Harry drank the last of his coffee then sat back on his chair. He wondered briefly where Draco was, but wasn't overly concerned. He was usually late. He sighed. Why couldn't the little git ever be here on time?
An owl flew through the window and landed on his desk. He narrowed his eyes. That owl looked awfully familiar to Draco's owl, Erignid. He debated with himself whether to open it. The last time he'd opened a letter from Draco he'd been covered with ketchup; Draco's little idea of a joke. Ever since then he'd taken extra precaution while opening letters from him. In fact, he took extra precautions when around Draco full stop. You never knew what to expect with him around.
The door opened and Draco stepped into the office they shared.
"About time," Harry commented dryly.
"What? Can't a guy be fashionably late?" He sat behind his desk and shoved his briefcase on the table.
"Yeah, sure. Especially when you're in a meeting with Waterman."
Harry and Draco were heads of separate auror teams, while Waterman was in charge of Harry, Draco and a couple of others. Waterman was strict on punctuality, and could be very frightening when agitated. Even Draco didn't challenge him; and that was saying something.
Draco's head shot up. "You're joking!"
"Uh, no, I'm not actually." Harry checked his watch. "In fact, you're fashionably late by, what? Oh that's right. Fifteen minutes."
"Oh shit. Bollocks!"
"It's your fault. Maybe you'll think twice about coming 'fashionably late' to your job again. Wait - that's if you still have a job. Uh, by the way, is this your Erignid?"
He checked quickly while gathering his possessions. "No, it isn't. Familiar, though. Why?"
"Oh, that's alright then." He opened the letter and read it over. It was from Tom.
"Thanks," he said sulkily. "So who's it from, then?"
"Just Tom, wondering whether I'll be coming out tonight after work. Fancy like joining us?"
Draco gave him a dirty look. "No, I would not like to join you and lover boy Tom." And before Harry could ask what was with the sudden change of mood, Draco crossed the room and slammed the door behind him.
Harry looked at the door for a few seconds after, then put it down to just being Draco.
What did he care if Harry was going out with some guy? Why would he care? Why would he even want to go with them?
Besides, he didn't like Tom anyway.
And Harry was only going to end up dumping him anyway. He always does.
Not that I snoop in his business or anything. He can keep Tom and his love life to himself. Draco didn't need to know every time he got a new boyfriend. Did he?
Draco stopped in his tracks. What if Harry thought Tom was The One? What if he was already planning the little baby Potters already?
He couldn't cope with this. He was confused. Maybe he should just write a quick note to Waterman. He'd understand. Well...on the safe side, just say he was sick.
Yeah. That's it.
He wrote a quick note and passed it to a nearby owl. "Give this to Waterman, 'Kay?"
The owl gave him a quick nip to show she understood before flying towards Waterman's office.
Then he apparated to Pansy's flat.
Pansy turned to the clock. He'd been here an hour already. After the first five minutes she'd got where the flow of the conversation was going, so she'd tuned him out long ago.
Two hours later, he was still talking about Harry bloody Potter.
"Listen, Draco. Why don't you just get it over with and just ask him out for Merlin's sake? Do you realize we have this conversation every week? Sometimes more than that."
"Well soooorry...I thought you were a friend. I guess I thought wrong."
"Draco, I'm giving you advice. Instead of bitching about Potter's boyfriends, go and ask him out. In fact, I'm pretty sure you don't even know the poor guys. Most of the time they're pretty oblivious to the reason why you seem to hate them so much."
"But don't you realize? Potter will never say yes. And besides, I don't like him that much."
Pansy gave Draco an odd look. "Draco, you LOVE him. You never stop talking about him. You think, eat and sleep Harry James Potter. And you have been for the last three years. Get over it, Draco. Admit it. You love him."
"No I don't. I've had plenty of other boyfriends. If I loved him as much as you're saying, I would have been a geezer with a sad life, alone."
Pansy was getting fustrated. Why couldn't he just admit it? "Draco, darling. Answer this for me. Why are all the boyfriends you ever have either have black hair, green eyes or glasses? Or even a mixture. And why did you want to become a Potions master then just suddenly change your mind when you found out Potter was an auror? Oh, I know why. IT'S BECAUSE YOU LOVE HIM GODDAMMIT!!"
Ah. That felt good. She had been dying to say that for months. Pansy watched his mouth open and close, looking for a comeback. But there wasn't one, and he realized it. All of his boyfriends were Harry Potter lookalikes. He couldn't even find another reason why he didn't want to be a Potions master anymore.
Pansy uncurled herself from the armchair and sat next to Draco on the couch. "Look, Draco. I'm not looking for an argument. I'm just proving a point. If you wont admit you love him, then you have to admit you like him. At least a little. Otherwise you wouldn't be talking to me about him so often. But you know the score; if you don't try, then you'll never know. Just ask him out."
"But I can't. What if he says no?"
"Well that's it. It'll be a no. But you wont lose anything by trying."
"Mmm. Well. I'd better be off. I've taken the hint. I obviously take up too much of your time." He stood and put his coat on. "Bye, Pansy." He then apparated to some unknown spot. Maybe he would finally ask Potter out. Probably not.
She picked up the telephone and dialed Granger's number.
She was oddly helpful in these stressful situations.
Harry was just reading a letter from Waterman when Draco stumbled inside. "Speak of the devil."
"Waterman's trying to get me to spy for him; fat chance. I'm paid to be an auror, not a spy."
"Spy on who?"
"You, of course. He's trying to find out whether you were really ill or not...you're being awfully slow today. First you end up fifteen minutes late to a meeting you never turned up to, now this..."
"Sorry. Hey Potter, would you-"
Draco was cut off mid sentence as the phone rang. "Sorry," Harry mumbled as he answered.
Draco sat on the edge of Harry's desk, waiting for him to finish. He watched as Potter's face turned from content, to surprised, to mortified. He finally put the phone down and his face was grave.
"I hope whatever you wanted to say can wait, 'cause we've gotta get down to Burncroft park...we've got a murder which looks awfully like a muggle's handiwork, but isn't quite. They found traces of magic around the scene."
Draco was going to ask Harry out. "Actually I was wondering...uh, never mind. It can wait."
He lowered his head. He supposed it was fait. The phone rings just as he's going to ask him. Maybe it was never meant to be.
"Sure," he replied miserably. "Let's go."
Harry thought it was actually quite warm, seeing as though it was January. It felt like Spring. But the weather did anything but represent the mood; cold, bitter.
They were just clearing away, and not a moment too soon. The day was wearing thin and people had already had enough of inspecting the dead body on the ground. It was time to go home and think about how lucky you were to be alive and well. Maybe get a bit of paperwork done, go to the pub.
Harry decided to send an owl to Tom explaining he wouldn't be able to make it tonight; he was too tired, plus he had a load of paperwork to complete by tomorrow. All because someone wanted to commit murder.
Draco popped up next to him. "Can you believe the amount of paperwork we're going to have to do for this? They never advertise this part of being an auror, do they? Gee, I'm going to be up past midnight thanks to this," he nodded to the dead person, a woman called Kathy Skywalker.
"Why don't you come round to my place, then? We can help each other out a bit if you like, then maybe we'll get done by midnight."
"No, I'll pass. But thanks anyway."
"No problem. So what do you think happened here, then?" Harry asked.
"Defiantly a wizard or a witch. Maybe revenge? They grab the girl, put her under a spell, guide her towards the tree, slip her neck into the rope and knock her unconscious. That's my bet anyway."
"Nah. It goes more complicated than that, you see? Look at the wounds she's got. That isn't just from someone knocking her unconscious. No, I think someone was punishing her. They, whoever it was made it personal. They made it long and painful...gee, I'd hate to die like that. I'd like it short and pain free."
Draco looked sadly at the body. "Well, sometimes you just don't have a choice, do you?"
It reminded him of when her mother was murdered by one of the Death Eaters; most people didn't know, but that was the reason he'd suddenly supported Potter. So he became a spy, alongside with Pansy.
His mother died without a choice. Just because she was linked to his father, she had been cruelly murdered.
Just like the girl on the floor before him. It was true; if you were lucky, you'd get a choice, but sometimes you just didn't have choices in life.