Flirt by xErised

Handle With Care


There had been something gravely wrong with Harry as of late.

Draco Malfoy surveyed his lover of eighteen months over the rims of the newspaper with intense grey eyes that narrowed when Harry accidentally knocked over a half-empty cup of tea. The brunette cursed sharply under his breath and began to blot the mess up with a handful of paper towels. Harry caught Draco staring, and the blond quickly snapped his attention back to the paper, but the cogs of his mind were preoccupied with anything but today's news.

It had started out as nothing much at first; Harry knocking off from work one to two hours later for the past three months. Draco thought that they were having a busy season due to the spate of unexplained murders, but when the blond asked Harry about it, the other man said that the Aurors were in charge of that case, not the Unspeakables. When Draco continued to quiz him further, Harry went all shifty-eyed and told him that there was a new batch of fresh Unspeakables that needed rigorous training that he and Ron were in charge of.

Harry had been stammering like a fool when he said that, and even an idiot would know that he had been lying.

That was when the first warning flag came up.

So a stubborn Draco had left his office for a while and stealthily parked himself outside the Ministry building. Ron ended work right on the dot at five thirty pm, but Harry was nowhere to be seen. Draco continued with his sleuthing for the whole week, and the outcome had been the same for every evening. With his heart sinking silently like a boulder, Draco had refused to let himself get upset and filed the information away in his mind neatly, choosing not to mention the issue to Harry until it was absolutely necessary.

Then came the phone call.

Harry had been hunched furtively over his table at home when Draco had just stepped out of his Floo. Harry's bank-books were sprawled on the table, and Draco had hovered in the background, wondering who was on the other line. Harry had suddenly let out a laugh and nodded, murmuring that it was an extremely important present for 'his special someone'. So a privately thrilled Draco had waited eagerly for some sort of lavish goodie from Harry. He had even gone so far as to stand in front of the mirror practicing the astonished expression that he would craft when Harry presented the gift to him.

Needless to say, there was no present that Harry joyously whisked out of thin air.

It was the little things that added up, things such as the rebuking looks that Hermione tossed at Harry when they were at their place for dinner. Hermione would widen her eyes meaningfully at Draco and frown impatiently at Harry, leaving a very confused Draco in the wake of her cryptic actions. Even Ron seemed to be on tenterhooks when he was in close proximity with Draco; the blond could see that the redhead was holding something back. There were newspaper clippings that Harry failed to successfully hide around his house; snippets about houses and loans and whatnot. Draco suspected that Harry was planning to move house, and had been slightly hurt that the brunette didn't bother to consult him.

And then there was this… fixation with Draco's fingers. Harry would take every opportunity to squeeze, stare and stroke Draco's fingers, which the blond thought was highly irregular. Perhaps Harry didn't find his fingers sexy anymore? Draco sighed sadly, placed the paper down on his lap, spread his fingers apart and lifted them up to the light. Nothing had changed; his nails were still clipped short and maintained in its impeccable state of cleanliness.

Hang on, Draco thought with escalating alarm oh sweet Salazar, are my fingers shrinking? Is Harry not interested in me anymore because of my shriveled up fingers?- as he squinted and brought his face closer to his hands. Draco ransacked his brain to find for any correlation between the length of his fingers and their relationship. Immediately, Draco squeaked maybe it affects the quality of my… handjobs?- and clamped a hand over his mouth. The ex-Slytherin scowled darkly and ruthlessly banished his paranoia. There was no way that Harry would break up with him over sexual matters like that. But apprehension, a debilitating ache that haunted Draco for answers, still remained.

At that moment, Harry grabbed the cordless phone and dialed a number. He wandered to his room distractedly and huddled in a corner, his fingers clicking his nails anxiously as he waited impatiently for a response. Curiosity gnawing his way through his insides and his instincts standing up on red alert, Draco folded the paper up, placed it away and crept towards the room, his ears pricked for the eventual threads of conversation.

"Hermione? Yes… no, I haven't done it yet… maybe… maybe not today, he appears to be rather tired, yes I know, there's hardly any reason to shout, Hermione… but I'm afraid that he might not be… happy with it. Another day, another place might be better, when he's in a better mood. I know, I've been thinking about it for a long time, but what if it backfires… Hermione, I'm so tired of it all, I just want it to end-"

Harry's voice was a low and taciturn murmur, secrecy weaving in between his whispered words, and Draco turned strongly on his heel, his heart doing a slow, excruciating nose-dive down to his shoes. It was as though the once-warm blood circulating through his system was suddenly replaced with a vat of icy cold water. The tangle of fear and disbelief was growing with each passing second, and Draco bit down hard on his knuckle, trying to look for an alternative explanation.

But the blind panic Harry's leaving me, he's leaving me, he's leaving me, he's leaving me- closing its ominous tentacles over him was preventing him from doing so.

"Draco? Are you okay? You look really pale," Harry said worriedly, his brows furrowing together as he replaced the phone back on its set. Draco instantly took up his pose of nonchalance, crossing his arms and ankles defensively, his lips turned downwards in an expression of displeasure and his eyes impaling Harry with a chilly glare.

Draco marveled at how there was no scrap of guilt on Harry's face.

"Harry, do you love me like how you used to?" The blond asked tartly, despising the tell-tale tremor in his voice and how much he was hinging on Harry's reply Draco, stop being silly, I've never stopped loving you-.

"Draco, things have changed-" Harry answered, and it seemed as though he was about to continue, but Draco cut him off abruptly, his words stilted by the snag in his throat that refused to shrink.

"Do you want me to move out?" Draco croaked out finally, the undertones of his voice blooming with underlying accusation. Draco's fist was grabbing onto the doorknob of Harry's bedroom with a rigor mortis grip. There was this funny feeling of fury, pain and bewilderment stewing within the blond.

"Of course you've got to! Isn't it a given, after I- Draco, Draco, what's wrong? Draco, come out!" Harry yelled, pounding urgently on the door when the blond darted into the bedroom and slammed the door firmly behind him.

Draco flung open the cupboards in the bedroom in fits of anger and yanked out whatever clothes that belonged to him, his snarls fueled by a deadly cocktail of disappointment and misery. The grand total amounted to three pairs of underwear, one pair of jeans and a handful of shirts. The ex-Slytherin smirked humorlessly and bunched them all up into a messy little pile.

This was all he had in Harry's house in the whole one year and six months of dating.

Oh wait.

There was also a toothbrush in the bathroom that belonged to Draco.

A toothbrush.

How fucking pathetic.

Throes of rage stormed and churned in his blood, and he pummeled the bed violently with a curled up fist. Yes, it would hurt like fuck now, but he would get over it, wouldn't he? Yes, he would have to get used to quiet nights and packet dinners oozing with oil and fat, but it didn't matter, did it? Since Harry was so emphatic on Draco "moving out" (which was total rubbish, because when did Draco officially move in anyway?), Draco would leave with his head held high and he would never deign to darken his doorstep again.

It sounded dreadfully easy, didn't it?

Funny how it felt like someone had shoved a stake mercilessly through Draco's heart.

But Draco didn't understand what the problem was. Had Draco done something that had wiped away all of Harry's affections for Draco in just a single motion? Or had there been a tiny, inconsequential issue that had snowballed into a protuberant eyesore? Draco swiftly cycled through his lists of habits (none bad, mind you). Yes, Draco was still rather protective of his conglomeration of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream, but honestly, why would Harry be bothered by it?

"Harry? Harry, what're you doing in the bathroom-"

"Um, nothing, nothing at all!"

"… Is that my Ben and Jerry's ice-cream? Why are you sneaking it in here and eating it, don't deny it, and DON'T YOU DARE HIDE THAT SPOON!"

"But I was really hungry, and you were sleeping! I wanted to wait for you to wake up so we could go for dinner together… so I thought… this could tide me over for a while… Draco baby, please don't be mad-"

"You sneaked behind my back and ate my ice-cream! You know what it means, no sex for- nnrgh! Don't think that just by kissing me you'll- … you taste like strawberry cheesecake… mmmgh… Harry…"

Well, that had ended up in a shag on the bathroom floor and Harry doing extremely, extremely naughty things to Draco with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream slathered all over their bits, but that wasn't the crux of the issue now.

Okay, maybe Draco should give Harry a bit of leeway when it came to sharing ice-cream.

But it was practically impossible that the brunette would end it all just because of a dessert treat! Dissatisfied, the ex-Slytherin racked his brains further, determined to arrive to a suitable conclusion as to why Harry wanted a break-up. His deduction was suddenly interrupted by an especially loud batter on the door.

"Draco, come out, please, if not I'm breaking through!"

"Leave me alone!" Draco screeched back, tucking himself up into a tight little ball on the bed.

"Tell me what I did wrong, I don't understand what's going on-"

"At least have the guts to tell me to my face that you want a break-up! Don't go around and bitch about it to all of your friends and not do anything about it! You coward!" Draco howled furiously, hating the tremulous quality of his wavering voice.

"What? I never said anything about a break-up! I don't want one, where the hell did you get that idea from? Come out and we'll talk it over properly, Draco, stop acting like a child-"

"Get lost! And I am not a child!" Draco shouted back childishly. Instead of placating him, Harry's words only served to infuriate him because you want to break up with me, you don't want me anymore- even more, and Draco mulishly remained ensconced in the room. The ex-Slytherin snatched up a pillow and hurled it viciously at the door, his heart hammering and thudding madly under his chest. When he got no response from the other side, the blond huffed and buried himself under the sheets.

Draco didn't know why, but this particular incident that had transpired roughly three months ago all of a sudden barged itself rudely into his memory…


"It sounded really important on the phone, Harry. What's the matter?" Hermione asked with concern. Beside Hermione, Ron blinked and tipped his head to one side, equally puzzled as his wife. The trio was seated around the brunette's dining table at his home.

"It's about Draco. Look, he's coming over any moment, so you've got to pretend that this conversation never happened if he appears, alright? And you can't tell him what I'm going to tell you," Harry said covertly, leading both his friends to raise their eyebrows.

"Looks like it might take long. I'll make some tea," Hermione suggested, and Harry nodded, his mind preoccupied with rearranging his thoughts.

"Harry? Um… this doesn't look like a teabag to me."

An amazed Hermione gingerly lifted up a half-empty tube of lubricant, with its cap clumsily flipped closed.

"Oh, shit, sorry!" Harry squawked, instantly rushing over and grabbing the lube from Hermione. He dumped it back in its respective drawer, but not before Hermione had taken a peek at its contents. The witch smirked as a blushing Harry quickly produced three teabags from another drawer.

"A whole drawerful of lube in the kitchen, Harry? Looks like the both of you have no problems at all with your sex life," Hermione teased, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

"I don't know why, but Draco gets really turned on when he sees me cook. He gets a hard-on and everything, and he practically demands a hard fuck right here, right now-" Harry all but gushed, and Ron could see the aroused look forming on Harry's features.

"Okay, stop there, mate."

"I've got to learn how to lube up in seconds-"

"Mate-"

"'cause when he wants it he wants it now, you know-"

"Harry-"

"That dirty, demanding little sexpot-"

"HARRY!"

But Ron knew that he had already lost Harry, judging by the sheen of sex glazed over leering green eyes. Hermione waved a hand in Harry's field of vision and failed to evoke any sort of reaction from the brunette.

"Come on. Give him around… five minutes. He'll get over it," Ron sighed, patting the seat beside him. Harry's libido was already scuttling off to last night where Harry had gotten the best kitchen sex ever…


A half-naked Harry never failed to get Draco all hot and bothered.

A half-naked Harry working his magic on the kitchen stove, however, made Draco downright hard.

Maybe it was because of the fact that outside, Harry was part of the crusade whose job was to sentence those big bad villains to justice, the very embodiment of masculinity, virility and brawn, but behind closed doors, the brunette pampered, spoilt and took care of Draco like he was some prized gem, up to the point of preparing cook like an angel and fuck like a devil- most of their meals. Draco basked in the control, the authority that only he possessed to pare Harry down to a quivering and whimpering mess please let me come, Draco, need to, Draco baby- in the bedroom just by a single, playful shake of the head.

Draco couldn't help but inwardly let out an evil little cackle at that thought.

The blond's breathing got a bit heavier, a bit labored when Harry exhaled hotly, lifted up an arm and wiped the sweat off the side of his face with a toned bicep. An uncertain frown was poised on his lips as Harry stirred the simmering curry in faltering circles, the fingers of his other hand trailing beneath Mrs Weasley's recipe. Meanwhile, Draco leaned himself at the side of the entrance of the kitchen and nibbled kittenishly on the edge of his fingernail, his eyes half-lidded with lust as he continued to shamelessly check the unsuspecting brunette out. The ex-Gryffindor was like a charge of coffee; addictive, overwhelming, stimulating and able to keep the blond up all night. Darkened grey eyes lingered on the slopes of Harry's chest, and Draco swallowed, suddenly feeling the need to lick every naughty, sexy inch of Harry, especially that mouth-watering cock of his-

"Didn't hear you come in," Harry said, shooting Draco a quick look before turning back to his curry. He ladled up some curry, dipped a finger in briefly and tasted it. Not seeming to be pleased with the end result, Harry gathered up a smidgeon of herbs and sprinkled it in the pot, all the while stirring frantically. Draco licked his lips and he sauntered foxily towards the other man. He wrapped his right arm around Harry's chest and squeezed fiercely, while his other hand began to snake its way down his own shirt, undoing each button steadily. The blond swept black curls away from the nape of Harry's neck and nuzzled Harry there, all the way down to his shoulder.

"Missed you too, you know," Harry said, chuckling. The past two weeks had been a flurry of work for both men; Draco had to wade through sheaves of paperwork and numerous site visits for the acquisition of a hotel, while Harry had been busy with the training program for a particularly difficult team of new recruits. As a result, their time together had been reduced drastically, and it was only now that they could take a breather and enjoy a leisurely meal and a long, luxurious session in the bedroom later.

But Draco didn't want to wait a second longer.

"I'm not hungry for that right now," Draco murmured in a smooth, glib tone, his jaws opening hungrily and biting the shell of Harry's ear lightly. He withdrew his hand and slipped it out through the arm of his shirt, shedding his top completely. His hands started to knead Harry's shoulders, rubbing it at all the right places. Draco dipped his head and slowly kissed his way down Harry's spine, decorating the brunette's flesh with small licks and pecks.

"What? You don't like curry? Shit, I should have asked you before making it," Harry sighed sadly, looking at the poor curry with mounting dismay.

Yes, Harry was dead sexy and all, but honestly, he could be so dense at times.

"I'm fine with having curry for dinner, but… right now, my mind's on other matters," Draco purred coquettishly. Just in case Harry didn't grasp the sexual innuendo, the blond smiled silkily, brought his hips forward and nudged his erection towards Harry. Draco pressed his front to Harry's back, reveling in the wicked rush of flesh against flesh.

"How long before that's done?" Draco asked softly, his chin jerking towards the curry and his hand snaking down to Harry's abdomen. Draco toyed with the waistband of Harry's jeans, the mere tips of his fingers feathering circles on Harry's hips and the tops of his thighs.

"F-Fifteen minutes, Draco, wait, I'll do you properly after dinner in bed, I… mmrgh-" Harry moaned wordlessly. With hooded eyes, Harry edged a glance at the other man, and it was then that he knew he was playing a losing game.

Draco wanted sex, and he wanted it now.

Draco's eyes were seductive, smoky and glinting with desire, that vampy, gifted tongue of his held between his teeth. Without tearing his gaze from Draco, Harry tilted his head backwards and rested the back of his head on the blond's shoulder. Harry's hand sneaked behind and grabbed Draco's arse, pushing his body closer to his. Draco smiled wolfishly and rotated his hips slowly, grinding himself against Harry, all the while murmuring silvery, thoroughly filthy words that were like an aphrodisiac to Harry's ears.

"I wanna undress you. I wanna caress you. I wanna get down on my knees, Harry, I wanna get down on my knees and suck you off. I know how much it turns you on when you see your come dripping down my lips and my throat. I know how much it turns you on when you watch me play with myself. I've been playing with myself alone in bed for the past few nights. It's been so lonely without you around. Won't you fuck me tonight, Harry, pretty, pretty please?"

"Fuck yeah," Harry hissed fervently, those pornographic images frisking through his mind and his excitement levels ramping up when he felt Draco unzip his jeans, his fingers curling around his cock and stroking it through his underwear, just the way Draco knew he liked it. His movements were excruciatingly slow, purely meant to torment Harry, meant to make Harry ache for more. Draco traced a snake of kisses from Harry's jaw-line all the way down to his shoulder, and Harry could feel Draco's smile on his skin, pleased at how Harry's body was behaving.

Harry mewled with need when the blond withdrew his hand. As though Draco had twitched an invisible leash, the hypnotized brunette wetted his lips and obediently followed Draco as he inched towards the counter. Draco slipped a thigh between Harry's legs and forced them open. He leant over, pressing his body on Harry's torso a bit harder than was necessary, yanked open a drawer and drew out a tube of lube. Draco twirled it mischievously between his fingers and slotted the very edge of the tube down Harry's underwear. The brunette raised an eyebrow, fished it out, flipped the cap open, squirted a liberal amount of lubricant and rubbed it between his fingers.

"Not now. Let me taste you first, won't you?" Draco whispered longingly as he knelt down right in front of Harry, his eyes still drilling that sexually compelling look into hazy green eyes. Harry's grip tightened on the border of the counter when Draco unbuckled his belt with a clink and stretched the belt out to maximum length. With that, the blond grinned dangerously, looped it around Harry's bare thighs and snapped it shut, restricting the movement of Harry's legs.

"If the belt drops or strains too much when your cock's in my mouth, I won't let you come," Draco stated, his palms ghosting along Harry's inner thighs.

"You gonna let me fuck you two times in a row if I do what you want me to, fuck, Draco," Harry groaned, his eyes immediately homing in on Draco's naked erection when the blond dropped his pants and underwear. With one hand on his own cock and the other wrapped around Harry's, Draco greedily fondled himself while he toyed with the underside of Harry's cock, his hot, wet tongue swirling sinfully just right at the tip-

The belt strained slightly as Harry parted his legs further, his sweltering gaze still centered on Draco's cock as the blond picked up the pace and stroked himself faster.

His eyes dancing like a rascal's, Draco took more of Harry in his mouth and licked him feverishly before retreating.

"I'll let you do whatever you want with me, but only if you win this round," the ex-Slytherin tempted coyly, before shutting his eyes and diving in between Harry's legs again.

Needless to say, they had burnt curry for dinner that night.


Draco blinked and looked quizzically at the three friends clustered around Harry's dining table, wondering why Ron and Hermione were encroaching in on his precious time with Harry. They were talking in low, suspicious whispers that slightly piqued Draco's interest. The blond let out his breath in an indignant huff and tried to suppress the impatience rising rapidly within him.

Harry's eyes flitted towards the entrance of the kitchen briskly and then swiveled back to his two friends. His gaze doubled back when he suddenly saw Draco looking curiously at the trio. Harry quickly hushed Ron and Hermione, stood up and ushered them out of the kitchen. Draco arched an eyebrow questioningly when he saw Harry's cagey demeanor. Ron's eyes lingered on Draco a bit longer than was comfortable, causing Draco to turn his head directly towards the redhead and shoot him an imperious, forceful look. On top of all that, the bottom half of Hermione's face was split into a wide grin and her goodbye was trilled in a cheery tone that was a little bit too bright for Draco's liking.

"What were you discussing? All of you looked so serious," Draco enquired, waving Ron and Hermione off as the couple Flooed home.

"Oh, it's nothing… important," Harry fibbed, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly and immediately changed the topic with ease and skill.

Of course, Draco hadn't thought much about it at that time, shrugging it off as though it had been nothing significant.

Until now.


That memory was like another needle pricking his fragile little heart, and Draco pressed the heels of his palms against his scrunched-up eyes, his heart and mind jumping the three of them conspiring together, playing with me like I'm some sort of toy- at shadows.

Slow, suffocating despair I thought we were fine, I thought we were perfectly fine, was it just one-sided, what's going on- closed its fangs around Draco, his bitterness filled the room like the most noxious smoke and he tore at his hair, trying to keep a cool head and to still the myriad of emotions bombarding through him.

Draco frowned darkly. He still hadn't deducted what was wrong in their relationship, and he was not happy it either means that there's nothing wrong, or the problem is so huge that I can't figure it out at all- about that or Harry's keeping something from me-

-cheat.

Draco lifted his head up from his hands and stared unseeingly in the middle distance.

Well, no surprise there, wasn't it? After all, Draco had had first-hand experience in being witness to Harry cheating on him. Utterly frazzled now, Draco got up and began to pace the room, vines of jealousy creeping up on him. Okay, so what if there was someone else intruding in their relationship? He wondered how the other man was like. Would he still be a blond, or a new flavor, a redhead, a brunette, just like Harry? Did he like sex as much as Harry? Was Draco going to go right out and beat Harry to a pulp, or beat the third party up to a pulp?

Or better yet, beat both of them up?

His nerves were gradually rousing themselves up into a verge of mass hysteria, and Draco's eyes suddenly fell on the clump of his clothes that lay sadly on Harry's bed.

The blond looked at it for a long moment.

This wasn't just a pile of clothes.

It meant something much more, something so much more that no tatty interloper, no shoddy, two-bit, little trespasser would ever be privy to. Draco calmly walked back to the heap of apparel on the bed and pulled out a simple black shirt. Draco had worn it when he had (verbally) murmured the first iloveyou to Harry.

Harry's smile after that particular announcement had been so brilliant, so beautiful that Draco had kept that memory locked in a box in his heart.

And that midnight-blue shirt that Harry loved so much you're gorgeous, utterly, drop-dead gorgeous- on Draco, and that dark-green underwear that Draco had brought to Paris had been the first set of briefs that Harry had peeled off from Draco's hips.

Yes, it wasn't as impressive as live-in lovers, not as inspiring as having Draco's paraphernalia and bric-a-brac littered all over Harry's place, but it represented a series of firsts, how Draco had slowly and selectively dropped his barricades and let Harry have free rein in his heart, in his mind, in his body.

The past eighteen months had been nothing to scoff at.

His chin jutting with resolve and his grey eyes hardening, Draco meticulously bundled up the clothes and hung them back in Harry's closet, replacing them back in their original position, as if the whole thing had never happened. There would be no admission of defeat, and Draco wouldn't be the one who would slink away with his tail between his legs.

He demanded an explanation for Harry's bizarre behavior for the past three months, and he wanted it now.

The brunette had been hovering tersely outside the door like a distraught mother. He didn't know what to do, he didn't know what to say maybe I should just drop this and think about it some other time, maybe it's a sign that it's too early for that- to comfort Draco. Harry's already shaky composure was wearing down with every passing second, and his heart was like a frenetically pounding drum. Who knew what Draco was doing in the room, who knew what his (sometimes adorably) paranoid boyfriend was thinking of right now-

Draco, with his head full of steam, flung the door open and took a furious step towards Harry, an angry scowl on his features and a full plethora of vituperation gathering momentum behind his tongue, ready to be unleashed the minute he set eyes on Harry-

Harry's head whirled towards an emerging Draco, and he gave the object in his cupped palm one last yearning glimpse yes, I want it, I want it so bad-, and then, and then, and then-

Harry Potter got down on one knee.

Draco halted in his tracks completely, the scene playing out in front of him throwing him in a complete loop and his breath let's not assume now, Draco. Maybe he's tripped, maybe he's begging for forgiveness- helplessly catching in his throat.

Funny how he seemed to have forgotten what he wanted to yell at Harry just seconds before.

Harry's mouth was as dry as flour, his throat as scratchy as bark. He licked his lips and swallowed quickly. He relaxed his constricted grip on the item in his hand and flipped it open. Draco muffled his gasp oh sweet Salazar, he's holding a jewelry box, he's holding a jewelry box, on one knee, in front of me, does this mean what I think it means? What if it's a completely different thing altogether, wait, hang on, hang on, pinch yourself, hurry, maybe it's some glorious dream- by biting down hard on a knuckle, the first raw echo of shock and left-over anger substituted by a glimmering thread of disbelief, propelled by waves of hopeful elation.

Harry held Draco's flustered gaze in thrall, his emerald eyes radiating this certain, electric conviction that made Draco's heart tingle and beat in double quick time. Harry cleared his throat quietly and started to speak, his words hiccupping and tripping over each other initially, but bit by bit, they began to smoothen out and increase in volume and confidence.

"I might not be your dream prince, I might not dress the way you want me to, I might not behave the way you want me to, but all I know is that I want to make you smile when you're sad. I'll let you have whatever you want, I'll promise you that I'll never leave you. I'll miss you, I'll kiss you, I'll need you, I'll feed you. You deserve the world, but I don't have enough money to give you that. I'll break myself into two for you, I'll give you everything that I've got, I'll give you all the important things that money can't buy.

"I know nothing about your job, but I'll be there if you want to rant. I'll sing for you, and I wouldn't be good, but maybe, just maybe, good enough for you. I'll eat with you, and I might not look very nice doing that sometimes, but maybe you wouldn't mind. I'll look after Squiggles just like how I look after you, simply because I know how important he is to you. I'll take every single part of you, all of your insecurities and idiosyncrasies and still love you all the same. It doesn't matter if you're tired after work and don't feel like talking, I'll just enjoy being with you, just holding your weary body in my arms.

"When I'm not with you, it's like a sentence without spaces. It's like a heart that doesn't beat. It's like a dancer with no rhythm. When I'm not with you, Draco, it's something that doesn't make sense."

Every word touched chords in Draco's heart, and his knees suddenly felt boneless. Frittering, resounding shock slowly filled his mind heartbeat by heartbeat. His palm was clamped over his mouth, and there was this odd sensation stirring at the back of his eyes. Shudders of affection and love reverberated through Draco's system, and he suddenly felt a bout of woozy vertigo crash and ripple through his limbs.

My goodness, if Draco fainted during a marriage proposal, Narcissa would turn in her grave.

The blond took a wavering step back and plopped down on the edge of the bed, his nerveless fingers clasping the sheets.

Both men looked expectantly at each other for a short moment.

Harry shifted a bit on his kneeling position.

Draco blinked curiously at him in response.

"Harry? You… didn't ask me properly," Draco pointed out, much to Harry's consternation. The brunette's mouth opened and closed uselessly as gabbled, idiotic mumbles sprinted silently in his head. Oh, crap, was there some sort of Malfoy regulation that Harry had to uphold when he was proposing to Draco? Was there a minimum of carats that had to be on the ring?

Draco tilted his head questioningly when he saw the medley of emotions, ranging from confusion, to self-loathing and despair flitting through Harry's face.

"You didn't say it. I can't tell you yes or no if you don't ask me," Draco hinted, a soppy smile lurking on his lips. It was rather charming (extremely silly, yes, but still charming nevertheless) how Harry had managed to forget the most essential part of his little speech.

Oh!

"Will you marry me, Draco Malfoy?" Harry corrected himself quickly as embarrassing realization dawned on him. The brunette's face was flushed a mortified red at that little hitch in his plans. Blood was thrumming and pounding in Draco's veins, his nerves were captivated in a permanent state of excitement and jubilance.

This was it, this was the culmination of eighteen months of passion, devotion and desire.

forever is half a moment away-

"Yes," Draco choked out, his throat clogged with tears and his voice dropping to a hoarse whisper. "Yes," he whispered again, this time accompanied by a vigorous nodding of his head.

His heart turning over like a freshly-tossed pancake, an exhilarated Harry straightened up in a flash, rushed towards the other man and held him close, kissing him luxuriously, lazily, lovingly with well-practiced finesse. Draco let out a giddy little laugh that quivered between their lips-

and I love it that whenever we kiss I can feel you smiling-

"Sorry about that just now. I haven't proposed to anyone before," Harry said, abashed.

"It better be your first and your last," Draco chided gently, then pecked Harry sweetly on the lips once before surrendering his hand to the ex-Gryffindor, a broad, thrilled and uncontrollable smile leaking from the sides of Draco's mouth. He was like a young child, his ankles crossed and his legs swinging up and down from the frame of the bed. Little spots of scarlet flamed in Harry's cheeks as he drew out the ring and slipped it on Draco's finger.

Draco stared at it for a long moment, and Harry waited with bated breath for Draco's approval. An unwanted, chilly thought what if he doesn't like it at all, oh God, please, please- speared across Harry's happiness.

And then, to Harry's utter stupefaction oh Merlin, it can't be that bad-, Draco's face crumpled up and the blond began to cry.

It was a world apart from Draco's dream ring. He had always wanted different kinds of gems on his engagement ring, a stunning, exorbitant and ostentatious orb of polished ruby, sapphire, emerald, diamond and topaz poised on a silvery wedding band.

In other words, he wanted a ring that would cost an arm and a leg to buy.

"Draco, I'll work harder and I'll save up more and I'll get you a better ring, but please, please stop crying, Draco-"

But Draco realized that he didn't want a rainbow ring with all the gems surrounding it like an impenetrable fortress anymore. He didn't want a showy, in-your-face ring that would attract attention from anyone and everyone on the streets. He didn't want a ring that would make Harry put in more hours at work instead of spending time with him.

The ring that Harry had presented to him was classic, elegant and timeless. It was made up of a round-cut, understated diamond in the centre, flanked at the sides by two smaller alabaster diamonds. It flashed iridescent sparks when Draco turned it in the light, and Draco felt himself trembling with romance.

this is the way that I say I'm yours-

"I love it, Harry, I love the ring, I love you, Harry, Harry," Draco sniffed and swiped at his eyes roughly, wanting to reassure the brunette. He cannoned into Harry's arms, buried his head in the crook of his neck and embarked on a fresh round of tears. Harry let out a relieved sigh and patted the crown of Draco's head, shushing the blond's whimpers.

"I've never seen you cry before, Draco," Harry murmured comfortingly, planting a kiss on Draco's forehead.

"That's 'cause Malfoys don't look good when they're crying," a melting Draco mumbled, willing his tear glands to bloody behave themselves. Teardrops glimmered at the fringe of his lashes, and the ex-Slytherin's vision was blurring with more unshed tears. Harry smiled and sponged off Draco's tears with his thumbs. He reached up and kissed Draco's closed eyes so tenderly, so fondly that Draco felt a renewed stint of tears forming-

"Nonsense. You look beautiful all the time," Harry praised, pulling Draco closer and hugging him because I'm not letting go of you, never ever- tightly. The blond sniffled to a stop and reciprocated Harry's hug, feeding him back with possession and vehemence.

Draco didn't know how it was possible to love someone so fiercely, so strongly that he might just disintegrate into a thousand million little pieces on the floor-

"So all of the weird things that you did… it was because… because you wanted to marry me? And that day… when you were talking to Ron and Hermione…" Draco asked, feeling a little, fluttering frisson shiver through him at the mention of marriage.

"I had to work extra hours to afford the jewelry, and I had to settle my vault at Gringotts for money matters. You know how close the three of us are, when Ron and Hermione were planning to get married, I was one of the first few people that they told, so it's natural that they know that I'm planning to propose to you. Besides, I was afraid that I might be rushing things too fast, and that I wouldn't know what to do with myself if you rejected me. I didn't know where or how to go about doing it. I even got to thinking whether I should just book a whole restaurant for the both of us, or renting an extravagant cruise liner and doing it there, but well… it might be a bit difficult, wouldn't it?" Harry explained, self-conscious when the issue of Galleons came up.

"No, I don't want any of that… this is… perfect," Draco said, still smiling like an absolute loony. "But just now… you said all those things to me…"

"Of course I don't love you just like how I did last time, because I love you so much more, baby," Harry explained succinctly. He tackled a giggling Draco to the bed and snogged him energetically for a long while, until the blond broke off the kiss and continued his rapid fire of questions.

"And you said something about moving out, and how you were… tired of it all. I don't understand…"

"We'll buy a house together, not now, but soon. I'm shopping around for a suitable one right now. It can't be too big or too pricey-"

"Harry, I really don't mind paying for it-"

"No, let me handle it, it's important to me. Look, let's do it like this, I'll pay for it, and you'll work on the décor and furniture and everything else. You know I'm absolutely horrid at design and things like that," Harry suggested, and Draco nodded, satisfied.

"And um… regarding the end it all thing, it's nothing that you need to worry about, seriously," Harry hedged, fidgeting. In reply, the blond crossed his arms and trained a stern stare on the other man.

Harry folded.

"Whenever I pick you up from work, I see those men loitering around you, and yes, I know they're there purely for business only, but I know that they're checking you out! I hate it, I absolutely loathe it when they're practically undressing you with their eyes! That's why I thought… I thought that if you had a ring on your finger they would just… piss off," Harry huffed, perturbed. He gauged Draco's reaction to this revelation, hoping that Draco wouldn't get mad what if he thinks that I'm marrying him solely because of this-.

Instead, Draco only smiled serenely and murmured a 'Silly Harry' under his breath.

"Hang on, you said jewelry just now. Jewelry, as in plural?" Draco pointed out, delight mounting within him yet again. Harry only grinned secretively, led Draco to the full-length mirror, pulled out another velvet box from his back pocket and opened it.

"Harry, I've got a lot of dragon earrings already," Draco said when he saw the single, coal-black earring nestled in its lair of a box.

"This is different," Harry promised impishly. He took the accessory out and tried to hook it on Draco's earlobe by himself, but ended up poking the blond's earlobe unceremoniously. After a few unsuccessful tries, Harry finally slipped it in. Draco tipped his head to his right and studied the dragon, waiting to see what was so unique about it. It was small enough to be unobtrusive, yet large enough to be noticeable.

True enough, the dragon ignited into life after a few seconds, its wings flapping dramatically as though it had woken up from a term of profound hibernation. Its eyes flashed a bright, sparkling white, before diminishing into a deep crystal grey. Its eyes closed in a show of pleasure and its tail dangled slackly in a state of relaxation from the curve of Draco's earlobe. The tiny dragon wrapped its wings around its body calmly, and its eyes slit open just a fraction, revealing a mildly shocked glitter.

"That's not all," Harry said coyly. He coiled his arms around Draco's waist and bit down on Draco's neck. To Draco's sheer astonishment, the dragon jerked itself up from its peaceful slumber and opened its jaws in a silent roar. Its eyes were no longer grey, but a sparkling, dominating green.

"Two people can bind to the dragon; the one who wears it, and the one who touches the person wearing it for the first time. Touch triggers the dragon and it picks up on their feelings," Harry whispered, his hands held possessively on Draco's hips and his tongue dragging lazily down to the dome of Draco's shoulder.

"It must have been expensive. Did you get it from the Elliot twins?" Draco asked, fingering the tail of the dragon, which lurched from side to side like a pendulum. Harry replied in the affirmative and threw Draco on the bed, his fingers rapidly working on the buttons of Draco's shirt.

"I wanna make love to you while you're wearing nothing but that ring and earring of mine," Harry hissed, the hungry baritone quality in Harry's voice turning Draco on to no end.

"What happens to the dragon when we're having sex?" Draco asked, getting rather breathless with answering lust and love when Harry peeled off his shirt and tossed it aside, feeling that zingy, spiraling smolder of sex bristling between his legs. Harry made his way down Draco's body, a devilish grin on his lips. He latched his teeth on the zipper of Draco's jeans and pulled it down bit by bit, his gaze hot and suggestive.

"Let's try it out then, won't we?"


EPILOGUE

"Draco sweetie, it's time to get up. You've got a meeting soon," Harry jolted softly in hushed tones one Saturday morning. He was bent over on the edge of the bed, gently shaking his husband of eight years. It was strange for Draco to oversleep, especially for work-related matters.

"Go 'way. No meeting now," Draco mumbled half-heartedly, lifting his head up slightly from the pillow and plonking back down again. He cracked open a bleary eye and immediately shut it when the morning light assaulted him rudely. With that done, the blond rolled himself listlessly away towards Harry's side of the bed. He burrowed his face into Harry's pillow and inhaled the brunette's scent, a sleepy, satisfied luster of a smile on his lips. Squiggles, his (old) beloved dragon, now patched up by numerous Muggle stitches (courtesy of Mrs Weasley) and Weaving charms, was squashed unceremoniously under his arm, and it wasn't long before Draco dropped back to slumber again.

Harry's eyebrows climbed his forehead slightly and he retreated from the room and padded towards well, it means breakfast for two instead of one then- the kitchen. He bustled about his work area and began to whip up a fresh batch of pancakes. The kitchen had grown to be Harry's exclusive domain, after Draco had out of the blue, tried to surprise Harry with a home-cooked meal and inadvertently set the stove on fire.

The horrified blond had tried to save it with magic, but it only served to exacerbate the problem.

Needless to say, the stove needed a major overhaul, and from that traumatizing incident onwards, Draco gave the poor kitchen a wide berth and left the cooking entirely up to Harry, but took care of the washing-up and drying (with magic, of course).

Harry paused in his mixing of pancake batter and glanced quickly at the calendar studded on the kitchen wall. He flipped the calendar to the next month, noting the sheer number of social engagements that the both of them were committed to. On Harry's side, there was Ron and Hermione's anniversary party and Rose's Hogwarts Graduation ceremony. On Draco's side, there were his usual prerequisite dinner parties where shoulder-rubbing with the rich and the famous were mandatory.

It hadn't been easy for Harry to ingratiate himself into Draco's circle of business associates, even after their wedding. To help ease Harry in slowly, Pansy had taken it upon herself to prepare a thick, bulky dossier of all the important names, professions and various recent newspaper clippings that Harry had to know by heart for small talk.

"Pansy, have you gone mad? I can't remember all of this-"

"While the both of you were dating, Potter, it was alright of you to make yourself absent during Draco's events, but now that you're getting married, you have to know what's going on! Chances are that you'll have to tag along with Draco, and it will appear to be very rude if you fail to make an appearance."

"But there's all the wedding preparations to do-"

"Potter. Don't argue with me. Read."

"… Thanks-"

"Don't thank me, start memorizing and get your facts right. Go on now, run along, darling."

But it appeared to have worked. Draco's friends that had originally scoffed at Harry had come to accept him, acknowledging the fact that Potter wasn't going to go anywhere, especially with that wedding ring on Draco's finger. And step by step, the invitation cards addressed to Draco no longer read 'Draco and other'.

It now read 'Draco and Harry'.

Harry was there when wealth and power sometimes swelled Draco's head; the brunette was like an anchor that helped bring Draco down to earth, reminding him that there were more important things in life than money, especially when Draco seemed to be tiring himself out occasionally, sometimes missing from home for two to three weeks because of site visits to other countries. At times like this, a completely drained Draco would return home to see Harry sleeping on the couch in front of the fireplace, his nose buried in Squiggles' fur and cuddling the little dragon to sleep.

"Sorry, I got delayed. You shouldn't have stayed up for me. What do you do when I'm away?"

Harry would smile a sleepy, happy he's back, he's finally back- little smile and kiss Draco's wrist lovingly, his answer chasing away Draco's weariness and warming the blond all over.

"I wait for you to come back."

And then Draco would lead Harry to bed, the brunette would hug him from behind and bundle him up in his arms, and they would sleep together in a warm, cocooned ball.

Their honeymoon had been simple, just the two of them lost in their little paradise of a world. They had rented an isolated little cottage where they were surrounded by sun and surf, and of course, sex during morning, afternoon and night, sex for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Well, you get the picture.

And there were those funny little habits, those one-a-kind quirks that made Draco Draco.

Draco was a natural wriggler in his sleep, especially for the first few weeks that they had lived together. Many a time had occurred when Harry had jarred from sleep, freezing cold due to the blond hogging all the blankets, or Harry had ended up on the floor, simply because Draco had performed a well-aimed kick at Harry's bum. Sometimes Squiggles would fall out from Draco's arms, and the ex-Slytherin would make this distressed whimpering sound that woke a grouchy Harry up from his sleep. And then Harry would have no choice but to haul himself out of bed, stomp his way over to Draco's side, pick up the dragon and tuck it in Draco's arms. Draco would let out a tiny sigh and snuggle deeper into the pillows, content at last when his toy was back with him again.

The most astounding thing was that Draco was really, truly asleep throughout.

And the toothpaste, oh God, the toothpaste issue. Harry had never had a tendency to cap the toothpaste lid properly simply because he didn't see the point in it. However, Draco was a meticulous toothpaste-cap-shutter, because it was a routine that had been instilled into him since young.

So of course, sparks flew when Draco accidentally pressed on the tube of toothpaste and ribbons of toothpaste squirted out messily onto the sink.

"S'okay, Draco. It happens. I'll clean it up later."

"But I don't understand how! I always cap it neatly-"

"Oh, it's me. I don't bother to do that. Just leave it alone... why are you staring at me like that?"

"Sweet Salazar, you're just like Crabbe! He never puts the lid on properly, and there's toothpaste always leaking all over in the Slytherin boys' bathrooms and at one time, there was toothpaste on the mirror! On the mirror, could you believe it! Merlin, I get so agitated just thinking about it, and you, you, Potter, you're one of those inconsiderate toothpaste users!"

"… It's just toothpaste, Draco."

"No, it's not just toothpaste! It's one of those little things that show how neat and precise you are as a human being! It's polite to cap it properly to make things easier for the next person who is about to use the same tube of toothpaste-"

"Okay, I'll go out and buy another tube of toothpaste. You can open and close the lid on that one to your hearts' content, and I'll keep my sloppy and disorganized tube of toothpaste to myself. How does that sound?"

"… Just cap the damn thing properly next time, Potter!"

Those trivial matters began to accumulate, and gradually, Harry learnt to turn down the television volume when Draco was in his study working and when Ron and company were over to watch the game. When Harry's friends seemed to be getting a bit too rowdy, Harry would quickly tone things down for Draco's convenience. Harry learnt to drop Draco a quick owl right after a dangerous Unspeakable mission-

"You didn't owl me that you were safe after that particular case this afternoon, Harry."

"Oh, I was out with the boys at the pub celebrating. We succeeded, Draco-"

"You didn't owl me."

"Well, I'm fine now, can't you see-"

"Yes, I know you're fine now, but I didn't know whether you were alive or dead one hour ago! I didn't know if your body was lying in some fucking ditch halfway around the world, I was waiting for you to tell me that you were okay the minute you came back, not three hours after you finished! I was so fucking worried, I was pacing the fucking office, scared out of my wits, can't you remember last month, last month when you were sent to St. Mungo's again after that curse hit you, Harry, can't you be a bit more attentive to things like this!"

On Draco's part, the blond had to get used to Harry's eating habits, which could be rather ghastly sometimes, courtesy of sharing meals with Ron in the Great Hall in Hogwarts. It was revolting, how Harry could eat with his steak drowning in ketchup, how Harry could never eat a chicken wing properly without getting oil all over his face. Draco would quickly grab a tissue and shove it towards Harry, who would clean his mouth and flash Draco that crooked, cheeky little grin of his.

"Oops."

And then Draco would fall in love with him all over again.

The blond had to tolerate Harry's wandering eye. There had been this misunderstanding in their fourth year of marriage, an abominable monstrosity of a feud between the both of them when Draco had stumbled upon Harry in bed with another man.

Granted, their clothes were still on, and they weren't doing anything but sleeping, but it enraged Draco to towering heights to see someone else lying on his side on the bed that only he shared with Harry. Things had already been a bit rocky, with Draco clocking in more and more hours at work, while conversely, Harry had a lot of free time on his hands since things were getting a bit quiet at the Ministry. Harry proclaimed his genuine innocence, of course, because he really, truly didn't touch Jeremy-

"We went out drinking, the bunch of us, and Jeremy asked if he could crash over at my place, I forgot what reason he gave, but I know I asked him to sleep at the couch, not in bed with me-"

"He's Jeremy, isn't it? The one that fancies you like mad? And you invited him home, I can't believe I'm hearing this from you, I can't believe that you expect me to believe this load of shit from you. How was he? Was he a good fuck? I bet he took my place quite easily, didn't he? Blond, just like me-"

"Fuck, we didn't do anything at all! We were on opposite sides of the bed, yes, I was a bit drunk, but I know that we didn't do anything at all! And you, Draco, you've been leaving me alone for the past few days. I hardly see you at home anymore, I miss you, Draco, don't you dare walk away from me-"

"I'm staying at Pansy's-"

"The fuck you are-"

And thus ensued a cold war which lasted for two long, horrible weeks, until an emotionally wrung-out Draco with weary rings of shadow below his eyes had returned home to Harry, his scrupulously polished wedding ring still wrapped protectively around his finger.

because when you stop talking, you stop caring-

"Morning. Thought I smelt something nice."

Harry laughed and leant back into Draco's embrace, kissing the blond full on the lips. He busied himself with dribbling a generous drizzle of maple syrup on a stack of freshly-made pancakes, and Draco smacked his lips hungrily. The ex-Slytherin helped out by pouring out orange juice into their glasses and carting it over to the dining table. Not forgetting the star of the show, Draco was practically drooling at the mouth as he stuck his head in the fridge and triumphantly produced a half-empty pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Macadamia.

"The meeting was cancelled today?" Harry asked as he popped open the ice-cream lid and shoveled the best bits onto Draco's plate.

"No, I got Bobby to take over last night. The both of us have been so busy with work recently, so I thought it would be nice to just spend the whole day with you here, alone," Draco said, smiling beatifically at Harry. Touched, Harry bent down and kissed Draco so thoroughly and intensively that the ice-cream began to melt.

They finished their breakfast at a leisurely pace, and at the end of it all, Harry brought Draco and the remaining chocolate ice-cream back up to their bedroom. The brunette tugged Draco towards him, and the blond snuggled in Harry's cuddling embrace, his eyes still glued onto the business section in The Daily Prophet. His front facing Draco's back, Harry spooned some ice-cream into Draco's mouth, careful not to drip any on the sheets (Draco would go completely ballistic if he did).

The outline of Draco's body had gone a bit soft happiness fat, they call it-, especially around his abdomen, due to the fantastic dinners at the Weasleys' and mouth-watering meals at home. Harry still loved Draco's scent, which always brought a lift to his spirits. Silhouettes of experience lined Harry's tanned face, and his hair had a dusting of silver at the sides, but his voice still remained the same, that low, soft voice that was practically created to murmur sweet nothings in Draco's ear every night.

Harry cleared his throat and grinned friskily as he sneaked a sly hand under Draco's arse and squeezed it hard, making the blond squeal.

Well, some things never change.

"So, what are we doing today?" Draco enquired, flicking his newspaper shut just a bit.

"Talk about nothing in particular, make love, more talking and more sex, hmmm, more ice-cream and more sex… guess that's about it. How does that sound?"

"Sounds perfect," Draco agreed, beaming. "Just let me finish this article."

Many of us don't believe in love because of an assortment of reasons. Maybe you've had your heart trampled on before. Maybe you just haven't met that special someone yet. Maybe you don't relish the idea of happily ever after.

Or maybe, just maybe, we have the impression that it's something so far away, something so high up in the alpine heavens, so heroically deep into the labyrinth of an ether, waiting for us to stumble upon it at the other side of the world.

But the heavens aren't so far away after all.

Love is that sparkle in his eye, love is that smattering of smiles that he shows you even when he's tired. Love is the little things that he does that makes your heart stop just for that split second. Love is the turning of the key in the door, that little tell-tale whoosh of the Floo when he's finally returned home after a long, hard day of work. Love is when he draws down the curtains every single morning when you're still sleeping because he doesn't want the sun to get in your eyes. There's no other feeling like it in the world, no feeling like this that cossets you, cares for you-

Love is on the other side of the bed with you, brushing his teeth with you, eating together with you, arguing with you, frustrating and laughing and disappointing and pleasing and kissing and touching and smiling at you allatthesametime-

Love can be the sweetest bliss you feel whenever you two kiss each other all over, but yet, love is the heartache you feel, this painful, grinding screech at the core of your chest whenever the both of you have a fight.

The first time a 27-year-old Harry Potter had laid eyes on Draco Malfoy, right at that Ministry function in that ballroom, his heart had skipped a beat.

It did it then, and it's still doing it now.

It didn't matter that the Draco that Harry had seen was preened, polished and perfect in every other aspect, while the Draco that was in Harry's arms right now had mussed-up, uncombed bedroom hair that bore a suspicious resemblance to Harry's own tangled locks, the Draco that Harry was holding now wasn't wearing expensive designer suits, but instead, just a simple white shirt with a picture of Snoopy on it and a pair of black shorts with tiny yellow Woodstocks embellished on it (yes, they came in a set). The blond's lips were smeared with sticky, gooey stains of chocolate ice-cream, a far cry from Draco's speckless lips eight years ago at the ballroom.

Because after eight years, all that was important, all that was meaningful was what was in your heart.


/fin

Thanks for all those who read (and recc'ed) Flirt, regardless of whether you're a dedicated lurker or a consistent reviewer. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. (:

So this is it, a textbook happy ending immaculately wrapped up in sparkly gift paper with a pretty little bow at the top. Sadly, my next fic won't be as lucky.

Pandora's Box will be published on 28th May, Friday.