He could almost see the half-baked lies forming on his father's lips; every word that Harry croaked went into his brain like a triangular-shaped object trying to fit into a round hole. Cold fingers of betrayal and pain dug like claws into Albus's brain, his stomach churning like a storm-tossed sea of disbelief and numbness. His family, which had seemed like such a solid and dependable house, had suddenly collapsed, lying in pathetic shards around him.

He looked at the slender, balletic, white-blond man who was beside taking up the place where my mom's supposed to be- Harry. His back was ram-rod straight, his arms locked tight at his sides. His cool, haughty grey eyes drilled deep into Albus and his lips, pressed thin and bloodless, were pursed frostily.

Albus suddenly felt scared, like everything that was correct and righteous had suddenly mutated into something incomprehensible and cryptic. Nothing made sense, why was he sitting there like he belonged in bed with my father? Summoning up the last, dying dregs of his energy, Albus stumbled to his feet and fled from the scene, longing desperately to be in his mother's arms.

Harry was swiftly pulling up his jeans now, acid guilt surging in his blood. He ran his trembling fingers through his tousled hair, trying to neaten it and provide some semblance of order like what you're trying to do now to your fucked up, sloppy life-, but to no avail.

"What about… us?" soft and scared like a child-

Harry snapped his head around to Draco, whose pale cheeks showed the faintest hint of rose. The façade was stapled back on now, that transient crack of weakness had been remorselessly demolished, and now his contemptuous gaze was fixed steadily on Harry's fleeting green eyes. The air was thick, crackling with hostility. Draco's rigid, skeletal hand was clasped tightly onto the bedsheets like how a dying man would cling hopelessly but you know deep down in your heart that he would neverneverNEVER be with you because it's not right, it's not allowed it's not, it's NOT, Draco you cannot cry now, not now- onto a precious, glistening life-line.

Thunder gathered in Harry's heart, and he felt like throwing screwed-up balls of newspaper in Draco's face. It's because of you, no one but you! A cold wave of dread and anger whirled maniacally in his stomach. He glared at Draco's pale limbs, which he once thought were the shade of beautiful and delicate cream that belonged to fresh leeks. Now they were deathly-white and hanging despondently like heavy, burdensome lead as though Draco was a marionette whose strings had been cut.

Harry closed his eyes, stilling the turmoil swirling in his brain. The nights that he had spent with the blond flashed like a catalogue of undiluted treachery in his mind's eye. He could hear Albus's agitated cries downstairs, and his wife-

His family.

His scattered thoughts and senses came rushing back like a tidal wave. Harry stood up perfunctorily, took a deep, shaky breath I have to do what is right, not what I want- and eyed Draco narrowly. Rage welled up, a stumbling block so insurmountable and awful, and unfurled in crests, rising up in Harry's throat. Draco was nothing but a mere smear over the lens, obscuring his view of what was important in his life.

"I love my family."

With that, Harry turned sharply on his heel, ignoring the screams of despair echoing from his splintering heart and stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him so viciously that the hinges wobbled.

Draco's numb, glassy eyes had hardened into glacial fragments his defense mechanism-, concealing his silent anguish. His body was tense as he waited for his fragile illusion, that foolish fantasy that he had been holding so carefully in his cupped hands for the past year to be shattered, to fall from his grasp finally and conclusively apart. He heard Harry's conciliatory murmurs and Weasley's sibilant, muted hisses reverberating from below, and Draco felt the pure, smoking-white anger of rejection shiver in his very bones.

you gave him your heart and your body

you thought, you hoped, that he would, just maybe, that he would-

but hope is evil, hope is blighted, hope is nothing but a dream that finally crumbled-

He slipped out of bed and wore his clothes in stiff, staccato movements like a surgeon marshalling his scalpels.

Standing with his head held high in the house that he had never belonged to, Draco closed his eyes and vanished with a soft crack in the air, like a shamed snake slithering back into the murky, dark marshes of hell.

Scorpius Malfoy knew that something was dreadfully wrong the minute his father had stepped into the manor yesterday afternoon. Scorpius knew his father's mannerisms, traits and idiosyncrasies as well as the back of his own hand. He interpreted exactly and correctly what every raise of Draco's eyebrow, every quirk of the lips, every tilt of the head meant. His father's body language was like some sort of hieroglyphics that everyone else could not decipher except for his young son. But this, the way Draco's shoulders sagged in weary defeat, the way he shuffled from foot to foot uncertainly, the way that every inch of lazy confidence that his father used to exude so easily had been suddenly and irrevocably erased.

It didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened.

He had spent the whole day holed up in his study, settling his business as emotionlessly and precisely like how a student would tackle a piece of distasteful homework. Draco's eyes seemed to have disappeared into his sockets in those few short hours, his wild hair and grey pallor shocked Scorpius right down to his very core. His father, once so almighty and fearless, whose world was his oyster, had shriveled into a messed-up heap. Dinner went and passed in a quiet lull. Draco didn't volunteer any information, and Scorpius didn't ask, because he had the sense not to bother his father when he was grieving.

But the most illuminating instance had happened that same night when Draco had slipped into Scorpius's room when the younger boy was getting ready for bed. The older man didn't utter a single word, but only swept over to Scorpius before sinking gratefully into his son's out-stretched arms.

Words were useless, Scorpius thought. Whispering sweet, faithless, banal nothings it's going to be okay, Dad, he'll come back to you, I know he will-, the exact thing that his father wanted to hear but probably would not come true was not what Scorpius did. Other families did that, yes, but not the Malfoys.

He would not delude his father, nor would he prolong his pain.

Scorpius inhaled the dying remnants of Draco's familiar vanilla scent while he held his father. He felt Draco's brittle as flimsy as my heart- bones droop forlornly in his embrace as the both of them lounged in the silence that spoke volumes.

Sliding his small arms around Draco's neck and resting his chin on his weary shoulder, Scorpius began to stroke Draco's dragon earring. The dragon's eyes, once so crimson and fierce, had now faded to a light, muted pink, glowing dimly in the dark. Its wings, once so splendid and majestic, were folded up defensively, scrabbling weakly on Draco's earlobe. Its long, serpentine tail wound itself mournfully around Scorpius's finger, its forked end fluttering temperamentally. The animal was whimpering, its soft, grief-stricken sobs causing its cold, metallic body to heave sorrowfully.

Scorpius knew Draco was too proud to cry in front of him.

Scorpius gently tugged his finger away from the dragon's coiled tail and slowly unfastened the piece of jewellery from Draco's ear. Placing it carefully on the bed, he dislodged himself tenderly from his father's grip. Looking straight into his father's eyes, he said in a clear, firm but not harsh voice.

"I'm sorry that he broke your heart, Dad."

In reply, Draco only mustered up a passable imitation strong on the surface, not all the way down- of a smile, cradling his son's face lovingly in his quivering hand and pressed a moist kiss on Scorpius's forehead. Flashing a comforting grin at his father, Scorpius delicately tucked his father in his bed like how one would protect a newborn baby. He pulled the warm, welcoming covers up to Draco's chin and patted his father's shoulder kindly.

And then, Scorpius forced himself to stay awake until Draco's constant, steady, deep breathing could be heard. Shifting himself conscientiously in bed so he would not wake his father, Scorpius slowly laid himself down beside his father, and it wasn't long before he, too, surrendered to the soft, coaxing melodies of sleep.

In dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own.

Three days had passed.

Harry Potter sat quietly at a bench in Muggle London, both of his hands buried comfortingly in his jacket. His legs were flung carelessly apart, his head hung low and his back hunched. A styrofoam cup of cold coffee, half-finished and forgotten, was beside him.

He looked like a man who was carrying the world on his shoulders.

Dusk was rapidly approaching; the sun, which was once a disc of brilliant yellow, was slipping down regretfully in the horizon. Thin, dark grey, ominous scraps of cloud were gathering, pregnant with rain. The trees were whipped into a frenzy, their lush green tops that were once as crisp and fresh as a salad, were crowded together, rustling maniacally. Brown, cracked leaves that used to glitter and gleam in the beaming sunlight swirled chaotically in a circular pattern at the feet of the sea of Muggles that were rushing home after a long day of work. The wind howled mercilessly, and Harry felt the gale like tiny, sharp knives darting onto his cheeks.

the way he whispered secrets in the wind-

An abandoned page of a newspaper flew haphazardly from the sidewalk onto the roads. Harry's eyes followed the page idly.

He was surveying the smoking ruins of his life with something akin to cool detachment. He had escaped the whole messy issue of divorce by the skin of his teeth. Albus had told no one except Ginny, so Lily, James and the rest of the Weasley family remained blissfully ignorant of his infidelity.

One evening, he had come home from work, only to see that Ginny had set a blazing fire in the backyard, burning every single set of their bed sheets, pillows and bolsters. Her eyes, which used to radiate with laughter and warmth, were now cold and disdainful, nothing but arctic brown that punctured right into Harry's conscience.

Harry had stared numbly at the flames for a while, before retreating meekly remembering how he had covered her with kisses and lies- back into the house.

That night in bed, Harry had bit his lip tentatively before lifting a hesitant hand to clasp his wife's wrist. Ginny's eyes had widened in horror and disgust, her upper lip curling in repulsion. Immediately snatching her hand away as though Harry had the plague, she threw the brunette one last filthy look and resolutely turned her back on her husband.

But the word 'divorce' had never issued from Ginny's lips, and for that, Harry guessed that he had to thank his lucky stars. He knew that he had to build the foundation of his marriage again right from scratch, painstakingly layering but I don't want to, I don't want to do that because, because- brick after laborious brick. There had to be absolutely no more hair-line cracks in the fortress where temptation like Draco Malfoy- could enter and wreak countless havoc.

No more chances, no more misdemeanors.

Harry was supposed to breathe a huge sigh of relief, get down on his knees and worship Ginny madly like a goddess after narrowly losing everything that he had.

The problem, however, was that he missed Draco.

He longed for the blond's touch on his own hot, flushed skin; he missed the way that Draco would press those comforting kisses all over his arched, wanting body. He pined for the blond in a way that he knew he would never long for Ginny. His voice, as smooth and alluring as the richest, most sensuous chocolate, and Draco's body, that long, delectable body like one slim erogenous zone, and his face, that beautiful, pale, haughty face with features as thin and refined like a prince. He loved how Draco would dress in that way that he knew would drive Harry crazy, that particular satin, inky blue shirt that bestowed depths to his dark grey eyes, highlighting the creaminess of his pale skin.

He set Harry on fire.

Draco Malfoy was a phantom that had weaved coyly between his dreams for the past few nights. However hard Harry tried to catch him, he never could, because the minute his fingers touched the blond, Draco would dissolve into nothing but sheer smoke.

Duty and desire, the two fierce emotions battling for supremacy in Harry.

Both men had shared nothing but mindless fucks that were fiery-red, sizzling and steamy-hot. Harry felt that Draco had never let him in his heart, simply because the blond always kept a certain, wary distance and dignity between himself and Harry. It was just sex in the end, wasn't it?

Wasn't it?

With that, Harry leant his heavy, throbbing head back on the hard, unforgiving surface of the bench and began to paint pictures of the past, feeling those rose-tinted memories that he kept so dearly in his heart come thundering back, as fresh as a daisy.

People sought solace in retail therapy when they were feeling down or angry or stressed. Others might choose to go for counseling sessions. The rest would simply bottle their feelings up, waiting for the eventual day when everything will explode in their faces like a volcano.

But Harry was different.

He had fantastic, mind-blowing sex with Draco Malfoy.

The ex-Gryffindor had had an abysmal day at work, and he had come home only to listen to Ginny's chatter about some inane thing that he really couldn't be bothered to remember. Furthermore, a letter came from Hogwarts announcing that James had gotten into a brawl with a handful of Slytherins in his year, and would Mr. and Mrs. Potter please come down to the Headmaster's Office this weekend to discuss about the possible repercussions of their son's actions.

It wasn't the first time that that had happened.

And that was why Harry was writhing in desire under Draco, reveling in the feeling of the blond's light, slim body that was pressed unyieldingly against Harry's back. He had demanded for the blond to fuck him until he couldn't think, fuck him until he forgot where he was, fuck him until he could barely recall his wife's name.

The brunette's head was thrown back in wild abandon, exposing his frantically swallowing throat, his strong jawbones tilted backwards as Harry screamed the house down with Draco's name. The ends of his nerves were frazzling and quaking rabidly while Draco fucked Harry into two. The neurons in his brain seemed to have short-circuited, reeling violently with lasciviousness. It was as though someone had uncorked a buzzing champagne bottle in him; Harry wasn't thinking straight, the only thing occupying his hazy, drunken brain was DracoDracoDracoDRACO.

Harry's fists were clenched so tightly that his fingers were red and bulbous with blood, glorious, crazily pumping blood that was pouring with sex and lust and desire and everything in between, sliding effortlessly into every inch of his jarring body. Explosion after explosion burst behind Harry's eyes like a powerful fireworks display, the tendons at the back of his knees were tense and stiff as a board. In his blurry, peripheral vision, he saw Draco's hands grabbing desperate handfuls of the wrinkled and ripped bedsheets, his fingers hooked and shivering with the effort of fucking Harry with such fervor. The blond's breath was coming in hot, short spurts; limp tendrils of his hair was falling messily forward, tickling Harry's cheek, and every muscle in his shaking body was quivering with strain.

"Harder, harder, harder!"

"Harry, please-"

"What the fuck, is that the best you can do-"

"Harry, I-"


"Harry, I lov-"

"Shut the fuck up, shut up, shut up, shut up!"

That night, Harry had come four times in quick succession.

Immediately after the sex, Draco had swiftly dressed and stalked out of the room in a huff. Harry got the feeling that the other man had been trying to tell him something, but he simply couldn't nail down what it was exactly. But it was still weird, the way Draco had stomped out without a backward glance. Every time, after sex, Harry knew that Draco would stay up for at least two hours and do nothing but stare at Harry.

It was getting a bit unnerving, actually. His gaze was like a chink of hot light that seemed to penetrate right to Harry's bones, committing every inch, every curve to memory, trying to know by heart the different shades as rich as chocolate on his arms, but lighter, as light as fawn on his thighs- of his skin, the way Harry breathed shallow or deep-, how sometimes Harry's fingers would curl gently into his palm when he was dreaming do you think he's thinking about me-.

But tonight was different, it was as though Harry had toed some sort of invisible line, some rule that governed their dysfunctional relationship. When the brunette saw Draco leave the room, he had to suppress a strong urge to run after what did I do wrong, please, tell me- the blond.

Harry had sat up slowly in bed. Rubbing his eyes, he hauled himself up and dressed, before Apparating back home to take a bath to remove the delicious, sultry vanilla scent of Draco that had been firmly and irreversibly etched into his brain as the smell of sex.

It had been roughly seven months into their affair when Harry's birthday had rolled around. He had spent the day with his family and the Weasleys. It was an innocent, joyous event where the typical cake was cut, usual presents were given and the obligatory birthday sex with Ginny was carried out.

But Harry couldn't shake off the niggling thought in his mind that his birthday would have been more memorable if a certain tall, blond male had been there too.

It was a foolish daydream to have. Draco probably didn't even know about his birthday. Even if he did, why would he bother to do anything?

They were nothing but fuck buddies.

Weren't they?

But a mysterious letter from Draco had arrived two weeks after his birthday, instructing Harry to meet him at an abandoned corner of Muggle London in the morning. He didn't need to bring anything special; he just had to tell Ginny that he wouldn't be back for the night. Harry couldn't help but feel a frisson of thrill and arousal a night with Draco, mmmm- ripple invitingly through his body when he received the letter.

So that was where Harry was now, freezing his arse off. Rocking up and down on the balls of his feet like a small child, his green eyes, with a smidgeon of impatience, eagerly scanned the place, counting the seconds when Draco would appear. Pursing his lips and looking at his watch again, he suddenly heard a faint, low, purring sound.

Looking up and squinting into the near distance, he saw a Muggle limousine (Ron had once pointed agitatedly to a Muggle car magazine, ranting to Harry how bloody expensive those things were), flat and wide, all gleaming black discreet metal, curved tinted windows and enormous silver twin exhausts make its way to him, engine humming contentedly.

Harry had raised an eyebrow and shuffled away from the vehicle, afraid that Draco might not see him.

Unexpectedly and noiselessly, the first door of the car in front of him swung open in a smooth, fluid motion.

Harry stared.

"Get in, Potter. We're not going to celebrate your belated birthday with you standing in the cold like that."

Harry knew that silky drawl anywhere. Shock reverberated all the way down to his toes as the brunette hesitantly stepped over the threshold into the foreign automobile, closing the door carefully behind him as though it would fall off any second.

The air inside was cool and smelt of expensive, lustrous leather. Harry settled himself gingerly on the seat, nervously fiddling with his hands. His inquisitive eyes explored the inside of the car, taking in the gleaming, polished veneer of the windows and the luxurious, thick rug beneath his shoes. This whole set-up breathed of luxury and decadence, and he knew that Draco had done it on purpose to show off his immense wealth and affluence.

Not that Harry was complaining, of course.

"Bloody hell, Apparation not good enough for you now?" the stunned brunette remarked, his eyes giving the windows one last sweep before turning his gaze onto Draco. His breath caught in his throat and he felt the temperature in his cheeks soar, and great foaming waves of lust fizzed promisingly like Firewhiskey in his veins.

A burgeoning brief-case chock-full of papers was placed importantly on a small, foldable table in the car, and Draco's quill was lying placidly beside a closed ink-well. As usual, every strand of Draco's blond hair was immaculately styled to perfection. The ubiquitous dragon earring was perched alertly on his earlobe, its searing, red-hot gaze piercing Harry hungrily. Draco was dressed in a simple black collared shirt with sleeves folded up to his elbows, and a bright-red tie was knotted loosely around his collar. His fingers were serenely stroking a half-full champagne glass, and Harry saw the Malfoy ring twinkling surreptitiously up at him. His pants were black too, and as always, designer, expensive and tailor-made to hug every curve and contour of Draco's legs.

With a simple flick of Draco's wand, the champagne bottle tipped itself over, pouring a generous amount of alcohol into a glass which subsequently rose up in the air, floated lazily towards Harry and hovered in front of the brunette.

Draco Malfoy reeked of prosperity and opulence, and Harry felt inadequate, dressed simply in a shirt and jeans, sitting beside Draco drinking his champagne, in his car, and going to a destination that only he knew.

The ex-Slytherin shrugged carelessly. "There's no sense of style in Apparating."

Sipping on his drink, Harry cleared his throat and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, trying to hide his aching erection. He hadn't seen Draco in two weeks, and just looking at the man was enough to make his furiously-palpitating blood go straight to his cock.

"So, where are we going?"

Draco tilted his head, smirking secretively to himself before replying triumphantly. He had chosen this particular location because it was a rather romantic place to go, and because he wasn't so prominent in that country, so Harry and he could enjoy their time together in peace, and not scurry around like a pair of criminals.


It was a lucky thing that Harry had swallowed his beverage down whole, if not he was sure that he would have spewed his mouthful of champagne out like a bloody unglamorous sprinkler.

"P-Paris? For what?" Harry had stammered weakly, not believing his ears at all.

"To celebrate your birthday. You couldn't have thought that I'd have forgotten that, could you?"

"No, of course not!" Harry lied, refusing to meet Draco's gouging gaze. "But… but what are we going to do there? You do know that I would've been fine with just a dinner somewhere!" Harry protested feebly, but deep down, he was actually quite pleasantly surprised.

It was almost… like a… date.

Draco had swiftly deposited both of their champagne glasses on the table and was now sliding predatorily towards just come here, let me whisper in your ear- Harry.

"I've instructed the chauffeur to drive us around for one hour before leaving for the private Portkey to Paris." planting soft, delicate kisses on the tips of his fingers, his gentle, lilting voice enveloping Harry like how a prince would promise his newly-wedded bride the possession of untold riches, sparkling jewels and never-ending beauty-

"I'll bring you to the most famous pâtisseries in Paris, where the best confectioners make the most wonderful macarons in the world, where the pastry is nothing but intoxicating lightness and the filling is intensely sweet, resplendent in shades of lemon, orange, and lilac." brushing lips the exact color of rosebud-pink across his cheeks-

"Next I'll take you to the most beautiful gardens in the country, where the flowers are in full bloom all year-round, where the butterflies investigate the lush delights of each petal." sliding those hypnotizing, skilful hands up and down his panting chest-

"Lastly, we'll retire to a hotel, where we'll do nothing but make love through the night. How does that sound to you, Harry?" tongue making love to his name, breath hovering dangerously close to his neck-

Harry wondered how Draco had the presence of mind to outline their bloody itinerary when Harry himself could hardly string two syllables together.

His blood was pounding in his ears by now, lust gripping him like a pincer, refusing to let him go. Every one of his nerves was zinging, alive with the possibility of spending the whole fucking night with his lover in bed. Harry's mind was working on over-drive as obscene scenes of nothing but sex flitted as fast as lightning through his mind.

Two months ago, the both of them had booked into Draco's hotel. They couldn't keep their hands off each other in the lift, their eager fingers already unbuttoning, unzipping and undoing everything in sight. By the time they fumbled and tripped their way through the hallway to the door of their hotel room, their lips were swollen and rosy and Harry had his hand wrapped around the blond's naked erection.

Draco had grappled hopelessly for his wand to open the door, but the spell to unlock it was lost in the sex-saturated swirl of his brain. Harry had batted Draco's wand roughly away, urgently dropping his own jeans and underwear in the hallway.

"Now, here, Draco, please, god you look so fucking good-"

"Anyone can see us!"

"It's one in the morning, fuck, please, please, look at me-"

"Oh, yes-"

They were like a pair of horny, desperate teenage exhibitionists having hot, raunchy sex in public. Both of their faces mirrored looks of unequivocal desire, and Harry had to bite back a shout of pleasure when Draco shoved Harry unceremoniously up against the wall and slid full hilt into him. One pale elbow was pressed hard against the luxurious, thickly carpeted wall, supporting Draco, while the other hand had snaked down between Harry's parted thighs, stroking Harry until he felt everything else melt away into nothingness. Furthermore, the added risk of being discovered by anyone only served to turn them on even more, pushing their sensuality to intense heights. Harry could hear the blond panting like an animal behind him, matching his thrusts with each moan, and Harry cried out Draco's name.

Suddenly, the door-knob of the room opposite from theirs turned, emitting a loud creak while the door opened a mere slit.

Both men froze like deer in headlights.

Muffled voices could be heard from the other room, and then a strangled sigh before the door safely clicked closed again.

"We have to go in, Harry, they m-might come out any s-second-"

"G-going to come, and I k-know you are t-too-"

"At least let me open the d-door first-"

"H-Hurry, p-please, I'm so c-close-"

Harry forced a gasp down his throat while Draco continued to thrash wildly in him, and he felt his body give a violent jerk when he finally came into the other man's palm.

"Come in me now, Draco, I can hear their footsteps-"

"G-God, you're so f-fucking-"

"So good-"

"Fuck, yes!"

They had only managed to yank the door open and tumble clumsily into their hotel room, slamming the heavy door behind them in the nick of time as the occupants of the other room exited.

Harry was still eagerly waiting for a repeat performance.

And this was the incident that Harry thought of in the limousine, his cock all fired-up and ready, expected Draco to undo his jeans and slip a hand inside. However, Draco didn't do that at all. He kept his hands above Harry's hips, choosing instead to slide his long, sinuous arms around the brunette's waist, encircling Harry in his soft, tender grasp.

Harry blinked unexpectedly and squirmed in the blond's lap, his own hand hovering uncertainly every second wasted was an orgasm lost- above Draco's crotch. Draco pulled Harry down, his hands sliding up to cradle Harry's face lovingly. Draco's lips, a rich, strawberry-pink, descended onto Harry's, and long, vulnerable kisses unfurled after another, worming deeper and deeper into Harry's heart, this forbidden place, this foreign territory that he fiercely protected, ensuring that it belonged only to Ginny. A heat, as sweet and thick as honey, began to spread inexorably through his body, warming every vessel of his heart. Harry felt his troubles melt like lemon drops as Draco flicked his tongue gently against his own. This glow, this bloom that Draco was imparting while he kissed Harry, seemed to whisper numerous secrets, dropping a thousand hints, causing a subtle shift in their relationship, but Harry was scared, he was afraid that-

Nothing but primal, animalistic, familiar sex, I can't fall in love with him-

Ruthlessly tearing himself away from Draco's grasp, Harry ran a trembling finger over his own flushed, rosy lips. He had tried to ignore the fleeting flash of hurt that registered on Draco's features, tried to ignore the way a small voice had screamed at him admonishingly when he pulled away. Swallowing apprehensively, he felt the blood storming in his cheeks, and the silence that ensued was alive with intensity. Something delicate was hanging in the balance, something that vowed to change the drift of their affair, Harry knew the next thing that he uttered from his lips would make or break-

"Guess you must be too tired for sex, huh?" the brunette had croaked out, a touch of scorn apparent in his tone.

It was as though a set of metal bars had clamped themselves across Draco's eyes. A soft, mirthless laugh issued from the blond. Closing his eyes for a split second and shaking his head as if he had to rid his mind of something, Draco had reached a limp hand out to undo Harry's jeans.

Jolting back to the present, Harry's mind was full of fragments of chaotic information and memories that were rapidly reaching fever-pitch. This was all that he needed, this time alone with his thoughts, a quiet moment to evaluate the possibilities, the situations, the tell-tale tip-offs that Draco had been trying to tell Harry inexplicitly. He felt like he was bludgeoned over the head with a sharp axe.

Looking down at his hands, he realized that he had unwittingly drained his coffee.

"Guess you must be too tired for sex, huh?"

His insides writhed with shame, and he promptly began to whack himself over the head with the empty coffee cup. He felt like he was a marathon runner that had finished the race hours after the stipulated time. He was blinded by this complicated network of drain pipes that had been spewing out nothing but lust and sex, clouding his vision, because when you untangled the labyrinth, only one fact prevailed.

Draco Malfoy was In Love with him.

God, what a fool. He should have seen it; the writing must have been graffitied on the walls in letters ten feet tall. His true feelings for Draco, that had been buried and latent, had hidden under lock-and-key in his heart, but when push came to shove, it emerged like a shining sea creature from the murky, disaster-ridden ocean.

Harry James Potter, do you love Draco Malfoy? He asked himself sternly and stopped abusing himself with the cup (The Muggles were beginning to stare now).

His heart replied with a resounding, joyous YES. He was precipitously, completely in love with a man that he hardly knew. What's Draco's favorite color? What's his favorite food? What's his daily schedule like?

But Harry didn't care about such banal questions like that; it was as though a celestial being had deigned to descend from the heavens, divulging some sort of divine knowledge that put Harry's life back into focus. And Harry began to laugh, a clear, tinkling laugh ringing with pure happiness that spilt forth from his mouth. He got up from the bench and began to do a silly little jig, acting like he had discovered the panacea to world poverty. Amidst the messy pieces of the puzzle that lay in his mind, it was like a glorious light had lasered itself through his marriage, illuminating the gaping cracks. One single, profound revelation was written in his mind like someone had taken a quill and scrawled it in huge, capital letters:

He could live with Ginny's affection, but he couldn't live without Draco's love.

"Flowers for you, sir?"

Harry blinked at the young girl with long, blonde hair, selling flowers in her out-stretched arm. Two flowers were clasped in her small hand, their long stems protruding from her palm. One flower was a common bright-red rose in full, vibrant bloom. It was dainty and delicately curled, the soft, folded spiraling patterns of the rose intricately created. Drops of moisture had landed on its brilliant petals, like it was crying. It had sharp thorns dotted haphazardly on its stem, but its leaves, the shade of fresh green apples, were thin and lush.

"Shhh, your dad's sleeping his headache off-"

The other flower, however, was a plant that Harry had never seen before. It was a white flower with its petals shut resolutely, but Harry could detect faint traces of silver-grey surrounding the petals. It was obviously not in full bloom yet. The stem was elegant, willowy and free of thorns, its leaves thick and leathery. It was elegant yet fragile, Harry thought as he stroked the floury petals that threatened to tear. Peeling a single petal back gently, Harry gasped; shocked to see the blazing and unexpected color of fiery orange, concealed right in the core of the flower, leap out at him.

"Paris, to celebrate your birthday-"

Smiling genially at the girl, he pulled his wallet out and paid her with Muggle money.

His hand hovered equidistant between both flowers, and a split second of hesitation and indecisiveness danced in his eyes. Letting air out through his teeth, Harry screwed his eyes shut and snapped them open; his choice steadfast and unwavering.

He picked the silver flower.

Turning his head from side to side, Harry gritted his teeth determinedly and began to make his way through the Malfoy Manor. His brow was furrowed in worry and wonder at the vastness of this place. The only room he knew about was the master bedroom. But he did remember Draco mentioning something about a study where he worked… Squaring his shoulders, he started to wander aimlessly, mentally rehearsing the things that he was going to say to Draco when he saw him.

Green, alert eyes darted everywhere as Harry increased his speed, ambling faster through long, wide corridors. Suddenly, he screeched to a halt when he saw a familiar, frazzled figure in the distance emerge from a room, his shoulders hunched.

"Draco!" Harry cried out, adrenaline swooshing through his veins. The blond looked up, before back-tracking in horror and fleeing back to his study, slamming the door behind him. But that was more than enough for Harry; he was like an ex-smoker that had caught a waft of delicious just-lit cigarette smoke. Harry quickly sprinted towards Draco. Hissing angrily when he found out that the door was locked, the brunette whipped his wand out and muttered a spell.

Stilling his hammering heart, he took a deep breath and stepped over the threshold. His eyes hungrily feasted on the creamy, strong back of the blond and the august but messy tendrils of alabaster hair that he had missed so fucking much- curling on the nape of his neck.

"Draco, please, listen to me, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have-"

"Get out!" The blond snapped his head around furiously, his hackles raised and his eyes cocked in combat. Harry did a double take when he took in Draco's haggard appearance. His infuriated eyes were now an outraged streak of grey, sunken in violet-circled sockets. He had a few extra lines fretted around his under-slept, shadowed eyes. His fists were clenched in pure wrath, the muscles under his skin trembling with emotion.

what do you do, what do you do when everything is broken-

"Draco, let me finish-"

"Get the fuck out!" Draco's dark grey glare was like a drill that bore right into Harry, seeing through his useless, empty brain.

Harry was nothing but a bag of nerves, reeling back in dread and panic, knees trembling like whippets. No, this isn't how it's supposed to be- He retreated until he felt his back touch the door, and his hands immediately flew to the gilded handle. His conscience promptly picked up a megaphone and began screaming at him.

He's always played second fiddle to your family, and now, when you've decided to happily change your mind, you expect him to welcome you with open arms? You've toyed with him like a fucking puppet, like a fucking Muggle jack-in-the-box, pressing his buttons mercilessly, making him pander to your every whim and fancy. You cut him where his heart used to beat; you stretched him to breaking point time and time again, you took him to the limit, played with him, used him for a year, a whole-fucking-year.

You want to make amends now? It's too fucking late.

He gave you his all, and in turn, you gave him nothing.

It was like he had walked into a concrete, solid brick wall that he couldn't smash however hard he tried. His initial excitement and affection was leaking rapidly like air from a pierced balloon. There was a sinking sensation in his stomach, like water spiraling down a plughole.

It's over, Harry.


Draco heard the door creak open and the soft click of it closing.

So this was it, the grand finale of a pathetic, sordid, year-long affair. Harry had slinked back with his tail between his legs, but had left at the drop of a hat. Draco sighed, a sigh that seemed to come from the very depths of his tortured soul.

Sorry to be so inconvenient, but I love you, and I always will.

He had been waiting on tenterhooks for this day to come. He had put everything on the line for this to start. He had broken up his family, risked his career for this flimsy, insubstantial relationship, hoping that maybe one day Harry would open his eyes and realize that he too, loved Draco as much as the blond did, this gnawing, debilitating, compulsive love that swallowed him whole, coloring every single thing that he did in his life.

i'll be wishing, wanting, yours for the taking-

But it was just a joke, wasn't it, something to laugh at and poke fun at over the dinner table when Harry returned to the whole Weasley clan. He always knew that Weasley would take Harry back.

She would be foolish not to.

While for Draco, he had come clean with Astoria, telling her that he couldn't keep up this farce any longer. He expected his wonderfully precocious son to leave with his wife, but surprisingly, he didn't. Instead, he stayed with his father through thick and thin, acting as Draco's emotional rock.

i'll wait here every day, in case you scratch the surface-

But sometimes, he would see Scorpius sitting outside in the garden, staring forlornly at the flowers that Astoria loved to grow, and sometimes, he would notice Scorpius's eyes flick swiftly over to Astoria's empty seat at the dinner table. Whenever his parents celebrated Scorpius's birthday together, Draco didn't miss the small swell of lingering hope that zipped as fast as quicksilver across his son's eyes.

It was times like these, these small glances that spoke volumes, that made Draco feel a failure as a father.

And that was why, Draco recalled as he lifted a hand to his forehead, stretching it across and began to rub his temples wearily, he would wipe his mind like a blank sheet with work, strengthening his empire while his heart curled up and died elsewhere.

"Shut the fuck up, shut up, shut up, shut up!"

It helped him to exorcise the pain, pain that Draco desperately wished was as fleeting as dipping a finger into hot wax, not this sort of pain, pain that flowed slowly and tremulously from an infected, oozing wound. His heart lay ripped in emotional tatters around his feet. It was as though Harry had given him the kiss of life for a short, blissful year, before tossing him remorselessly back into the whirlpool.

And now, now what was he to do?

He would have to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, put on a stiff upper lip, and go out to meet the world, immersing himself completely and painstakingly into his son and his work while nursing his broken heart, that was collapsing at the seams, back to health.

Because if I can't have you, I won't have anyone else.


He thought I'd left, Harry thought with a shock. Actually, he had just turned to close the door behind him. He looked at Draco's heaving shoulders, crushed despondently in defeat the fall of a monarch- for his seemingly invincibility, the way his head was buried morosely alive but barely breathing- in his shaking hands.

He really loves me.

Harry wasn't going down i'll keep tossing rocks at your window- without a fight. Steeling himself for the yells and screams that he knew Draco would throw his way, he cautiously approached the blond like how one would approach a furiously pacing caged animal, slowly, like how one would place the final card at the very peak of a fragile house of cards, stealthily like how one would catch a butterfly.

He was standing directly behind Draco now, and Harry quickly wiped his clammy palms on his jeans.

"I love you." Harry's voice had gone all jerky and brittle, but he didn't care. He needed to say those three precious words that he knew Draco had been waiting to hear from him for more than a year.

"I love you, Draco. Please believe me, I'm sorry for hurting you, please…"

"I thought I told you to get out! I don't need your fucking pity, Potter, I don't need your fucking apologies, your fucking rejection again! Get the fuck away from me, don't you dare touch me, let go!" eyes seething demonically-

three two one fall into my arms now-

But Harry was clinging onto Draco like a leech, his arms wrapped around a flailing and thrashing Draco, a towering juggernaut of rage, Harry's muscles straining valiantly to keep Draco in his embrace. His mouth was whispering endless admissions, swearing like verbal diarrhea- to make amends, murmurs of professions of love as he felt the teetering, precarious pagoda of deception that Harry had fabricated crash around him. He remembered how easily lies as light as soufflé had tripped out from his tongue, and he felt his heart soar at how he would never need to lie again because he was with Draco, belonging heartbodysoulmind to him.

sorry, sorry, please forgive me, I was a fool, nothing but a fool, let's try to take it back before it all went wrong, I love you, please stop crying, Draco, you don't know how much you're hurting me, please I love you I love you, just come back to me, I'll make it all better, Draco, let me mend you, let's move on, stop crying shhhhh-

You can't put a lid on something like that, not if it's still alive, still burning, because there's only going to be an eruption when it comes off.

The rest would simply bottle their feelings up, waiting for the eventual day when everything will explode in their faces like a volcano.

And that was what happening to Draco, as he raked his hands savagely up and down Harry's biceps, sinking his nails violently into the brunette. I deserve it, every scar- Harry thought, gritting his teeth in pain. Draco was banging his fists hysterically against Harry's chest now, wailing, bawling, screeching uncontrollably while he buried his head into the crook between the other man's head and shoulder, eyes screwed shut in agony.

Gradually, Draco's sobs tears etched with silver evasion- subsided, his body sagging with the weariness of his tears and tantrums and he sank, boneless, in Harry's arms. Draco blinked, as though he had just stepped out of a dream. He suddenly blushed hot, went cold and felt shaky and oddly light. Draco pressed his body closer against Harry's, his stormy grey eyes locked with Harry's wounded puppy eyes that were desolate and awash with remorse. Gently, Harry wiped Draco's face nothing but vanilla, the only thing I want to smell for the rest of my life- that was stained with tear-tracks with his thumb. Dipping his lips down to the blond's, he kissed him tentatively at the corner of his mouth, his lashes like tiny tentacles trembling against Draco's pale cheek.

And at that rapturous moment, Harry felt that same heat, that heat that he had been trying to deny that it ever happened that day in the limousine begin to radiate from his heart down to the very tips of his toes, but this time, there were no secrets sequestered behind the kiss. He felt like he had been stumbling for weeks through a parched desert, and now, suddenly, he was at the entrance to a vast Butterbeer factory.

Draco's lips remained resolutely glued shut, but when Harry lovingly laced their fingers together, the blond hesitantly began to kiss back hold me closer I'm falling faster tell me this could last forever-, causing Harry's heart to perform a somersault. But he felt Draco's body tense to iron hardness as Draco pulled away warily and said in a muffled, hiccupy voice.

"Did you, did you really mean what you said?"

"I'll stay with you for the rest of my life. Give me this one last chance. Please, just let me show you how much I love you."

And when Harry saw the last shard of ice in Draco's eyes melt away, and a true, genuine smile as rare as gold dust form on those perfect lips, he knew that he had finally, finally, unwrapped his Christmas present.

His father didn't come home for the past two nights.

Albus thought his parents could kiss and make up, even though they had been tiptoeing carefully around each other for the past four days. But now, as the scales fell from his eyes and his sky-high hopes began to crumble to a pit of despair, it gradually dawned on him that Harry had left, leaving a wife with no husband, and three children without a father, abandoning his family like how one would throw away an old shoe. Albus felt jealousy and shame, both new sensations, gnawing at him like acid.

His mother was demented with grief; the sparkle in her eyes that he had always taken for granted had vanished, her beautiful, luscious red hair was now droopy and depressed, as though she couldn't be bothered anymore. The whole family knew now, even his extended family. They were enraged, all up in arms, rallying defensively around Ginny, gathering ammunition to hurl at Harry when he came back.

If he came back.

Right now, Aunt Hermione was talking quietly to his mom, Grandma Weasley in the kitchen, and Uncle Ron was in the living room, having just flown with Lily. But he was the one that discovered both men in bed together. Whenever he closed his eyes, those images would come zooming back, and each moan, each whisper was like an icy slap to his face.

The summer holidays didn't feel complete without Harry playing Quidditch with them.

Suddenly, Albus froze in his room. He heard incensed shouts, new bouts of sobbing, livid yells and most importantly, his father's baritone voice. Lifting his head up from his hands, he quickly ran to the living room and hid behind a corner.

"Malfoy?! With Malfoy?! That ferret-faced git?!"

"Don't call him that, Ron!"

"Oh, what have you done to our poor Ginny, disgraced our whole family, leaving her for that-"

"I'm sorry, Mrs Weasley."

"For a year you've lied to me! How do you feel, Harry, how do you think I feel?! Shirking your responsibilities as a father and as a husband-"

"I'm done pretending that we're alright, Ginny."

"Harry, please think this through-"

"Hermione, I love him. I came back just to tell you all that."


"Lily, I love you…"

Albus burst into tears, his fingers gripping the door so hard that his knuckles were white. A jagged pain, as though someone had stuck a dagger in his gut, shot remorselessly through his body. His face was completely drained; only the color of his freckles remained visible. He knew what was going to happen next. His father would never return, and this house, which was once full of laughter and joy, would be permeated with misery and anger.

bang bang-

But he knew deep down he still loved his father, regardless of the atrocities that he had done. He had always been closer to Harry than Ginny, and he couldn't imagine life without Harry. Please don't go, Dad- Before he knew what he was doing, he had scrambled out of his corner, lunging at his father desperately.

"Albus! Albus, get your hands off him right now!"


The air was heavy, damp and unmistakably foreign. Albus coughed and blinked, and two figures swam into focus. Scorpius and Draco Malfoy were standing regally in front of both Potters, like some macabre my father's male lover, and his son- welcoming party.

Scorpius did look similar to his father, but on closer inspection, there were a few differences. His hair wasn't as platinum-white, but a darker shade of like spun gold- blond. His eyes were grey too, but rimmed with sapphire-blue. But what they both definitely shared was height; the younger Malfoy was much taller and more intimidating than Albus. Both boys eyed each other like a pair of prize fighters, sizing the other up.

Resentment was emanating from every one of his stiff muscles, and Albus suddenly felt the woolly feeling of detestation and disgust rise up in him, hating what the two Malfoys stood for.

Nothing but Slytherins and home-wreakers.

Charging towards Draco, he let out an anguished yell and kicked the older man hard in the shin. As fast as a heartbeat, Scorpius had swept swiftly in front of him, executing a flying wallop at his cheek.

"How dare you hit my father, you good-for-nothing fool!"

Scorpius's blond hair glowed ominously like white fire around his head, his strong fists balled up in fury. Albus staggered back at the force of the punch, his intense green eyes blazing through his curtain of dark fringe. But he relentlessly started forward, anger hot on his lips.

"You two are nothing but Slytherins, and my brother says that all Slytherins are slimy, evil little gits!" Albus yelled, his lips twisted into a horrid sneer. He looked up at Draco, who had an eyebrow raised in mild amusement. Scorpius was just about to aim another swing at the other boy when Draco murmured authoritative and over-loaded- his son's name quietly.

It was as though a thunderbolt had struck Scorpius. He glanced up at his father, before hesitantly retreating. His eyes were still burning with ferocity, touches of agitated pink in Scorpius's pale cheeks as both boys glared venomously at each other, their eyes nothing but murderous slits. Abruptly, Albus felt Harry grab him by the wrist and yank him roughly up the winding staircase of the manor.

"That's enough, Albus."

Yesterday after the showdown with Scorpius, Harry didn't scold him, but instead he had brought his son to his favorite shops and places (they steered clear of Uncle George's joke shop), bought him candy and ice-cream and everything that a thirteen-year-old would want.

When they returned to the manor, both Potters kept their distance from the Malfoys, but the Gryffindor didn't miss the small smile that his father flashed at Draco. Albus had planned to sulk to no end; trying to show Harry how miserable he was about his broken family. He had cried, screamed, yelled and accused, but it didn't work, his father had made his choice and was sticking to it. Albus was sick and tired of tantrums and tears, so he just lay, his energy spent, cocooned in his father's comforting embrace for a long time.

"Daddy will you stop loving me?"


"This place is scary. It's so big and cold-"

"It does take some getting used to, doesn't it?"

"Do you love me or Mr. Malfoy more?"

"It's two different kinds of love, Albus."

"Why are you here, Albus? Are you staying with me?"

"I… I miss you. I know Mr. Malfoy wouldn't want me around-"

"Nonsense. You know you're welcome here anytime, but you have to show them some respect. You can't go around calling them slimy gits, dear."

"But I- I didn't mean to-"

"I love you Dad."

"I love you too."

Harry had kept his son company through the night, climbing into bed with him, patting him to sleep in that way that Harry used to do when Albus was younger. Albus knew that this was Harry's way of apologizing, and when he curled up contentedly beside his father, the younger boy gracefully accepted the apology.

Early next morning, Harry had brought him round the manor, assimilating and familiarizing Albus with the different rooms and facilities of the place. They did catch glimpses of Draco and Scorpius, but Albus remembered Harry's words and tactfully kept quiet. But sadly, Harry had to report to work after breakfast, and Albus knew that Draco had stopped working from home and also had to leave the house.

Which left him alone with Scorpius for the whole day.

The vast library that the Malfoys had kept Albus busy for the most of the day, but Albus was getting bored and restless. The only thing that he wanted to do right now was fly, but he had left his broomstick at home.

At home… Albus's heart dropped like a stone when he thought of his mother and his siblings. He was convinced he was a traitor, abandoning his family and staying here with his father. Looking down at his shoes sadly, he suddenly felt very lonesome. He had been surrounded by people ever since he was young; there was never a time when he was far from a doting uncle or a fun cousin. He was desperate for someone, anyone to talk to him, to stop him from dying of loneliness.

As if on cue, Albus felt someone step into his peripheral vision. Lifting his head up quizzically, he stared warily at Scorpius.

The blond smiled tersely, his head tilted to one side as he studied the other boy. Albus's messy raven locks were gleaming like espresso beans in the sun, his intense green eyes cautiously scrutinizing Scorpius. A smattering of freckles, the color of chocolate powder, was dusted at the bridge of his nose.

"We never really did introduce ourselves properly. I'm Scorpius."

"I know." Albus scowled, but quickly schooled his features into a small smile. "I'm Albus."

Scorpius raised an eyebrow at that flash of hostility, but said nothing. Both boys sat there quietly for a while, grateful for the other's company. But Albus couldn't hold it any longer, and he unthinkingly blurted out, "Do you hate my dad?"

"No." The answer was swift and sure, as though Scorpius expected the question. Albus waited for the reason, but it seemed like the Slytherin was hesitant. Nevertheless, Albus plowed on stubbornly.


Scorpius paused, piercing the other boy with his gaze. "I did, initially, when Father told Mother and me, but I knew he wasn't going to change his mind. I stayed with Father because I was closer to him than Mother, although I really do miss her sometimes… He's family, he's my dad. And I want to see him happy."

"Hang on. You're saying that… you're okay with your father falling in love with a man?!"

But Albus knew that he had asked beyond his allocated quota of questions when he saw Scorpius frown and look away, his thin lips pursed in disapproval. The brunette quickly stared in front of him, wringing his hands anxiously and muttering an apology. The silence extended uncomfortably, and it felt like the air had grown a bit chilly. Albus heard Scorpius give a small sigh before dusting himself off and standing up.

See what you've done, Albus? You've scared him off with your stupid questions. He thought miserably, hugging his knees to his chest defensively.

"Come on. I've got something to show you," Scorpius announced and briskly marched off without waiting for Albus's reaction. Eyes wide with curiosity, the Gryffindor stumbled to his feet and followed, having to jog a bit to catch up with Scorpius's long speedy strides. They threaded and wove their way in dizzying circles through the manor until the blond stopped suddenly. Albus squinted; this place seemed much brighter and warmer than the rest of the house. Looking at the other boy, Scorpius flung open a newly-varnished door and stepped out.

"Wow!" Albus burst out in complete surprise. The sky was a deep sailor-blue, dotted with fluffy cotton-wool clouds, the sinking sun a slim nugget of burnished gold. The trees were lush and lyrical in the receding sunshine, and a crisp, enticing lawn a little slice of heaven- stretched in front of them. Gulls whirled and cried over-head in the sky as the brunette sped off to the middle of the lawn, jerking his head up ecstatically, relishing in the warmth of the summer.

Grinning joyously, Albus kicked off his shoes carelessly and collapsed on the fresh green grass, its emerald blades glistening like jewels under the sun's caress. The boy waggled his limbs in childish excitement, as though making imaginary snow angels, his arms and legs splayed out like starfish.

"Are you having a fit or something?!" Scorpius yelped in horror, looking furtively around them.

Albus sat up indignantly. "You mean you haven't done this before? It's loads of fun, come on, try it!" With that, the Gryffindor stubbornly yanked a terrified Scorpius towards him. The blond glared at Albus, but composedly and meticulously laid himself down on the ground. His white teeth flashed in the sunshine as he cracked a small grin. The sun played on his closed eyelids, and it was a new, pleasant sensation. Opening an eye, Scorpius quickly sat up when he saw Albus studying him intently.

"You look nice when you smile. You should do it more often," Albus beamed secretively before bouncing off energetically. He's like a sodding five-year-old, Scorpius thought disdainfully to himself.

A sodding five-year-old that makes me smile. Suppressing an urge to smile again, he quickly stood up and followed Albus.

The Gryffindor froze when he saw an explosion of color in the near distance. He began to sprint towards what seemed to look like a garden. His senses were assaulted when he took in the various shades and sizes of numerous flowers and for a moment, their unique, fresh aromas dazzled him.

Albus stepped closer, his eyes wide with rapture. Bright yellow buttercups played host to the small bumble-bees flitting around, and roses the color of deep red and snow-white were dotted haphazardly between different species of flowers. All of the plants were in full bloom, ranging in colors of the rainbow, their scrumptious green leaves twinkling up at Albus. It was a small yet beautiful garden, and it was obvious that someone had gone to great pains to maintain it. Scorpius settled himself beside Albus, and the trees stretched their thick arched branches like a shady umbrella, shielding both boys from the last of the sun's rays.

"Who's your gardener?" Albus asked, his fingers teasing the floury petals of a lustrous sunflower.

Scorpius bristled, drawing himself up, his words as sharp and clear as cut-glass. "Not every rich family has a gardener, you know."

Albus blinked in surprise. He noticed the possessive way Scorpius's grey eyes stared at the sunflower in Albus's hand, and the familiarity that the blond had as he slid a calculating finger down a tulip's stem.

"You mean, you're the one that did all this?!" Albus said in astonishment, his gaze febrile with interest. The Slytherin only gave a curt nod, his attention focused on a daisy that didn't seem to be growing well. Albus bit his lip and murmured an apology. Scorpius looked up and saw Albus's infectiously open and unpretentious countenance, the way his big green eyes swiveled everywhere, full of interest and amusement.

It was hard to stay mad at him.

"My mother… she loves growing flowers. When she left, I… took over the garden. It's like she's here with me, you know, even though she's left us. Whenever I miss her, I come here and it just… it just makes it all better. Her favorite was the sunflower," Scorpius explained quietly, his eyes diamond-bright as his finger unwittingly tracing Astoria's name in the soil.

Albus swept his gaze through the garden, and he saw that there were more sunflowers than the other flowers. "Well, I think your flowers are the most beautiful thing that I've ever seen," the brunette proclaimed grandly, his mouth stretched into a dazzling smile the width of a watermelon. The corners of Scorpius's mouth quirked up into a tiny grin. Hooking his gaze onto a sunflower with silver powder etched around its petals, the blond reached over and gently dislodged it from the soil. Whipping his wand out, he instructed Albus to spell his own name out very slowly and clearly. With each letter uttered from Albus's lips, Scorpius tapped his wand on the chocolate-brown core of the flower. The powder stirred languidly, before arranging itself gracefully to form Albus's name, each alphabet ingrained into each petal. When the process was complete, Scorpius, his cheeks tinged with a shade of rose-bud pink, shyly offered the flower to an astounded Albus.

"For you."

And as Albus happily accepted his gift, he thought to himself, that maybe it wasn't so bad to spend the summer holidays in the Malfoy Manor after all.

The wind was whipping up into a storm, howling through the cracks of the windows. The rain was beating a fast, loud tattoo on the glass. Albus whimpered and curled up into a ball in bed. A violent streak of lightning split the sky into half, and Albus yelped when an ear-splitting crack of thunder pierced him. Shivering in fear, the boy burrowed underneath the thick blankets, hoping to escape the fury of the storm.

Ever since young, Albus had hated thunderstorms with a passion.

When he was at home, he would crawl into his parents' bed, knowing that they would protect him from the storm. But now, his mother was no longer there, and he absolutely would not climb into bed with his father and Mr. Malfoy. Albus and Draco had maintained a cool distance simply because Albus was a bit scared of the older blond, and Draco chose not to strike up conversation with Albus.

He knew he couldn't get any sleep unless he was in bed with another person, so that left Scorpius. Albus sat up in bed hesitantly. He didn't want to expose any sort of weakness to the other boy, because Scorpius seemed so mature, both physically and emotionally, for his age. Albus was extremely impulsive and rash, blurting whatever came to his mind immediately. On the other hand, Scorpius liked to turn things over in his mind, choosing his words carefully before speaking. He feared that the blond would laugh at him if he knew that Albus was scared of thunderstorms.

Both boys did share interests, though. They liked the same music, the same ice-cream flavors, the same candy, and most importantly, they loved flying. Scorpius also taught him the intricacies of mixing Muggle gardening (complete with gardening gloves and trowels) and magic, and Albus had felt a surge of pride when he planted his first rose that changed its color according to the weather. They had spent loads of time together during the holidays, and Albus enjoyed the other boy's company immensely. One blissful day, when the weather was perfect for flying, Albus had gazed wistfully up to the sky.

"Come on, Albus, let's go flying."

"I… I can't! My broom's at home."

"I'll lend you one, I've got loads."

"Bloody hell, where'd you get all those?! There's at least five Starfire 3000s, six Sunwhisper 2000s, and Merlin, is that… is that a Windbolt 6000?!"

"Yeah, my dad's got connections. His business associates know that I love to fly. Go on, pick one!"

However, one thing that they didn't share was passion for the same Quidditch teams. Both boys preferred different teams, and they had spent most of the day arguing good-naturedly over which team was the better one.

Worrying his bottom lip with his teeth, Albus stealthily padded out of his room and crossed the hallway, passing a few rooms and finally stopping at the door of Scorpius's room. Tentatively, Albus twisted the gilded handle and stepped in, walking towards a slumbering Scorpius. Gently prodding the blond with his finger to make more room, Albus gingerly lowered himself to the bed. He inhaled the uncharacteristic earthy scent of Scorpius and immediately felt comforted.

The Slytherin yawned. It felt like someone had poked him, which was highly suspicious. Turning over, he cracked open an eye and saw a pair of fearful green eyes staring back at him. Scorpius jumped out of his skin and let out a surprised yowl.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you! It's just that… I'm… scared of… thunderstorms…" Albus started, but trailed off morosely, lowering his head in shame. Scorpius sat up, rubbing the residues of sleep out of his eyes. He took in Albus's black chaotic swirls of hair and his timid eyes brimming with apprehension.

"Yeah sure, you can sleep with me. Just don't do that again," the blond warned, pulling the blankets around both of them. Albus beamed gratefully at him and promptly snuggled into Scorpius's chest, wrapping his small arms around the Slytherin's lanky waist. Scorpius froze for a second, but felt the tension melt slowly away. Furrowing his brow questioningly, he hesitantly slipped an arm around the other boy's back, patting a cowering Albus when a slash of lightning stabbed the room.

"Are you going to come back next holiday?" the blond asked casually and dismissively, but Albus knew how much his answer meant to Scorpius.

Albus nodded vigorously. "I'm going to come back to see the garden and my roses, and to see you!" His sentence escalated into a frightful cry when a heart-stopping crash of thunder roiled Albus. Scorpius smiled to himself, pulling the other boy closer to him. He stayed awake, keeping Albus company until the storm had calmed down.

And when the last fragment of lightning flashed, illuminating the scattering of freckles on Albus's face that Scorpius found so endearing, the Slytherin had to suppress a strong urge to trace and count the number of freckles that the brunette had.

The air was sweet, still and warm. They were taking their time, touching each other to no end, simply because they were no longer living on borrowed time. Both men were bathed in a delicious warm glow from the flickering flame of the candle beside the bed, love and firelight racing in their veins. Draco's every move was as assured and full of intent like a ballet dancer's, and Harry luxuriated in the always-sure touch of his warm tongue on his hyper-sensitive skin.

Reaching up, Harry slid a finger down Draco's dragon earring. Its body was coiled as tight as a spring, its soft-pink eyes gazing at Harry. Slowly, timidly, its tail snaked out and wrapped itself around Harry's thumb, and its flat, noble head dipped down to give Harry's fingernail a daring, tiny lick. Grinning joyously, Harry unclasped the earring and put it away.

"So beautiful," Draco whispered, his voice low and intimate, sending ripples of pleasure undulating through Harry's body. His hands were touching Harry's naked chest and abdomen, admiring the way Harry's brown limbs shone like a young god.

"All yours."

"All… mine?" The blond replied incredulously, his trembling voice like a young boy on Christmas morning.

"Every inch, every whisper, every heartbeat," Harry murmured tenderly, feeling his skin prickle with pleasurable delight when Draco pushed him gently down on the bed. All of the night's magic seemed to whisper and hush as Draco's expert fingers swiftly undid Harry's jeans, and the brunette felt like his body was a tool in a magician's arsenal, the way Draco's hands slid smoothly on him, eliciting gasps of bliss and cries of contentment.

Nothing could blanket this moment, this enchanting, peaceful night that dissolved into nothing but yielding moans, soft caresses and exquisite lingerings.

He was waiting for the sweet, wonderful world that he had lived in for the past few weeks to burst like a bubble. Tomorrow was the day that the children would be returning to Hogwarts, and it would be inevitable that Harry would meet his family, and then maybe, just maybe, this honeymoon would be over.

It didn't bear thinking about.

Draco sighed softly as he rubbed his eyes wearily. He was tired, but he knew he couldn't sleep, wouldn't sleep. A sliver of destructive doubt niggled away at him and he tried to push it away, but to no avail. The moon on the horizon was sending shimmery, milky ribbons of light down at both men, and Draco tentatively slid his fingers in between Harry's, smiling wistfully while he memorized the way Harry's thicker, calloused fingers fit wonderfully with his own.

don't say that when the sun comes up I'll wake up and you won't be around-

Suddenly, Harry yawned and turned over in bed, pulling away from Draco. A bronzed arm flung out to hug Draco, but Harry felt nothing but cool bedsheets. Sitting up questioningly, he yawned expansively again before his eyes groggily zoomed in on the still and silent figure of the blond in front of him.

The whites of Draco's eyes gleamed warily and he shrunk back, hunching his shoulders as cagey grey eyes looked down at long, pale fingers. Harry moved closer, forcing Draco to meet his gaze. And then, something electric and alive crackled in the eyes of both men, something that meant a lot to them, but very little to us. A thousand sweet nothings lay unspoken between Harry and Draco, and very gently, Harry tugged Draco down to bed, slipping him underneath the welcoming covers.

i'm not going anywhere-

The blond's body was warm, yet frail and vulnerable. Harry sat patiently beside the other man, his soothing touches coaxing Draco to sleep. The brunette marveled at the smooth curves of Draco's beautiful cheekbones while he tucked stray strands of bewitching alabaster hair behind Draco's ear. The ex-Slytherin's face was flushed with happiness, not that nervous, mottled flush, but a lovely pink glow. And at that split second, when Draco's eyes gave Harry a clinging look before hesitantly closing, Harry felt a sharp pang that made his heart stop for a moment and dance around like mad as he realized that this is different, this is real, this is it.

The both of them had experienced every emotion in the spectrum ragelovesexjoyjealousyfearsadness- and Harry knew that it wasn't something that could be taken for granted. Adjusting his position in bed, he crossed his legs and wrapped a hand comfortingly around Draco's wrist, waiting for the blond to go to sleep.

It was now Harry's turn to keep the twilight vigil.

love you loads

love you thousands

love you millions

love you to the bottom of the sea

love you up to the-

stars of the-