HD 'When I'm Old'
Word Count: 3,000
Warnings: Solicitor!Harry and Barrister!Draco; AU, EWE, soppiness, creeping.
Author's Notes: Gawds! It's not that I cannot write! I am writing! See me write, write, write! My problem is that I am not writing what I'm supposed to be writing and this is procrastination carried to the nth degree. Beat me with a wet noodle or something, why don't you? I do deserve it.
I promise I'll write what I'm supposed to be writing tomorrow. Yes, yes, I will. Absolutely.
In the meantime, however...
HD 'When I'm Old'
The prat left him notes under his pillow. He left them under his blotter at work and stuck them randomly to the coolbox with silly magnets. They were found scattered 'round the flat whenever Draco was attempting to collect the books together for reshelving (he always returned his to the library-cum-study the spare bedroom had become; Harry never did). They appeared magically inside his sock drawer and wrapped 'round odd bottles of butterbeer in the case kept in the pantry. Once there'd been one in the bathroom, attached to the toilet tissue roll, and he'd nearly wiped his arse with it before he noticed.
Harry, Draco knew, wasn't particularly articulate. Draco was the one who handled the media, the charity speeches, the bulk of the presentation of evidence before the Wizengamot when a brief required it. Harry did the research and legwork, solved the puzzles and put pieces together, but he shied away still from the spotlight and Draco was glad enough to enable his preference. Though, of course, he couched his agreeability as an insult instead of inviting praise for the favour, naturally. Wouldn't do for Harry to feel Draco had one-upped him.
"I generally dress far better than you ever do, Harry," he announced one fine day, after a particularly difficult case had concluded, "thus, am much more reliably presentable for public consumption, and you're no treat to speak to without coffee, not to mention despising cameras, so…"
"So…all good, yeah," Harry grinned. "Thanks, mate. 'Preciate it."
But not having the gift of gab—or rather, not choosing to exercise it, as Harry really could be a most persuasive fellow when he wanted—led Draco's flatmate to devising a written system of communication that seemed to work well for them both. These little scraps of parchment bearing one or two lines, or short scribbles on the back of old bill envelopes, or even two or three succinct words scribed upon those Muggly Post-It thingbobs: Draco had become accustomed to ferreting them out and using them as a barometer for Harry's overall state-and-condition. They were his signposts, rather, for safely navigating the Land of Potter.
It was how he'd told Draco he cared, a little more than a year ago. It was the way he'd proposed moving to a larger flat just last month. And Draco just knew it would be the method he'd be using to propel them to the next step, an event he eagerly anticipated, but knew enough not to push Harry into.
All in good time, that was Draco's motto. He could be very patient when it came to Harry. Had been, was, and would be, come Hades or high water, because Harry was stuck with him now.
So this one—the one that crinkled loudly when he gathered up the goosedown pile and scrunched it under one ear—was no surprise. Harry being already off and about for the day wasn't, either. They'd catch up at the office, no doubt, and likely Harry would have Draco's favourite capuccino-and-croissant ready for him, and be on the verge of rushing out the door to the Law Library to work on the Bartleby divorce proceedings.
Draco wished him well of it, sleepily. He, too, loved research, and especially into arcane Wizarding law, but his specialty was business and trade law, and Harry's was domestic and environmental. That was one reason they worked so well together: they each had their own territories to lord over, and thus there was no competition between them to sour the atmosphere in the office. It helped, too, that he'd chosen to be a barrister and Harry a solicitor; they were much less likely to quarrel over clients, and indeed, the nature of the office they'd established two years ago (fresh out of uni) invited the sharing of same.
Draco sighed and clutched at the parchment he still hadn't read, anticipating the day ahead with no particular happiness. If Harry was winding down on the instructions for the Bartleby divorce, than likely he, Draco, would end up in court presenting Mrs. Bartleby's claims by week's end, as they'd discussed. And that could only be aggravating, as Mrs. Bartleby was aggravating, and her choleric and ill-tempered nature often spilt over the expensive seams of her Parisian frocks.
Fortunately, the aging bint was quite fond of Harry, and Harry was the one stuck handling her (and she required handling, in Draco's opinion, much the way a large cat did, when denied fresh meat to chomp on.) She'd purr and roar for him and then he'd distill her alternating moods of vitriol and heavy-handed flirting into sensible statements of her requirements from the soon-to-be-officially-ex Mr. Bartleby. Still, Draco had had to deal with her a time or two, when Harry'd been out of the office, working on other cases. Not at all pleasant, that Witch. The first time he'd been trapped into entertaining her, actually, they'd nearly come to blows over Harry's state of near-permanent bachelorhood, and Draco had had to exert ever atom of patience in his whipcord body not to hex her into tomorrow, simply for insisting (in a giggly, arch, knowing manner that sent the wind up Draco's arse like there was no tomorrow) that 'the love of a good Witch' would soon convince Harry to give it up and happily take on the trapments of marriage himself.
Draco knew better. The 'love of a good Witch' was guaranteed not to be an enticement for Harry. It had taken the poor sod far too long to be shed of the Weasley bint as it was; Harry was in no hurry to be Bonded to anyone, much less a 'mature woman', as Mrs. Bartleby blithely referred to herself. Or any woman, for that matter, as Harry demonstrably preferred the company of Wizards. Or so the note implied heavily, the one that allowed Draco to keep a tight leash on his temper that one day, and continue to politely ply tea and cakes on their wealthiest client yet. For, sadly, Mrs. Bartleby was exactly that.
"Sorry to have left her to you, old prat," Harry's note read. Draco had found it in his desk drawer when he was fruitlessly searching for a packet of Muggle non-sugar sweetener for Mrs. Bartleby's tea. "I know she's a harridan, but I've every confidence you'll manage her like a champion. When I return, I'll bribe you with a long luncheon at Antonio's and a rub-down after. HP"
That was how Harry's notes usually ran: short, to the point and generally containing some reference to the fact that they were rather more, now, than merely barrister and solicitor and, of course, flatmates. Now and again, though, Harry would venture into something a little deeper. Draco had found a Post-It once with a quote on it in Harry's chicken-scratch handwriting: To the world you are one person, but to one person you are the world. Anon. Discovering that amongst the teacups had buoyed Draco up for days on end.
But this morning he was woeful, even with Harry's latest excursion into the fine art of intimating his softer emotions on paper firmly clutched in one hand. It was rainy—he could hear it, beating cold against the windows—and it'd been a dreary November thus far, and he'd not been able to pin Harry down as to precisely how they might plan to spend the upcoming holidays. The previous year Draco had visited with his parents at the Manor and then gone to sunny Spain for a week. Harry had been off to the Burrow for Christmas Day and then a pre-New Years' long weekend confab with his old schoolmates in Edinburgh. They'd shared New Year's Eve, but that had been it. This year Draco wanted rather more, but Harry was despicably elusive, as usual. He'd change the subject whenever Draco casually mentioned that Spain had been nice, but he was thinking skiing in Switzerland and perhaps Harry should learn how? Or prhaps it was better to visit the Greek Isles instead and celebrate the upcoming New Year on the steps of the Parthenon, chugging the champers? He'd only shrug and smile vaguely and mumble about 'thinking about it' and 'Molly always does a family dinner' and Draco would then drop the topic like a hot potato, afraid of forcing his companion into making a decision much too quickly. For, odds were, it wouldn't favour him.
Patience. That was the key word. Just a little more of that, and he'd arrive at what he truly wanted, and hopefully that would be hand-in-hand with Harry and woe to those annoying, enduring Weasleys.
"Ahhhghn, um," Draco sighed, yawning, and at last rolled over to face the day, bringing the crumpled sheet of parchment out from under the pillow and positioning it approximately over his nose. He squinted blearily, as Harry's notes always required careful deciphering, though he'd become a bit of an expert at it over the last few years. He was a bloody Rosetta Stone, these days, Draco thought, and then chuckled silently at his own conceit.
"Let's see, Harry," he remarked to the empty bedroom, still somewhat groggy yet from the previous night's pleasure. "What've you left for me this fine morning? I do hope it's good."
He blinked to clear his hazy eyes and focused on the first line.
"Dear Draco, you're still asleep. I like you best that way, at times, you know: sleeping. Allows me a chance to simply look at you, at my leisure, without you being all suspicious and wanting to know why I keep staring so rudely. I stare because I never tire of it. Never have, git, not since the day I started, back in Sixth Form. When I'm old, Draco, I'll still want to. I'll still want to hear you chatting away at me endlessly, too—and yes, you do badger, Draco, and don't dare claim you don't, as I can attest before a court of twelve good men fair and true, under solemn Wizarding Oath, that you've developed nagging into a bleeding science. But nonetheless, I'll still be looking forward to waking up with you when we're both retired (then, perhaps, we can visit to all these foreign places you keep on about, after we've the practice firmly established and in the black, you overeager nincompoop!) and sitting in the sun, eating breakfast in our someday garden. As to hols, I fancy Majorca, actually, over Switzerland or Athens; I daresay you don't know that, but likely you'll fish it out of me before we're too much older. There's many things we'll both learn, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to it. Truly.
Draco had a whole store of these little notes from Harry, but this was a particularly long one—almost chatty in nature. Almost…almost soppy, really. And it left him feeling a bit soppy, as well, but that could also be due to lack of sleep. He'd been ridden hard, as it was said, and put away wet.
Draco swallowed, nonetheless, his throat suddenly very tight with burgeoning emotion, and kept on with his reading, never noticing the room brightening gradually 'round him. Time to make ready, soon, but not before he'd read and digested Harry's latest signpost.
When we're older, Draco, I'll still be ensuring you have the correct brand of tea leaves in the cupboard and the proper biscuits to growl over and horde away, so please don't fret over that. I shan't eat them all up when you're not looking (I buy my own, you know, at the market, and I prefer the chocolate ones over the shortbread, in any case.) I'll go out of my way to make that same horrid tea you favour every morning, too, I shouldn't wonder. Tastes like a bloody tarpit, that shite, but I'll still make you pots and pots of it, I promise. And when we're really decrepit, Draco, age eighty or even a hundred, I'll still think you're the fittest Wizard in England, and maybe even on the whole planet. Your arse will still be tighter and hotter than any other man's and your mouth will still be the one taste in the world I'd willingly die for. Too, when we're finally old enough and settled enough to venture taking on a partner in the firm, we'll invest in a home of our own, out of the City, and find a perfect one that'll fit all those things you swear you can't live without (they're still in packing boxes, prat; have been for a month now and you've not missed them once, have you? Thought not, Malfoy. Now. do shut your infernal gob about that subject, please) and all the things we'll end up accumulating together over the years. When we're old, we might even have children to raise—can you imagine? Do you ever think of that possibility, Draco? I do, sometimes. And the only person I can ever envision bringing up brats with is you, though Merlin knows you'll spoil the poor things rotten. But I suppose we should still think about them…one day, when we're both older.
When I'm old, Draco thought, I'll be in your bed every night, Harry, and by your side every day, and I'll be so glad to be old, because I'll have been with you.
And that totally soppy and sappy realization left him reeling, even prone as he was, and blinking back honest-to-Merlin dampness from grey eyes gone wet as that Merlin-be-damned rain on the windows. Made it difficult to read on, the words were so blurry, and Harry's writing was just awful, as always, but this was by far the most exquisite message Draco had ever stumbled across, in all his days of translating Potter-scratch. He'd not be stopping now for all the Galleons in Gringott's.
He gave the letter (it was far beyond the usual brief note) nothing less than his full and entire attention, scrambling up against the mounded pillows and stroking the parchment that bore Harry's words; smoothing it constantly with fingers that trembled, as if it were Harry's lips and throat, disembodied, speaking to Draco's heart, directly.
I've a lot of things to look forward to these days, Draco, that I never had before. Growing old, for one. Never thought I'd be around to do it; did you? Doing the 'old' business with you, more importantly. Herman Hesse (he's a Muggle) said once: 'If I know what love is, it is because of you.' I happen to believe that's true, even if I never say it. 'Course, you're not exactly the type to blabber away about your feelings, either, but just from watching you, I rather think you'd say the same. Not that you would, you insensitive git. I know you consider that sort of thing 'common'; Parkinson's told me all about your past sexploits enough times, now. In fact, drop a word in her ear to shut up about that, would you? We live together, now. I rather think we'll be alright, yes?
I'm wagering on it, actually, which is why you should stick the manicured paw that's not holding this note under my pillow and see if you can stand to wear what you'll find there on your ring finger. It cost me a bloody fortune in Galleons and it's from your favourite shop, and you can wear it on your other pinkie if you'd rather. And I'm ready and willing to spend a week away wherever your grubby little heart desires, and risk drinking foreign tap water and likely end up with the runs—provided we do it after Christmas. But, you're accompanying me to the Burrow this year for Christmas dinner and don't bother to argue that, either; Molly asked me to bring you (ordered me, actually!), and you're not skiving out of it, arsehole, not for an instant! You can wear the thing in the bloody expensive box if you want to or not (that's your choice, Draco, and I'm not planning on pushing it on you, since I know how you feel about 'the ties that bind—and gag') but I'll still make your stupid smelly tea in the morning, come what may. And, mark my words, we'll be growing old together, we two—count on it, you stinking scoffer. Just stick by me, Malfoy, and when I'm really, really genuinely ancient and elderly (as in, nearly dead), I might even manage to say it. Aloud, that is. To your pointy face. But, Malfoy-I dare you to say it first, coward. And yes, that is a challenge. Double-dare you, in fact. Skiing and the Parthenon if I lose, alright? That's more than fair.
Draco seldom, if ever, cried. He'd nothing much left to cry over. Life was good. No—life was brilliant. He and Harry were doing very well with the practice; they'd a full social schedule besides and terribly interesting friends and hobbies. They'd each other to come home to, now, and a brand-new spacious flat, and had been even thinking seriously about acquiring a Kneazle kitten to add to their list of life events tackled together. He was bloody happy; more satisfied than he'd been at any previous point in his life, and prouder of that achievement than he'd ever been of being a Slytherin or a Malfoy, in a warm, sweet way that entirely swamped any shallow remnants of childish arrogance. His happiness was possible simply because it was shared, and well Draco knew it.
But he was definitely damp-eyed and blinking hard at the moment; possibly even a tad leaky 'round the edges, and his nose was snuffly, and his throat was tight, and it was the best feeling ever.
In any event, have a nice long bath (I've saved you some hot water) and I'll see you in the office, by ten o'clock sharp. HP
P.S. But don't linger over it, either, prat; Mr. Bartleby's scheduled for eleven and you'll have to take him on, as I've been stuck with the bloody Madame. Why're you always the lucky git, Malfoy? It's not fair at all. H '
Draco smiled dreamily over the contents of the box, touching it carefully as if it might shatter; smiled foolishly all the way through his wash-up (kept strictly short, as directed), and his morning cuppa (kept at exactly the temperature he preferred), and his careful attiring, designed to impress the doughty Mr. Bartleby (and wouldn't it be a coup to retain the both of them, even after the divorce? Canny Harry, engineering that!) He was grinning like a bloody loon when he at last carefully tucked the box into his robes pocket and stepped before the Floo, more than eager to be off to the office—off to see Harry.
He was saving that box he'd found under Harry's pillow; savouring it, really, as he'd kept safe and revisited every single word Harry'd ever written him. But those were private to him, of course, and the box was meant to be shared, and Draco (still grinning stupidly, but with a glint in his eyes that meant business) was already well on his way to planning his and Harry's hols abroad. Harry dared challenge him? Potter did, the little git? Well, then, Harry would pay. In spades, both by learning to ski and by climbing a great many stone steps far older even than Hogwarts. And they'd bloody shag on the steps of the damned Parthenon, bathed in champagne, if Draco had anything to say about it!
But only—only—after Draco had flashed the contents of the box at the Weasley famille to the fullest extent of his personal satisfaction. And by Salazar, that would be the very epitome of sweet Justice.