer and began to rummage through the few clothes he owned, finally coming up with an off-white T-shirt and a pair of faded blue jeans. He tossed them to Draco, who caught them. "There. Wear these."
Draco looked down at the clothes in his hands, then up at Harry again. "Uh, I have no underwear, either," he said, looking mildly embarrassed.
"Go commando, then." Harry answered curtly. "I am not lending you my underwear."
Draco sighed, and to Harry's surprise, didn't protest or complain. He got up, walked over to a far corner of the room and turned his back to Harry. "Don't look."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Wouldn't dream of it."
Harry went over to sit on his bed, picked up the Transfiguration book he had been reading earlier, and buried his nose in it. But from the corner of his eye his glance stole over to where Draco was changing, partly because the plastic red raincoat was rustling very noisily as Draco took it off. What he saw almost made him drop his book.
Draco was facing away from him, and the red raincoat was lying at Draco's feet, which meant that Draco was... well. Well. Harry swallowed hard and stared with reluctant appreciation at what he'd never expected to find so intriguing. Damn, Malfoy looked... damn. He looked so damn fine. Granted, Harry hadn't expected Malfoy's body to be covered in warts, but quality of this sort was sinfully above the statutory requirement of a decent body.
Draco had really nice-looking legs, Harry mused distractedly to himself, as he watched Draco take his time getting dressed, although he wasn't exactly complaining. Draco seemed to be in the habit of getting his shirt on first, regardless of the fact that he was totally naked from waist down— which conveniently left Harry with more time to stare at Draco's legs, which were slender and toned and smooth and perfect. Damn. Harry couldn't believe here he was, watching his arch-rival changing in a corner of his bedroom, but there was a certain forbidden thrill in checking out Malfoy's ass while he wasn't—
"You're looking, Potter."
Harry flinched, and guiltily returned his gaze to his book. "No I'm not."
"Yes you are." Draco paused in mid-movement, although he didn't turn around. "I can see your reflection in the dresser mirror over there, and you're looking."
"Just shut up and get dressed, will you?" Harry said through gritted teeth, angry with himself for getting caught staring.
Draco smiled knowingly, but didn't reply; he continued getting dressed in a leisurely fashion, then, zipping up his jeans, he turned around to face Harry, who was still staring fixedly at his Transfiguration book and refusing to look up.
"All right, I'm done," Draco said, smoothing out the crumpled sleeve of his T-shirt.
"Good." Harry replied, still not looking up, continuing to shield his face with his book. He could feel his cheeks still flushed, and it wouldn't do for Malfoy to see that.
Draco waited a few moments, but Harry seemed determined to keep his nose buried in his book. Finally, Draco cleared his throat, and spoke up. "Can I have a drink of water?"
"There's a tap in the bathroom down the hall," Harry answered shortly.
Draco looked unhappy. "Will you get it for me? I don't want to run into your cousin on the way there."
Harry slammed his book down on his bed and glared at Draco. For a moment Draco thought that Harry was going to start yelling at him; but instead, all Harry did was stalk out of the room without another word, noisily kicking the door shut behind him. Half a minute later, he reappeared with a glass of water three-quarters full, and thrust it at Draco, who took it. Harry went back to sit on his bed, but this time didn't pick up his book again. Draco sipped the water, not taking his eyes off Harry.
"How did you know where I live, anyway?" Harry finally asked, unwillingly curious. He felt more than slightly unnerved by Draco's calm, unflinching gaze resting upon him, and he wondered if he was blushing again. He sincerely hoped not. It would be embarrassing.
Draco grinned, setting the glass of water down on the dresser table. "When my father was a governor at Hogwarts I used to go to his office a lot. Student records were kept in a drawer there, so I stole a copy of your student profile."
"You stole a copy of my student profile?" Harry repeated, looking indignant. "But that's strictly confidential information! It's got my personal particulars and examination marks and all that!"
"I know," Draco shrugged nonchalantly. "That's how I knew you lived here at Privet Drive. I guess it's just lucky that I ended up only a street away from here, or I'd have no idea what to do. So that's a shred of fortune in a totally unlucky day."
Harry was eyeing Draco suspiciously. "Why did you want my profile for? And what other stuff do you know about me?"
Draco saw Harry's distrustful gaze, and grinned deviously. "Oh, lots of stuff," he said breezily, conveniently dodging Harry's first question. "I know your vital stats and all that."
Harry turned red. "They do not keep a record of our vital stats!"
"Oh yeah? Why do you think Madam Malkin records our body measurements for?" Draco challenged.
"To make robes?!"
Draco laughed. "Oh, I can see why you're so embarrassed about it, Potter. You were quite a dwarf when you first enrolled at Hogwarts, I remember seeing you in Madam Malkin's. But I can tell it's a different story now." He paused, then deliberately let his eyes run down the length of Harry's body. "Much nicer body you have there."
Harry had been about to snap a retort to Draco's remark about him being a dwarf, when he heard Draco's last comment and proceeded to splutter in disbelief. "What did you just say to me?"
Draco gave him a sultry smile, and boldly moved over to sit next to Harry on the bed. "I said," he continued, his voice smooth and silky, "I think you have a much nicer body now." To prove his point Draco let his fingers trail up Harry's thigh and come to rest on his hip. "And you're taller and cuter too."
Harry gurgled incoherently. "Malfoy, what're you d—?"
Harry's words faltered as Draco answered him by unexpectedly moving onto his lap. Draco's legs straddled Harry's waist as Draco pushed the other boy back down onto the bed. Harry was too stunned to react, and he blinked as Draco leaned forward, pressing the entire length of his body against his, and Harry was made more aware of the fact that he had refused to lend Draco any underwear. He squirmed uneasily, but there was only a limited level of discomfort that could possibly be achieved when Draco's body was so perfectly aligned against his, the flat of Draco's torso resting on top of his chest, and Draco's face merely inches away from his own. Harry held his breath, forgetting to exhale, and gazed up at Draco with wide eyes.
Draco smiled coyly, letting his right hand move to hold Harry's jaw so that he couldn't turn his face away. "You know, Harry, I've always wondered about two things." He paused to let his left hand trail over Harry's cheek, and Harry made another soft unintelligible noise, which sounded vaguely like 'oh my god'. Draco leaned even closer, until his lips were almost touching Harry's. "One of them is something probably all boys our age think about, so that's nothing special. The other is how it feels like to kiss you."
With that, Draco leaned in and pressed his lips onto Harry's, shutting off anything that Harry might have wanted to say, be it in protest or assent. Draco's hands moved to hold both sides of Harry's head as he kissed him firmly yet tenderly; Harry was unresisting yet unresponsive for the first few moments, as if too shocked to react. Draco took control of the situation, gently coaxing a response from Harry, and he felt Harry shiver under him as he let his tongue slowly slide over Harry's lower lip.
Harry's mind was swimming in a whirlpool of confused arousal, and he couldn't process a single thought properly— his vision through his glasses was a blur of pale skin and blond hair, unfocused because Draco was up so close— and all he knew was that Draco was kissing him, and that Draco's tongue was doing something deliciously heavenly to his lower lip. But— but this was Malfoy! Harry closed his eyes, and the words spilled from his lips before he could hold them back—
Draco felt Harry's lips move rather than heard the word, and he paused momentarily, his mouth still brushing against Harry's with a light feathery touch, in the shape of a gentle kiss.
This word was clearer, unmistakably so; Draco pulled back as logical thought rushed back to his mind, replacing the light-headed pleasure of kissing Harry Potter, which had been the drunken realisation of a faraway wonder that had encircled his thoughts so many times before. Draco braced his hands on the mattress and pushed himself away from Harry, a horrid sinking feeling twisting in the pit of his stomach.
Harry's eyes fluttered open as he felt Draco draw back, and dark lashes parting to reveal green eyes glazed with confusion and... desire.
"Don't stop," Harry whispered, his voice breathless.
Draco's heart skipped a few beats, and he hesitated in disbelief. Then he bent forward again and kissed Harry once more, tasting the mutual desire that flowed between them, pure and intense and more than everything he'd imagined it would be. Harry's mouth was warm against his own lips, which had been cooled by the water he drank, and the kiss summarised the essence of this moment they were sharing— simmering heat on melting cold, perfectly wrong but yet, strangely right.
Harry had closed his eyes when he felt Draco's lips descend on his once again, and this time indifference fled as he responded instantly, kissing Draco back. And Harry discovered that it wasn't so much passion that he felt, burning like an obscured fire within him— it was realisation. He felt Draco's hands running along the sides of his body, and he reached up to hold Draco's shoulders, pulling the other boy closer down on him.
When Draco finally pulled away, Harry thought that he was too dazed even to sit upright. He struggled into a sitting position as coherent thoughts slowly filtered back into his mind. And when he finally could mentally grasp what he wanted to tell Draco, Harry just couldn't find the words to say what he wanted to. And so, he said nothing.
Draco slowly moved off Harry to let him sit up and catch his breath, all the while carefully watching Harry's reaction with a guarded look in his grey eyes. Draco bit down on his lower lip, which still tingled from their intense kissing, and waited; the silence grew almost painful, before Draco finally stood up and turned away, smoothing out the T-shirt and creased jeans.
"I'd better leave soon, I need to get home before Father comes back." Draco's tone was devoid of feeling, although suppressed emotion lurked on the fringes of his voice.
Harry nodded, almost numbly. "Yes, you should leave."
"Should I?" Draco abruptly turned around, his questioning gaze settling on Harry, his eyes searching the confusion plainly evident on Harry's face. "So you— want me to leave?"
Harry's lower lip quivered, and his voice broke slightly. "You have to go now, Draco."
Draco didn't know what to make of Harry's words, which really could be taken either way. Draco knew which way he wanted to believe— that Harry knew he had to get back home, but didn't really want him to— but at the same time, he feared that the other way was actually the truth, that Harry just didn't want him to be there any longer. That Harry didn't want to face what had just happened between them, what really couldn't be ignored. Not forever.
"I'm leaving, then." Draco forced himself to speak with a hard, emotionless tone; he turned away, walking toward the closed door and reaching for the doorknob. "I'll return your clothes by owl post after I get home."
"Don't do that, Draco." Harry blurted out, his voice silently pleading.
Draco turned sharply, with a frown. "Don't return your clothes? I honestly don't need them."
"That's not what I'm talking about," Harry said, looking exasperated and pained. "You know what I mean."
"No, I don't really." Draco's eyes flashed with dark frustration. "Why don't you tell me, Harry? Because I don't know what you mean. You seem determined not to speak more than five words to me at a time, so you're right, I don't know what you're talking about."
"What do you expect me to say?" Harry answered, anger and helplessness rising in his voice. "First you kiss me, then the next moment you get up and say you're leaving." He took a deep breath. "One minute I think that maybe you're different from the person I thought you were, and the next minute you're back to who you've always been before. As if nothing's changed."
Having shared a kiss like that, Draco thought with bitter sadness, it would be impossible for nothing to have changed. He saw the veiled hurt mixed with annoyance in Harry's eyes, but Draco couldn't bring himself to say what he felt, no more than Harry seemed able to either.
So Draco just looked away and said, "Anyway, I'm leaving now."
"How?" Harry asked unexpectedly, his voice low and surprisingly calmer. Draco glanced up at him again, and Harry continued, "How are you going to leave? You don't even have your wand with you, so there's no way you can hail the Knight Bus— and you can't use any magic outside of Hogwarts. So how do you plan to get back home?"
Draco hesitated, and pondered for a moment. Truthfully, he hadn't given any thought to that— and he'd completely forgotten that they weren't supposed to do magic during the holidays, because the Unplottability and Shielding Charms on Malfoy Manor allowed him to practice as much magic as he pleased without being detected by the authorities. So, it was a very good question indeed— how the hell was he supposed to get home?
Finally Draco shrugged. "I guess I'll hitch a ride to King's Cross Station, and get onto Platform Six and a Half— that train goes past where I live." He suddenly grinned deviously. "Since your uncle seems so fascinated with me, maybe I'll even ask him to give me a lift to King's Cross. Spiffy idea." Draco opened the door, and was about to step out, when—
Draco half-turned, arching his eyebrow questioningly.
"Take my Firebolt," Harry said unexpectedly. "You can send it back to me after you get home."
Draco blinked once, not quite believing what Harry had just said. "You want me to take your Firebolt?"
Harry sighed, and nodded. "Just take it and go. Send it back by return owl the minute you get home, and if you trash my broom I will kill you on the first day of school. By the way, the twigs are all magically bound to the handle so don't bother trying to pull them out."
"And why would I want to do that?" Draco asked, his tone soft and... sincere. He had completely turned to face Harry now, his hand braced on the doorframe.
Harry shrugged, and didn't answer. He looked away, and went over to his closet and started tossing out the piles of rags and old clothing he had used to camouflage his Firebolt (he couldn't bear to have Aunt Petunia chuck it in the broom cupboard together with the other brooms). He finally drew out the slender racing broom, carefully dusted off the handle and inspected it to make sure it was still in good condition, before walking back to where Draco was standing. Harry raised his eyes to meet Draco's, and then held the Firebolt out for Draco to take.
Draco didn't move for a moment— then, he reached out and took the Firebolt out of Harry's hand. He didn't say a word, just looked at the broom expressionlessly, then back up at Harry again. "Will you walk me out?"
Harry sighed. He went back to the open closet, stepping between the mess of clothes and rags strewn on the floor, and rummaged around for his Invisibility Cloak, which was hidden under a pile of Dudley's old jeans (Harry vaguely wondered if they would be able to fit Hagrid— maybe just one size too small). He pulled out the silvery, shimmering Cloak, and signalled for Draco to come over.
Draco left the door ajar and walked over to Harry, and Harry draped the Cloak over both of them with one sweeping movement, making them both disappear from view. Harry could feel the handle of his Firebolt poking his left shoulder. It would be a lot more comfortable for both of them if Harry just put his left arm around Draco to draw him nearer, so that they could huddle together under the Cloak— but for some reason, Harry just couldn't do it.
Harry checked that the coast was clear before they exited his room— thankfully, the Dursleys were nowhere to be seen. They were probably tidying up the living room, waiting for Draco the Armanny model to come down. Moving rather awkwardly, Harry and Draco managed to make their way down the stairs without missing a step or bumping into the pillars, and Harry nudged Draco in the direction of the back door instead. They both made it into the garden, through the gate and onto the sidewalk without incident. Harry took Draco to a deserted spot down the lane that was shaded by great, leafy oaks before finally removing the Invisibility Cloak.
Harry heaved a deep breath and turned to Draco. "There. You can take off here."
Draco raised an eyebrow amusedly. "My clothes, you mean?"
"No!" Harry turned slightly red, "your broom. My broom," he corrected himself. "There are lots of trees here, you should be able to fly without any Muggles seeing you as long as you keep low above the treetops. And flying doesn't flout the no-magic rule, since the Ministry can only detect if we use wand-magic."
There was a brief silence, and they both stood there for a moment, rather awkwardly, with nothing to say. Or rather, with too many things to say but not knowing how to put them into words. Not daring to put them into words.
Harry finally spoke. "Well, I'll see you on September first, then." He paused, and gave Draco a severe look. "Don't forget to send my broom back, and don't bother trying anything funny with it because it's got an Unhexable Charm on, anyway."
Draco nodded. Then suddenly he smiled, a very pretty and genuine smile that made Harry's heart skip a beat, then a few more. Draco took a step closer and kissed Harry on the lips again, one hand holding the Firebolt and the other turning Harry's face towards his own.
Draco felt Harry tense imperceptibly before relaxing against his mouth, and it was a shared, mutual kiss for the sweetest, dizziest moment before Draco somehow forced himself to pull back, not because he didn't want to kiss Harry some more, but because he was afraid of what would happen if he did.
Harry's eyes were veiled with sadness and understanding as they opened, and Harry's lips were flushed from kissing, which had been intense even though so brief; he looked at Draco, and Draco forced himself to look away.
"You'll get your broom back by tonight, hopefully." Draco said, pretending to adjust the Firebolt so that he could avoid looking at Harry. "And I'll send your clothes back too. Washed, of course."
Harry looked at Draco as the other boy mounted the Firebolt, all the while refusing to meet his gaze. He felt a horrible feeling sinking in his gut, like knives swimming in his stomach. He didn't need to know when he'd get his clothes returned, and he didn't even need his Firebolt back by tonight— it wasn't as if he could fly it, anyway. What he did want was for Draco to look up at him, for Draco to say something. Anything at all. But Draco said nothing.
"Bye, then." Harry said quietly.
Draco finally turned to look at him. "Goodbye, Harry."
Draco's voice was soft, and his eyes shone with a shimmering emotion. Harry bit his lower lip, which still burned from Draco's last kiss, and forced himself to just nod. Draco smiled at him once more, then kicked off and took to flight, manoeuvring the Firebolt with admirable grace and precision as he wove in between the thick branches and tunnelled through to the open skies above. Then he was gone.
Harry waited a few moments longer, staring up at the empty segment of sky, visible through the branches where Draco had flown between. He felt strangely sad, not only because Draco had gone but also because he hadn't found the courage to say what he had wanted to, so badly. And he knew the words would die unspoken forever, because when he'd see Draco again on the Hogwarts Express, things would have gone back to status quo between them, and the tenderness of this summer afternoon, which still felt so real, would be completely forsaken, though never forgotten.
Harry draped his Invisibility Cloak over his head and slowly began walking back to the house on Privet Drive. The walk seemed much longer than it had on the way there, with Draco, even though they had been huddled together, like a couple sharing a too-small umbrella. But it had been nice, feeling the warmth of Draco's body through the thin T-shirt he'd been wearing; it had been nice, feeling Draco so close to him, his faintly musky scent tickling his nose, the silky strands of Draco's hair brushing against his cheek.
It had been so nice.
And it was over.
It was almost midnight, and the skies were exceptionally dark with the promise of a thunderstorm approaching from the north. Harry was lying flat on his bed, sleep eluding him even though he was feeling very tired. He'd spent the evening explaining to the distraught Dursleys exactly how "that angelic boy Draco" had slipped out of the house without them noticing. Uncle Vernon was upset at not having got Draco's father's contact number; Aunt Petunia was complaining that she didn't get a chance to ask Draco for free Armanny fragrance samples; and Dudley was wailing because he had a huge crush on Draco now— "I can't live without seeing him again!" Now the Dursley family was planning a trip to Brighton for the (non-existent) fashion show.
Harry, of course, had received a good yelling at for not preventing Draco's quiet departure, or as Uncle Vernon had accused, even abetting it. That didn't stray far from the truth this time, and Harry couldn't even be bothered to defend himself. He just sat there, thinking of the memory of Draco's lips warm on his own, as Uncle Vernon ranted about how preposterous it was that someone as glamorous as Draco even cared to hang out with riff-raff like Harry, and how much better a friend Dudley would be.
Harry's thoughts were interrupted by a sharp tapping on his window; he bolted upright, reaching for his glasses on the bedside table. He immediately saw that fluttering outside his window, silhouetted by the moonlight above, were two dark-feathered eagle owls, rapping impatiently at the windowpane with their beaks. Their shared load was a carefully wrapped bundle, in the unmistakable shape of a broomstick.
Harry shuffled over to the window and pushed it open, wide enough for the owls to fly in. The two owls managed their bulky parcel admirably, and didn't even jostle the bundle against the window frame as they glided into the room soundlessly and dropped the wrapped broom onto Harry's bed, then swooped out of the window again without even stopping to rest. It sure seemed like all in the Malfoy household were subject to a strict code of behaviour, owls included.
Draco certainly had taken great care to make sure the Firebolt returned to Harry in perfect condition— it was very meticulously wrapped in a thin leather casing, so that the talons of the delivery owls wouldn't damage the broom handle. And only when Harry went over to sit on his bed did he notice that tied to the handle of the broom was another small bundle— presumably his clothes. Harry unwrapped the small bundle— true enough, his white T-shirt and faded jeans were neatly folded, and smelled cleaner than they did before. But something else caught Harry's eye.
Nestled in the fabric of the clean clothes was a folded piece of parchment, lain on a plain, unmarked cream envelope. Harry picked up the folded parchment and smoothed it out— his breath caught in his throat for a moment as he realised that it was a letter from Draco. It was handwritten— it also occurred to Harry that he had never seen how Draco's handwriting looked like before. It was pleasant enough to read, with a slight slant and curl on the edges of the y and g. Harry sat down on the edge of his bed, and began to read:
I hope the Firebolt arrived in one piece— I've also returned your clothes. Maybe you can give the red raincoat I left in your room to your charming cousin as a souvenir.
Harry looked over at the darkened corner of the room, where Draco had stood naked less than ten hours ago, where the red raincoat now lay abandoned in a heap. He grinned in spite of himself, then went back to reading.
Together with this letter you'll find an envelope. Inside, there's a piece of silver, crafted into the shape of a candle. It's a Portkey. It'll bring you straight into my room at Malfoy Manor.
Harry blinked, barely believing his eyes. A Portkey? He was more than well justified in being wary of Portkeys. And why— why in the world was Draco giving him a Portkey for, anyway? And into his bedroom? Harry took another deep breath, and read on.
I'm sure you're wondering why I'm giving you this, or why you should even believe that this Portkey will bring you to my room, and not somewhere else you don't want to be. Truthfully, you don't have any reason to. But you trusted me enough to take your Firebolt. So maybe you'll trust me again, this once more.
Harry stopped reading, and felt mildly light-headed at Draco's words. Somehow, they were so heartbreakingly truthful that it almost hurt to read them, and Harry knew it was partly because they mirrored a part of his own soul. They were his words, too.
The Portkey will remain Charmed for twenty-four hours, after which it'll lose its magic. Then I suppose you can keep it as a memory of something that will never happen again, like a candle made of silver, which will never burn.
I'll be waiting, but not forever. D.
Before Harry had a chance to re-read the letter, it promptly burst into cold, painless flames, burning the crisp parchment in his hands into ash, upon which the fire extinguished itself with a final hiss.
Harry dusted the ashes off his palm and slowly picked up the envelope. He turned it over; there was a fanciful golden dragon seal on the back. Harry carefully lifted the seal and peered inside the envelope— a slender rod of silver glinted invitingly at him, and it looked liquid and pure and so finely crafted. Harry closed his eyes, barely able to think straight, not even sure of what he wanted. He swallowed hard as Draco's words echoed in his mind: I'll be waiting, but not forever.
Then he tipped the envelope over and let the silver candle fall onto his palm.
His world suddenly blurred and spun like a whirlwind of space and time, and Harry felt the familiar jerk behind his navel as he seemed to fall backwards, endlessly, in a smooth frictionless channel of darkness until the swirling black void abruptly skidded to a halt— he was thrown forwards now, and—
Harry found himself landing on something warm and soft, emanating such heat that he instantly knew that it was someone he had landed on. He opened his eyes, dazed, and the shifting images resolved themselves into clear focus, and Harry found himself staring at Draco Malfoy. More precisely, he was now lying on top of Draco Malfoy, in Draco's room, on Draco's bed. Certainly an improvement from being alone in a crumbling bedroom at Privet Drive. There was a heavy storm outside— Malfoy Manor apparently lay further north than Privet Drive.
Draco looked mildly startled, but his expression quickly changed into one of recognition, and... happiness? relief? Harry couldn't tell, and didn't have time to think about it because the next natural thing his mind told him to do was to kiss Draco, and for the first time this desire coalesced with what his heart had wanted ever since their earlier encounter. Harry leaned forward and kissed Draco hard, throwing caution and restraint and everything else to the wind, everything except the perfection of the moment they were sharing now, as Draco's hands moved to tangle in his hair, drawing them even closer together.
Harry could feel Draco's lips smile under his, and he heard Draco murmur, "I thought you wouldn't come."
Harry felt breathless from kissing, and pulled away just enough to ask, "Why did you think that?"
Draco smiled again, this time almost sadly. "Because you don't like me."
"Would I be here if I didn't like you?" Harry countered, shifting his body to cover Draco's, feeling eminently comfortable.
Draco shrugged, although there was a silver twinkle in his grey eyes. "I thought you only liked the red raincoat get-up."
Harry laughed, and his fingers started playing with the buttons on Draco's nightshirt. "Oh, that was the reason I let you in. Everything which happened after that was on your merit alone, and that's saying something." Harry suddenly drew back, a look of anxiety knitting his brow as he glanced around the room. "But— but what if someone walks in— your father—"
"Don't worry." Draco shook his head, and he subconsciously closed his hands over Harry's wrists reassuringly. "My father's out of town on some business. My mother's already asleep, and nobody else would dare walk into my room at this hour of the night."
Harry relaxed, but a pensive expression settled over his face. "This is crazy, Draco, you know that."
"I know," came Draco's soft reply. He fell silent.
"And?" Harry finally prompted impatiently.
Draco raised his eyes to Harry's. "I know this is crazy," he said simply.
"And you don't mind that?" Harry's voice rose with mild agitation; Draco's short answers weren't getting anywhere by the way of decent bedroom conversation, and it didn't help that Draco acknowledged exactly how crazy his being here was. "Why did you give me the Portkey to get here in the first place?"
"For the same reason you came here." Draco answered, a genuine fire blazing silver in his eyes, pure and fierce and truthful. He tilted his head ever so slightly. "You think this is insane, Harry? I'll tell you what I thought was insane. I thought that walking down Privet Drive to your house wearing nothing but a raincoat and rubber boots was insane. I thought that asking you to help me was insane, and that mercifully, you wouldn't break my nose when you slammed the door in my face. But you didn't." Draco paused, and took a deep breath. "So— why did you use the Portkey, anyway?"
"I don't know." Harry answered frankly, with a small sigh; he suddenly felt all the words he wanted to say fall from his lips like rain breaking a drought, filling the vagueness of silent meaning with what should have been said all this while. "Because you just wouldn't say anything, after what happened in my bedroom. Because you looked like you wanted to tell me something all the while, but even right up till you kissed me the moment before you left, you still didn't say a word, and—"
A flicker of raw emotion crossed Draco's face, and his hands slid up to hold Harry's jaw, making Harry's words falter in mid-sentence. Draco tilted Harry's face toward his, so that he could stare into Harry's eyes as he spoke.
"Thank you," Draco said softly, biting on his lower lip in an altogether very fetching way. "That's what I was going to say. I had wanted to thank you, for..."
A very loud clap of thunder drowned the rest of Draco's sentence, and the pattering of rain lashed against the windows of Draco's bedroom. Lightning flashed across the sky, reflecting in silvery streaks across Draco's face, lighting up his delicate features as Harry gazed down at him.
Harry leaned closer. "No, Draco," he whispered, letting his lips brush against Draco's. "Thank you. For asking me to trust you. For giving me the chance to believe."
And Harry closed his eyes and kissed Draco again, feeling Draco's body arch up to press against his, Draco's mouth wet and eager under his own— and even in the midst of the pouring rain Harry felt warm, and safe, as Draco's hands wrapped around his waist and pulled him close, his very own raincoat in the thunderstorm.