Authors Note: Many thanks to my brilliant beta Laurel (DreamingInColour) who was a driving force in perfecting this story. I Heart Her! Also a thanks to Robert (Ragnarok45) who requested this fic and it served as a very extended birthday present! I think this has been one of my favorite stories to write so far, but I'm afraid this particular journey is over. I adore you all though and promise to keep writing as more ideas pop into my overloaded mind. Oh, also I've been told that it might be appropriate to add a disclaimer to my stories (though it's a tad late for most of you) so here goes: 'This story may, at times, cause you to go through several tissues, to an entire small box of tissues, if read while in a highly motional state of mind. Author not responsible for emotional outbursts, stuffy noses, red eyes, and blubbering. You have been warned.'
Chapter 8 Unquestionable Affection
Draco woke up in one of the best moods he could ever remember being in. All night he felt Harry's arms wrapped tightly around him, keeping him safe and warm, and Draco had never felt so in love with another person.
So natural was the feeling that Draco didn't think twice at the idea of possibly being in love with a boy he had only kissed once. Harry's embrace felt amazing, comforting and blissful all at once, but what had Draco humming all the way to breakfast was the first thing Harry had thought to do with the poppet. It was a magical object so potentially damning that Draco was reluctant to give it over, and Harry simply cuddled it like a child's teddy bear while he slept.
It was precious and innocent and had Draco swooning more than he would have been if Harry had thought of something sexual. It was mildly surprising to feel that way in reaction to Harry's decisions. The Gryffindor was so much the opposite of the people Draco grew up with that he found it slightly hard to understand the other boy's reasoning, but he certainly wasn't adverse to it. The truth of it was that Harry, in all his pure and light intentions, made a perfect counterpoint to Draco's own gruff way of looking at the world. He felt that a relationship with Harry would be a fine balance in comparison to the single-minded life he had without him.
All these newly discovered traits went onto his list that day, making a relationship with Harry seem more and more tangible with each addition. He was finally beginning to feel as though he knew the real Harry better than most could honestly claim.
He studied the list intently and though it was quite helpful in determining what not to do to win Harry's affections, it didn't help much for inspiring positive ideas. Every new brainstorm he had would be dashed to pieces when he read one of the items on his list that would contradict it. It hardly mattered what it was, all the pomp and circumstance Draco was used to would clearly never work with Harry.
At first he thought of some grand public display of affection, perhaps standing on a table in the Great Hall in order to declare his adoration of Harry for all to hear. He quickly scratched the idea when he remembered that Harry was a very private person and wouldn't appreciate the declaration one bit, in fact, it's possible he would be so humiliated by it that he wouldn't speak to Draco again.
Expensive gifts were out- Harry couldn't have been clearer on that subject- and Draco assumed that meant the Gryffindor would be equally uncomfortable with a pricey meal at a fancy restaurant, not that there were any of those in Hogsmeade.
It was hardly appropriate to send Harry flowers since that gesture seemed to fit both of the above reasons Harry wouldn't like it; no grand public gestures and no expensive gifts. Surely the arrival of a large bunch of flowers would humiliate him to no end when they arrived in the middle of Gryffindor Tower. Draco considered having them delivered privately but he knew he couldn't very well petition Granger or the Weasel's help in any way since he was fairly certain the duo still loathed him.
It wasn't until later that day, when Draco walked into his dorm to find an unopened note on his bed that the answer finally came to him. It was apparently Harry's reply after receiving the poppet and Draco opened it greedily, eager to read what his Gryffindor had to say.
I'm happy to report that I've kept anything unseemly from happening to your gift, though I suppose you already know that. Ron said it must mean that you trust me, and Hermione told about the lily you placed in my doll and what it means that you didn't include one in yours. I'm not sure what to say to that other than the sentiment makes me even more curious about you.
My life is a circus whether I want it to be or not and I sometimes find myself wondering if I'll ever get a chance to be normal. I liked your gift, Draco, and for the first time I began to wonder if normal might be a tad overrated.
I'm still worried though. Do you want me for me, or for the image of Harry Potter that everyone has built up in their minds?
The note made Draco slightly weak in the knees as he wondered what it might take to prove to the Gryffindor that he wanted Harry, not just 'Harry Potter'. He certainly wouldn't claim that he never noticed the other side- the side the papers and magazines couldn't get enough of- but he didn't see anything wrong with that. Who else but someone as powerful and important as Harry would be a suitable match for him? And why should either of them have to settle for just one part of Harry when the boy was clearly so much more than that.
Still, it was obvious that Harry didn't want the fame that had carved itself into his forehead and he might never be comfortable with it, which was just as well with Draco. He could be equally content with either fame or secluded leisure as long as he had the reluctant hero at his side.
That was when the idea struck him, an idea so brilliant in its simplicity that he was certain he couldn't bungle it, though, it didn't stop the fairy wings from beating his insides to mush as he thought of executing his newest plan.
Harry stood at the edge of the still frigid lake just staring along the wide expanse of it. Draco's poppet rested comfortably in his robe pocket and he absently toyed with the strand of blonde hair wrapped around the doll while he thought about his life.
So much had happened in such a short span of time and Harry felt as though his breathing should be heavy from trying to keep up with each new development. Questions bombarded him, one after the other, each more difficult to answer than the last.
Was he really gay? What was the inexorable pull he felt toward Draco? How could a boy he had hated growing up turn out to be what he wanted most of all? He knew the war had changed a lot of people, everyone it touched really, but somehow Harry had never considered the fact that Draco could change so much. Was it really possible that Draco truly cared about him?
Harry closed his eyes against the gentle breeze that pinked his cheeks and expelled a puff of steam into the air as he sighed. None of the questions were easy to ask of himself and he knew that answering them would be more difficult still, unfortunately he also knew that finding those answers without Draco's help would be extremely unlikely.
"That feels nice," a familiar drawl sounded from behind him.
Harry turned around gazed across the grounds at the love interest standing before him and he nearly choked on the word the minute he thought it.
Love. Was that what he felt for his former enemy? Was that even possible? Surely not.
"What does?" Harry asked, confused by the pale blonde's statement. The Slytherin really was a sight to behold standing on the icy grounds that looked every bit to Harry like frosted storm clouds, just like Draco's eyes.
Draco gestured towards his hand, carefully hidden inside his robe pocket and he blushed, realizing that he was still twining the lock of pale hair around his fingers. He pulled his hand away and let it fall to his side, trying to ignore the look of disappointment that flickered through Draco's eyes.
"So," Harry muttered, kicking at the soft ground right in front of his feet. He was suddenly unable to think of anything to say, his nerves were all screaming at him as if they were violin strings being played with a razor. He knew his whole body was shaking slightly from Draco's close proximity and Harry hoped that the Slytherin would attribute it to the chill in the air instead of recognizing how plainly nervous and aroused he was.
I've been thinking," Draco began at last, "for a while actually, about what the best way to convince you of my feelings."
"Oh?" Harry asked, mildly amused at how nervous Draco seemed to be. The idea that he wasn't alone in his turbulent thoughts and feelings calmed him slightly. The blonde was fidgeting more than usual and kept looking at the ground, which on any other student might not be so telling, but on Draco Malfoy they were massive expressions. "And what did you decide?"
The fitful movements stopped all at once and Draco met his gaze directly, looking steeled and determined to complete the task he had set out to do, whatever that task was. The sudden switch made Harry slightly hesitant, wondering what new trick the scheming boy had in store for him.
Draco took a few steps forward so that he was closer to Harry, but not close enough for it to be an invasion of Harry's personal space. He bit into his bottom lip for a fraction of a second before blurting –in a very Harry-like manner- what he had come to say.
"I'd like a date with you," he said at last, the words rushing from his mouth in so much haste that Harry barely caught them.
"Pardon?" Harry asked, genuinely concerned he hadn't heard Draco properly. He thought for sure that Draco was going to pull some elaborate stunt to try and win him over.
"Nothing fancy or terribly exciting," Draco amended. "Just a simple, ordinary date so that we can get to know each other better."
Harry couldn't believe his ears. Of everything Draco could have done, everything he could have said, this -this promise of a normal date- was the only thing he could have done to win Harry over so completely. It showed how much Draco had noticed about him, how much thought he'd given it and how true his feelings were. This wasn't some attempt to further his own popularity or to impress his father or even some cruel joke at Harry's expense.
Draco was genuinely interested in him.
"Well?" Draco asked, his eyes wide with a panic that could only come from fear of rejection and Harry realized he had just been gaping the entire time while Draco waited for an answer.
So he gave him one.
He couldn't help himself as the adrenaline rushed through him and he witnessed Draco standing in front of him anxious and beautiful. Harry kissed him with everything he had and it was a kiss born of good intentions instead of the devious nature he had responded with before.
Draco seemed slightly shocked at first, but he quickly recovered and responded with a groan that shook the both of them. Hands grappled and teeth nibbled and it was generally haphazard and rushed, but Harry had never felt so alive and at peace all at once.
When they broke apart, they were both breathing heavily and Draco's hand rested possessively on Harry's waist. "So was that a yes?" he whispered, his confidence renewed and beaming through his glittering mercury eyes and a subtle smirk playing on his lips.
"Yes," Harry replied, content with how nice Draco felt in his arms. "As long as it's not too ordinary and unexciting," he amended with a smirk of his own.
Five Years Later
Harry stared at his overnight bag and wracked his brain trying to remember if there was anything he was forgetting. "Is that it?" he asked out loud when he couldn't think of anything else. He had already packed his muggle suit, his favorite forest green robes, his small bag of toiletries and an extra pair of boxers. The files he needed for the Ministry meeting were in his briefcase by the door and the portkey he would use to get to New York City –a sleek wooden cane- was resting against the entry table.
"Well, you certainly can't fit me in there unless you expand it," Draco muttered. He'd been pouting all morning as Harry rushed around to gather his things. He had procrastinated with it as usual and was now in a bit of a hurry.
"I'm sorry, love," Harry replied and kissed his fiancé warmly on the cheek. "You know I'd bring you along if you could get the time off."
"I think you should call in sick," Draco offered wisely as he lounged against the headboard, watching his fiancé pack and repack his things to squish them all in. For the life of him he would never understand why Harry didn't use magic more often.
Harry chuckled and shook his head. "It's not as though I'm going into the office. This is a big meeting, Draco. We're merging the American and European Ministries for the first time ever, besides you were the one who prodded me to accept the position as Minister," he reminded him.
Draco rolled his eyes and opened and closed his hand in a puppet-like movement, teasing Harry for his chatter. "Maybe I've changed my mind then? You should just quit and stay here with me," he told Harry with a petulant pout.
Harry laughed and shook his head. He knew Draco was only joshing because they went through this same charade every time Harry had to go out of town-which wasn't very often. In the end Draco usually took time off from his own job as Potions Master at Hogwarts and came with him, but this time he couldn't because there was no substitute available in the short notice Harry got for this particular trip.
"This is what comes with being Minister. You know that," Harry chided and patted his fiancé playfully on the rear.
"But who's going to help me taste wedding cake sampled and make a decision on flowers?" Draco asked as he looked up at Harry expectantly.
"I'm only going to be gone for two days, Draco. That can all wait until I get back," he replied, not willing to indulge the blonde any further toward that line of argument. "Plus, your mother is picking out the flowers, you told her she could."
"I know," Draco huffed. "What am I supposed to do when I can't sleep tonight because you're not here?"
Harry smiled warmly and ran his hand through Draco's fair locks. He knew it was a special gift to get to see the more fragile and vulnerable side of his fiancé, no one but Harry ever did. To everyone outside their cozy satin covered bedroom, Draco was still a Malfoy, cool and calculating and completely under control. When they were alone however, Draco was warm and loving and even a little needy for Harry's attention.
"I already have a solution for that," Harry remarked. "And as for the rest I suppose you'll just have to show me how much you missed me when I get back," he purred and Draco pulled him down to the bed with an easy fluid movement.
"How about I show you now?" he offered in his most seductive tone.
It was hard for Harry to resist, but he knew he must. He was already late and if he let Draco pull him back into bed he would be hours later still. "I can't," he whined, truly regretful and Draco sighed, falling back to the mattress dramatically.
"Fine, go then," he muttered.
"I love you," Harry said, kissing his lonely looking Slytherin one last time.
"I love you too," Draco whispered, all bitterness fleeing from his voice as he said these words. "I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too, love," Harry replied. "But I think you'll find yourself too busy to miss me much."
With that Harry rushed off and Draco noticed that his fiancé had a slight and unexplained hobble to his left foot, but he brushed it away. Harry was always accidentally injuring himself trying to do some heroic deed or another. Draco lingered in bed until he heard the telltale whoosh of the portkey activating. Eventually he pulled himself out of bed, already missing Harry's warm body beside him, and padded out to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.
He was still pondering Harry's cryptic parting words when a shiny red box tied shut with golden ribbon caught his eye. He assumed it was a wedding gift from one of the Weasley's based on the Gryffindor colored wrapping, they loved teasing him about their house rivalries; Harry must have forgotten to mention it in his haste to leave for the States. Draco loved gifts and there it was, sitting on the coffee table just beckoning Draco to come and open it. Normally he and Harry opened their gifts together, but Draco felt that this time Harry might not mind, especially seeing as though Harry was the one who left him all alone to his own devices; he should expect as much.
Teacup in hand, Draco rushed over to the package and looked it over carefully. There was no tag or sticker proclaiming the sender, but it just had to be a Gryffindor based on the garishly obvious color. It was a medium sized box and Draco thought disparagingly of the muggle toaster they had already gotten from Harry's Aunt and Uncle, but it looked a smidge too small to be another one.
Rubbing his hands together like a devious child about to peek at his Christmas gift, Draco untied the ribbon and lifted the shiny red lid.
At first all he saw was tissue paper, but he quickly tossed the crisp white pieces aside and nearly laughed out loud at the contents.
He recognized the poppet he had made of Harry back in school immediately and smiled to himself as he caressed the fibrous torso. Pinned to the doll's left foot was a note in Harry's infamously messy handwriting. He thought briefly to what he had observed that morning with Harry's hobble and made a mental note to lecture Harry on the uses of sharp and pointy objects around a poppet.
The note was as sweet as Harry's always were, and it both warmed Draco and made him miss his lover more all at once.
My dearest Draco,
I knew that resisting a shiny Gryffindor package would be nearly impossible for you and I only hope you didn't battle with yourself for too long over whether or not you should open it (but if I know you well enough I suspect your reading this over your first cup of tea). I miss you already and brought with me a special gift that you once gave to me five years ago, so I thought I'd return the favor. This way neither of us should feel quite as lonely.
I love you and I'll see you again before you know it!
P.S. Please refrain from using it for anything unseemly between the hours of six and three. I'll be in and out of meetings with the American Minister's during that time.
Draco smiled wickedly and looked up at the clock. It would be six in just a few minutes and Draco couldn't wait to break in his poppet again.
Authors Note: As always I'm available for chat on LJ, Facebook and Myspace or any number of other online venues. If you're not viewing this in a client that offers Author or Story updates, you can join my Yahoo group (link on my profile) and I'll update you personally. I hope this leaves you with warm mischevious fuzzies!