It was Valentine's day in a week, and the hours were rife with plans.
"A nice restaurant in Hogsmeade, nothing fancy."
"We have a luxury weekend trip to-"
"-A bottle of wine and I'm cooking us dinner-."
"I've got her flowers, that's proper right?"
"We haven't been dating very long, but…"
"I want it to be really special, so I-"
"I'm bloody broke, can't I just give myself as a gift-"
Harry honestly had no idea what to say.
Him and Tom hadn't been together very long; the time period short enough that it hovered in the awkward zone between casual and something far more significant. It was almost six months now; but unfortunately neither of them had covered the disaster that was Valentine's Day as a couple.
Well, okay, casual had never entirely applied to him and Tom, but that only made it more difficult in this context.
Worse, Hermione was looking at him expectant curiosity, and so really the words blurted out before he'd even thought about it.
"Nothing. I mean - Tom and romance? C'mon," he scoffed. "Tom scorns the idea of Valentine's day. His idea of romance is probably to send me a bloody heart in a jar or something, and that's assuming he does anything at all. Tom can't do all that stuff to save his life."
He saw Hermione's face changing, too late.
"What's that supposed to mean?" the words were frosty.
Harry froze. Turned slowly to see Tom had since come up behind him, features utterly expressionless.
"Well, I'm just saying you're not a romantic person. I mean - it's fine," he hastened to reassure.
"Tom can't do all that stuff to save his life sounds a bit different. Which bit can I not do? Romance? Feeling affection for someone? Dating?"
Harry's brow furrowed slightly.
"...are you actually pissed off about this?"
"-I'm going to uh - I'm going to...go," Hermione said, feebly, looking rather guilty for inadvertently starting this. Neither of them so much as glanced at her.
"What exactly did you want, Harry?" Tom's voice had turned rather dangerously honeyed as he took a step forward. "Flowers? Stuffed teddybear-"
"Oh, now you're just being ridiculous," Harry snapped, growing irritated. Tom knew perfectly well that he didn't care about this stuff! "You're making way too big a thing of this-"
"-I'm making too big a thing of this?"
"-Yes, you are!" Harry growled. "Or do you deny that you hate Valentine's day? You scorn the very idea of Valentine's day. You almost gave yourself an aneurysm just admitting you were friends with me! The only reason we got together was because I got engaged to someone else and it pissed you off having to share."
"That does not mean I would not be able to seduce and romance you properly," Tom said, rather haughtily. "Regardless of the unconventionality of our getting together."
Harry couldn't believe that they were actually having this argument. He resisted the urge to rub his eyes.
"You know I don't care, right? Seeing as I knew you when I started this," he said.
"We're doing something for Valentine's Day," Tom stated. There was no room for protest in his tone. "It will be the most amazing one you've ever had."
"You do know it's not actually supposed to be a competition?" Harry raised his brows.
"You started it. I'm simply correcting your assumptions on my skills."
Harry was wondering if he was going to regret this.
Life got busy. With them, and their campaign, life always got busy.
So by the time February 14th came around, he had completely forgotten any potential significance – or certainly the conversation.
He awoke to the comforting aroma of toast, eggs and coffee.
Lips were trailing along his bare back, as his face remained smushed ungracefully into his pillow with the duvet caught somewhere around his hips.
"Morning." Tom's mouth paused in kissing at the nape of his neck to murmur the words. "Happy Valentine's Day."
Harry couldn't help but be convinced that he'd fallen into some strange wonderland. Fingers carded through his hair, before he rolled over to see Tom hovering over him, knees braced on either side of his thighs.
It was definitely Tom. Or, at least, someone who looked remarkably identical to Tom. And it was definitely toast.
Eggs Benedict – cooked to perfection.
In other circumstances, he would have offered up a sleepy groan in response. As it was, he merely blinked instead.
"You made me breakfast."
"Yes. Eat it before it gets cold."
There was even a tall glass of orange juice next to the small pot of coffee, everything balanced and arranged neatly on a platter.
There was a bloody rose.
"You made me breakfast in bed. With a flower."
This was terrifying.
Tom's eyebrow arched.
"I was led to believe breakfast in bed is a traditionally romantic gesture. Clearly, I should have done this sooner because the look on your face is hilariously shortcircuited. I'm half wondering if I should be further offended."
The details of their early Valentine's Day conversation slowly filtered back, as he continued to stare at Tom for a few moments.
The Slytherin Heir settled comfortably next to him on the bed, watching him in turn with something that could only be characterized as careful amusement.
Harry could his feel his half-suspicion transforming to a warmth in his chest; bets and challenges aside. It was nice.
"You're not dressed for work," was his next comment.
Restful sleep was still enough of a novelty to him that, when he had it, he tended to try and get as much as possible. Consequently Tom, ever the early bird, tended to be up first. His…boyfriend (nearly a year and it still felt odd calling him that) was normally showered, shaved ad ready in his robes by the time Harry was stumbling downstairs to bolt down copious cups of caffeine, scrambling to get dressed in time.
Hence, Tom was in a usually unseen state of casual half dress. Boxers, bare feet, silken dressing gown. The thought of Tom cooking like this popped relentlessly into his head and the image still rang odd enough that he wanted to laugh.
"Astute of you to notice," Tom said dryly. "You're on top form this morning. I took the liberty of allocating us both the day off. Now, eat up. It might wake you up enough to manage basic conversation."
Harry snorted. Yeah, definitely still Tom; despite the surrealism of the scene. A grin crossed his lips now, eyes lighting up as he reached for the other, pulling him into a searing kiss.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Tom." Bloody hell. He kissed him again, softer this time, and with growing eagerness – only for Tom to push him back after a bit. His brow furrowed.
"Your eggs will get cold," the Slytherin said, by way of explanation. Harry laughed, and shook his head, nonetheless reaching for the platter.
It was delicious. The flavours of the ham and the hollandaise sauce a flawless contrast to the mild softness of the eggs and the toast.
"This is really good," he mumbled.
"You can stop sounding so shocked now," Tom replied. Harry laughed again, and wished he could stop smiling like a complete idiot.
"If I'd known reverse psychology was this effective on you, I would have told you to be nice ages ago," he joked.
"You'd get bored." The truly wicked smile Tom then offered him made him spark hot all over. "But I'm sure you can find some way to show me your gratitude later."
Harry swallowed thickly around his eggs.
"Mm. I'll cook you dinner," he said innocently. Tom's lips twitched.
"I already made dinner reservations. I'm afraid you'll have to find something else."
"Damn. What haven't you done?" he teased.
"That would ruin the surprise." Tom helped himself to some of the large quantity of breakfast food. Harry's head tilted, and he paused.
"…have you actually done a lot?"
He knew Tom had made reference to ensuring 'the most amazing' day ever, but it was difference facing actions instead of words. It made him feel like he had to have something incredible to reciprocate with. Even if there was a strong possibility that Tom was only doing this out of his compulsion to be the best at everything.
The smirk on Tom's face did nothing to reassure him. And yet he grinned.
As far as Tom was concerned romance was one of the most insidious forms of manipulation in existence. He'd always been good at manipulation – and Harry should have known better than to challenge him in something that was so thoroughly his domain and area of expertise, whether he did so inadvertently or not.
It was true, of course, that romance in the altruistic, idealized sense held no appeal to him. Nor did the concept of Valentine's Day when it prized the sticky candy-floss sentiments that he so despised. But that was hardly the point, and it didn't mean he didn't know how to do this.
Watching Harry's surprised but wary, and ultimately bright-eyed response was even enjoyable. Really though, Harry could take so ordinary and necessary a thing as eating and accidentally turn it into a sensuous act.
Or maybe he just liked making a study of Harry's mouth.
Nonetheless, that summed Harry up rather well actually – accidentally sensuous. Accidental generally, perhaps, for all the logic cited in their coupling.
If he'd thus themed his romantic manipulations around the sensual and the hedonistic…who could thus blame him for that? He could indulge himself whilst proving Harry utterly wrong about his capabilities as a partner.
It was a matter of principle. There was nothing he couldn't do if he put his mind to it, when he so disliked limitations. Even performances of sentiment. It wasn't, after all, that he felt nothing for Harry…more that he didn't particularly believe in displays of affection when caring was a curse he would happily have removed from himself if he didn't through some awful irony care too much to do so.
They spent the morning in bed.
Lunch was treacle tart; Harry's favourite for some ungodly reason, but which nonetheless did make his mouth even sweeter than normal, if a little sticky. Strawberries dipped in chocolate. Harry's fingers dipped into his mouth to offer them.
He should have used the romance econ ages ago. Harry turned beautifully eager.
A hot shower, with Harry all but melting pleasingly in his touch, and further and further proofs of his lover's appreciation as his mouth wrapped around him like velvet.
He'd once said he never wanted Harry to kneel before him…obviously he had been hasty of judgment and exceptions could be made by context because he didn't think he could ever get enough of the rush of this.
Refreshed then, he dragged Harry out the door once they were (somewhat divertingly) dressed. It was just as well that he knew his partner well enough to know that he was maddeningly distracting, and thus factored that in to his plans.
Harry was eyeing their co-joined hands.
"Are you doing all this just to prove that you can be romantic? Because, you know, you've more than proved that. Breakfast in bed was enough."
Tom scowled at the rain, and Harry absently flicked out impervious charms to ensure that they remained dry. Still watching him.
"Now which one of us is incapable of being romantic?" he returned. "I find it hilarious that you accused me of scorning the idea of Valentine's day, when you've always been reticent to too. My god, what happened that you are less romantic than me?"
Harry huffed, before teasing; "The definition of romance is something done as an expression of love. Technically, if you're doing it for any other reason it does not count as romantic."
Tom gave his partner a withering look, unable to quite help himself, was about to say something scathing and irritable, before a thought struck him. His head tilted.
"The thought that I am doing this solely due to some brand of reverse psychology truly bothers you," he noted. Now Harry was scowling, and he tightened his grip on the other's hand so he couldn't slide it away.
"Merlin, for someone who would be fine with me making him breakfast as a sole Valentine's Day special, you're dreadfully high maintenance emotionally, darling." Tom rolled his eyes, though his jaw tightened. His mind jumped back to the conversation that had started this all, and he pulled them to a halt, turning to face Harry properly. "Are you looking for an 'I love you' or something? Would three worthless words prove it to you somehow and make you feel better?" The contempt dripped from his tone.
"Of for god's sake," Harry hissed, a flush beginning to spread on his cheeks.
"No, really. What do I have to do, Harry?" he demanded, crowding the smaller man's space. "Is it that you think I am incapable of-" he hated even in the word, and his mouth pinched in mental recoil from the possibility of so dangerous and disgusting a thing as love.
"Wow," Harry said flatly. "You should see your face. So sorry that-"
Tom interrupted to press on, ruthlessly.
"Is I that you think I am incapable of loving you, or that you are incapable of being loved?"
Harry froze in front of him, expression sliding to something very blank.
Sometimes Tom wondered why he bloody well bothered making plans at all, when it came to them.
Harry's ears were ringing, his fingers clenching and unfurling to fists and back at his side. He itched to punch. To do something to escape the conversation. He'd been the height of happiness five minutes ago, what the hell happened!?
He wanted to tell Tom to go and fuck himself. To say anything. Do something. He opened his mouth to do so, but no words would come out. In the end, he sighed heavily.
"What the hell type of question is that?" His voice was embarrassingly hoarse.
"Or is it both?" Tom persisted. The worst part was that neither Tom's voice nor his expression was cold, if anything it was curious.
"If I thought you were incapable of – my god do we really have this conversation?"
Tom said nothing, merely observing him. Waiting for an answer.
"If I thought you were incapable of caring," Harry continued, eventually, quietly, "I would not be friends with you. Let alone dating you. I would have considered you irredeemable on the path to becoming Voldemort."
He held Tom's gaze, and watched as something flickered.
"I see." A disarming smirk appeared, as Tom turned away, dragging him along by the hand again – back into their house once more. "Change of plans then."
"Tom-" he began. The next second he was slammed against the hallway wall, with Tom's lips crushed upon his own, fingers clenched tight in his hair. Harry's eyes widened.
"You are infuriating. I am wasting perfectly good tango lesson on this."
"…you were going to teach me how to dance the tango?" The look Tom gave him translated that this was apparently not the right time to be amused. He was starting to get the impression that Tom was trying to fulfil every romantic cliché possible within twenty four hours.
Then again, this was Tom who understood friendship via the dictionary definition, so it wasn't surprising that his ideas of romance were based off the tried and tested stereotypes.
"Shut up. Sit down in the living room."
The moment after that a pensieve was slammed down in front of him. It was from Sirius, who'd given it so he could watch all the old memories of his parents one night. It had stayed at their place ever since.
Tom concentrated, and a long silvery thread of memories were soon pooling into the glistening liquid. Harry picked at a thread in his shirt. The next second, Tom had grabbed his hair again and rather ungracefully sent them tumbling into the scenes.
He didn't know what he'd been expecting. This wasn't it.
He was laughing in a moment of carelessness after a long day at the office – he was defending Lestrange with a look of determination on his face what seemed so long ago –
"Tom, what is this?" Harry interrupted.
"Seeing as you remain incapable of seeing yourself clearly, I am showing you what you look like to me," Tom said tersely, standing by his side, watching the proceedings. His arms were folded. His posture standoffish.
Harry's mouth ran completely dry.
He was duelling, the spells whipping around him lightning fast and his eyes aglow – he was seventeen and sprawled fast asleep with his head tipping into Tom's lap at Grimmauld Place at New Year – he was bent over a document in their shitty first flat, forehead creased in a frown and chewing on his lips every so often to the point that they were reddened and swollen -
He didn't get it, and Tom's arms wound around him, fingers gripping in his chin to turn his confused features back to the memories again as Tom's mouth hovered warm next to his ears.
"I knew you were blind, but this really is ridiculous," Tom hissed. "Do you imagine, at the very least, that I would care to prove you wrong if your opinion was meaningless to me? Do you imagine I would be willing to share control of this country with anyone I didn't consider entirely my equal?"
The memories rewinded.
"You have this unshakeable ability to see the best of things," Tom murmured, over the sounds of his remembered laughter. "You can imagine the future being better, without fail, even when I cannot. When few others would."
"You are annoyingly kind. I have no idea how you can possibly have so much mercy, or be so tolerant to those who would seek to harm you. But considering I am largely lacking in heart, it is perhaps for the best that you compensate for the both of us." One of Tom's hands slid beneath his shirt to his chest, a warm glide that nearly had Harry squirming on the spot all over again. He opened his mouth to comment, but Tom's fingers dragged warningly over his parted lips, pressing against his tongue for a moment and spearing it to the bottom of his mouth, before retreating.
"Powerful." Tom's voice dropped to something breath-takingly reverent, husky. "Obviously, you've never watched yourself casting magic. Never felt your own aura when the full force of everything you are is exposed and on display."
His heart was pounding. It was utterly ridiculous. The hand splayed against his chest kept him pinned back against Tom's torso.
"And yet in the next moment you do that." Tom's breath puffed hot and heavy against the shell of his ear, making his head twitch at the sensation. "It's obscene that a man like you should be able to come across as that harmless, and beyond comprehension that you would trust me enough to sprawl on me as if I was innocent too."
"Are you starting to see now?" Tom asked. "Or should I go on?"
"You are my partner. It is insulting to the both of us that you would question your deserving the position. I do not have such bad taste as to choose wrongly temporarily, let alone in eternity."
"Of course." Tom said it like it was the obvious, forgone conclusion. And, yes, they were both to some extent immortal – but the capacity for surviving that long and a claim of togetherness still after all of this time was something very different.
The next second they were back in their living room, and he was sitting on the sofa with only the phantom impressions of Tom's touch.
The silence stretched, though he could feel the weight of Tom's gaze on him as he stared at the once-again-calm waters of the pensieve.
"The dancing was one thing. I refuse to miss our dinner reservations. Come on."
The bastard sauntered out the door again, as if nothing had happened at all.
The candles illuminated their table in a soft light, and Tom felt thoroughly satisfied with the day, if he did say so himself.
He felt pleasantly buzzed on Merlot, and they had the privacy so often denied in their public life. He'd made sure of that when he made his plans – their lives belonged to the tabloids often enough that he'd made sure this would be uninterrupted.
An expensive, luxury suite of rooms; and thus their own corner of the room. How sickeningly sweet…but appreciated, perhaps, right now. No spectacle or performance.
London was throbbing with life just outside the large glass window.
Harry was talking about something or other, barely finding time to eat his risotto. Of course, he'd been tempted to order all the fine delicacies of the word but Harry had simple tastes when it came to food. Tom had ensured they tried lobster once and Harry had just shrugged, and said that it was a bit overrated.
Bloody typical. For all Tom was certain of the unerring quality of his own tastes and preferences, sometimes he was rather more sceptical of Harry's. He'd be happy if Tom had got them take-out from the local chippy.
Harry paused when he realized he was being watched, taking another sip of his own drink though he didn't bother to comment on the scrutiny. Used to it. Watching Harry was, after all, one of his favourite past times.
"It's going to be a nightmare trying to out extravagant you next year," Harry said instead.
"You have a whole year to think of something," Tom replied lazily. "Who knows. You could kill someone I don't like and give me their still bleeding heart in a jar."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"You would get a kick out of me murdering someone for you. Don't act like I was entirely unreasonable."
Tom smothered a smirk, and ate some more of his own dinner. Harry twiddled his fork.
"So I did get you something," the other said, awkwardly. Tom bit back a comment about Harry, the bed, and the things Harry could gift him, graciously.
Harry flicked his hand, magic sparking, and the next second a small thin check book was in Tom's hands, along with a box of chocolates. (He liked chocolates, it was true, expensive ones. Chocolate had been rare when he grew up, so they always felt special.) He blinked, before looking down.
He flicked it open, sceptically, only for his head to tilt.
"These are favours."
"Your favourite thing to trade in," Harry remarked. "And I know better than to give you a blank check."
How well Harry knew him. It still surprised him sometimes.
The words neatly scrawled instead of money amounts ranged from the innocent to the obscene, the professional to the personal across all the interconnected webs of their life.
Most people would be frightened by the expression on his face. The hunger.
They ended up in bed. Obviously.
Clearly he was decidedly not lacking in seductive skill.
Romance was a manipulation – but in this case, Tom reckoned he could learn to like Valentine's Day.
A/N: So, for me, this is ridiculously fluffy. My teeth have rotted. It's so fluffy that I want to cry. Belatedly for Valentine's Day. I got busy, and yeah. Based on the prompts for something in the "Logical Considerations" verse, and "Tom proving to Harry that he could be romantic" from my Valentine's giveaway on tumblr. Hope you liked it :)