Title: Like Reasonable People
Word Count: 4000
Warnings: Angst, profanity, sex
Challenge (Recipient, keywords, and dialogue): Recipient: catalinacat
Keywords: lie, cross, broken
Dialogue: "How long, Harry? How long has this been going on?"
Summary: You know those stories where Harry and Draco have long, angsty misunderstandings that could be solved in five minutes if they just talked together like reasonable people? This is not one of those stories. No matter how much Draco wants it to be.
Author's Notes: Unfortunately un-betaed, since I had a hard time thinking of a story to go with the prompts at first and waited until the last minute. (Again). This is, in a sense, a response to the many, many, many stories I have read where Draco and Harry make silly assumptions about one another.
Like Reasonable People
Malfoy froze, then began once again hurrying away from him. Harry rolled his eyes and caught up with him in a single great stride. It only took a clap of his hand on Malfoy's shoulder to make the other man spin around, his face brilliant pink and his own hand lifted as if he could blast Harry back into the wall using wandless magic.
"I swear, Potter, if you accuse me of stealing your quills when I didn't one more time—"
"I see you pull them from my desk," Harry said, and then took a moment to look around the featureless corridor that led from the Auror Department to the lifts. Just because he had got up the courage to talk to Malfoy didn't mean he wanted to do it in front of a hundred people. But he saw no one. Harry had stayed late to work, and Malfoy had stayed late to watch Harry and pretend he wasn't doing so. Satisfied, Harry turned to face him again. "But never mind. That's not what I wanted to talk to you about."
"What was, then?" Malfoy took a further step away, visibly trying to relax and failing. His hair fell around his face and his breath came in little pants, which Harry told himself sternly were not adorable. "I turned in the latest report to Shacklebolt on time, I've already thanked you five hundred times for giving me back my wand after the war, and I haven't insulted any of your friends lately. What do you want from me?"
Harry gave him a smile that he was consciously trying to make charming. He figured he shouldn't have bothered when Malfoy eyed him as if he had food caught in his teeth. But it wasn't enough to dissuade him from his plan. "Fancy a date with me?"
Malfoy choked on air. Then he bent double and began coughing frantically. Harry, who had seen him do the same thing before, drew his wand and held it ready.
Sure enough, Malfoy suddenly broke from his coughing fit, intended to take a foe off-guard, into a sideways run for the lifts. Harry flicked his wand once and raised a Shield Wall in front of Malfoy. He had to skid to a stop or risk banging into the shimmering silvery veil and bouncing off as if it were made of rubber. He stopped, but he stood with his back turned to Harry, refusing to face him.
"I know you fancy me, even if you don't fancy a date," Harry told him calmly. "The staring was rather obvious, you know. And I think you're handsome yourself, though until this point I'd believed you were too obnoxious to be worth knowing. You have been nicer in the past few weeks, though. So. A date? I understand that sort of thing is traditional under these circumstances."
Malfoy turned slowly around to face him. Now his face was pale, so Harry raised an eyebrow and waited to hear what stupid thing he'd convinced himself of now.
"You must be mocking me," he whispered. His hands had drifted down to his sides and clenched such enormous handfuls of his regulation black robe that Harry was vaguely surprised he wasn't pinching his own skin. "Everyone knows you're straight. The only person you've ever dated is Weasley's little sister."
Harry sighed. "Malfoy, the Daily Prophet carried feature articles on the subject of my sexuality for a week when they got hold of that photo of me kissing Marcus Flint." Kissing Flint had been a drunken dare, and Flint had promptly turned around and sold the pictures to the papers. That was all right. Harry had cast a spell on Flint in retaliation that caused him to have random orgasms in public for a week. Besides, it was a quicker way of telling the truth than Harry would ever have got around to finding for himself. "You can't tell me you missed that. I've seen you salivating over my picture, too. You probably cut the photos out and keep them in some sort of twisted collection."
Malfoy's face went even paler. "There!" he said.
"There?" Harry wondered whether Malfoy was nice-looking enough to go through this ridiculous rigmarole.
"You can't like me if you mock me," said Malfoy, and stepped back with his nose in the air. "This is an enormous joke to set me up and then laugh at me when I accept your offer. If you think you're such a catch, Potter, I can assure you I have other offers."
The tips of Malfoy's ears turned brilliant red, and he muttered a name that wasn't real, unless there was some wizard in Britain really cruel enough to name their child Persipolis Wishifgizzle.
"This isn't a joke, and it isn't a lie," Harry said. "I wanted to see how you would react to the proposal of a date. You don't seem to fancy me as much as I thought, or perhaps you prefer to drool from a distance. That's all right. No harm in asking." He was a mature adult. He might go home and get pissed tonight, but he wasn't going to feel a rejection like a knife to his heart, the way his fourteen-year-old self had when Cho refused to go to the Yule Ball with him.
He stepped past Malfoy, dispelling the Shield Wall as he went. But Malfoy's hand closed on his shoulder before he could move much further. Harry glanced back at him, deliberately keeping his tone cool. "Yes?"
"I—I might want to go on a date with you," Malfoy said, working his jaw open. "Provided that we go where I want to go first. I don't trust you enough yet to let you pick the location."
Harry found himself grinning. Malfoy was so defiantly helpless at moments like this. Perhaps Harry was attracted to him because he wanted someone helpless to take care of. There were worse reasons to like someone, especially when you didn't know much about him other than that he was handsome and capable of faintly mature behavior. "Done, if I get to pick the time."
Draco Malfoy is the most frustrating person on God's earth.
Harry hammered on the door of Draco's flat, his jaw set. It was a nondescript building in Muggle London, of all places, with sad brick and stone about the door that had clearly seen better days. The sky was always gray above the alley where it stood, even on days when it was sunny elsewhere. Draco had only said he'd had a quarrel with his parents when Harry asked him why he was staying here, and glared. Lest he should think that Harry was about to mock that, too, Harry had left it alone.
But now he was going to enter whether Draco wanted him to or not. They had been on their fourth date, at a small loch in northern Scotland. Harry had fallen on top of Draco when they got out of the boat they'd hired, and their groins had brushed for in an instant. Draco had immediately pushed Harry off, screamed something incoherent at him about "taking advantage of me," and then Apparated. Harry knew he would have Apparated home, because he never went anywhere else when he was sulking.
One more knock, and then Harry was done playing Draco's game. He gave it and waited. He heard a shuffle, and suspected Draco was on the other side of the door, which he had probably turned into a one-way window using one of his favorite charms. Harry sighed, stepped back, and called, "Are we going to settle this like reasonable people or not?"
Harry nodded. "Right, then," he said, and aimed his wand. "Reducto!"
Draco's door blasted open. Harry heard a yelp and frantic scurrying, which reassured him that Draco couldn't be badly hurt. Of course, he would have been stupid to stay behind the door after he heard the first syllable of that spell, but Draco's distrust had made him forsake his brains before now.
The door opened—or had opened—into a small room that Draco had turned into an impromptu study, if the desk and small shelf of books and quills were to be believed. Harry stepped past the desk, turned sideways, and peered for a moment into the further, darkened recesses of the flat.
Then he crouched down and looked under the desk.
Draco gave him a humiliated, resentful glare that would have done credit to a cat who'd fallen into the bath.
"Listen to me," Harry said patiently. "It was an accident when I fell on top of you. I'm no expert at getting in and out of boats, and the grass on the bank was wet. It's no wonder I slipped. Think about this. Would I really have wanted to ruin my chances in one sudden move like that, when you've made it perfectly clear that you're not ready to have sex with me yet? Which makes more sense?"
Draco shivered as if he could still feel the cold water soaking him and said disdainfully, "How can I tell what you want? We've been dating for a month now. Maybe you can't wait any longer. And if I still say I don't want to have sex, you'll leave, won't you?"
"No," Harry said.
"But why are you willing to wait?" Draco demanded. "You've said before that you don't like me very much. Handsome looks and wanting to rescue me aren't good enough reasons to remain with me through a dearth of handjobs."
Harry blinked. He hadn't realized that Draco had picked up on Harry's desire to keep him safe from the rest of the world, because he did such a horrible job of it himself. "A month is hardly a dearth," he said slowly, whilst he tried to figure out a more coherent response. "And I think I am beginning to like you as a person. I laughed at most of your jokes today, remember?"
Draco shuffled back and forth under the desk, digging his fingers into his legs. Harry thought he was becoming uncomfortable but was much too proud to say so. "It seemed too perfectly timed for a coincidence," he said.
"If you really want to believe that, then I won't be able to convince you otherwise," Harry said. "All I can do is explain that it wasn't, apologize for the accident, and leave if you really won't change your mind."
Draco remained brooding for a moment longer. Then he extended a hand. Harry grasped it and yanked, and Draco popped out from under the desk like a cork from a bottle. It was only through Harry's quick whirl to the side that they didn't end up sprawled across each other again. Draco did still land on the floor, and Harry was able to look down and see his robes pulling away from his back, exposing a raised white scar in the shape of a cross.
He looked away, respecting Draco's sensibilities, and not wanting to annoy him; he was already turning over. But he wanted to know what had caused that scar, just as he wanted to know what factors had contributed to Draco's stubborn, lingering mistrust of him. Bad relationships? A certain incredulity that he was dating Harry Potter, of all people? Wariness of the reporters who still followed Harry about?
He wanted to know a great deal about Draco Malfoy, he realized suddenly, and had a warm smile prepared for the next time Draco peered at him.
Draco stared at him, then coughed and shut his mouth, looking away.
Harry stretched luxuriously and spent a moment grinning at the ceiling without even opening his eyes. Draco might have imposed the dearth of handjobs for reasons Harry still didn't understand, but it had been worth the wait.
Harry didn't think he'd ever been as warm as he had been last night. Draco had embraced him persistently throughout their lovemaking, as if he thought lifting a hand from Harry's skin would mean losing him forever. His mouth had acquired the same persistency, sucking on Harry's neck and his hips long past the point where his jaw must have ached. When Harry had thought they were both exhausted and fit for nothing but flopping onto their pillows, Draco had licked a line down his chest, from his navel to his nipples and back again, slow, thoughtful licks that had made Harry shake with heat and stirring blood and then roll over on top of him again.
He reached out one arm, intending to tickle Draco awake and repay one of the many favors he'd incurred last night. Or maybe make Draco repay him one; he'd rather lost count.
He encountered nothing but cold sheets. Harry opened his eyes and turned his head at last, only to see Draco on the far side of the bedroom, staring out the window. The window was enchanted—the one that naturally came with the flat had looked out on nothing but a brick wall—and Draco had explained to Harry that he normally cast a spell on it that mimicked his own mood. Right now, it showed a gray ocean into which rain was continually splashing and lightning stabbing from heavy dark clouds. Harry blinked and sat up, looking around the bedroom for a sign of what could have displeased Draco. It was a pleasant room, done in pale blues and creams, but other than a stool they'd stumbled over last night and one porcelain figure of a phoenix they'd broken, Harry saw nothing unusual.
"Draco?" he asked.
Draco stiffened, but didn't turn to face him. His voice was low and reluctant. "I don't blame you for hating me."
Harry felt his jaw drop open, and was glad there wasn't a mirror in the room that would permit Draco to see him from the position in which he stood. "What?" he said helplessly. "Why would I hate you?"
"You had a bit of Firewhiskey last night," Draco said. He rubbed one hand over his jaw, trailing his fingers through the pale blond stubble that grew there. His intense longing to mouth it didn't help Harry's concentration. He shook his head and struggled to think about Draco's words. "You laughed and agreed it was a good idea when I asked if you wanted to go to bed, but you never actually consented. This was practically rape."
Harry looked longingly at the top of Draco's bed, but he had several large pillows there instead of a wooden headboard, which gave Harry nothing to smash his forehead against. He sighed loudly and looked back at Draco. "You know I've been dying to sleep with you for months," he said. "That wasn't rape."
"Longing for sex in general has nothing to do with wanting to have sex at a particular time," said Draco. "I know better than that."
"I wasn't that drunk."
"Even a little bit is enough."
"I don't blame you for anything—except, perhaps, for leaving me alone in the bed and making stupid assumptions."
Draco turned around at last. The corners of his eyes were red. "Harry," he said very gently, "maybe you feel that way now, or maybe you're trying to salve my feelings, but yours will change later."
"No, they fucking won't," Harry said, losing his temper at last. "You do this time after time, Draco, and it's bloody annoying. I'm the one who should be able to say what I feel. And right now I feel irritated with you, but not violated, and I won't change my mind about that." He rapped on his temple with his knuckles. "And my head doesn't even hurt. See? No hangover. I can't have drunk that much." He leaned forwards. "Tell me, do you spend all your time trying to sabotage your own good fortune? And why, if so? I thought I was the one who was supposed to carry an overdeveloped guilt complex for failing to save people during the war." He was glad now that he had had one of those for a few years after the war, particularly over the deaths of Remus, Fred, and Tonks. Getting over it had given him the patience that was letting him deal with Draco now.
Draco stared at him with his lips slightly parted. Then he shook his head and said, "Things in my life don't—they just don't happen like that. Nothing good comes without the bad to attend it." He laughed harshly. "My father thinks I believe too much in fate. And why shouldn't I? It's spent most of my life making me glorious promises and then tripping me up on them."
"I'm not a promise, and I'm not a traitor," said Harry. "I'm here, and irritated, and lonely, and hungry, and lecherous." He looked Draco up and down with a deliberate leer, pleased as he noted that Draco's pale cock was beginning to stir and rise. There were advantages to having one's lover storm out of bed in an early morning fit of remorse, namely that he would forget to put clothes on again. "Are you going to come here and ease one of those conditions or not?"
And once again, Draco slid into bed and clung to him with lips and tongue and hands. Harry reveled in it, as before, but this time tried to answer as much as he could with his own mouth, with the contours and weight of his body, with the warmth of his beating heart as he lay on top of Draco.
I'm not insubstantial, and I'm not leaving.
"How long, Harry? How long has this been going on?"
Harry took a few moments to catch his breath—not that that was easy with the ropes Draco had conjured pressing across his stomach and chest, binding his ribs like one of Hagrid's hugs. He had barely stepped through the door of the flat, looking forwards to a weekend without any need to interrogate Dark wizards, when Draco's Incarcerous had caught him and bound him to a chair.
He looked up at Draco now, who stood in front of him, trembling. His face had flushed red, not pink, which Harry knew was a bad sign. His wand gleamed and flickered in the light of the fire on the hearth, wavering back and forth in his fist. Harry had to calm him down, and that meant understanding exactly what was wrong.
"How long has what been going on?" he asked, making his voice flat and calm. "What are you accusing me of?"
"You know damn well!" Draco screamed, and took a step closer, his wand aimed at Harry's foot now. Harry's uneasiness grew. They were both Aurors; they had both received training in disabling spells that would keep a criminal from escaping but keep them alive whilst they were taken to the Ministry. "You treat me like I'm stupid, but you should have known I would figure it out. Tell me, did you ever really stop loving her? Maybe not! I should have known. A Slytherin was never going to be good enough for you." He laughed bitterly, and then began breathing so harshly and loudly that Harry felt a flicker of concern for him.
Harry fought the temptation to shut his eyes, which in Draco's mad mood he would probably take for an admission of guilt. Ginny had broken up with her boyfriend Michael Corner, whom she'd dated for six years now. Harry had visited her, dragging Draco along because he always insisted on being there when Harry saw Ginny, and hugged her. He'd thought it odd when he came out of Ginny's small cottage and found Draco gone, but he'd felt faintly proud, too, thinking that maybe Draco was learning to trust him now. He should have known Draco would choose to suspect him of cheating instead.
"I've never treated you like you were stupid," he said, staring straight at Draco, "and maybe that was my mistake. I'm not cheating on you."
Draco said nothing, but simply turned away. Harry wondered if he would storm out of the flat and leave him tied here, or spin around and use one of the disabling spells. Instead, though, Draco turned back with a vial of Veritaserum in his hand.
Harry looked at him scornfully and opened his mouth. Draco perhaps paused a moment before he placed three drops on Harry's tongue, but not long enough to be satisfactory. Harry swallowed and patiently answered the nonsensical questions Draco asked him to prove he couldn't lie.
Then Draco leaned forwards and demanded, "Have you slept with Weasley since you broke up with her?"
"Never," Harry answered at once.
The vial shattered when Draco dropped it, the glass setting up more echoes than should have been possible for a relatively small space like the flat.
"And I'm tired of forever coddling your trust issues without anything I do making a difference," Harry went on. He doubted that he would ever say this without the Veritaserum. Fear of hurting Draco had kept him silent. But Draco tying him to a chair and insisting that he take a truth potion had crossed a certain line. "By now, after we've been together eight months, I would have thought you'd at least trust me to comfort a friend without immediately leaping to conclusions. But you seem to like leaping to those conclusions a lot better than you like me." He shook his head, bitter now as the memories he hadn't let himself think of crowded to the forefront. "From the beginning, you've made ridiculous assumptions not only about my actions, which might have been understandable, but about my morals and my feelings. Let me go and I'll leave you to that paranoia you love so much."
There was only silence for long moments, and then a loud scrabbling noise. Harry looked up. Draco was feeling about on the floor, scooping up a few drops of Veritaserum on one of the glass shards.
Eyes on Harry, he tipped it into his mouth. Harry stared, wondering if he dared feel any hope.
Draco swallowed, then said, "Since the first day you asked me out, I've been terrified that I'll wake up someday and you'll be gone. Because I'm not good enough, because I'm too broken, because you're tired of me—all sorts of reasons." He closed his eyes tightly and breathed the way Harry himself did when he wanted to avoid crying. "It was easier to believe all those things because they meant I was rejecting you before you could reject me. But—I don't have any excuse any more. I—like you a lot, and I'd like you to stay."
Harry licked his lips, then said, "Cut these ropes."
Draco severed the ropes without a word, his head bowed. He didn't look at Harry.
Harry stood up and retrieved his wand, then spelled the glass shards away. Draco looked quite gratifyingly surprised when Harry knelt down in front of him and cupped Draco's chin in his hands.
"For now, I forgive you," Harry said. "But this is the absolute last time something like this can happen, do you understand, Draco? From now on, we talk about our problems like the adults we should have become eight years ago. If you sulk around again and assume I'm guilty without even asking me for proof, we're done."
Thanks to the Veritaserum, Draco had no choice but to believe him. His face was pale when he nodded, but he put up a hand to touch Harry's face gently, then suddenly lunged forwards and kissed him.
Harry kissed back fiercely, trying to impress his determination and his resolve into Draco through his lips alone.
This was never going to be easy. But at least it might be a little more so now on.