Author's Notes: Written for Winnet for the HDSBeltane Fic Exchange! Request included: romance, stylized writing, adventure, best friends turned lovers, and the underdog coming out on top. Thank you to my betas, CAThespian04, Erin, and Kate. You were all wonderfully critical and supportive. And thank you to all who read and/or review this fic. Cheers!

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all subsequent ideas surrounding it belong to J.K. Rowling and all her publishing companies, except for what I have written here. Thank you.

The Life-Debt

Or

The Best Mistake Ever

"Happy Birthday Hermione!"

The cheer rang loudly through the room, though the noise was soon smothered by the Weasley Twins' fireworks display that began launching immediately after the last syllable was spoken, or perhaps even before. Hermione Granger-Weasley smiled and finished blowing out the twenty three candles on the magnificent chocolate cake that Molly Weasley had made (all the while insisting that chocolate really wasn't the most appropriate flavor for a witch's 23rd birthday and that, really, hazelnut chocolate with a hint of caramel would have been a much better choice). Now Hermione deferentially moved from behind the table to let Molly begin cutting and handing out portions of the birthday cake.

Thoughts of the Weasley matriarch aside, Hermione felt that it was a very good birthday so far. Her friends and colleagues were here at the Burrow, which had been lavishly decorated, if not with money then with loving care, and they had all been kind enough to bring spectacular presents in their wake. A few years ago during the height of the war, Hermione had never known she could be this happy, this content, this joyful and grateful for all that life had to offer. As she gazed around the room at smiling faces and laughing eyes, she could only hope that the happiness that she now knew would someday find her friends as well. A hand slid over hers, holding her with warmth and strength, and Hermione turned to smile at her husband. Ron grinned back easily, joy coming as naturally to him as any other emotion.

Hermione pressed a soft kiss to his cheek and then turned to face the room once more. A familiar dark haired figure chatting with Ginny caught her eye. Harry had cleaned up nicely for tonight, his hair still untamable but somehow retaining a type of boyish charm amid the strong features his face had grown into. He was handsome in a rough way, as if an artist had drawn a sketch and allowed the imperfections of the hand to remain. But amid the texture laid a passion that burned in his eyes, an intensity that focused in on the person he was talking to or the object he was looking at. When Harry was looking at you, nothing else in the world mattered.

At the moment, however, Harry seemed to lack the enthusiasm that the occasion called for. He had shown up in incredibly high spirits only an hour or so before, wishing Hermione a wonderful birthday and giving her his gift of Portuguese poems bounded in a leather notebook. (Hermione had been very pleased, as translating poems in other tongues was a special hobby of hers, and she had yet to try her hand at Portuguese.) But now Harry looked as if a storm cloud was brewing over head and raining down acid onto his shoulders. What could possibly be wrong?

Harry tried, once again, to escape Ginny Weasley's never-ending presence but was thwarted for a third time as her brother Charlie came up and enthusiastically began asking Harry about the time he had traveled North trying to find the last Horcrux and had accidentally stumbled into a dragon's lair. It was only Harry's fondness for Charlie, and a certain desire to face away from his ever persistent younger sister, that allowed Harry to treat the dialogue as a conversation instead of the interrogation on his treatment of the dragon's eggs that he had the feeling it was turning into.

"And you're absolutely sure that there was an even dozen eggs when you left?" Charlie asked again, voice a little bit harder than before.

"Yes, Charlie. Exactly twelve eggs. I know because I stopped to count them while running from the fire their mother was emitting in great quantities in my direction." Harry watched the sarcasm simply roll off the redhead.

"Well, that's good, Harry, really good." Charlie clapped Harry soundly on the back, not noticing when the brunette gave an involuntary cough. "Dragon eggs are really hard to come by these days, because sometimes the male dragons get into them because they're afraid of future competition. The mothers are fiercer, of course, but every once in a while one of the bastards gets through. Say Ginny, didn't you once date a fellow whose family was in the business?"

As Ginny took her eyes off Harry to answer Charlie's question, Harry exited the room and quickly ducked into the kitchen pantry. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, taking his glasses off and rubbing tiredly at his eyes. Sometimes Ginny left him feeling exhausted. What part of, "I'm sorry, but I'm quite sure now that I'm gay" didn't she understand? But no, she would always say, "But Harry, you haven't got a boyfriend."

Oh yes, he really was so glad that she could helpfully remind him of his single status every time they encountered one another.

Harry sighed once more and prepared to go back into the crowd of strangers. Before he could do so, the pantry door opened quickly and a disgruntled Draco Malfoy burst into the room, panting heavily and slamming the door behind him. Hermione had taken to inviting her coworkers from the Department of Mysteries whenever she hosted a large gathering, and Malfoy had become quite a regular to both Ron and Harry's chagrin, as Hermione said it would be rude to invite everyone but him. The problem with that proclamation was not something Harry could understand. Hermione kept on insisting that Malfoy had turned over a new leaf, that his time spent in hiding with Muggles after the fall out of Sixth Year had done his character a lot of good, but Harry had yet to see it. Excepting the fact that Malfoy no longer insulted them to their faces or called Hermione a Mudblood, the Slytherin seemed as haughty and unchanged as ever.

He was dressed well for the party, black slacks and a dark blue dress shirt outlining his slim figure. Perhaps a bit overdressed Harry re-evaluated, looking down at his own ripped jeans and polo shirt, but well…at least his hair wasn't a walking advertisement for the most expensive line of Wizarding hair care products on the market. Though, Harry was pleased to note, it looked like Malfoy was having a spot of trouble at the moment as his hair had fallen out of its usual small ponytail at the nape of his neck and was now falling heavily into his flushed face. Harry did concede, however, that it was much better than the horrible pasty slickness of Malfoy's hair back at Hogwarts.

Harry only had a moment to be horrified at the apparently large amount time he had spent observing Malfoy's hair styles before the blonde in question looked up sharply at Harry and managed a smirk in between taking large gulps of air.

"Alright…there…Potter?"

"Fine. You?"

"A bit...worse for the wear, I'm afraid…Those Weasleys are…vultures I tell you! That wretched woman wouldn't stop needling me about her cake. And the Weasel's father kept asking me about plugs of all things."

Harry called upon his still intense dislike of the man before him in order to stop the grin that was trying to find its way onto his lips.

"Yeah, Mr. Weasley really enjoys the science of electricity."

"I think 'enjoy' is a bit of understatement, Potter. Obsessed is such a nice, descriptive verb, don't you think?"

Harry once again refrained from smiling. "Yeah, I suppose."

There was silence for a few seconds, before: "Potter, why are you hiding in the pantry?"

"Er….we needed some sea salts?" Harry tried.

Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Don't insult my intelligence, Potter."

"Fine," Harry sighed. "I was hiding from…gelsdvy."

"What was that?"

"Ginny."

Malfoy burst into raucous laughter. "Merlin, Potter! Is that bint still following you around?"

"Don't call her that!" Harry objected automatically before he could catch up to what Malfoy had actually said. "…Yeah, she still fancies me."

"And the fact that you're a flaming homosexual has completely escaped her attention?"

"I don't know how she….wait a minute. Malfoy, how did you--?"

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "Seriously, Potter. You? Not gay? Mountain trails are straighter."

Harry closed his eyes and cursed whoever might be listening to the farthest reaches of Hell.

"Besides, we always know our own."

Harry's eyes snapped open.

"You're…?"

"Well, obviously. Where have you been the last few years?"

"Trapped under a very large rock, apparently." Harry tried his damnedest not to react how he normally would upon learning that an attractive---damnit! No, Malfoy wasn't attract---argh---that another…not entirely hideous male was also gay.

It wasn't working very well.

"I reckon I've been in here long enough, though," Harry said, breath coming out in a rush.

"Uh-huh. Whatever you say, Potter," Malfoy said, soundly highly amused.

Harry bit his tongue to keep from commenting and simply slid past Malfoy, ignoring the press of bodies together in such a small space, and headed out back into the party, only slightly more panicked than he was ten minutes ago.


"Dear Merlin, why is it that no one can find a decent Merlot in this place?" Malfoy's voice echoed loudly throughout the room.

"Oh, come off it Malfoy!" Ron said loudly, swaying tipsily around the room and ignoring Hermione's gestures that tried to cut him off before he did something stupid. "Not even our booze is good enough for you?"

Malfoy's smiled tightly. "I assure you, Weasley, there are many things you possess that I rate higher than 'booze'." His eyes lingered over to the women congregated around Ginny and Hermione.

Every male Weasley threatened to turn into a tomato as Malfoy gazed at their girlfriends.

"Now you look here, Malfoy," Ron started, pointing a finger in what he guessed was Malfoy's general direction.

"Harry!" Hermione called, desperate. "Why don't you and Malfoy go into the village and get some wine if there isn't enough here?"

Harry looked up from his argument with Seamus over the better types of English and Caribbean rum. "What did you say?" he asked tentatively, hoping his brain had temporarily short-circuited and that Hermione didn't really want him to--

"Why don't you show Malfoy where he can find some nice wine in Ottery St. Catchpole and then bring it back for everyone to try?"

Bugger. If only he were blind, deaf and dumb, then Hermione couldn't possibly expect him to take Malfoy anywhere. Though, those factors also probably wouldn't have helped him defeat Voldemort either.

"Smashing idea, Granger!" Malfoy said before Harry could think of a reasonable excuse to say no. "Come on, Potter. Show me that Muggles can at least produce decent alcohol."

If not for the playful wink Malfoy gave him, and the fact that Hermione seemed so desperate, Harry was sure Malfoy would have been on the receiving end of a punch by now.


They had been walking along the road for at least ten minutes and Harry had yet to say one word in between Malfoy's constant chatter. Harry's proposal that they Apparate to a back alley in Ottery St. Catchpole had been immediately shot down, as had been the idea of taking the Weasley's car (without the flying features, of course), and the idea of simply fashioning a quick and easy Portkey. Unsure of Malfoy's motives but certain that he simply liked to make things hard on others, Harry wearily trotted down the road at a brisk pace, resigned to take the fifteen minute walk to the village and ignore Malfoy the entire time.

"…and I still can't believe it. Absolutely ridiculous is what it is. A Malfoy made to go and fetch refreshments, as if I were some common—"

"We're here," Harry managed to interrupt as they started down the main street.

"Potter, were you even listening to me?" Malfoy demanded.

"Of course, Malfoy," Harry said. "And you're absolutely right." Malfoy preened for a moment. "No one could expect anyone in your weak condition to do anything more than stand there and look pretty."

Harry turned swiftly into the liquor store. A few seconds passed.

"Potter!" Malfoy growled as he quickly followed, muttering death threats as he could hear Harry's laughter reverberate inside the building.


"Was there a specific reason we needed six different bottles of wine, Malfoy?" Harry griped as he walked up the hill back to the Burrow.

"Truly good wine is an acquired taste, Potter," Malfoy called back to Harry from the top of the hill, where he was engaging in a very undignified gait that he would later deny the existence of. "But once you've tasted something truly wonderful, your palate won't be able to settle for anything less. Sure, the grape and the wood and the accents are all there, but it's the mixture of everything that makes a phenomenal vintage. The subtle hints of oak, or the slight berry flair, perhaps even a light aroma of nuts if I'm in the mood. It's the perfect balance that makes the selection worthwhile."

Harry reached the top of the hill, panting heavily and utterly confused.

"What?"

Malfoy sighed. "It's like sex, Potter. You may physically enjoy every occurrence, but the truly monumental moments will always have the perfect combination of physical and emotional connection. For instance, I could be fucking the life out of a gorgeous bloke and be on the verge of coming all over his…Potter, are you blushing?"

Harry coughed a bit and turned away. "No," he muttered.

"Yes, you are," Malfoy laughed a good while, enjoying Harry's awkwardness, before sobering up. "Potter…you're not a virgin are you?"

"No!" Harry protested immediately, before cursing the fact that Malfoy could still get him as flustered as ever. "I just…one minute you're talking about wine, the next about sex. Do you have to be so blunt?"

"Only when my eloquence goes unappreciated."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Let's just get back to the party. The Burrow's right around--"

"Look out!" Malfoy interrupted, shoving Harry hard to the side.

Having been about to take a step, and with large bags of heavy wine bottles in his hands, Harry lost his footing and fell down the hill, rolling until he came to an abrupt stop near the bottom. It was only then that he realized he had seen a green light out of the corner of his eye.

"Shit," Harry swore under his breath, drawing his wand quickly and looking for the attackers.

Malfoy had already felled one, and was currently dueling with two more while a fourth was sneaking around behind him, wand raised and about to utter a curse. All wore black masks.

"Stupefy!" Harry yelled, nodding his head as the man froze and toppled down the hill before he could do any damage.

Harry ran up the side of the hill, firing more curses at Malfoy's attackers while trying to avoid hitting the blonde as well. It seemed, however, that Malfoy did not require his help. The man was fierce in battle, and Harry remembered again that Malfoy had survived all by himself in an unfamiliar world for years before he came back and turned himself into the Ministry. In the midst of a war, they were more than happy to take on another fighter, previous allegiances be damned. Malfoy had paid back his crimes by fighting beside the very Gryffindors he'd nearly killed, but this time around he saved their lives. The debt against Malfoy honor was repaid. And as Harry saw the final attacker fall to the ground, he had the distinct feeling that he now had his own debt to repay.

Malfoy let out a whoop in between his heavy pants of breath. He ran a hand through his hair, the effect the exact opposite of when Harry did it, for it seemed to smooth the flaxen hairs back into position. He turned to grin at Harry as the brunet reached his side.

"Alright there, Potter?"

Harry nodded. "Who were they?"

"No idea. Let's find out!" Apparently Malfoy was still running high on adrenaline. He reached down to the nearest body and yanked off the mask obscuring the attacker's face. Harry stared, trying to place the face before him, for it looked vaguely familiar.

"Is that--?"

"Damien Macnair, Slytherin three years behind us," Malfoy replied swiftly. He pulled up the cloth of Macnair's robe to reveal a Dark Mark. "He was a low-level Death Eater, not particularly bright or magically gifted, but competent enough to follow directions. Especially ones that involved escape plans. I'd always wondered what happened to him when we never caught him during the war. I guess now I know."

Harry stared. "Yeah….Um, we should check the others, I guess."

He and Malfoy checked the rest of the attackers, finding Dark Marks on all of their arms, though Malfoy could only identify one more Death Eater.

"They must have joined after I left," Malfoy said quietly in reference to the others.

"Mmm," Harry agreed, not quite knowing what to say.

"We should probably tell the Aurors that we found the last remaining Death Eaters, Potter."

Harry looked up from his thoughts to see Malfoy pulling something out of his pocket, no doubt some special artifact from the Department of Mysteries. He glanced back at Harry.

"You should probably get back to the party. No doubt Granger and Weasley are working themselves into a frenzy wondering where you are," Malfoy said. He summoned the wine back from where it had fallen and put it into Harry's arms. "Here. Don't drop it now, Potter. You can't let excellent wine go to waste."

Harry smiled a bit. "Whatever you say, Malfoy."

He started down the hill toward the Burrow, but turned back after a few seconds.

"Oh, and Malfoy?"

The blonde looked up from whatever he was doing to the object in his hand. "Yes, Potter?"

"Thank you for saving my life."

Malfoy smirked and spoke slowly, as if an idea was just occurring to him. "I did save your life, didn't I?"

Looking at Malfoy's grin, Harry got the sudden feeling that he was going to regret that statement of thanks.


Harry pulled uncomfortably at the stiff collar of his shirt. He hated formal robes--they were heavy and awkward and Malfoy had insisted that the true wizard didn't wear pants underneath their robes and that Harry of course needed to comply with ancient tradition. So here he was, walking into a boring Ministry gala where he'd have his hand shaken off, and he had to do it with Malfoy at his side, for the whole night…in a bloody dress.

Oh happy joy.

With one last look at his reflection, Harry Apparated to the entry way of the Ministry's Grand Ballroom. He immediately spied Malfoy already waiting discreetly to the side, though there was nothing discreet about Malfoy's appearance. The blonde was practically glowing (Harry was sure Malfoy had cast a damn halo around his hair it shone so much) and had a very pleasant smile on his face which lit up even more once he saw Harry.

"There you are. I was worried for a moment that you were going to back out."

"It's a life debt, Malfoy, I can't back out," Harry replied, a bit confused.

"Very true," the blonde said simply, as if his previous comment had never happened. "Well, I suppose we should get this over with. And do remember, Potter, the idea here is to make me look good in front of the rest of the Ministry officials, not to bring up ancient schoolyard fights between two young boys."

Harry chuckled as they made their way to the entrance. "Malfoy, what part of 'You can fulfill the life-debt by coming with me to Ministry functions and pretending to like me so the rest of the Department heads start to trust and respect the Malfoy family again' did you think I misunderstood?"

"First off, respect cannot be earned by someone else, and I already have theirs anyways; this is simply a bit of PR work. Second, as much as you try and deny it, you already do like me so there's no need for pretending. And finally," Malfoy stopped abruptly right in front of the doors, "if we're going to make this work, I think it's about time you started calling me 'Draco,' Harry."

A quick exchange of grins and they entered the doorway to face the groveling and the arrogant, and Harry was forcefully reminded once again that no matter how much he detested public affairs, Malfoy--Draco had saved his life.

For a split second as Harry saw Rita Skeeter make her way forward from the huddle of reporters covering the charity event, a fake plastic smile engulfing her face and her acid green Quick Quotes Quill floating behind her, he almost wished Draco had just let him die.


Two months later, Harry was preparing for his fifth Ministry outing with Draco. While Harry would never find himself comfortable in such formal situations, he had to admit that he had grown used to Draco's company. Sure, the blonde was a spoiled, haughty, arrogant pureblood with some sort of weird paradox of insecurity mixed in with a God complex; but he was also sarcastically hilarious, very knowledgeable about a broad range of subjects, and Harry had to admit, quite handsome and a surprisingly good conversationalist. Ron was in fits, of course, but Hermione had been surprisingly supportive of their budding friendship.

They had taken to getting a quick cup of coffee before the events in an effort to feign alertness when conversing with Department Heads on boring policy changes. Draco also usually used the time to correct whatever horrible sartorial mistake Harry had made that particular evening, as well as comment critically upon his hair, glasses, fingernails and on one occasion even his wand holster.

A knock on his door signaled Draco's arrival and Harry let him in and led the Slytherin to the kitchen where a hot pot of coffee had just finished brewing.

"Any trouble finding the place?" he inquired as he poured out two cups of the hot liquid.

Draco shook his head. "Nope. I'm quite familiar with this area of Muggle London, actually. I used to work at the bookstore down the street from here."

"Really?" Harry asked, surprised. "For how long?"

"About three weeks," Draco grinned. "Turned out interacting with stupid people had negative effects on my temperament."

Harry chuckled, nearly choking on his coffee. "Clearly retail was not your calling."

"Indeed."

They sipped their drinks in companionable silence for a moment, before both reached for the pot at the same time. Harry's hand closed briefly over Draco's before the brunet pulled back as if stung, glancing quickly at Draco before looking down.

"Sorry, I--"

"Refill?" the blonde asked casually.

"Er…yeah. Please. If you don't--yeah, thanks," Harry stuttered as Draco calmly poured more coffee into his cup.

Harry was so busy worrying over the tingly feelings that still lingered on his palm that he failed to notice the ever so slight shake of Draco's hand as he set the pot back onto the counter.


"As I live and breathe, Harry Potter!"

Harry let his face run on automatic and smiled brightly at the elderly woman who came up to him.

"Eliza Woodleberg, a member of the Wizengamot for the past 36 years. It's an honor to meet you, dear boy," she said softly, her hand warm in Harry's and her eyes even warmer.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Madam Woodleberg," Harry replied. "How are you this evening? Enjoying the entertainment?"

Eliza's laugh twinkled through the air. "Oh, just lovely Mr. Potter, simply wonderful. Please send my appreciation to the Weasley Twins for their wonderful display. I understand you're a partner in their company?"

"Yes, I'm an investor and occasional test subject."

"Wonderful! Wonderful!"

"Harry have you seen the latest--oh, hello. I'm so sorry to interrupt, I'll just go."

Draco had come straight to Harry's side, lightly grasping an elbow to get his attention, but he immediately paused at Eliza's presence.

"Don't be silly," Harry smiled, hoping it looked genuinely. He was personally not one for games, but Draco appeared to like it when the introductions to significant Ministry officials were "spontaneous." Oh, well. It was a life debt after all.

"Madam Woodleberg, this is my friend and fellow war veteran, Draco Malfoy. Draco, this is Madam Woodleberg."

"Lovely to meet you, Madam," Draco said pleasantly, executing a short bow.

"Oh, how charming! How did you two meet?"

Draco and Harry looked at each other.

"We were in the same year at Hogwarts."

"Nice to see House rivalries dissipate after childhood," Eliza commented. "Slytherin, right, Mr. Malfoy?"

"That's correct, Madam," Draco agreed before he was jostled by a passerby, bumping into Harry but managing to catch him around the waist quickly enough so that the Gryffindor did not go tumbling to the marble floor.

"Wonderful! Simply wonderful. It's so nice to see two young men come together after the War, after House rivalries, after such horrific experiences. That you two have found each other…" she sighed delicately.

Draco suddenly realized he had left his arm around Harry's waist; he pulled it away as Eliza continued speaking.

"…It's simply beautiful. Simply beautiful." She grasped a hand from each of them, holding them in hers. "Be good to each other."

She smiled brightly at them before placing their hands together and wandering off toward the buffet line. Harry and Draco stared after her for long moments and then stared down at their intertwined hands before Draco violently yanked his hand away and stalked off toward the exit, utterly unaware of the damage he was doing to his new image as he bumped into no less than five Wizengamot Elders.

"Draco?" Harry called after him once he regained his senses. "Draco! Draco!"


"Draco! What the hell is wrong with you?" Harry demanded once he caught up with Draco.

"Go away, Harry."

The Slytherin had quickly stridden into the back gardens that were connected to the balcony of the Ministry Grand Ballroom. The pathway was relatively clear since the Weasley Fireworks show had ended and the gardens themselves were completely abandoned. Draco had gone entirely into the third garden, which was full of ivy trellises and hawthorn bushes.

"Draco?" Harry called again, stopping a few feet away from the blonde.

"I said go away."

Harry reached out a hand to rest on Draco's shoulder.

"Piss off, Potter," Draco said tensely, feeling the movement before it happened.

Harry pulled up short. "We're back to 'Potter' now are we? Draco?"

No response.

"Malfoy?"

Draco spun around. "What?" he spat out.

"Do you know what you just did? All that work, all that bloody work and you just threw it away over one woman's innocent comments?" Harry was so confused about so many things, but there was one thing he thought he knew, and that was that he cared. He didn't know how much, but he knew he did. "God, Draco, I thought we were friends--"

"We're not."

"…Excuse me?"

"We're not friends, Potter," Draco said harshly. "These haven't been pleasant get-togethers between old pals. This is about fulfilling a life debt, about making sure that I get what I need to move on with my life and get away from this bloody asinine war! And that woman, she--she--"

"What the bloody fuck are you on about?" Harry yelled, stepping closer.

"I don't know!" Draco yelled back into Harry's face. "I just don't know! And I hate that I don't know! Goddamnit, Harry! Why the fuck can't I just--I just--"

"Why can't you just what?" Harry asked, eyes blazing, demanding the truth, compelling an answer.

Draco stared at Harry, chest heaving from his vocal exertions, green eyes focused entirely on him, cheeks flushed from anger, and suddenly Draco couldn't hold back any longer.

He pounced. He reached out and grasped Harry by the neck and waist, yanking the man forward and muffling his yelp of alarm in a fervent kiss. Lips and tongues met as Harry opened his mouth to utter his surprise and then to exhale a breathy moan. Arms wrapped around one another and Draco pressed closer as his continued to kiss Harry, taking delight as the body against his relaxed more and more.

Harry felt the kiss slow, felt some of the passion ebb though the feelings that had burst to life inside of him when Draco had kissed him remained. He opened his eyes and looked at the man before him and realized that he was terrified…and that judging by the wide grey eyes, he wasn't the only one.

"What just happened?" he whispered.

Draco paused, looking down at his feet for a minute before answering.

"That was me making either the best or the worst mistake of my life," Draco said in a rush, eyes searching Harry's.

Harry gazed back, searching for something himself. Then he smiled slightly, and leaned over to press a kiss on Draco's lips.

It was a soft kiss. The simple press of lips on lips. There were no fireworks, no song and dance, no tastes of chocolate transferred from one mouth to another. It was a just kiss, one of their first, and it was tentative and soft before the pressure built and a hint of the underlying passion broke the surface for a moment before settling down once more, ready to emerge again whenever they decided that air was an unimportant factor to life.

Harry pulled back and smiled, feeling that warmth again when Draco smiled back.


"Happy birthday to you!" everyone in the room sang at the top of their lungs, cheering loudly as Charlie Weasley blew out the candles on his enormous, violently orange birthday cake that was shaped like a dragon, of course. Draco clapped along with everyone else, though his gaze was focused more on the brunet at his side than the redhead currently cutting up the cake with an enthusiasm of a five year old.

Things had been…interesting with Harry. They'd been seeing each other for a few weeks now, but their relationship was hardly public. In truth, the only people who knew of it besides Harry and Draco were Granger and the Weasel, mostly because they always managed to squeeze every secret out of Harry, and because Draco was too much of a Slytherin to tell anyone about his private business until he was ready. He was ready now, though, but Harry had been frustratingly against their 'coming out' as a couple. Draco couldn't see why; all of Harry's friends and family knew that he was gay already (though the Weaselette obviously still had delusions of grandeur), and things had worked out favorably since Draco's storming off during the charity function of the year, so it wasn't like Harry was dating below his means. It wasn't like Draco wasn't a complete embarrassment or anything, and he had been the one to take all the risks here! After all the hard work of getting into Harry Potter's pants, why should he have to settle for keeping the relationship quiet? Thus the interesting times, with Harry and himself not quite in the middle of an argument, but definitely in that awkward limbo of unhappiness with a reluctance to reconcile on both sides.

Draco stopped his musings and turned to glare at Harry again, but was surprised to see that the man had disappeared. A quick glance around the room confirmed that the Weasel was also missing. Using his covert skills of detection as an Unspeakable (also known as asking Hermione Granger for the answer), Draco deduced that the two men had gone into the pantry. Draco was unreasonably and jealously angry over this discovery. Why exactly was Harry in a small, enclosed, private room with another man? (He was of course ignoring the fact that said other man was Harry's long time best friend and was in fact married, to a woman. He'd always had the wondrous ability to ignore the details that didn't suit his fancy.)

Draco put on his game face and marched over to the pantry, determined to stop whatever wretchedness he was sure must be occurring. A few feet away from the door he stopped to listen in on the muffled shouting that was now occurring on the other side.

"…Draco…doesn't….of course!….but I…you stupid…"

Someone cleared their throat behind him, and Draco pulled back from where he had rest his ear against the door in order to listen more clearly.

Hermione stared him down, hands on her hips. "Don't you think there's a reason they went in there?" she gestured to the cupboard.

"Er…"

"What's going on?" Before Draco could answer Ginny stepped up next to Hermione, before her tone brightened. "Is Harry in there?"

"Well…"

Just as Draco was coming up with an excuse to appease the women before him, there was a loud shout from behind the pantry door and then it opened, revealing a red Weasley and an equally furious Harry.

"I'll bloody well date whomever I want, Ron, and if the whole bleeding world knows about it, then so be it!"

With that, Harry reached and grabbed Draco by the waist, pulling him into a furious kiss. Draco got an eerie sense of déjà vu before he succumbed to Harry's delightful ministrations, taking particular enjoyment in the way Ron's and Ginny's faces soon matched their hair. Draco immediately decided that he liked pissed off Harry as long as it got him some extra snogging time, particularly if the Weasel would keep up his impression of a sunburned fish.

"And Ginny?" Harry snapped once he had pulled away.

"Ye-yes, Harry?"

"I am indeed gay, and if you ever need further proof than my constant assurances, just find me with Draco, and you can have all the proof you need."

With that, he went back to snogging the life out of Draco, hands possessively clasping his waist. Draco relished the moment, enjoying the gaping looks they were receiving from party guests and knowing that the headline of the next day's Daily Prophet would include his and Harry's names. No doubt the press would want an interview about their savior's new torrid love affair with a former Death Eater. Draco could see the good publicity coming in now.

Then Harry kissed him again, and all he could see was the man in front of him. Oh yes, pouncing on Harry Potter had definitely been the best mistake ever.


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