Chapter 23 Dinner Date at the Dursley's

When they arrived at the Dursley's door, Harry paused there for a moment before deciding he'd better knock. Even if it was technically his home, he didn't think his relatives would take kindly to him just letting himself in. Somewhat to Harry's surprise, it was Dudley who answered the door.

"Hullo, Dudley," Harry said amicably.

Dudley's eyes narrowed, and his forehead scrunched up in concentration. Or, as Harry liked to think, with the effort it took to form complete sentences. He didn't invite them in, or even at least step aside so they could enter. Harry was about to say something about it when he noticed Dudley's gaze flickering to Draco and his cousin finally spoke.

"Let's get one thing straight before I let you in, Potter. None of your freaky behavior while you're here. If you ruin the holiday for us with your abnormality, you'll be out the door before you know it. And you might want to fill your guest in on how to behave here as well." His eyes landed on Draco again. "Who is this, anyway? Your boyfriend?"

The question was obviously meant to be an insult, but Harry didn't even have time to process it and have a reaction before Draco slid one arm around his waist and held out his opposite hand in greeting as he responded, "As a matter of fact, I am. Draco Malfoy."

When Dudley didn't take his offered hand, Draco let it drop indifferently. Dudley was staring at the two of them with a sort of fascinated horror, eyes wide and mouth gaping.

"Diddy-kins, is everything alright? Who's at the do –" Aunt Petunia turned the corner from the kitchen, freezing in mid-sentence as she took in her flabbergasted son and the new arrivals waiting on the doorstep.

It took her a moment, but she collected herself back into her usual persona, and spoke briskly to the boys, "Come inside and close that door, you're letting the heat out." As if woken from a trance, Dudley hastened to obey. Harry and Draco stepped inside, finding themselves bookended by the two Dursleys; Harry felt Draco's hold tighten.

Nevertheless, the blonde could of course be counted on to uphold decorum. "Draco Malfoy," he said. Aunt Petunia accepted his offered hand, however reluctantly. Harry felt a flash of annoyance from Draco, and reckoned he didn't appreciate being treated as if he had dragon pox or some other communicable disease.

Petunia turned to Harry. "You'll be sharing your bedroom. I expect you to brief your guest on the rules of this house. There's about an hour until dinner will be served; get settled in and cleaned up, I expect you to be on time and presentable."

Without a moment's pause she turned to head back to the kitchen. For a moment Dudley looked like he wanted to say something, but he soon headed toward the living room in silence.

"So…those are the Dursleys. Well, two-thirds of them anyway. I wonder where Vernon is at this hour." Harry shrugged. He was perfectly happy to put off any confrontations with his uncle for as long as possible.

He took Draco's hand, intending to pull him up the stairs with him, but Draco wouldn't budge. "Draco?"

"I want to see it."

"See what?"

"The place you used to sleep…under the stairs."

"Draco…" Harry trailed off uncertainly. He was rather surprised Draco even remembered him mentioning where his relatives used to make him sleep.

"Show me," the blonde said definitively, and Harry figured he ought to just get it over with.

They walked the short way down the hall, stopping at the little trapezoidal door. Harry felt an odd wash of emotion, something resembling the ghosts of fear and loneliness. Draco must have picked up on it, but the only outward sign that he had done so was the slightest tightening in his face. Harry pulled the door open, and for a long moment he and Draco simply stared at the space in shock. It was so small! Harry couldn't imagine how he'd ever fit in there. The oddest thing, though, was that it had been left for all these years just as it had been when he'd slept there, with his little make-shift bed and shelf scatted with the few toys he'd managed to collect and hold on to.

Harry was broken from his thoughts as the door closed before him with a brisk click. He looked around and realized Draco was watching him. He shifted uncomfortably. "It's nothing, Draco. It's in the past." When Draco continued to watch him silently, Harry decided it was time to get out of the hallway. He caught Draco's hand in his and dragged him up the stairs as he had originally intended to do.

Once they were closed in Harry's bedroom, Draco seemed to find his tongue. "I don't understand you."


"I don't understand how you can be so good, so compassionate and fair, when this is how you grew up! Why aren't you more bitter, angry, something! I can tell this place makes you feel small and defeated and afraid, even now. Like a –" he cut himself off abruptly.

"Go on, say it," Harry whispered.

"Like a victim," Draco finished.

"I know it may seem that way but I'm not…I don't think of it that way. I know I'm not powerless like I used to be, and sometimes I just need to remind myself. It's not a big deal."

"Maybe not to you."

Harry sighed, plopping down on his bed; Draco sat down beside him, wrapping an arm around him and letting his head rest on top of Harry's.

"It's like what you said earlier," Draco continued. "I'm only saying this because I care about you."

"I know." They sat on Harry's bed, enjoying the shared warmth of their embrace. The sound of heavy footsteps in the hall, presumably Dudley's, broke their bubble of peace. "Come on, let's take a shower before dinner."

"Sounds good to me," Draco grinned flirtatiously as he stood.

"Draco, we only have half an hour until we're supposed to be ready and waiting at the table."

"Plenty of time, then."

"Well, that may technically be true, but we do need to actually get clean in that time as well."

"Okay, so let's get dirty first. We can get clean after."

"Draco! If I have to I'll make you shower alone. Is that what you want?"

Draco had backed Harry towards the wall by then, and he pressed Harry's body between his own and the wall as he whispered in his ear, "You don't play fair."

Harry put all his effort into fighting the effects of Draco's seduction, and was proud when his voice came out steady. "Here's how this is going to work." He forced Draco to meet his eyes and really listen. "We're going to take a shower, during which we will get clean, and that is all we'll be doing in the shower. We will then get dried off and dressed and arrive for dinner on time. Hopefully if we make a good first impression the Dursleys will at least leave us alone more or less.

"After dinner we will have time alone. All to ourselves. In this room, with no interruptions until morning. We can have some…quality time then. Got it?" As Harry spoke of quality time he slowly slid his fingertips up the length of Draco's arm and across his chest, and Draco definitely got the message if Harry was reading the spark of fire in his eyes correctly.

"Alright then, let's get clean."

Draco managed to demonstrate an impressive amount of self-control during their shower despite all the naked flesh so readily available to him. Harry was pretty impressed with his own self-control as well; if he was being honest, showering with Draco made him feel beyond tempted. But in the end (AN: hehe, no pun intended) they had managed to get clean in a timely fashion, and were working on toweling off.

After he finished drying himself, Draco stepped towards Harry and used his towel to siphon the water from his dark locks. He was ruffling the towel around on Harry's head when a knock came at the door, causing him to pause in his ministrations.

Dudley's angry voice thundered through the door. "Potter, what the bloody hell is taking you so long? There are other people in this house besides you who need to clean up for dinner you know!"

Draco removed his towel from Harry's hair and wrapped it securely around his own waist, and Harry followed his example. Harry was about to turn the door knob when Draco grabbed his wrist.

"What is it?" Harry asked.

"What?" said Dudley.

Draco's eyes slid to Harry's small baby bump, and Harry recalled their conversation about not letting any of the Dursleys see him shirtless. "Stay behind me," Draco said.

"Okay," Harry agreed.

"You're in there together!" Dudley cried. Draco chose that moment to open the door. Harry made sure to stay in his shadow. Even if he had been dancing around completely nude he didn't think Dudley would have noticed, though. His gaze was completely focused on Draco.

"Why wouldn't we shower together? It isn't that strange a thing for boyfriends to do, is it?" While he spoke, he subtly waved his hand towards Harry's bedroom door, in an indication that Harry should get in there while Draco distracted Dudley. Harry was happy to comply.

Dudley, meanwhile, seemed to have completely lost the capacity for speech. Instead his mouth opened and closed over and over, making him look like a rather large guppy. Draco smirked his signature smirk, and without further comment followed Harry into his room. The sound of a door closing a few moments later confirmed that Dudley had at least not forgotten what he was supposed to be doing.

"That was close," Harry commented.

Draco nodded. "What do you think would happen if they did find out though?"

Harry considered the question as they got dressed. "Nothing we couldn't handle, I suppose. I imagine a fair amount of yelling on Vernon's part, a bit of shrieking from Petunia. From what I've seen tonight, Dudley would probably just stare at us with his mouth open. Then again, fighting with the Dursleys is about as pleasant and productive as bashing your head against the wall, so it's still worth it to try our best to avoid ruffling their feathers." He shrugged and turned to leave.

Draco opened the door and held it so that Harry could pass. "Shall we then?"

Harry smiled at Draco, briefly caressing his arm as he passed. "Thanks. Yeah, let's get this over with."

They made their way down the stairs and arrived in the dining room to find they were actually a bit early. Harry was curious as to why the Dursleys were having a more formal dinner than was their norm. He highly doubted it was in honor of Draco's presence. The table was only set for five, so they couldn't have been expecting any other guests. But all thoughts of formality flew from his head as an odor wafted from the kitchen and overwhelmed his sense of smell.

It was an oily, fishy smell, heavy and pervasive. Harry felt his stomach clench, but tried breathing through his mouth to get past his nausea. That had worked in the past sometimes, as long as it wasn't around breakfast time. Draco placed a hand between his shoulder blades, rubbing small circles there. The soothing effect combined with the breathing seemed to be doing the trick. He looked into Draco's eyes and was about to thank him when the kitchen door swung open fully, admitting three Dursleys along with the source of the nauseating fish smell.

Harry's eyes widened as he felt the need to vomit rise within him, and in his sickened and panicked state he found it difficult to think clearly. The Dursleys didn't even notice there was anything the matter until Draco magically conjured a bucket. In the seconds before he noticed said bucket, Harry was able to recognize that Vernon was building up for a bellow –probably something about displaying their abnormalities in the house. Then he was violently and spectacularly sick in the bucket, and Vernon pulled up short before converting his bellow into an exclamation.

"What's the matter with you, boy? Is this some kind of ploy to get out of eating dinner with us? Because if it is, believe me we aren't exactly thrilled about eating with you either! But Petunia here has worked hard on this meal, and you're not getting out of it that easily if I have anything to say about it!"

"Which you don't."

Draco's defiant statement, spoken with such matter-of-fact authority that Harry doubted Voldemort himself would question it, was followed by a resounding silence. Draco took the opportunity to vanish the sick-splattered bucket and cast a few cleansing and freshening charms on Harry's face and mouth.

Then, as if the Dursleys weren't there, Draco asked, "Are you alright now?" and when Harry simply nodded Draco stroked his cheek before placing a quick, gentle kiss on his lips.

Harry couldn't help but smile a little in response, and his smile grew into an all-out grin when Draco added, "See, now don't you wish I could have been there the other times, too? I'm betting, or at least deeply hoping, Weasley didn't help you recover like that, or in any other way half as pleasant."

At that point, Harry had kind of forgotten about the Dursleys as well (he wasn't used to them being so silent!), and he kissed Draco the same way Draco had kissed him.

Vernon broke the silence. "What is the meaning of this!"

Draco rose an eyebrow, his expression clearly saying, 'I should think it was quite obvious'.

Surprisingly, it was Dudley who responded, "Malfoy is Potter's boyfriend."

Harry reflected that as strange as it was at times to think he was in a romantic relationship with Draco Malfoy of all people, it was stranger by far to hear Dudley say so.

"What!" Ah, yes, there was the classic Vernon bellow. "It's bad enough to have you in our house with your abnormality, and now THIS!" He gesticulated wildly with his hands as if a great deal of clarification were necessary in the identification of exactly what 'this' was.

Harry thought he saw Dudley twitch after that exclamation, but couldn't think of any reason for him to do so. He shrugged it off. Draco spoke up while Harry was still trying to rein in his roiling mind and body to form a complete sentence. "In our world, neither of the qualities you're raging about makes us even the slightest bit unusual. Now, I request that you calm down at once, sir. You are upsetting Harry and completely spoiling the dinner you advocated so adamantly moments ago."

Vernon appeared rather taken aback to be spoken to in such a way, and Harry had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing. Alas, Vernon did eventually regain his voice…and his ire. "Insolent boy! How dare you speak to me that way when you are a guest in MY HOME! I ought to throw the pair of you out onto the street right now and lock the door behind you!" He took a step towards them as if preparing to do just that.

In a flash Draco was standing, wand drawn and aimed unerringly at Vernon's chest. Needless to say, the giant man stopped short. Petunia finally spoke up, reacting to the threat against her husband. "You can't do anything! You're not allowed…you'll get in trouble!" Her words sounded more confident than her voice.

Draco's gaze flicked to her for a fraction of a second before he refocused on Vernon while giving his response. "We're both seventeen now, legally adults in the Wizarding world." All three Dursley's flinched when he said 'wizarding'. "That means we are free to use magic," another round of flinches, "if and when we see fit."

The tension of the moment drew on, stretching out in the silence like a cat in the sun. Finally, Harry eased himself out of the chair and put his hand on Draco's shoulder. "I think they get it now, Draco. C'mon, let's find something for dinner…we can eat in my room." So much for avoiding upsetting the Dursleys.

Vernon looked about ready to shout some more about all the work Petunia had put into the dinner, but the woman herself spoke up. "Let them go, Vernon. Their presence would only spoil our celebration of your promotion anyway. Besides, they don't deserve to enjoy my cooking."

Harry tried and failed to suppress a snort as he pulled Draco towards the kitchen. Judging by the tension still rolling off the blond, he was not so amused.

After a bit of rummaging through the fridge, Harry had found all the necessary ingredients for some sandwiches. It was a testament to Draco's state of mind that he made no comment about Harry preparing food "the muggle way". When Harry gathered up the sandwiches along with some snacks and drinks and headed for his room, Draco trailed behind him in silence. The gryffindor was gearing up to snap his slytherin out of whatever cloud it was he seemed to be trapped in, but he lost focus shortly after placing the impromptu picnic fare on the floor, jarred by the sharp click of his bedroom door locking.

Draco proceeded to place several security-type enchantments and wards on the door, after which he turned to see Harry gaping at him. "What?" he asked casually, as if it were perfectly normal to ward a bedroom door as if you were in a war zone.

Harry shook his head, but he was grinning as he said, "I highly doubt we have anything to fear from the Dursley's. They're too afraid of what we or other wizards might do to them. Besides, between the two of us I think we could take them." He casts a cushioning charm on the floor, sat down, and began to lay out their picnic.

Joining him on the floor, Draco replied, "I'm sure we could, but I'm hardly about to take that chance with you. If you were to be hit, or knocked over or into something…if you hit something wrong we could lose the baby." He tried to keep the cool, matter-of-factness in his voice, but Harry heard it waver a bit. Now that Harry knew him better, he realized Draco struggled to pretend to care less than he really did. No wonder it had taken them being forced together to learn what kind of person Draco really was.

He also felt his gut twist at what Draco said, but not because of the thought of losing the baby – though that was certainly sickening enough. No, it was because if Draco was this determined for him to avoid a confrontation with relatively powerless muggles, how would he feel knowing the role Harry was meant to take in the fight against Voldemort? It was a sudden and shocking comprehension, as much as the depth of his feelings for Draco had been, that he was going to have to tell Draco everything…the truth about his connection with Voldemort, the Prophesy, and the horcruxes. And as quickly as he recognized this he felt apprehension and dread settle in the pit of his stomach.

"Harry, what is it?"

Yet another reason Harry would soon have to come clean: Draco was becoming increasingly adept at reading Harry's emotional climate, and it wouldn't be long before he became suspicious…if he wasn't already. Harry swallowed thickly. "Nothing, just…imagining if we lost the baby…" he trailed off, hoping the half-truth would suffice. After scrutinizing him for a moment Draco let it go, though Harry sensed he wasn't totally convinced.

They ate their meal in companionable silence, chatting now and then about random memories of their childhoods, Hogwarts, past Christmases and favorite gifts. When Harry got to thinking about the adorable cat he'd gotten for Draco, he felt sort of concerned and guilty about the temporary captivity he'd forced her into despite the fact that at the shop Will had assured him she would be unharmed and remember nothing. To her it would seem as if she'd been transported from the moment she entered the container to the moment it was opened in the blink of an eye. Still, he felt the urge for the gift exchange to be sooner rather that later.

"Hey, Draco? How would you like to exchange gifts tonight?"