Authors Note: Authors Note: Many many thanks to my beta Laurel (DreamingInColour) for helping me through the process of finishing this story. This is the final chapter, and it's bittersweet to be ending yet another of my current WIP stories. The next to end is Poppet, and then after that will be Rivaling Affections, but both those stories have at least 2 updates before they'll be finished. Also, if anyone would like to know about updates and/or new projects you can find me on Facebook or my Yahoo Group (see my profile for details).
Chapter 25 Memoirs
I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but none that affected me so much as ruining the chance of true love when I had it within my grasp. I'm not even sure how it fell apart, but I suppose love is one of the most fragile ornaments you can hold and if like me, you're an emotional klutz, then you have no chance of it surviving really.
The only note I can manage to end on is one where I hope for a better future and strive to make it come true. As it is right now, all I can say is that I miss him, and I hope that if he's reading this, that he might miss me as well. I hope he finds a joy that is worthy of him, even if it cannot be found with me'
It had been nearly six months since Harry had last seen Draco. Since then he had gotten only one owl telling him that Draco understood that he had been wrong and couldn't blame him for being angry. He said he still loved him desperately but he would honor Harry's decision and leave off trying to win him back. The rest of Draco's letters, the ones sent prior to their last meeting, the ones Dennis tried to sneak into Harry's paperwork, were all safely stored away in the Grimmauld Place vault. Out of sight, out of mind.
Draco it seemed had finally given up and now Harry would be left in peace to grieve the man's absence from his life and to move on – or at least that was the plan.
In reality the note had been both a blessing and a curse, as it seemed the grief came much easier than the moving on did. The wave of despair that assaulted Harry after reading Draco's final message was nearly unbearable and couldn't be compared with anything he had felt before that. He thought he had experienced the worst of it already, but Draco's final words redoubled his pain and left him in quite a state for many weeks if not months afterward.
Weekly dinners with the Weasley's only took the edge off slightly. They had been so grateful to Harry for his interference at the Ministry that they seemed to have forgotten that he had drifted apart from them some years before and everything was as it had been before his and Ginny's unseemly breakup. It was a comfort that Harry needed and his only one really, especially after the last fiasco with Draco which led him to give up entirely on the idea of escorts.
With no one else really left in his corner, Harry couldn't help but feel the loneliness claw at his soul and wonder if he had been wrong to let Draco go over something that now seemed so insignificant. He didn't know how to fix it though, or what to even say if he saw the blonde again since he felt it nearly impossible to trust him. After his stunt posing as a stranger to worm his way into Harry's home coupled with the heavy weight of his best friends betrayal made it hard for Harry to trust anyone, let alone Draco who had already proven he was willing to stoop to lies in order to keep him.
It was nearing Christmas and Harry was in Diagon Alley searching out his final gift for his exiled friends. Arthur assured Harry that if he were to have something in his hands by Christmas Eve that he would make certain they would get it. Harry knew better than to ask for more information and instead set out to put a package together.
He had already bought some new Quidditch gear for Ron, a training broom for the kids and all he had left was a gift for Hermione. That revelation led him to Flourish and Blotts, her favorite bookstore where no doubt she would have trouble going now that she was a fugitive. The gifts were primarily for the children, as Harry was still feeling the sharp pain of betrayal when he thought of his former best friends. Still, given the holiday spirit, Harry felt he needed to give Hermione and Ron at least a token gift. Old habits die hard.
The doorbell rang as he entered and the clerk looked up and beamed at him upon spying his newest customer. Stacks and stacks of books surrounded him, all looking threateningly close to toppling and he wove in between them as the clerk made his way over.
"Can I help you, Minister?" the young boy asked, clearly delighted.
"I'm looking for a gift," he replied, scanning the aisles for any indication as to where to begin his search.
"Is this a lady friend?" he asked curiously and Harry sputtered a laugh.
"While it is a lady, and certainly a friend, she's not a 'lady friend'," he corrected and the boy blushed slightly.
"Sorry, I didn't mean… only it helps to know who the gift is for so that I can help you find the perfect book," he replied, quickly getting over his embarrassment. "So, what does this woman like?"
"Everything," Harry muttered. "That's the problem really."
The clerk mused and motioned for Harry to follow him as he flitted in and out of different aisles, grabbing book after book and levitating them in a precarious pile then eventually led Harry back to the front counter.
He took the first book of the pile and showed it to Harry who laughed outrageously. "I take it that's a no," the clerk mused and Harry nodded.
"She already has that one for sure," he replied, pointing to the cover, which read 'Hogwarts, A History'.
"I see," he replied and held up the next one, which was an autobiography on Celestina Warbeck. Harry shuddered and shook his head and the clerk moved down the pile. "This one," he commented, "has been very popular. It was just released but the customers went crazy for it right off."
The book was thick and leather bound with a glossy picture on its cover that Harry couldn't pull his eyes away from. Lounging in what seemed to be a green velvet armchair, the cool gray eyes of his ex stared back at him. Draco looked sad and hardened as he posed for his book cover and over his head, in metallic silver ink was the title 'Memoirs of a Male Escort: the life and confessions of Draco Malfoy'.
Harry roughly snatched the book out of the clerk's hands before realizing what he did and shooting the boy an apologetic look. He held the novel tightly, unable to pry his eyes away from the pale figure on the cover. "I'll take two of these," he told the boy but barely parted with his copy long enough to let the clerk package it.
At once he apparated to his home and told Kreacher he was to be left undisturbed until he called upon him. All afternoon and late into the night Harry sat in his study and read Draco's book cover to cover. He didn't know why he felt so compelled to absorb the words other than it was a long denied treat to be allowed into the other man's mind, even if it was meant for more than just Harry alone.
The dedication made his heart clench uncomfortably as he read the words 'For my Gryffindor, even if he is no longer mine'. He was nearly unable to read the introduction because his eyes had misted over at the sentiment, but he pressed himself to continue.
'I found this story- my story- much harder to write than I thought it would be when I had originally started making notes toward it. I had intended to write a book composed simply of my journal entries as a sort of 'how to' for people in my former profession. Clearly I knew the appeal that sex and intrigue would have anyone else willing to give the story a look, but what was once meant as a harrowing tale of a struggling gay man, quickly turned into a cautionary tale.'
Harry took a deep breath and continued to follow the neat script which must have been a handwritten letter reproduced on the page because the resemblance to Draco's handwriting was precise.
'I won't lie, this story doesn't have a happy ending, but I hope it serves to keep someone out there from making the same mistakes that I made. I had love and I lost it. I had a life long companion and I gave him up. I had the perfect man and I ruined things. I'm Draco Malfoy and this is my story.'
Harry shut the book and stared at the cover for a moment, letting his eyes lock onto the sparkling silver orbs of his former lover and boyfriend. There was no doubt in his mind that he still loved the man, still dreamed of him and still craved him in a way that he was certain no one else could satisfy.
Could he forgo all his concerns about Draco and pursue him once more? Could he put his heart on the line again in hopes that it not get broken?
The portrait book cover had no answers for him so he opened it to continue reading. Passage after passage made him yearn for more until he forgot all about eating or sleeping or anything else until the book lay complete in his shaking hands.
The final line 'As it is right now, all I can say is that I miss him, and I hope that if he's reading this, that he might miss me as well. I hope he finds a joy that is worthy of him, even if it cannot be found with me' left him emotionally spent in a way that he wasn't sure he would be able to get passed. Even sleep eluded him that night, as he lay awake and staring at his bedroom ceiling; unable to tear his mind away form thoughts of the enigmatic blonde.
The money he had saved from his days as an escort, paired with the money from his book sale and his vast inheritance had given Draco the ability to easily hide from his former employer. The best part was that he hid right under her nose in the same loft she had been letting him reside in previously. He bought the flat from the building manager and registered for a Fidelius charm with the Ministry. It was granted, as he knew it would be because Dennis was nice enough to sneak it in for him, and he was safe enough.
No one, certainly not Madame X, knew where he was and he felt fairly confidant that not a soul would be able to find him, which was why he was caught slightly off-guard when there was a violent knock on his door.
Tentatively, with wand raised and ready, Draco made his way over and opened the door, nearly dropping to the ground in shock at the sight of his unexpected guest.
"Harry?" he asked, narrowing his eyes. He suspected Polyjuice or some sort of glamour as he had used on his ex months ago.
The ebony haired man simply held up a copy of his book. "Is it all true?" he asked and Draco opened the door wider to let him in.
With hesitant steps Harry followed him inside and stood with fidgeting gestures by the window, as if he would make his escape through it if Draco attempted anything he didn't like. He looked a wreck, as if he hadn't slept in days, and it was all Draco could do to fight the urge to coddle and comfort his former lover.
Draco went into the kitchen to make himself and Harry a cup of tea. He wasn't really thirsty but he needed some task to take his mind off of the smoldering form in his living room and give himself time to steady his nerves. After giving up on the tea and taking several deep breaths while counting slowly to twenty in his head, Draco made his way back to face his frantic looking former lover.
"So?" Harry asked impatiently. "Is it true?"
"I won't apologize for that book, Harry," Draco replied firmly. "I know I didn't get your permission but I never named you. If people deduce that I'm speaking about you than that can't be helped."
Harry rolled his eyes. "That's not what I asked is it?"
"Of course it's true, Harry. Why would I paint such an unflattering picture of myself if it was all lies?" Draco replied feeling slightly annoyed. Who did Harry think he was coming over and badgering him this way?
"Do you still fell that way?" Harry asked, looking thoughtful, his head tilted to the side just slightly as if he were an inquisitive kitten. It made Draco yearn to hold him once more, but he did everything he could aside from physically slap himself to keep from going to the raven haired man.
He took a deep breath and let it out very slowly before nodding. "I do. I always will, Harry. I love you."
In the blink of an eye Harry was upon him and Draco didn't know what to make of the attack until he felt Harry's glorious plump lips against his own for the first time in far too long. He returned the kiss with a kind of fervor that he hadn't even known he was capable of any more, practically drinking the other man down until his wits kicked in and he realized what was happening. He roughly pushed Harry away, desperately trying to calm himself so that he could think logically; he'd never survive it if Harry broke him all over again, he barely survived the first time.
"You think that just because I wrote a book about our love and my feelings for you that you can just waltz in here and recapture me with a single show of affection? Harry's it's been months, what if I moved on?" he demanded, a slight anger bubbling up to the surface.
"Did you?" Harry asked, looking momentarily stricken.
"Well no, but that's not the point," Draco replied haughtily. "You broke things off with me and then disappeared without giving me any opportunity to fix things. One kiss isn't going to win me back."
Harry frowned and began stalking closer to Draco, as if that tiny kitten of a moment ago had turned into a lion, ready to fight for his prey. "How about two kisses?" he asked then, snatching at Draco's shirt until he was pulling Draco against his body again. "Three, or perhaps four? Draco, I can't get you out of my head and no matter how hard I try I can't seem to cut you out of my heart. I've been in love with you since our first date and I'll never stop."
A whimper of defeat escaped Draco's lips before they fell once again, onto Harry's. They toppled to the floor in their frenzy to discard unnecessary clothing and Draco ignored the sharp pain he got from landing on his elbow in favor of the immense pleasure of Harry's body nude and against his once more.
Harry tore at Draco's shirt sending the buttons flying across the room and then he gasped, fanning his fingers across a nasty scar over Draco's heart. "What's this?" he asked concern painting his features.
"It's from the attack," Draco told him, feeling suddenly shy and exposed.
"But I thought they were able to heal those?" Harry asked.
"They were. I asked them not to heal this one," he replied.
"But," Harry started to protest, but Draco shook his head.
"I wanted a reminder of the day everything fell apart so that I didn't make those mistakes again. I don't know what came over me that day, Harry," he whispered.
"I do," Harry replied placing soft kisses against Draco's collarbone. "You were traumatized and I was still angry at myself for not having been able to protect you and it all got out of hand."
"I don't need you to protect me, Harry. I just need you to love me and stay with me," he replied, pulling Harry's face up to meet his.
"I promise," Harry offered and attempted to kiss him again but was met with a pale finger against his lips.
"And you can't just block me out," Draco added firmly. "I'm not perfect, Harry. Merlin knows I'm going to mess up again, but you have to give me a chance to explain and make it up to you."
Harry chuckled against Draco's lips but nodded swiftly when Draco leveled him with a very serious gaze. "I think that's perfectly fair," Harry replied.
"And when we fight you can't run away," Draco demanded. "You need to stay and work things out with me. I can't lose you again."
"I'd agree to anything so long as you stay with me," Harry replied, his eyes sparkling like jewels.
Draco smirked wickedly at Harry's sentiment and removed his finger from Harry's lips. "Well, in that case, I'm also demanding that we shag as often as possible."
"That's a given," Harry replied before pressing his lips against Draco's in a deep and sensual kiss. They both lost touch with the rest of the world as their bodies lingered together on Draco's soft woven rug and they vowed to remain that way as long as they could.
Six Months Later
"Are you nearly ready?" Harry called up the stairs to his procrastinating prince.
"You can't rush perfection," Draco called back and Harry chuckled to himself.
"I suppose you'd say that I'm far from perfect then, hm?" Harry asked as Draco walked down the stairs toward him and stopped short to adjust Harry's tie. Draco was wearing Hugo Boss dress robes in a deep pewter gray that matched his eyes perfectly. His platinum hair fell perfectly to his shoulders and his lips were set into a seductive pout. The sight was enough to take Harry's breath away.
"No, no I wouldn't say that at all," he replied and placed a careful kiss on the corner of Harry's mouth.
"Are you sure we can't just stay in?" Harry asked, pulling Draco closer and letting a hand drop down to cup his lover's bum. He gave it a gentle squeeze and in seconds Draco had him pinned against the wall with his hands over his head.
"You shouldn't toy with me, Potter. You know this night is important, but if you keep this up we'll miss it for sure," he growled seductively, pushing his knee between Harry's thighs and smiling when Harry's breath caught in his throat.
"If you love me you'll let us skip it," Harry groaned. "You know how much I hate Ministry functions."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Low blow pulling the 'love card'," he chastised but Harry only smirked at him.
"Okay, say for the sake of argument that I agree to go to this thing," Harry began.
"You already agreed," Draco pointed out, but Harry ignored him.
"What do I get in return for being a good little Minister and doing the whole meet and greet thing with the other Wizarding authorities?" he asked, his ebony eyebrows raised seductively.
"Harry James Potter are you trying to get sexual favors in return for doing your job?" Draco asked as he feigned being appalled by the suggestion.
"I might be," Harry replied cutely and Draco kissed him roughly.
"Fine. If you go with me tonight and play nice with the other Ministry employees then I'll ravish you the moment we get home," Draco offered.
"Deal," Harry replied and pulled him toward the door. "Let's get this over with!"
They arrived at the bustling splendor that was the Annual Summer Ball and were immediately greeted by various officials asking after Harry and introducing themselves to Draco while raving about his book. Most had assumed it was a fictional tale and complimented Draco on his imagination while those close to him told him how brave it was to commit such a thing to paper.
"I hope you're enjoying this," Harry mused with a subtle smirk, "because I'm keeping you up late tonight."
Draco laughed and twined his arm around his lover's waist. "You're just jealous that I'm getting more attention than you," he teased.
"Right, because we all know I'm the king attention seeker," Harry replied sarcastically.
They laughed and chatted, ate and danced for hours. The time just flew by until Harry spotted a surprising guest and paled slightly.
Once Harry and Draco became an official couple it became nearly impossible to keep avoiding Draco's former employer. Harry was in the public eye far too often for Draco to avoid getting his photo taken linked arm and arm with his lover and it wasn't long before Madame X tracked them down.
She had sent threatening letters to the Ministry but Harry had ignored them all. He really never thought she would have the audacity to simply show up at a Ministry function, but alas, there she was in all her furious glory and stalking right toward them.
Harry summoned Dennis, who was at their side at once, his trusty clipboard in hand.
"You've been avoiding the inevitable, Harry," Madame X growled lightly in greeting. The use of his given name instead of Harry's title was clearly meant as disrespect, but she obviously didn't know Harry well enough to realize that he cared little about such trivialities. "You've had an extended holiday with my best employee and now I'm here to take him back. He's under a binding contract," she reminded them.
"I already told you that your contract is void," Harry replied lightly, Draco's hand still intertwined with his own and squeezing it fiercely.
"We'll see about that," she hissed and pulled out a parchment roll, pressing her wand to Draco's signature. "Come to me," she ordered menacingly, her voice reverberating through the room as if she had channeled something dark. Harry felt Draco twitch slightly beside him but nothing more.
"Try again," Harry encouraged with a laugh and she did. She tried three more times, in fact, to trigger the magic built into her contract which summoned Draco to her, each time with failing results.
Dennis pulled a parchment from his clipboard and waved it in the air. Its surface was covered in colorful Celtic symbols and metallic gold rings. As he showed Madame X the certificate, Harry and Draco both raised their left hands, displaying matching glittering bands on their ring fingers.
"It seems that marriage contracts are binding as well," Harry mused. "And I do believe that husband trumps employee, therefore, I win," he added with a malicious wink and pulled Draco into a deep kiss.
Her face turned a furious shade of red and her eyes bulged slightly. "You- you married him? But you're the Minister and he's just a whore!" she shouted.
"You might want to remove her before I do something regrettable," Harry ordered Dennis through gritted teeth and within seconds she was surrounded by Aurors and being dragged from the party.
With a heavy sigh of relief Draco leaned against his husband and looked into his brilliant green eyes. "Does my past ever bother you, Harry?" he asked, sounding slightly hurt at their relationship's harsh appraisal.
Harry smiled gently at his beautiful spouse and shook his head. "Why should it? If you hadn't lived your life as you did, we wouldn't be here right now."
Draco shook his head and snickered to himself. "You astound me sometimes, Harry Potter," he mused.
"Well, let me show you some other ways I can astound you," Harry offered with a wink and began pulling his husband toward the fireplaces. "Take me home," he requested, to which Draco was happy to oblige.
Authors Note: I hope I tied a neat little bow around any loose ends and I hope it was as enjoyable to read as it was for me to write. I'm sad to see it go as I am all my stories, but alas the end must come at some point and this frees me to concentrate on a few new projects I have brewing. Love to all my loyal readers and I'll see you again soon!