Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
This fic was written for the HD Career Fair on LiveJournal, dedicated to fics featuring Harry and Draco in unusual careers. The prompter (shaun84) asked for Draco as a Muggle car mechanic, for him to be good with his hands and for Harry to be fascinated by that. The prompter also asked for an Epilogue compliant fic where Scorpius defends his father to anyone criticising him.
Thanks and love to my wonderful beta readers, Plumeria and Naadi Moonfeather! Any mistakes are my own.
IN NEED OF REPAIR
It's Christmas Eve and they're about to sit down to dinner when James shouts:
"Look! It's snowing!"
They all run to the windows to see, even the adults. Large, white flakes come dancing down, visible under the street lights before vanishing on the wet cobblestones.
"How often do we get snow in London at Christmas?" Ginny says.
Harry grins at her. "It's just like magic."
Hogwarts-style candles are hovering over the table, the Christmas tree is lit and as pretty as any they have ever seen, and the kitchen counter is covered with rows and rows of mince pies fresh from the oven. Harry looks around at his extended family seating themselves around the table. Even after their divorce, Ginny and Harry have continued to spend their Christmases together at Grimmauld Place with the children, this year with the addition of Andromeda and Teddy, which is something of a relief. Everyone has to behave a little better when there are other people around – the kids don't squabble quite so much and the lingering tension between Ginny and Harry is never allowed to surface. In all, they've spent an enjoyable day filled with Christmas preparations and, with a glass of wine inside him, Harry is feeling pretty content, listening rather inattentively to the different conversations around the table.
So when Al blurts out his announcement through a mouthful of food Harry is totally unprepared, nearly piercing his lip with his fork: "Scorpius is spending Christmas in the Muggle world. He's staying with his dad."
The sharpness in Harry's voice brings all conversation to a halt. Teddy's fork stops halfway to his mouth, his eyes begin to shine with mischievous delight and his hair turns turquoise.
"Ooh! That really interests you, doesn't it?"
Harry glowers at him, looking for a scathing reply and coming up with nothing.
Andromeda confirms that Draco has taken up residence in a Muggle London suburb. "Narcissa isn't too pleased, of course, but I can see why Draco would want something completely different after his divorce. Although I have to admit I never expected anything quite as different as that."
"What does he do there?" Harry asks, trying to hide the tremor of his hand by chasing food around his plate.
"He's a car mechanic."
A pea escapes from Harry's plate, skips to the floor and rolls under the table. Minnie, Lily's quarter-Kneazle cat, takes a flying leap after it, followed by a howl from James.
"Ow! Your stupid cat! It doesn't know the difference between a pea and my foot."
"For Merlin's sake, Lily, get that creature out of here!" Ginny points to the door but her eyes are on Harry and he knows the hard voice is aimed at him.
She's still suspicious of Malfoy. And of Harry's interest in him.
Harry rubs his forehead with the heel of his hand. It's not the first time he wishes Ginny would stop insisting on these family gatherings. "It's for the children," she claims, but Harry is pretty sure the children loathe it as much as he does. They're teenagers now, definitely old enough to understand, and even when they were younger, before the divorce, they always sensed the unhappy undercurrents of their parents' marriage.
When dinner is over at last, Al follows Harry to the study where he tends to hide when Ginny is in the house, still talking about Scorpius' Christmas holidays in the Muggle world. Harry rummages through his desk drawers, listening more attentively than he wants Al to know.
"I know his dad, you know," Harry says, aimlessly leafing through a stack of papers, when Al catches his breath between sentences.
"Yeah, you've told me," Al replies, sounding cautious in a way that makes Harry look up and grin.
"Only a hundred times, eh?"
Al grins back with affection. "Maybe just ten or so."
With a surge of tenderness, Harry reaches out to ruffle his youngest son's already messy hair. Al really cares about people, always careful not to hurt anyone, always gentle. I wonder where he gets that from, Harry thinks. He can see some of it coming from himself, but at Al's age he definitely didn't have that gentleness or maturity. Al's had a more sheltered upbringing, for sure, and has had role models in a way Harry didn't, but Harry likes to think of these traits as a genetic gift from Arthur Weasley.
Lying awake in his room that night with his arms under his head, he can't stop thinking about Draco Malfoy. A Muggle car mechanic – Malfoy? No, it can't be; it must be a dare or a bet…
Since Harry left the Ministry a couple of years ago to write his book (which he still hasn't done), his mind has been preoccupied with Draco Malfoy. It's only natural, he tells himself, considering it's an autobiography and his life frequently overlapped with Malfoy's for ten years or so. After that he hasn't spoken a word to Malfoy and only seen him once, on Platform 9 ¾ three years ago. The only communication between them then was a nod, and that hurt a little.
It hasn't occurred to Harry to look Malfoy up to talk about their teens, the war, the years after, using his book as a perfect excuse. But it would be too embarrassing, considering they haven't spoken since…
Harry covers his face with his hands.
Not since that night.
Draco Malfoy is the only Slytherin to return to Hogwarts for their final year after the war. He is on probation and his mother is serving six months of community service at St Mungo's, let off lightly thanks to Harry testifying at their trial. Lucius is in Azkaban, which is more humane these days now that the Dementors are gone. Perhaps Draco Malfoy's return to Hogwarts is a condition of his probation; perhaps he prefers Hogwarts to spending his days alone at the empty Manor.
Malfoy is different. He's quiet, keeps to himself, doesn't even look at anyone much. According to Hermione he spends a good deal of time in the library, where she takes care to sit as far away from him as possible. But the weeks pass and there are no taunts from him, no spiteful comments or any of his petty, malicious pranks. His eyes are downcast and he looks depressed.
Harry keeps an eye on him because that's what he's always done; it's ingrained in him to know where Malfoy is at all times. Gradually, however, his wariness changes into mere observation, so gradually that he doesn't even know until he notices himself thinking: Malfoy looks good in those robes.
He blinks, taken aback, but his spontaneous reflection is valid – Malfoy does look good, and not only in his new robes. Perhaps he always did, only Harry detested him too much even to consider it. No one can go through a war unchanged, Malfoy or anyone.
Harry regards him differently after this. He notices things that must be new, like Malfoy helping a Slytherin first-year who trips and drops her books, but he also notices small, meaningless, totally irrelevant things like the way Malfoy's hand presses a roll of parchment flat against the table in class or how the downy blond hairs on the back of his neck shimmer in the light from the window.
Many, many times in the past he's wanted to kill Malfoy – and then, in their sixth year, he very nearly did. After that, the desire to do so vanished. Instead, he saved Malfoy's life, and Narcissa Malfoy saved his own. Their lives have been so bound up with each other and still they don't know each other at all.
Harry has never had any desire to talk to Malfoy but now he discovers he'd like to. They've never really talked except to exchange insults.
Malfoy rarely looks at people but he must have noticed Harry's eyes on him, for he begins to throw back the occasional glance, suspiciously at first with a furrow between his eyebrows, but then with a more puzzled look.
It's not until their last term that they do begin to talk – a few hushed words in the library, chance meetings in the corridor, and eventually walking together through the grounds in the evenings. And after the initial awkwardness and caution, they really do talk, about real things.
"You have no idea what it's like to be wrong," Malfoy says once. They're by the lake, Malfoy throwing pebbles into the water and not looking at Harry. "To have to admit, to yourself and everyone else, that you're wrong and have been wrong about so many things for so long. You've always been so right, Potter. On the right side. Doing the right things."
Something completely unexpected is happening: Harry reluctantly begins to admire Malfoy. It does occur to him that Malfoy might only give the appearance of sincerity, but his intuition tells him it's all real.
They spend most of their free time together. Ron and Hermione are very much in love and too busy with each other to notice, and Harry's relationship with Ginny is on hiatus to give them time to reflect. He doesn't miss her – Malfoy, strangely, gives him everything he needs.
It's not like he never thinks about it, what it would be like to touch Malfoy's perfect skin, smooth a finger down the ropes of veins on his forearms or run his tongue along that soft lower lip. Sometimes he thinks about it so much his morning shower takes twice as long as usual and his sheets are stained. It scares him a little, but Malfoy's presence is too mesmerizing for him to want it to stop.
When the term is at an end and they take a last walk together, going slowly to make it last longer, the relief of being done with school is mixed with sadness that this new-found friendship might be at an end, too.
"What will you be doing?" Malfoy asks and Harry can tell he's trying hard to sound casual.
He bites his lip to hide a pleased smile. "Auror training, if I'm accepted."
Malfoy throws him a sidelong glance.
Harry stops dead. "I didn't know you applied!"
Malfoy shrugs. "Maybe my past is an obstacle, and my family, but I wanted to try."
"Hope I'll see you there, then. Owl me when you get the results?"
There's no mistaking it – Malfoy is happy to hear that, and when he's happy his eyes are so beautiful Harry's heart does weird fluttery things.
"I will, if you reply by returning owl."
They smile at each other, their eyes locking.
"Eight years ago," Harry says quietly, "I refused to take your hand..."
But it has been eight years, and Malfoy takes Harry's proffered hand without hesitation. The warmth spreads all the way to Harry's toes.
I seem to have been forgiven for old sins, past beliefs and family history – I was accepted!
Just got the Letter. Was afraid Mother would be upset but she seems puzzled at most. Father doesn't know yet. I think I'll present him with fait accompli when I've taken the exam.
What's happening with you, Potter? Had a good summer? Were you accepted?
Congrats, that's great, and YES, I was!!
Nothing much happening here; I've been in London for the most part but spent two weeks in France with Ron, Hermione and Hermione's parents. For the first time in my life, I have a tan! Ron was very amused by the Muggle world.
See you in September, then. Looking forward to it.
Malfoy's depression seems to have lifted over the summer. He talks more, looks people in the eye and smiles from time to time. Even some of his sarcasm has returned and Harry is actually quite pleased. Insulting someone you hate is one thing; being sarcastic with a friend is more delicate and calls for balanced judgement, and Harry is happy that Malfoy feels secure enough with him to tease him.
Halfway through their Auror training, they're recruited by the Unspeakables. Malfoy first; Harry a few weeks later. They don't see very much of each other, but when they do, they try to make up for lost time. They talk, play Quidditch, get drunk, and Harry even invites Malfoy to Grimmauld Place.
Malfoy stays the night, and knowing he's on the other side of the wall prevents Harry from sleeping. All night the image of Malfoy's slim, wiry body in bed haunts him. I should be thinking of Ginny! The relationship with her is kind of off and on and currently on hiatus again, and Harry begins to realise that if he is in love with anyone at all, it most certainly isn't Ginny.
Their Unspeakable careers take off and Harry is surprised how much he enjoys the work. He never thought he'd be cut out for that kind of thing – no propensity for deception – but he turns out to be almost frighteningly good at it. The Sorting Hat wanted to place me in Slytherin, he remembers.
An operation to infiltrate the Albanian Ministry of Magic, one of the last Death Eater strongholds, runs smoothly until the agent in Tirana sends a distress signal and they're sent to get her out.
There's protocol for these things and the first part of the rescue mission goes without a hitch, but when they're about to Apparate from a clearing deep in the forest, the air is suddenly ablaze with curses. They're unprepared for combat but improvise well, and at the fifty-ninth second of the eleventh hour manage to Side-Along Apparate their injured colleague to St. Mungo's before returning to their safe house. On the doorstep, panting and bleeding, Malfoy decrypts locking spells and disarms wards while Harry covers him, adrenaline pumping, but nothing happens.
Safely inside, they quickly restore the wards and sit on the floor groaning, too exhausted to get up. They mechanically check themselves for broken bones or severe curse injury, heal ward-off burns on their hands, and try to catch their breath and appreciate the fact that they're still alive.
"We did good work tonight," Harry finally says. "Anyway, let's get some light. I think I need your help."
Grunting and swearing, they limp into the parlour, blinking at the light from the chandelier – rather like moles, Harry thinks, smiling grimly at the not very amusing pun.
"There's a cut or burn down my back," he says to Malfoy, "I can't tell which. Could you heal it for me? I can't reach properly and I don't want to end up with something half-arsed. Literally."
Malfoy snorts. "Take off your shirt and I'll have a look."
Silently removing robes and shirt, Harry glances at Malfoy who has a reddish bruise under his left eye. It's darkening rapidly and will cause his eye to close unless something is done about it soon. Blood is trickling from a cut on his cheek and the blond hair is streaked with grime. Harry finds this absurdly hot. It's only adrenaline, he tells himself. Adrenaline and relief.
The injured area starts between his shoulder blades and stretches towards the small of his back. The throbbing pain makes him nauseous and he cranes his neck to try to inspect the damage.
"No use, Potter," Malfoy says. "You may be a Parselmouth but you're not actually a snake. Yep, it's a curse burn – do you know what caused it?"
"Not sure. Could have been a Cruciatus that just barely touched me."
"I'll try the countercurse, and if that works, I'll apply some artemisia infusion. Okay?"
"Fine." Harry takes a deep, preparatory breath and grits his teeth when the countercurse hits, searing, stinging, leaving a hot tingle on his skin.
Malfoy uses his fingertips to dab the cool, soothing infusion on the affected area. This time the tingle is of a different kind and Harry bites his lip to stop himself gasping. It's okay. Malfoy will think it's from pain. And then he does gasp at Malfoy's fingers slowly sliding down his back, a hitchy little gasp that sounds pathetic.
"There," Malfoy says huskily, his fingertips lingering on Harry's skin.
"Thanks," Harry manages. "I'd heal that bruise under your eye really quickly if I were you. Want me to do it?"
Malfoy nods and shuts his eyes as Harry heals it without using his wand, touching it with a gentle finger, and then heals the cut on Malfoy's cheek as well, without being asked. It provides such an excellent excuse to touch the white skin again.
Only, the skin is turning more pink than white. Malfoy is blushing, and as Harry's gaze wanders down he notices with a pang that Malfoy is turned on; the ridge of his erection clearly visible. So it's not just Harry. He swallows, hard.
Naturally, this is when Malfoy opens his eyes, when Harry is staring at his groin. The blush deepens, and Harry blushes too.
"Sorry," Malfoy mutters. "It's only reaction."
But when Harry meets his eyes he sees desire, caused by adrenaline or not.
When he touches the blond hair and whispers a spell to clean the mud out of it, Malfoy closes his eyes again, his head falling back slightly and his lips parting. It's an invitation and also the hottest thing Harry has ever seen. Why should they deny themselves something they both so obviously want?
Throwing prudence to the wind, Harry leans in to kiss the half-open mouth.
Ginny's quiet good night to Andromeda in the corridor shakes Harry out of his reveries. He groans and turns on his side, clamping the pillow over his head.
That night with Malfoy in the safe house was the most mind-blowing sexual experience of his life. Neither Ginny nor his few other partners have ever come close. Most of them have been female but he doesn't think this is the problem. This is not about gender. It's about the person.
The look Malfoy gave him at King's Cross three years ago told him that Malfoy remembered, too.
Fate separates them after that. Malfoy leaves on a succession of diplomatic assignments and Harry, terrified by the intensity of their one sexual encounter, marries Ginny. After James is born, Harry applies for a desk job at the Ministry. With a family to take care of, he can't continue to risk his life every day.
He settles down, turns papers, does some Auror consultancy and fathers two more children. The paperwork bores him; his children do not. His love for them completely bowls him over – the ridiculous joy over every tiny new accomplishment, the pride, the agony, the constant fear that something will happen to them.
And he hates himself for being unable to love their mother.
When nothing is left of Harry and Ginny's marriage but problems and rows they agree to divorce, and then Harry is alone at Grimmauld Place with too much time on his hands; too much time to think about what he could have done with his life and what he did. He decides to leave the Ministry to try to find out what went wrong.
And then Malfoy is on the platform at King's Cross with his haughty wife, his one curt nod shaking Harry to pieces.
Almost a year later, Harry finds out that Malfoy is divorced, too. Stupidly enough, this gives him hope – hope of what, he has no idea.
The thought of visiting Malfoy in the Muggle world won't leave Harry alone; it keeps nagging at him until he can't stand it any more. He needs to find out where Malfoy is but can't bring himself to ask Andromeda.
The other alternative is possibly even more embarrassing. Still, on a chilly, rainy February evening he finds himself knocking on the half open door to the guest room.
Teddy is preening in front of the full-length mirror on the inside of the wardrobe door, putting the finishing touches to his eyeliner. His hair is black with electric blue bits today, the extremely skinny black jeans show off his slim hips and long legs and there's a studded leather collar around his neck.
He smiles at Harry in the mirror.
"What do you think?"
"The girls seem to think so." He beams at his own image and turns to face Harry. "What's the matter? You're looking very grim. Did I do something naughty?"
"I have no idea," Harry replies dryly. "Probably. But I came to ask you about Draco Malfoy."
Teddy's face practically explodes with delight. "Two whole months! You're tougher than I thought. I had a bet with myself that you wouldn't last two weeks."
Harry glares, willing himself not to blush. "Some respect for your elders, if you please, Teddy."
Teddy just laughs. "Yeah, yeah. You want to know where he is, right?"
There's no point in trying to sidetrack him. "Yes. You've been visiting him, I suppose? In the Muggle world?"
"I'd have thought you could tell. As far as I know, you can't get these in the wizarding world." Teddy points to his pierced lip, eyebrow and ear. "Muggle London's fabulous – their clubs are so much more fun than ours! And Muggle girls really fancy me, you know."
I'm sure they do, Harry thinks, and not just Muggle girls, and not just girls. Teddy is extremely handsome, having inherited the beauty of the Black family.
"I'm going there tonight," he adds after giving Harry the address. "Want to come with me? Or should I just give Draco your regards?"
"Definitely not," Harry mutters. "No thanks to both."
No, he' not jealous of Teddy; of course he isn't. That would be undignified and ridiculous.
Draco Malfoy never expected to be hit by a mid-life crisis, but he supposes that's what's happening to him. He's divorced, has left his diplomat career behind and is suspended in a vacuum. Is this all? he asks himself. It can't possibly be. There must be more to life than this. I want more; I want something new.
He spends months trying to figure out what this something might be, and on his way to The Leaky Cauldron one day for a visit to Diagon Alley, it suddenly occurs to him: I could go to the Muggle world! If different is what he wants, why not choose another world?
The idea delights him and he contacts Granger, or Weasley these days, for advice on how to behave in the Muggle world. She is puzzled and suspicious but helps him rent a small house just outside London and gives him more information than he ever wanted on underground trains, credit cards, telephones, computers, television, cooking and other things he never thought or even knew about.
"This is house-elf work!" he mutters irritably and adds a few select expletives as the pasta he's trying to cook ends up a lumpy, sticky mess.
It's the first time he's given the Muggle world any real thought, and sets about exploring a London he's never seen. Scorpius is excited about the whole thing as it gives him knowledge and experiences few of his friends have, certainly none of his pure-blood friends. The exploration they do together during the summer holidays leaves Scorpius so delighted he asks to move in with Draco. Astoria gives her consent (not knowing it's Muggle London), and Scorpius settles down happily in the small house. There's a sitting room and a kitchen downstairs, two small bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and Scorpius seems perfectly content with his tiny room that would easily fit in a corner of his room at Malfoy Manor.
Draco's relationship with the Muggle world goes through several stages. At first he is mostly aloof and amused, smirking over weird habits and contraptions and feeling rather sorry for all these people who have no magic. Muggles seem like children or savages to him, to be laughed at and regarded with indulgence at best. Then there's the discovery stage, when he begins to realise that everything in the Muggle world is not stupid or bad; some things are even rather ingenious. He is fascinated by vehicles in general and cars in particular, and takes driving lessons – his first real attempt to integrate into his new setting. When he gets his licence and buys a car, Scorpius is enthusiastic, and Draco often drives all the way up to Scotland on a Friday to meet his son at Hogsmeade and take him for a weekend trip. This becomes their new favourite pastime.
Around the same time, Draco discovers film and devours hours and hours of it every day, growing particularly fond of fifties and sixties films where people wear gloves driving open sports cars. He buys several pairs of driving gloves, loving the look and feel of them.
Next, Draco enters the infatuation stage. Never in a million years would he have expected to fall in love with the Muggle way of living, but it really is like being in love. The intoxicating feeling, the sheer happiness of it, makes Draco elated. This was what he wanted, he realises; a new beginning of sorts, a new love, a new life. It resembles the adoration stage of a relationship. Everything Muggles do is interesting and right, while the use of magic seems childish, like cheating. If Narcissa lets slip a derogatory comment about the Muggle world when he talks to her (firetalk; a concession to the lack of phones in the wizarding world) he gets very annoyed, and then smiles ironically at himself. No zealot like the proselyte.
He loves the suburb where he lives, particularly in the morning when it wakes up and comes to life, his neighbours going for a run before leaving for work, the kids going to school. Sometimes he takes the Tube or a bus during rush hour to enjoy the sense of purpose in the air, watching people's faces, listening in on mobile phone conversations. He gets a mobile phone himself, and is impressed by computers and the Internet – so much information at his fingertips, and communication by phone and email is so much faster than owls.
The infatuation stage eventually wears off but he's happy to stay in the small house, settling down in his new life a little more realistically. His admiration for certain things remains, like sciences and Muggle medicine – the Muggles' knowledge about the human body and their untiring work to find answers to biological riddles is awe-inspiring. Advanced surgery and space travel is like magic, beyond magic because no magic is involved but intelligence, courage and hard work.
When Draco's car refuses to start one morning he has no idea what to do. Granger tells him over the phone that he needs to find a garage if he can't fix the car himself. He opens the bonnet and looks at the magical brain and heart of the car, the engine, and tinkers with it a little, not understanding much of anything.
The garage at one end of the main street proves helpful. The elderly mechanic who also turns out to be the owner is highly amused by Draco's complete ignorance of engines combined with his avid interest in them, and slightly puzzled by Draco's expensive clothes and pure-blood accent. But he patiently demonstrates and explains, and even lets Draco try removing and replacing things.
When Draco gets his car back he spends hours under the bonnet, reading instructions and manuals to try to figure everything out. I could be good at this, he realises. He is reminded of the awful time in his sixth year at Hogwarts, when the only thing that brought him joy was the practical work with the vanishing cabinet – or would have if it hadn't been for the pressure to make it functional quickly. But he's good with his hands, good at getting things to work.
He makes friends with the rather philosophically-minded garage owner who eventually offers him an apprenticeship, and Draco takes his final step into the Muggle world: he has a job of sorts, even if it''s unpaid at this stage.
"I'm getting old," the mechanic says one day, "and I need someone to share the workload – perhaps even take over one day. Your turning up here is a godsend. You're dedicated and a quick learner. I don't understand you at all, but that's of no consequence."
Draco smiles. Life is good; it still has surprises to deliver.
It's an early morning in March, misty and chilly, making Harry huddle over the table and curl his fingers around his coffee cup while he watches Draco Malfoy open the garage across the street. The café is drab and smells of old cooking oil and coffee left too long on the hotplate; a place where yawning taxi drivers working nights drop in for a greasy breakfast before they go home to sleep.
Apart from the slightly receding hairline, Malfoy looks much the same as he did when they were Unspeakables, still slim and fit. His expression is softer, perhaps; friendlier – but most people mellow with time, or just get wiser.
For the third day in a row Harry sits in the café, having had enough weak coffee and plastic-wrapped, tasteless, triangular sandwiches on doughy white bread to last him a lifetime. He still hasn't worked up enough courage to cross the street and say hello.
When he sits down at his table after buying a dry-looking chocolate biscuit to go with his third cup of coffee, there's a hand on his shoulder and a low voice at his ear: "The coffee's terrible here. Much better over at my place."
Harry's biscuit lands in his cup, splashing pale brown liquid over the table and his own front. Swearing between his teeth, he turns around to meet Malfoy's amused eyes.
"Have you forgotten all the old tricks?" Malfoy says pointedly as they cross the street. "You're really pathetically inept at hiding. I noticed you at once, the day before yesterday." He glances at Harry. "Or... perhaps that's what you wanted?"
"I didn't…" Harry splutters, takes a breath and finishes: "I don't know." It's true, he really doesn't know.
"So Teddy couldn't keep his mouth shut, then?" Draco looks straight ahead and sighs. "I guessed he wouldn't. Much too fond of dramatic reveals."
"Believe it or not, it wasn't Teddy. It was a joint effort from our sons."
The garage is not large but extremely well organised, tools well sorted, rolls of hose and cables on the wall, rows of cans on shelves. At the back there's a desk and a tiny kitchenette. Malfoy wipes his hands down the thighs of his blue overalls before reaching for the French press. Although Harry has had far too much coffee already, he accepts the fragrant brew handed to him in a thick mug. Malfoy is right; it's much better than at the café.
"Scorpius told Al he was spending Christmas in the Muggle world with you. Andromeda confirmed you had relocated. But it was Teddy who told me where to find you."
"Well, well. I suppose I ought to be honoured. A visit from the great Harry Potter." Malfoy doesn't sound hostile or contemptuous, only sarcastic and perhaps a little resigned. Harry shifts uneasily. So Malfoy didn't want to be found, and here Harry is, barging right in. "What brings you here?" Malfoy asks, as a politeness, it seems.
"I don't know," Harry says again. "I… I' writing a book." After a silence he adds: "And I wanted to see you."
Malfoy's eyes meet his own then, but he can't read their expression.
"I need to get this car done. If you like, you can sit over there and chat to me while I work."
It's a surprisingly appealing suggestion. Harry sits down on the oil-stained, grease-darkened desk chair and looks around the place, suddenly dizzy with the arrival of a host of memories at once, from a part of his childhood he had completely forgotten. It's the smell that brings the memories back; the garage smell of rubber, motor oil, degreaser, hot metal, car wax, damp concrete floor…
After every 5,000 miles, Uncle Vernon used to take his car to the garage for general maintenance. Harry can't remember why he was to go along that first time – just to take him off Aunt Petunia's hands, perhaps, but in any case it became a regular occurrence: Harry was ushered into the car and then left at the garage while Uncle Vernon went to the department store a couple of streets away to replenish his stock of shirts and ties. It's the only time Harry can ever remember him walking anywhere.
The mechanics were nice to Harry, gave him tea and biscuits, chatted to him, teased and joked, taught him how to change spark plugs and wiper blades. Harry never told Uncle Vernon how much he enjoyed the visits to the garage, or they would have stopped at once. But now the familiar smell brings everything back, makes him smile as he remembers that feeling of security, of belonging, of being special – a feeling he now realises all children ought to have in their daily lives. He remembers the mechanics' hands, ingrained with oil and dirt to a fine, grey cobweb pattern that wouldn't go away however much they washed, and Malfoy's hands are just the same.
How ever did Draco Malfoy, of all people, end up in a garage in a Muggle suburb?
Just like Harry's visits to the garage in Little Whinging, the visits with Malfoy turn into a regular thing. It gives him something to do and, above all, allows him to watch Malfoy in Muggle clothes – much, much hotter than he'd ever have imagined; Malfoy in jeans, oh, or even in his worker overalls; watch him work, watch his face when he's preoccupied, watch him use his hands.
His hands are beautiful with deft, sensitive fingers, and pale skin with the grey cobweb lines of the mechanic. It gives Harry almost physical pleasure to watch his precise economic movements as he removes covers, parts, screws and bolts and works his magic before replacing them.
Only, he isn't using magic.
Day after day goes by, and Harry swivels slowly on the greasy desk chair, drinking coffee from the thick mug and listening to the radio, watching Malfoy handle car engines with great skill. And with every day, every hour, Harry's desire to feel those hands on his own skin grows, to feel those fingers explore him with the same cleverness and sensitive precision.
It's something of a shock to see Harry Potter seated at a table in the café across the road, like a particularly clumsy spy, a Pink Panther of the wizarding world. Whatever's happened to his old Unspeakable methods? Draco decides to pretend not to have noticed, mostly because he doesn't know what to make of Potter's presence.
Sometimes he wonders whether he hasn't spent the greater part of his life trying to forget about Harry Potter, and the more he tries, the more central Potter becomes to his thoughts and his life. The only time everything seemed to converge and settle into a pattern that felt completely right was at the end of their very last term at Hogwarts, at the Auror and Unspeakable training and during their short joint career as Unspeakables. Like he needs Potter in his life to make it meaningful – a truly horrifying thought.
Professionally, he'd trust Potter with his life (and has), but Draco wouldn't want to depend on Potter for anything in his private life. While Potter can be frighteningly competent, he can be equally frighteningly inept and clueless. But that night… the night they spent together in the safe house after getting their colleague out of Albania, that one night they had together, was one of the peaks of Draco's life. The thought makes him shudder, for if that's true, his life must have been rather pathetic. But that night everything was just... right. For once, he felt like he was where he belonged, where they both belonged.
Could they have continued to have it, if they had wanted to? Well, Draco had wanted to, but Potter had bolted. It's still so humiliating it makes Draco cringe, humiliating and bone-crushingly mortifying, to think that an experience that was the peak of Draco's life was an object of horror to Potter, sending him straight back into the arms of the Weasley girl to save himself, never wanting to return.
But then why is he here? Draco's instinct tells him Potter's presence does have something to do with that night, after all, and that it's only taken Potter twenty years to realise what they had, and lost.
Potter is swivelling on the desk chair now, like a child, earnestly watching Draco replace an air filter. His hair is still black and messy but there's some grey at the temples and the green eyes look tired and disillusioned behind the trademark glasses. He's remarkably well-preserved and sometimes looks exactly like he did at seventeen, the same scowl, the same look of "I dare you". Draco is intensely aware of his presence but makes a point of not showing it.
As he removes the filter housing, Potter asks: "Aren't you ever tempted to use magic to repair the cars? In particularly difficult cases?"
Oh, Potter, how predictable you are. Ever the Auror, even if you never actually were one. Draco feels his mind settle into old patterns like a needle into a groove. He smirks. "Wouldn't you like to know."
And for sure, there's the Potter scowl now. "I see. No wonder the Muggles think you're a good mechanic. So what happens when the magic wears off?"
Draco shrugs. He unplugs the connector, cleans out the housing and drops the new filter in. When he has reassembled everything he straightens his back, looks down at the grimy engine and wonders whether he should give the whole thing a cleaning. "Then they have to come back for a new repair."
"Malfoy – you're not using time-limited spells, are you?" Harry's voice is getting stern.
He's getting into full reprimand mode and Draco wants to laugh. This is probably how Potter behaves with his children.
"Let's just say I enjoy any perks of the trade I can find – or create," he replies smoothly, knowing it will incense Potter.
The truth is he has only ever used magic for one of his customers, and for her and only her he has used it repeatedly on a vast number of things wrong both with the engine and with the car in general. She is an elderly lady with a very elderly car well beyond conventional Muggle repair, long overdue to be an angel in car heaven. Draco is well aware she can't afford a new car, and even if she could, she'd never get used to driving it and would consequently be a danger to herself and everyone else on the roads. In this particular case he has no scruples about using his magical abilities – on the contrary; he blesses them. By now, practically the entire car is held together by spells and charms. The corrosion threatening to disintegrate the whole chassis has been magicked away, and the engine would long since have fallen apart if it hadn't been for Draco's spellwork. What he charges her doesn't even remotely cover the time he spends figuring out how to stop the brave little car from just coughing, shuddering and dying, and this is honest repair work too, he tells himself, only on the wrong side of the magical border.
He doesn't say any of this to Potter who is fuming now, working himself into an indignant huff.
Draco lets the bonnet fall shut with a clang, deciding not to clean the engine. The customer didn't ask for it, after all.
"There, I'm done for the day. For the weekend, really." It's Easter and he'll have an extra day off. "Want to come back to my house for a drink? And dinner, possibly, but it'll have to be takeaway. I can't cook. I can't learn, however much I try. It really irks me – why can I learn to repair cars, but not boil potatoes?" He chatters on, seeing how much it irritates Potter who is still stuck on the subject of improper use of magic. He loves seeing how he can still get through to Potter, so easily. That hasn't changed.
Potter accepts the drink.
The tiny patch of garden in front of Malfoy's house has a handkerchief-sized lawn and bright daffodils nodding along the wall. The house itself is small but pleasant, very neat and clean, making Harry wonder for a second if Malfoy brought house elves – but then he wouldn't have to learn to cook.
Harry sits on a café au lait-coloured sofa in the rather bare sitting room while Malfoy gets tumblers and a bottle of whisky.
"No, it's not Firewhisky," he says before Harry has even asked, holding up the bottle for inspection. "I'm going entirely Muggle even in my private life."
But you use magic at work to boost your turnaround – so much for that, Harry thinks.
"Whatever made you move to the Muggle world?" he asks after a generous measure of whisky that makes his ears red and removes some of his inexplicable shyness. "And whatever made you take on work as a car mechanic, of all things?"
He is just beginning to wonder whether he'd dare flirt a little with Malfoy when a boy appears in the doorway, a teenager with blazing eyes, leaning against the door frame to stare at Harry.
"There' nothing wrong with that," he says haughtily, and there's no mistaking either the voice or the looks. This is Draco Malfoy's son. "Dad is an excellent mechanic."
"So I've noticed," Harry replies when he's recovered from the shock, grateful he didn't get around to flirting. "I wasn't putting down his choice. I'm only surprised."
He's a little touched by the boy flying in a stranger's face like that to defend his father. Scorpius looks slightly mollified as he comes into the room, throwing himself down in an armchair with his legs over the armrest.
"Scorpius, this is Harry Potter," Draco says, looking amused.
"Oh," Scorpius says, puts his feet on the floor and leans forward to scrutinize Harry. "So you're Al's dad. Can I see the scar?"
Harry laughs and smooths his hair from his forehead. "You're friends, I've understood. Satisfied?"
Scorpius nods and leans back. He has the unmistakable family likeness but is less pointy than his father, shorter and more powerfully built, looking more like a young Lucius – a Lucius with kind eyes now that they've stopped blazing. He is a very handsome boy.
The way they act around each other, father and son, clearly demonstrates their deep attachment to each other. The thing he knows nothing about… the only power he does not have… the power to love. Dumbledore's words about Tom Riddle come echoing through Harry's mind. Purebloods and Death Eaters though they were, the Malfoys did know that power and still do. That much was clear after the Battle of Hogwarts and is still clear in this small Muggle sitting room.
Harry's eyes sting and he turns to look out the window, but it's covered with a rather horrible net curtain. Suddenly he wants his children so badly it's like an ache in his chest, wants to see them, touch them, pull them in for a hug and try to convey how much he loves them. It's the whisky, he thinks. It's making me sentimental. They'll be home for their Easter break tomorrow.
He gets up from the sofa, nods at Scorpius and thanks his father for the drink.
"When are you coming back?" Malfoy asks in the tiny hall, seeing Harry out.
It's the first time he's asked anything like that, and Harry turns around to look at him. Something has changed between them. It's not only the whisky, it's something in Malfoy's eyes, that is perhaps present in his own eyes, too.
"Whenever you want," he replies quietly.
"After the Easter weekend. I could…" Malfoy hesitates. "I could take a couple of days off. Would you like to… go somewhere?"
"Go?" The single word sounds as stupid as Harry feels right now.
"I thought… I have a car. We could go to the seaside, or something."
A sudden, blinding image of Malfoy strikes Harry; Malfoy on a beach with the grey, silky sea behind him, lazy waves rolling in to lap at his feet… He can almost smell the salt and hear the cries of the seagulls.
"I'd like that," he says. "I'd like that very much."
Malfoy drives like a fiend, but unlike Ron he's a good driver, and if Harry occasionally has his heart in his throat it's more for the smile at the corners of Malfoy's mouth and the way his gloved hands rest on the wheel than for the speed with which he negotiates the bends.
The beach is empty apart from a middle-aged woman with her Jack Russell (they both automatically check whether it's a Crup), and they walk side by side along the stretch of pale sand with the salty wind ruffling their hair. The sky is overcast but the sun is trying to break through, drenching the whole scene in a dream-like, pearly light, filtered through clouds.
They have nothing to say to each other, or much too much, and walk in silence until Malfoy stops and looks at Harry. His eyes are the colour of the silvery sea.
"Why did you agree to come with me?"
The noise of Harry's heartbeat is as loud as the sound of the waves when he turns the question around: "Why did you ask me to?"
"I wanted to."
An honest enough answer, and still evasive. Slytherin. Harry looks at Malfoy, at the breeze in his hair and his soft, pale colours, while seagulls cry and swoop, the terrier barks and the salty tang of the sea mixes with the greasy smell of fish and chips. Malfoy is absent-mindedly rubbing his hands down the thighs of his dark-wash jeans, like they're still oily and he's wearing his work overalls. Harry wants to lift them to his mouth and kiss the palms.
"I thought," he says to Malfoy, "that maybe... maybe we could find a safe house."
The sun chooses that moment to break through the clouds and Malfoy begins to laugh, a genuinely happy laugh transforming his face like the sunlight transforms the seascape around them.
"Whoever is directing this film," he shouts over the noise of a passing boat and points up at the parting clouds, still laughing, "seems to have a penchant for cliché!"
Harry laughs, too; his heart light in his chest.
"Sometimes," he shouts back, "cliché actually works."
They take two rooms at a seaside hotel, knowing they'll only use one of them. Both rooms face the sea but for the moment they're not interested in any other view than each other's faces.
When Harry reaches out to touch Malfoy's cheek, ear, neck, Malfoy's eyes close and his head falls back, lips parting. And Harry isn't running away any more. Seeing sense at last, he leans in to kiss the half-open mouth.
Much later, they lay panting side by side as the light fades, listening to the sound of waves from the open window. Now and then they turn to look at one another, incredulous. Harry takes Draco's hand and slowly kisses the pads of his fingers, his palm, the inside of his wrist. Draco inhales audibly, still not quite believing they're here, together. A safe house, Harry said on the beach.
"You have beautiful hands," he mumbles now with his lips against Draco's palm, the tip of his tongue coming out to caress it. "I love to watch them when you work. You're very good at mending things."
"After the war," Draco replies quietly, "there was so much that couldn't be mended ever again. I like to do what I can, even if it's only Muggle cars. But I can't get my hands clean any more. Not without a spell."
There's a silence before Harry leans over to kiss him on the mouth, slowly, tenderly; his eyes saying something Draco is almost afraid to read.
"I like your hands like this. A sign of honest work." Harry checks himself, obviously remembering Draco's supposed illegal use of magic. "But if you're using magic," he says slowly, "why would your hands be so stained…? You're really doing everything by hand, aren't you?"
Draco laughs. "God, Potter, how were you ever accepted for Auror training? You have the deductive abilities of a blast-ended skrewt. Yes, you idiot; I was just riling you up. It's still way too easy."
Harry glares at him and then laughs, too. He props himself up on an elbow to kiss his way down Draco's neck, over his chest and abdomen, to stroke the jut of the hipbone with his tongue. Heat rushes to Draco's lower belly making his cock twitch, and he pushes his fingers into Harry's hair, not letting him hesitate. They've waited far too long already.