There are many perks to being a Malfoy. These perks are mostly well-documented – incredible wealth, a beautiful home, impressive intelligence, and the most enviable hair in the western hemisphere. One of the more overlooked ones is the number of heirlooms and magical relics that fill said beautiful mansion, many of which are so rare that they'd make the curator of the British Museum (Magical wing) wet herself.
Draco had been fairly sure that they were going to lose most of them in the wake of the war; the Aurors were conducting more raids than ever and the public was grateful. However, Harry Potter had testified both for him and his mother, and all three Malfoys had wriggled out of trouble yet again. This might simply have goaded the Aurors into ever more persistent efforts, if it weren't for Harry. Having the protection of the biggest, baddest lion of the lot certainly counted for something.
It was about seven months since Voldemort's defeat, and Draco had never been happier. Minerva McGonagall had decided that the entire school should repeat the last year. Not only had the education provided under Snape been laughable, but it was a way of drawing a line under what had transpired. As part of this, Draco had been allowed back too.
It had been hard at first – Goyle hadn't come back, and he was lonely – but Harry's pointed public friendliness had definitely helped. Over time that had become genuine liking, and then more. His love kept Draco warm even now, in the midst of a Scottish January.
Draco was kneeling by his bed, rummaging around in his trunk. Despite Harry's protection, Draco's father didn't trust the Auror department further than he could throw Hagrid, and their dungeon and secret compartments were all well and truly discovered. Not wanting to loose the most precious and ancient of their heirlooms, Lucius had sent his son the three he judged most important (and detectable).
There was a monocle, set on an elegant platinum chain; looking through it allowed the wearer to see magic. Draco had been incredibly excited by this, but on putting it on for two seconds had shrieked, tossed it away and gone to bed with a migraine. Turned out being able to see spells in pretty lights wasn't the best thing when in a thousand-year-old, intensely magical castle. It'd been like having a fireworks display blow out the back of his head.
After that, Draco hadn't quite dared try out the ring. It was twisted, thick wood with a heavy black stone, and looked innocuous enough compared to some of the things Draco'd seen growing up. But on the inside of the ring was an engraved word: Myrrdin. He wasn't going to tempt fate by putting on that.
But he was totally using the third item...a primitive Time-Turner.
This one was special. It was one of the first ever made, when the process of fiddling with time was rough and the elaborate manufacturing process not yet perfected. As such, it went forward in years rather than anything so specific as hours, but it was still a Time-Turner and Draco was incredibly excited.
He'd thought about it, and as usual, his thoughts had come back to his boyfriend. He'd known Harry seven years, and in that time gone from rivalry, to hatred, to concern, to love. Draco wanted to see where they'd get in another seven years. (And perhaps check that his twenty-four-year-old self wasn't fat or anything before he let Harry see.) Smile tugging at his lips, Draco put the Time-Turner's chain over his head, and turned it over seven times.
The world vanished in a great swirl of cloud and blue light. Draco felt a moment of intense vertigo, and closed his eyes.
When he opened them, Draco was standing in a comfortable sitting room. The first thing he noticed was that it must have been five degrees warmer than the Slytherin dungeon. The second was that a key was turning in a lock – someone was coming home.
He threw Harry's Cloak over himself just in time, backing towards the wall. The room was moderately large, and he knew he could avoid being caught if he was careful. That didn't make him feel any less exposed as two male voices came nearer. He was standing in clear view of the door, between a low coffee table and a marble fireplace, and as it opened Draco couldn't quite stop himself flinching.
The next second, he was stock-still, frozen before the sight that met his eyes. Harry had just come through the door – his boyfriend, seven years on – and Draco was utterly captivated. He didn't even hear the vigorous conversation going on, too busy staring avidly at Harry. The youth of seventeen was surprisingly different from the man of twenty-four. For one thing, he was dressed in clothes that were 'him', yet recognisable to Draco's trained eye as of very high quality. He bet he himself had – was going to? – picked out the jeans and soft green jumper Harry was in.
Draco felt himself being waylaid as he registered the body underneath. Mmm, strong thighs, and a broad chest, shifting muscles as Harry gestured wildly. And Draco knew he should pay attention to that but he was drowning in a sea of seventeen-year-old hormones. Draco thought how he was going to have sex with this gorgeous being, be held tightly against that hard body, and felt himself go cross-eyed.
Now for the best part... he'd had only a quick look at Harry's face, having being struck forcibly by an extremely male urge and hypnotised by his body. He looked up... and up, clearly Harry was going to be struck by a late-teens growth spurt.
Harry's mouth was moving fast as he talked, and Draco caught little flicks of tongue that made him swallow. His bright green eyes were hard and intense behind his glasses. Harry's face was flushed, his strong jaw clenching, and Draco thought dizzily that this Harry was even sexier when he was angry.
Draco's eyes widened and he glanced back at his older self. The other Draco was now shouting at Harry, his grey eyes narrowed ferociously, pink spots of fury high on his cheeks. He'd never seen himself look like that, never imagined he could; but Draco recognised the tone of his older self's voice. This was hurt, and fear, but mostly blazing, unbearable anger.
Draco came to the sudden and chilling conclusion that something was very wrong.
"The thing you don't seem to understand is that your choices don't just affect you," Harry said furiously. "We live together, Draco, and I want to see you! You can't just – act like I don't even have a right to be upset about this job, when – "
"Look, some of us aren't lauded heroes, Potter," Draco retorted. The younger Draco winced at the expression on Harry's face, and controlled the immediate urge to clobber his older self on the back of the head. "Some of us have to actually work for a living, and do things we'd rather not to advance our careers. We can't all rely on the Prophet to make our case for us!"
Harry went utterly rigid. "How dare you use that against me," he said finally, his voice icy cold. "You know that wasn't my fault, that I told them not to do it. I don't even want to be head of the Aurors!"
The older Draco's face twisted into a ugly sneer, the one he always used right before he spat out his most vicious insults, and Harry obviously recognised it. His green eyes were touched with shock in an echo of Draco's own, but he mastered it. Harry rubbed his hand over his face wearily and spoke before his partner could.
"This isn't even about that. This is about you just announcing you're taking a job, without even discussing it with me first – "
"Because I knew you'd overreact!"
"I am not overreacting!" Harry yelled. "If you take this job you'll be travelling a week out of every month, you'll be working late the rest of the time, I'll never see you! We don't need the money and – "
"It's not about the money, and you know it," Draco hissed. "It's about respect, about proving I'm not worthless – "
"They're never going to respect you, Draco!"
There was a dead silence. Draco stared at the two men, eyes widening still further in distress. Even now, people don't respect me? Worse, he recognised that look on his older self's face, had felt that same sneer twisting his lips a hundred times before. The older Draco had rocked back when Harry's words hit him, as though they were a physical blow. The grey eyes were shocked, in pain; but they were also angry. As Draco did every time he felt vulnerable, he was searching for insults; Draco could almost see the man scrabbling for the most hurtful invective he could find. No, no! Draco thought, horrified to see his own ability to push people away in action.
"You – "
"No," Harry interrupted, to Draco's weak-kneed relief. "I'm not doing this. I won't do this. It's too hard, and we're only going to screw things up. Let's talk later." While his partner stood, frozen, Harry turned and headed for the door, obviously planning to leave the flat for a bit.
"I thought Gryffindors didn't run away," Draco said, an almost unnoticeable hitch in his voice.
"I'm not running away. I'm just leaving for a bit so we can calm down."
Harry's face softened for an instant at the reedy quality of Draco's voice. "Just for a bit. I'll come back and we can do this then – "
"Don't force yourself," Draco snapped, his temper obviously rising again at his boyfriend's reaction. "If you want to run away, you fucking coward – "
"I'm not – " Harry tried, even as he was walking away.
"Run away from me then, I don't fucking care – "
"Fine," Harry said, obviously at the very end of his rope. "I'm running away. From you." He slammed the door behind him.
What? He's – he's coming back, right? Right? Draco felt a physical jolt in his chest at the idea of his Harry leaving him, abandoning him and never coming back.
"What?" Draco looked up at his older self's whisper, and felt his stomach waver on seeing his own feelings written more intensely on the other face. The pink spots had faded from the other Draco's face, leaving him almost grey.
Then Draco drew himself up, looking as though it took immense effort not to hunch like an old man. "Well, fine. Fine." His voice cracked on the last word. His mouth was still twisted in a sneer, but it was rendered powerless by the look in grey eyes gone dark with pain. "I'll not be coming back." He Apparated; even the pop of it sounded like the first, choked sob.
Draco was left alone, standing in a silent flat, watching the empty room blur as all his rosy dreams of happily ever after came crashing down around him.
Harry was sprawled on a sofa in the common room; he'd completed his homework and his friends were having fun around him. On the face of it, he should have been relaxing and enjoying his evening. But Harry hadn't seen his boyfriend all day, and now that he had time to think, the niggling worry that Draco was avoiding him was growing into full-blown anxiety.
Hermione turned from helping Neville with his Charms to give him a knowing look. "Everything's fine, Harry. I bet he'll be up in here in five minutes and even let you cuddle him."
Just then, the Fat Lady swung open and a bright blond head appeared outside the portrait hole. Harry broke out into a relieved smile and called, "Draco! Over here!"
Draco smiled back and came over, ignoring Ron's mutterings about a Slytherin knowing the password in favour of sliding in next to his boyfriend. Hermione frowned at the redhead, now saying that McGonagall wouldn't be pleased were she to somehow find out, and he subsided.
"Where've you been?" Harry asked. What could have been a whine came out as something very nearly a coo; Draco was snuggling up to him and Harry couldn't stop smiling.
Draco shrugged and pushed his face against Harry's shoulder. "Stuff," he mumbled, voice muffled by Harry's woolly jumper. "Homework." He nudged at Harry's shoulder with his pointed chin and Harry obligingly put an arm around him and cuddled him close. He beamed down at the blond hair that was all he could see of his boyfriend, and smoothed down a tuft of hair. Hermione made a peculiar noise which Harry guessed meant 'look at him, hiding his face and cuddling, aww...' It was very similar to the noise she made when Crookshanks batted at a loose thread from the bottom of Ron's robes.
But as the evening wore on, Harry's preoccupation with Draco's cuteness faded as his worry grew. Draco was never quiet, and he very rarely let Harry touch him in public; he'd blushed furiously just yesterday when Harry had given him a quick kiss at breakfast. There was something going on here; when had Draco ever been subdued before?
Well, he was letting Harry cuddle him. He was even cuddling back. But everything was most assuredly not fine.
Draco tried, once again, to get some self-control.
He hadn't completely lost it; he wasn't crying, or shaking, or clinging to Harry – well, all right, but only to acceptable levels. It was just that he thought if he lifted his head, and forced his hand to unclench from the bit of Harry's jumper he was holding, he'd start to wail and tell Harry he was sorry and he couldn't want any job more than him...
Draco's eyes started to sting again at the thought. Right now, curled up next to Harry with a warm hand on his back, head full of the smell of Harry's neck, should have been perfect. It was perfect. And that just made the knowledge that he was going to lose this, that it was all going to fall apart in his hands, so much worse.
No! He told himself fiercely, but he couldn't quite choke back a muffled noise. He felt Harry tense and knew he'd heard it.
"Draco?" he said quietly. "Are you just tired or – hey, look at me." Draco didn't move, and after a moment of silence he felt fingers tugging gently at his chin. Giving in, he shifted to look up at him.
Harry's heart clenched as he saw the suspicious sheen in grey eyes. "Draco? What's wrong?" he asked, truly worried now. "What happened?"
He saw Draco swallow. "Let's go up to your dormitory."
Half an hour later, Harry had made it from concerned to frantic. He was pacing back and forth through the dormitory, picking things up and throwing them down, hands driving anxiously through his hair. Draco sat on his bed, watching him with worried eyes.
"But that can't be right," Harry insisted, with all the stubbornness he was famed for. "I'd never say those things to you! Let alone break up with you!"
"Well you did," Draco snapped, hurt making him angry. "What, d'you think I was hallucinating?"
"But that can't be the only reason!" Harry said. "There must have been other reasons! You must do other things in the future than want that job!"
Draco stared at him, hearing a shattering in his ears, as though he were a great ice crystal that'd just come apart. He stood up to shout back, instantly on the offensive. "Why is it my fault? You don't know! Maybe the future me's taking that job to get away from you!"
He heard Harry give a soft gasp, green eyes wide. They stared at each other, frozen in the thick silence. Finally Harry swallowed. "Draco, I – I didn't mean – "
"It's fine." Draco cut him off, biting back the urge to spit angry words, rip and tear into Harry's doubts and insecurities, snap back like he always did when he felt vulnerable – like the future him had done so foolishly. "It's fine," he repeated, meaning it now. "Really."
They stared at each other a moment more, and then Harry gave in. "Oh, Draco," he said quietly. Draco's legs bent without conscious volition and he sank onto the bed. He made a small, relieved sound when Harry sat down too and slid an arm round him. Draco leant into him gratefully as Harry's hand came up to tangle soothingly in the hair at the back of his neck.
"We'll find a way to fix this," Harry said. "I'll make this OK for us. I promise."
Draco smiled painfully at his Harry's determination, but he had to speak. "You can't, Harry. We can't fix it, the future us have to, and it doesn't look like they will."
"No. No, we can't just... just sit here." Despite the fraught words, Harry's hand stayed gentle on his hair. "There has to be a way. There's always a way."
"This isn't fighting evil, Harry," Draco said, pulling away from the soothing hands. "You can't just – say a spell, or get your friends together and somehow pull through. We just have to hope that when we get there, we'll remember this and not break up."
Harry stared at him, green eyes wide, mouth working. He looked helpless, and Draco felt a pang for the pain that he knew that helplessness would cause. "You know I wish it were different, Harry, but – "
"No," Harry said again. "Even if we can't think of a way now, there... there must be a way. I want you to take me forward in time again. Seven years, so we see the same versions of us."
"Harry, I – " Draco stopped, sighing. Harry had tried to comfort him, and he had to do the same for him. Only stroking his hair would work even less well for Harry. He wanted to act, to at least pretend for a bit that they could do something to change their future selves' decisions.
"All right. Come on, the Time Turner's in my room." Draco coughed, then added, "with your Cloak."
They headed for the Slytherin dormitory. Hermione's eyes narrowed as she watched the two boys leave; she recognised that walk. Harry's gait spoke of fear, and hurt, and absolute determination to defeat something bad and save those he loved. Draco's she recognised, though she didn't understand it as well. It was the same way he'd moved years ago, at Madam Malkin's with his mother; his pain and anger buried beneath the desire to defend someone.
Hermione swallowed, and hoped this was something they could do.
Harry's eyes widened when he saw the Time-Turner. It didn't look like the Ministry ones he'd seen. The hourglass was bigger, less finely crafted; the glass looked warped. But it still worked, and Harry ducked his head so Draco could slip the chain over it.
"Seven years ahead," Draco muttered. "So it'll be the evening after we... after we have the fight."
Harry watched Draco turn the hourglass over, and clutched at him as the world dissolved around them.
They appeared standing in the living room once more. It was empty again; Draco swallowed convulsively and wondered if either man would be coming back. The next second, though, his older self burst in looking frantic.
"Where the hell is he? Since when does he go anywhere but the Weasleys when he's upset? He's fucking hiding from me, the little bastard! Where is he?" Draco's hair was in the sort of disarray that spoke of running his fingers through it, and he was moving with anxious haste without really going anywhere. Harry and Draco watched silently, and Draco shifted a bit closer to his boyfriend, wanting reassurance that his Harry was still his.
The noise of a key turning in the lock broke through the silence like a thunderclap. The older Draco's head sprang up, and he stared with desperate hope at the door. He obviously wants to keep Harry... Surely Harry wouldn't leave me. Him.
Harry didn't look much better than his lover when he walked in, pale and tired-looking. He jerked to a stop on seeing Draco. "Oh... Draco." His voice was very near to cracking; his eyes bright. "Are you... that is, can I – "
"I'm sorry." Draco's interruption was spoken firmly, evenly, but his expression spoke eloquently of his own pain. "I'm truly sorry. I should have asked you about it, and if you don't want me to take the job I won't. I don't need it that badly."
Draco was standing tall, his head held up proudly. But the tiny fidgets gave the lie to his calm. The younger Draco and Harry held hands tightly, mouths dry and hearts pounding. Surely Harry wouldn't turn him away.
"Are you sure?" Draco felt winded; he'd never heard his teenage boyfriend sound that vulnerable.
Draco met his lover's gaze head on.
"There are other jobs. There's only one you."
The younger Harry and Draco shut their eyes in heartfelt relief as their counterparts grabbed each other in an equally heartfelt kiss.
The two men had soon vanished to their bedroom, and the teenagers took their leave. They reappeared in the Slytherin dormitory once more, and Harry was smiling widely; before the swirl of time travel had felt like nauseating chaos, and now it was a kaleidoscope of colours.
Draco instantly broke away from him and put away the Time-Turner. Harry felt a moment of anxiety, watching him; but how could his boyfriend not share his bliss?
Draco turned to him, and he was smiling and smiling, lit up from the inside like dawn breaking over the horizon. Harry couldn't bring himself to look away; he was entirely captivated by those blissful grey eyes.
"It's all OK. You said you'd fix it, and you did," he said, delight bursting through his voice.
Harry smiled uncontrollably back. "I will always fix it."
"Always?" Draco asked, insinuating himself into Harry's arms, body pressed close. "You promise? Seven years, twenty years, fifty years? However far forward I can Turn Time?"
"Now and forever," Harry promised, just before he was caught up in a mind-bending kiss.