Wayward Owls and Pub Hunts
Draco ducked with an oath and spilled his tea as a feathered object narrowly missed his head. He turned and watched as it flew into a floral display, knocked over the vase, and nearly hit the opposite wall as it continued its fluttering path toward his open bedroom door, where it disappeared.
"This is the last bloody straw," he muttered and pulled out his wand to spell away the spilled liquid. He cast a few more spells to repair the vase and right the damage to his dahlias.
Draco marched to the Floo and tossed a handful of powder into the flames before snarling, "Hogwarts. Harry Potter." As soon as the shadowy outline of a room appeared, Draco began to bellow for Potter. "I know you're in there, damn you! Now get out here!"
After far too many minutes to suit Draco's growing annoyance, a pair of bare feet shambled into view and then pyjama-covered knees, and finally a tousled head of black hair above blinking green eyes devoid of spectacles.
"Malfoy?" Potter asked and then yawned and rubbed at one eye with the knuckle of his forefinger. "What time is it? Don't you know it's Saturday?"
"I am well aware of the date and time, Potter. You need to get your arse over here and retrieve this bloody owl."
Potter groaned and rubbed his face with a languid hand. Draco watched through half-lidded eyes and wondered if Potter's jaw was rough with stubble. He couldn't make out that level of detail through the flames, but his hand suddenly itched with the need to reach out and feel it for himself. He scowled and snapped his attention back to the matter at hand when Potter spoke.
"Pigwidgeon again? Honestly, I had him caged. He's a bloody escape artist!"
"I don't care what it is, Potter, because it is currently in my bedchamber and I will thank you to come and remove it. Again."
Potter scowled, setting Draco's world back to rights, because it made him look more like the git of their Hogwarts days and less like the fit, completely-shaggable bloke he had grown into during his post-war stint as Hogwarts' MODAS professor. McGonagall had finally broken the curse on the Defence Against the Dark Arts position by eliminating it completely and creating a new Magical Offense, Defence, and Strategy curriculum. Potter had been successfully teaching the class for the past five years.
"Yeah, okay," Potter said with a marked lack of enthusiasm. "Let me get dressed and then I'll be round."
"Do try to get here before noon, Potter. The creature has already broken a near-priceless cameo vase. I cannot have it flying amok."
"Fine, Your Highness. I'll be there." Potter waved his hand in annoyance and Draco backed away to break the connection. He got to his feet and stared thoughtfully into the flames as they returned to their normal yellow crackle.
Despite his outward irritation, Draco looked forward to Potter's visit. Draco rarely had visitors and Potter was… interesting now. Mostly nice to look at, but he had changed in other ways, as well.
Refusing to follow the path of his thoughts, Draco went to the kitchen to prepare a fresh cup of tea and some breakfast.
Harry got to his feet with a yawn and glanced at the mantle clock. It was only 7:40 in the morning. Trust Malfoy to ruin a perfectly good Saturday lie-in. Still, it was really no hardship to go to Hogsmeade and retrieve Pigwidgeon from Malfoy's flat. Again.
Harry returned to his room and glanced at the empty cage to verify that the owl was, indeed, missing. Harry had agreed to look after the winged menace while Ron and Hermione were in Romania visiting Charlie with the rest of the Weasley clan. Crookshanks was much less troublesome, except for his annoying habit of sleeping atop Harry's head.
The cat stretched from his position on Harry's pillow, having barely been roused by Malfoy's bellows. "At least one of us can go back to sleep," he muttered and gave the cat a reproachful look. Crookshanks only yawned and closed his eyes.
After a shower and a leisurely breakfast, Harry left a message for Headmistress McGonagall and set out for Hogsmeade at a brisk walk. It was a grim-looking November day and the thick grey clouds promised rain. Thankfully, it wasn't particularly cold. Harry did not even bother to don the gloves he'd tucked into a pocket of his cloak. He grinned, thinking of the disdainful look Malfoy was sure to bestow upon Harry's clothing. Harry took inordinate pride in always wearing Gryffindor red when he visited Malfoy.
The second time Harry had gone to retrieve the owl, Malfoy had accused Harry of sending it to torment him, but in truth, Pig was simply in love with Malfoy's owl, Raptor. The fact that they were both male did not seem to deter Pigwidgeon in the slightest, and Raptor tolerated the small owl far better than Malfoy tolerated Harry.
The walk seemed shorter than it had when Harry had been a student, but he attributed that more to familiarity than notions of adulthood. This would be his third trip to Malfoy's in the past two weeks and he supposed it would be his last. After this, he would take care to spell the cage shut instead of relying on manual latches that the ruddy owl could pluck open with tenacity.
He tried not to think about how heartbroken Pig would be once he was denied access to Raptor. It was for the best, after all. Ron and Draco would be the worst sort of in-laws. Harry was still chuckling to himself when he reached the solid wooden door of Malfoy's shop and pushed it open.
Magical chimes sounded when Harry stepped inside and Malfoy's assistant looked up from the jars she had been stacking into a pyramid. "Hello, Millie," Harry said pleasantly.
"Potter. Back again?" Millicent smiled, but it wasn't the antagonistic smile she had utilized at Hogwarts. This one was actually friendly. It sometimes surprised Harry how much they had all changed since leaving school. Millicent had stopped bullying people and ended up married to Cormac McClaggen.
"Yeah," Harry said with a grin. "I'm here to crush the bloom of feathered love."
Millicent snorted and went back to her jars. "Didn't know the boss had a thing for feathers," she muttered.
"Excuse me?" Harry thought he might have misheard her.
"Never mind. Draco said to send you up when you got here. You know the way by now."
"This is only the third time I've come!" Harry protested.
For some reason, the statement caused Millicent to shake with snorts of laughter. "Too much information, Potter," she said cryptically.
"Bloody daft Slytherins," Harry muttered and headed behind the counter where a closed door led to a set of stairs. Harry took them two at a time and stopped when he reached Malfoy's small living room. Once again he was impressed with the cosy warmth of the flat. Everything was dark wood and rich colours. Even the greens were beautiful earthy shades that flattered the polished walnut of the furnishings.
"Malfoy?" he called, knowing the place had very few rooms. He often wondered how Malfoy could live in such close quarters after the opulence of the Manor.
"Potter! It's about bloody time. Get in here!" Malfoy's voice echoed from down the hall. Harry followed it and only glanced once at the closed door that led to Malfoy's bedroom before turning and entering the door adjacent to it. He halted in surprise and forced himself to close his jaw instead of gaping at the sight.
Obviously, Malfoy was no stranger to wizarding spaces. The room contained a potions lab that was as big as the entire Potions classroom at Hogwarts. It would never naturally fit into what had probably been a broom cupboard.
Malfoy was hunched over a steaming cauldron. "Hurry! Some of these damned potions take two sets of hands. I really should hire a decent assistant."
"What about Millie?" Harry asked as he hurried forward.
Malfoy was stirring frantically while sprinkling a handful of dried leaves into the mixture. "Grab that chrysanthemum. It goes in the instant I stop stirring. Ready?"
Harry picked up the yellow flower, which had been denuded of all greenery until only the cheerful-looking bloom remained. He held it over the cauldron.
"Now," said Malfoy and stopped stirring as the last of the leaves left his hand. Harry dropped the chrysanthemum and watched it swirl around the purplish liquid before it sank beneath the surface. "I said a decent assistant. Millicent is excellent at inventory, shelf stocking, placing orders, and even dealing with customers on occasion. She's bollocks at potion-making."
"You could hire one of the Seventh-year students part-time," Harry suggested.
Malfoy raised a brow at him while his hands busily cleared the work surface of debris. "You know, that's not a bad idea, Potter."
Harry grinned. "Watch it, Malfoy. That was almost a compliment."
Malfoy smirked at him. "We can't have that. The world might come to an end."
Harry's smile widened and he felt a moment of camaraderie with Malfoy that surprised him. Malfoy had been civil during Harry's first visit to pick up Pigwidgeon, but impatient and rushed on his second. Today he seemed relaxed and almost friendly.
"Of course, it is nearly noon. You took your bloody time getting here," Malfoy added.
Harry nodded. Almost friendly. "Well, you did wake me up. Do you always rise at such a ridiculous hour?"
"Only when awakened by a demented owl throwing itself upon my windowpane." Malfoy's tone was dry.
"Oh," Harry replied, somewhat chagrined. "I suppose I'll fetch Pig, then."
Malfoy waved a hand airily. "The creature hasn't moved from Raptor's side since its arrival. A few more minutes will hardly matter. Now, about those Seventh-year students, do you have anyone in mind?"
Malfoy moved away from the workbench and crossed to a desk that had been pushed into a corner. It was surprisingly cluttered, with parchment and notes covering nearly the entire surface. Malfoy searched for a clean sheet and then spent a moment or two lifting papers to locate a quill. He turned and looked at Harry expectantly.
Harry started and realized he had been watching Malfoy and admiring the way Malfoy's dark grey trousers had hugged his arse and thighs as he bent over the desk. Harry flushed and tugged at his hair. "Um… I've heard that Amaretta Hobbs is very good with potions. She's um… Ravenclaw. Oh, and Jacob Nott."
Malfoy raised a brow. "Theo's cousin?"
"Yeah." Harry smiled. "He's a Hufflepuff."
Malfoy rolled his eyes, but he wrote down the name. "I should probably just hire someone."
"But this would give the students some practical experience," Harry said quickly. "You would really be helping them out."
Malfoy chuckled and shook his head. "You never change, do you, Potter? Always the champion." He held up a hand before Harry could reply. "Why did you not become an Auror? Everyone expected it."
Harry scowled. "I guess I got tired of doing what everyone expected," he snapped.
"Touché. And teaching?"
Harry noticed a wooden stool a couple of steps away, so he sat down, uncertain why Malfoy was talking to him in such a normal fashion, but he found that he didn't mind at all. "When I was in the Auror program, I realized I didn't want to do it anymore. I've had enough of running and hiding, of watching my back and living in fear." He wrinkled his nose, unable to convey his distaste at even the memory of his time spent running from Voldemort while searching for Horcruxes. "Anyway, I really liked teaching, back in fifth year when you were power mad and I was training Dumbledore's Army." Harry smiled when Malfoy rolled his eyes.
"I was never—"
Harry laughed. "You were! You were utterly insufferable that year."
"And the next," Malfoy whispered.
Harry swallowed hard, recalling the spelled necklace, Ron's poisoning, Dumbledore's death, and the scar that probably still crossed over Malfoy's torso. "Yeah."
They watched each other in silence for long moments while the ghosts of everything between them seemed to thicken the air in the room.
Harry cleared his throat. "Isabella Barton," he said.
Malfoy blinked at him. "What?"
Harry nodded toward Malfoy's list. "Slytherin. I think she's a top-notch student. Transferred in this year from America."
Malfoy turned and picked up his quill again to jot down the name. "Thank you. I can't brew some of these without help and my stock is beginning to run low. I mainly sell ingredients, you know, but more and more people are asking for premade potions."
Harry wanted to ask why Malfoy had chosen to leave the Malfoy estate to open his own small shop in Hogsmeade, but he wasn't sure Malfoy would be so forthcoming. "I could help you. Today, I mean. I'm not… doing anything."
Harry plucked at the edge of his cloak when Malfoy stared at him as though he had morphed into Fluffy the three-headed dog. Harry scowled.
"I know I'm not very good at potions, but I can chop things and I do know how to stir and whatnot—" Harry said.
"You are willing to give up your Saturday to help me brew potions?" Malfoy asked.
Harry flushed. It hadn't seemed quite so ridiculous when he had offered. "I'm already here," he muttered.
"So you are. And I would be a fool not to take advantage of that." Malfoy turned and walked briskly to a cabinet. He opened the doors and began to pull out jars and boxes, stacking them in his arms while Harry watched in bemusement. If his eyes happened to stray to Malfoy's arse, it was only because his trousers were superbly tailored and Harry found cause to admire them. Malfoy was quite casually dressed, wearing only a white button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to expose his forearms—and the Dark Mark, Harry noted absently—the grey trousers, and some doubtlessly expensive black shoes.
"You can hang your cloak on the rack over there," Malfoy said as he piled the ingredients on the worktable and began to sort them. "I think we'll start with Pepper-up Potion, since it is in the highest demand. I can brew it on my own, but it goes so much faster with two…"
Malfoy's words droned on and Harry hung up his cloak with a grin. He was actually looking forward to helping Malfoy brew potions. Ron would have fainted at the very idea.
Draco watched as Potter cut paper-thin slices of ginger with the obsidian knife. Potter had been somewhat clumsy at first, but Draco had taken care not to insult him—he needed the help, after all—and Potter had steadied after the first few menial tasks.
Potter's fingers were surprisingly long and delicate. Draco had always thought of him as a bit clumsy, but grown-up Potter exuded confidence, even when performing duties that were obviously no longer common to him.
"How long since you've made a potion?" Draco asked.
Potter snorted. "Years. I don't even cook now that I live at Hogwarts, so I haven't held a knife in ages. Strange, but I sort of miss it. I didn't think of it as relaxing, but it sort of is, isn't it?"
Draco met Potter's green eyes and a frisson of something seemed to pass between them before Draco looked away, feeling strangely flustered. Salazar, he must be mad. He should have handed over the bloody owl and sent Potter on his way, because having him around like this would only encourage the ludicrous crush he seemed to be developing on the man. Draco could only blame Potter's new relaxed attitude, so different from the tense, angry, and completely detestable boy he had been at school. This new Potter smiled at him and made jokes that weren't meant to wound and actually volunteered to help him… Plus he looked mouth-wateringly fit in the ridiculous Muggle jeans he still preferred to wear. Today's denim torture devices were slung low about Potter's hips, clasped with a white belt that seemed designed to draw Draco's attention.
Thankfully, Potter still wore Gryffindor red, which was off-putting mainly because it wasn't Potter's best colour. If he ever wore green, Draco's libido would probably explode. Simply thinking about it made his hand shake and he spilled far too much powdered pyrite onto the scale.
Potter's red t-shirt displayed a Celtic symbol that Draco knew meant balance, four circles representing earth, air, water, and fire, bound together by a fifth ring. Draco wondered if Potter knew the symbolism behind it and decided not to ask, in case Potter replied intelligently and shifted Draco's opinion even farther into forbidden territory.
Thankfully, Potter brought up the last Quidditch World Cup and they commiserated for nearly an hour discussing England's terrible performance against Lithuania. Lithuania, for pity's sake!
"Hampner is fit, though," Potter mumbled and then bit his lip as he mashed down too hard on the primrose stem he was crushing. He met Draco's eyes as a flush crept into his cheeks. "For a bloke, I mean."
Potter shoved the stem aside and grabbed another while Draco tried to avoid gaping at him in shock. Draco looked away and concentrated on filling another vial with the hot liquid that would become a popular hangover remedy when it cooled. His hand shook and it was difficult to hide the fact that his world had suddenly tipped on its edge.
"He's fit enough," Draco said casually. "If you prefer blonds."
He glanced at Potter and then away, Potter seemed focussed on crushing the stem properly this time, just enough to bruise. "Looks aren't everything," Potter said. "I hear Hampner is an arse."
"Personality isn't required for a one-off," Draco said, not quite believing he was having this discussion.
Potter snorted. "What if your one-off turns into something more? Then you're stuck with whatever the pretty package contains."
"Well, that hasn't happened yet," Draco replied, hoping he didn't sound too disappointed about the fact. "You surprise me, Potter."
"Why? Because I admit to finding blokes attractive?"
"Among other things," Draco admitted.
Potter looked at him curiously, but Draco did not elaborate, preferring to mull over Potter's astounding revelation. Instead he tossed Potter a jar of desiccated beetles and set him to removing the wings. The conversation quickly turned to potions and ingredients and Draco pushed away thoughts of Potter's sexual preferences in favour of immersing himself in the complexities of potion brewing.
It was late afternoon before Draco finally took pity on Potter's growling stomach. He stretched his arms out wide and rotated his shoulders to work out the stiffness in his back caused by intense concentration and repetitive motions. He gazed in satisfaction at the rows of potions in varied states of completion, as well as the two cauldrons full of mixtures that needed to sit for certain periods of time. It had been a very productive day.
"Well, Potter, I wouldn't have believed it, but you've been incredibly helpful. Allow me to buy your dinner as minor compensation. As much as I hate to patronize Finnigan's, he does prepare an acceptable bacon frittata." It was also the only pub in town that Draco would enter. The Three Broomsticks was off-limits for obvious reasons, as was the Hog's Head. It was bad enough running into Madam Rosmerta and Aberforth Dumbledore at random places around town. They normally just gave him a glare and continued on their way.
Potter looked surprised for only a moment. "I am hungry," he admitted.
"I'll go help Millicent close up. You know where the bathroom is if you'd like to clean up. Sorry about the squid ink. I'll pay your cleaning bill." Draco gestured toward the spray of black dots that decorated Potter's red shirt. Squid ink was tenacious and not even a strong Cleaning Charm would remove it. Potter would have to send it out for professional cleaning.
"My fault. I should have used an apron." Potter followed Draco out the door and then turned right to head for the bathroom while Draco went left and descended into the shop. Millicent was fastening the brooch on her cloak near the front door.
"I see Potter is still here," she said with a smirk.
"He's been helping me prepare potions all afternoon."
"Potions. Right." Millicent snorted a laugh.
Draco fixed her with a stare. "And what is so amusing about that?"
"Nothing, boss. I'll just be going now, yeah? Night."
Draco watched her suspiciously, but she simply sauntered out, cast an Umbrella Charm against the spitting rain, and headed for the cottage she shared with McClaggen at the edge of town. Draco locked the door and went upstairs. To his surprise, the shower was running.
Draco went into the bedroom and sat down on the bed, suddenly overcome with the knowledge that Harry Potter was in his shower. Naked. With soap suds running down over those muscles and water beading on that touchable skin… Draco pressed a hand to his crotch, half-hard just from thinking about it.
"Fuck, this is really not good," he muttered. He shot to his feet and took two steps toward the hallway, half-intending to walk in and join Potter in the shower. He had admitted to finding blokes attractive, for fuck's sake. But had he admitted to liking blonds? And Draco wasn't just anyone, he was a former enemy. He and Potter could not even be considered friends, despite the fact that they had endured the day in surprising pleasantry. It was only a single day, after all.
Draco turned and walked instead to his wardrobe. If Potter planned to make a complete toilette, then Draco would as well. He pulled out a clean shirt and a pair of black trousers that were less casual than the grey pair he currently wore.
The shower turned off and Draco waited until the door creaked open and then the sound of footsteps approached. He turned in trepidation to see Potter standing in the doorway with only a towel slung about his hips, held in place by a single fist. Potter's hair was wet and stuck up at all angles, obviously having been subjected to a thorough rubbing with one of Draco's fleeces. Water still dotted much of his skin.
"Um, Malfoy? I hope it's okay I used your shower. I found something disgusting in my hair. I think it was that lizard spleen." Potter pulled a face. "Do you mind if I borrow a shirt? I used a Charm on my jeans; they're clean enough and I didn't spill anything on them."
Draco nodded numbly, trying to drag his eyes away from Potter's damp torso, and failing miserably. The line of dark hair that led from Potter's navel downward to disappear beneath the towel was mesmerizing. Draco wanted to walk over, drop to his knees, and follow it with his tongue.
"Malfoy?" Potter asked.
Draco spun and strode briskly to his wardrobe. "Yes, of course. You can leave your shirt here and I'll have it sent away for cleaning or replacement. Do you need clean… pants?"
"No, just the shirt. I don't wear pants."
Draco's fingers convulsed on the edge of the wardrobe door. The words seemed to clang mercilessly through his mind. Potter had been working in close proximity to Draco all afternoon while not wearing pants. It suddenly seemed extraordinarily warm in the room and Draco looked at the rack of clothing without seeing a single garment. "What do you mean you don't wear pants?" he asked and pretended his voice did not sound slightly strangled.
"Dunno. I like boxers, but they bunch up round my thighs and I was always yanking on them and I felt like a pervert constantly tugging at my crotch, so I finally just quit wearing them."
The concept of Potter having been pants-free during his last few visits was enough to give Draco something of a minor seizure, not at all assisted by the fact that the man was currently standing in his bedroom wearing only a towel.
"Malfoy?" Potter asked again.
"Shirt. Yes," Draco said and blindly reached out to snag the first thing his hand closed around. "This should do nicely." He turned and walked back to give it over to Potter, carefully keeping his gaze on anything else. The flowers in the cobalt vase on his dressing table were wilting. Draco would need to replace them soon.
"Thanks," Potter said and took the garment. "I'll be right out."
With that, he left the room, giving Draco only a glimpse of his arse swathed in the white towel. Draco made it to his dressing table before collapsing heavily into the chair.
"He doesn't wear pants," Draco muttered. "The Saviour of the bloody wizarding world does not. Wear. Pants."
The bathroom door opened again before long and he heard Potter in the hallway. "I'll wait for you in the living room, yeah?" Potter asked as he passed by without pausing.
"Fine," Draco said in a waspish tone and then he got up and went to take his own shower while trying not to think about Potter's naked body having been there minutes before.
Harry paced across the living room and tried not to dwell on the fact that Malfoy was in the shower. It was not doing his peace of mind any good to think of water sluicing down over Malfoy's pale, unclothed skin.
Malfoy's face in the bedroom when Harry had walked in wearing only a towel had been a revelation. Harry didn't think the flash of interest in Malfoy's stare, and the dazed look after, had been created by his imagination. At least he hoped it hadn't.
He sat down on the sofa, feeling like an idiot for pacing, but nervous energy soon sent him to his feet again.
It was crazy. He couldn't possibly be interested in Draco Malfoy. Ron and Hermione would usher him to St Mungo's to have his head examined. He tugged at his wet hair and tried to fluff it with his fingers. He took a step toward the bedroom, intending to borrow a hairbrush or a comb, but the thought of Malfoy leaving the shower to find Harry prowling around his bedroom was too mortifying to entertain.
The sound of the shower ceased and Harry nodded to himself. He would most certainly have been caught. Caught by a dripping wet Draco Malfoy. Harry groaned and walked to the window to peer outside. The view of Hogsmeade was minimal, especially with low clouds turning everything grey and limiting visibility. The pouring rain made it seem later than it was. A Tempus Charm revealed the time to be just past 4 o'clock, but outside it was nearly dark.
Soft glowing lamps inside the living room had lit automatically when Harry entered; he assumed they operated on a spell.
Harry heard Malfoy thumping about in the bedroom, and then he entered the room looking perfect. He wore a loose white shirt with tiny silver buttons. The bottom edge of the shirt was free, not tucked into his black trousers, and displayed an interesting filigreed pattern of silver thread which matched the cuffs. The hem was cut slightly higher at the hips, somehow causing Malfoy's legs to look even longer than they were.
Malfoy was breathtaking. Harry's earlier indecision fled as though carried away on owl wings. He wanted Malfoy and the sight of him made it very difficult to conjure up valid reasons why that would be a very bad idea.
"Ready, Potter?" Malfoy asked.
"Um… my hair is… Do you have a comb I can borrow?"
Malfoy's eyes gleamed with a light that looked somehow dangerous. "I can fix it for you."
Harry took a step back. "I think I would rather—"
"Don't be frightened. Now, just hold still." Malfoy approached and lifted his left hand to place it beneath Harry's chin, curling his fingers to hold gently but firmly. He raised his wand with his other hand and cast a spell Harry had never heard before. A rush of magic-laden air tingled across Harry's scalp and for a single panicked moment he wondered if Malfoy had just cursed him bald.
Then Malfoy released his chin. A wicked-looking smile curved his lips. "Brilliant," he said and Conjured a mirror for Harry's use.
Harry lifted it with trepidation only to blink at himself in the glass. His hair looked the same as usual but… different. It still stuck up at odd angles, but now it looked contrived and almost artful instead of haphazard and messy. "How did you do that?" Harry asked.
Malfoy tsked and took back the mirror to check hair own appearance for a moment before Vanishing it. "I can't give away my secrets, Potter. We barely know one another."
"We've known each other since we were eleven years old!"
"Trying to maim and kill one another for that length of time does not equate with knowing," Malfoy said in a superior tone. "For instance, what is my favourite colour?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Green," he said immediately.
"What shade of green?"
Harry frowned. "Slytherin green?"
"Well, you don't know mine, either!"
"It's violet," Malfoy said, sounding smug.
Harry gaped at him. How could he know that? No one knew. Harry wasn't sure Ron knew. He didn't exactly flaunt it, preferring to maintain outward allegiance to Gryffindor by choosing reds and burgundies whenever possible.
"Let's go," Malfoy said after laughing at Harry's obvious amazement.
It was pouring rain outside. Malfoy's shop had a short awning that protected the doorway from the elements and kept them from getting wet long enough to cast Umbrella Charms. They made their way across the cobblestone street, avoiding pools of collecting water, and said nothing as they rounded a corner and walked to Seamus Finnigan's pub.
Seamus was behind the bar. He looked up when they entered and yelled, "Oi! Harry! What brings you out to my lowly establishment on this fine day?" His eyes shifted to Malfoy and narrowed. "You two don't plan to cause any trouble, do you?"
Malfoy snorted as he hung his short cape on a peg. Harry hadn't bothered to wear his, instead just wrapping his Gryffindor scarf around his neck. He draped it on a hook next to Malfoy's cape as he said, "We're adults now, Seamus. Our days of coming to blows are behind us." He grinned at Malfoy and added in a murmur, "I hope."
"That's up to you, Potter," Malfoy said smoothly as he slipped into a corner booth near the door. Harry took a seat across from him and picked up the handwritten menu from the table.
A buxom waitress appeared before Harry read more than the first couple of selections.
"Draco Malfoy," she said with a grin that seemed overly flirtatious to Harry. "The usual?"
"I think I'll have Firewhiskey tonight, Veronica. And one for Harry, here. We're celebrating the fact that we haven't tried to kill each other even once today. A momentous occasion, indeed."
Her blue eyes slid to Harry dubiously. "Harry, is it? You want ice with that, Harry?"
Harry shook his head and grinned, avoiding Malfoy's smirk when she obviously failed to recognize him. He combed his fingers through his hair, making sure his scar was fully concealed by his fringe and giving Malfoy a warning look.
"No ice. Got it. Draco, I know you love your bacon, but we've got a lovely pot roast this evening that customers have been raving about."
"That sounds delightful. Pott—Harry?"
"I'll have the same," Harry said and let the menu fall. He was hungry enough to eat just about anything they set before him. The mere smell of food in the air was causing his mouth to water.
"How are the Hogwarts Quidditch teams this year?" Malfoy asked when Veronica headed back toward the kitchen. The question seemed polite rather than interested, but Harry jumped on the topic and was soon immersed in tales of various promising Quidditch players from the four houses, including a bright young Seeker in Slytherin House.
"She's only sixth-year," Harry finished, sipping at his Firewhiskey. "But she'll most likely go pro when she leaves Hogwarts. Doesn't seem to have an interest in anything else—she's like a female version of Oliver Wood." Harry chuckled at the memory of his early Quidditch days.
Malfoy's response was drowned by a loud cheer from another section of the room. The place had filled as they ate and now it was difficult to hear over the conversation and laughter of those around them. The largest portion of the crowd seemed to be immersed in a game of Wizardarts, which was similar to Muggle darts, except that the dartboard was constantly changing. One had to throw quickly to score a hit in the proper section before it vanished into a block of lesser point value.
"It's getting loud in here," Malfoy said, leaning forward and speaking up so that Harry could hear him.
Harry nodded and was about to suggest they leave. He supposed he should get back to Hogwarts before it got too dark.
"Hunt! Hunt! Hunt! Hunt!" The chant started low, but was soon being bellowed by nearly all the patrons. Harry looked at Malfoy in bemusement, but he only shrugged and shook his head, obviously as mystified as Harry.
Seamus climbed onto a chair to be seen over the crowd and banged a spoon against the side of a tankard until the room quieted. "So, you're ready for a scavenger hunt, then?"
The patrons roared their approval and Seamus laughingly pounded his makeshift gong again. "Very well, then, Veronica will hand out the lists. Teams of two, one list per team, so pick a partner and no fighting over the pretty ones unless you take it outside."
Harry took the word "outside" as their cue to leave, but a piece of parchment dropped onto the table between them, so he picked it up, curious. The list was quite random. An orange leaf. The seventh name on the Hogsmeade Founder's sign. A quill. An issue of the Daily Prophet (not today's). The type of flower found in the blue pot outside the Apothecary shop.
Malfoy raised a brow at him. "Planning to win, then?"
Harry blinked at him and shook his head. "I'm not good at games."
Malfoy took the list and smirked at him. "I'm very good at games. We should play."
Harry knew it was a bad idea, especially after the two glasses of Firewhiskey he had downed with dinner. He should go back to Hogwarts and crawl into bed in order to get up with a relatively clear head and plan Monday's lesson. And yet, when confronted with Malfoy's lovely grey eyes sparkling at him above a smile that was devastatingly disarming, he found he could do no more than smile back and agree.
"You all have one hour," Seamus called. "The winner will receive a voucher for a free meal for two—drinks included—plus this lovely certificate declaring you this month's winners, which will be posted on that wall over there. Your time begins… now!"
There was a mad rush for the door and several patrons were in danger of being trampled, until the place was nearly empty. Malfoy stood more slowly and shook his head at Seamus. "It seems counterproductive to send your customers away," he remarked as he put on his cape.
Harry wrapped his scarf around his neck and wished he had grabbed his cloak—it was still pouring rain and would probably get cold while they walked. He would have to settle for Warming Charms.
Seamus grinned. "Seems that way, but when they get back they spend the rest of the night drinking and comparing notes, plus it gives us a chance to tidy up a bit and cook more food. Works out fine in the end. You two playing?"
"We're going to win," Malfoy said with a wink and then he took Harry's arm and propelled him out the door.
"Let's start with the park. It's the farthest from here, so we can work our way back. What do we need there?"
Harry cast an Umbrella Charm and then a Lumos in order to read the list. "The fourteenth runic symbol beneath the statue of Burdock Muldoon."
"Wasn't there a question about the Quaffle and Bat?" Malfoy asked. He walked so quickly Harry had to practically jog to keep up. He glanced at the list and tried not to trip on the wet cobblestones.
"Yeah, um... Here it is. What time does the Quaffle and Bat open on Wednesdays?"
"Trick question. They don't. The owner goes to London every Tuesday afternoon, gets completely pissed, and spends Wednesday recovering from his hangover. Write that down."
"With what? I don't have a quill."
Malfoy stopped, fished in a pocket of his cape, and handed Harry a fancy quill fashioned from a white peacock feather. Harry took it with a grin and jotted down the answer after using a Stiffening Charm to turn the parchment into a board-like material.
"Useful spell," Malfoy murmured before he started walking again.
"I work with a lot of paper," Harry replied. "We need a feather. Not a quill, it says."
"We'll walk by the Owl Post. There is a maple tree with orange leaves round the corner from there."
Malfoy's knowledge of Hogsmeade was impressive. "How long have you lived here?" Harry asked, bumping elbows with Malfoy and speaking loudly to be heard over the rain.
"Six years," Malfoy replied.
"You really like it, don't you?"
Malfoy grinned. "I've always liked Hogsmeade. I felt there was something magical about it when we were at Hogwarts. Perhaps it was just the fact that it was nice to escape the castle once in awhile."
Harry nodded. "Zonko's didn't hurt. And Honeydukes."
"Your Weasley bought out Zonko's, but Honeydukes is still doing well."
"As long as there are Hogwarts students I think Honeydukes will do well." Harry laughed. "Children have to get their sweets from somewhere. Of course, you never seemed to have a shortage of those at school."
"Mother was terrible about enabling my sweet tooth," Malfoy admitted. "Here we are. Orange leaves." He reached up and picked one off a branch. It was larger than his hand and beautifully shaped. Harry checked ORANGE LEAF from the list and then hurried to catch up to Malfoy, who had started walking again.
"Start looking for feathers," Malfoy advised. "This is the Owl Post."
Harry combed the ground with his gaze, cursing the number of leaves on the ground. It would be hard to spot a feather among the fallen multicoloured foliage. He was so intent on his search that he walked straight into Malfoy, who steadied him with a hand on his arm.
"Careful, Potter," he said with an amused lilt to his voice.
Harry righted himself, but Malfoy did not let go right away. Instead, he stood looking into Harry's eyes. The fog made by their breathing mingled and Harry caught a hint of Firewhisky. He wondered if Malfoy would taste like alcohol and then took a step backward, bewildered by the awareness that he had just debated kissing Malfoy.
Malfoy's hand fell away as Harry moved and he said, "There." Harry blinked at him and then watched as Malfoy took several strides, bent down, and straightened with a small brown feather.
Harry covered his confusion by searching the list for the feather entry and checking it off. When he glanced at Malfoy, both feather and leaf had disappeared, probably by judicious use of a Shrinking Charm.
"Come along. We have a rune to find."
The walk to the statue of Burdock Muldoon was carried out with only the sound of their footsteps on the sidewalk. Harry felt strangely awkward and glanced at Malfoy frequently, but Malfoy seemed lost in thought.
They reached the statue, dark grey and dripping from the rain. Another team had got there before them and were laughing drunkenly as they counted the runes loudly.
Harry smiled at their antics and one helpfully called out the answer before lifting a hand and joining the others in staggering away. "Do we trust them?" Harry asked.
"Not on your life," Malfoy replied with a sardonic grin. He walked forward and crouched before the statue. "Which rune do they want?"
"Fourteenth," Harry replied after scanning the list. Then he switched his gaze to Malfoy's back, which was curved nicely with his cloak pulled taut, caught beneath his legs when he bent down.
"It's the rune for 'human'. Do you know that one?"
Harry nodded—the other players had given the correct answer, thereby giving Harry's faith in humanity a positive jolt. And then he frowned because he was utter crap at Runic and seldom used it for anything.
"Oh, give me that," Malfoy said as he rose and took the list from Harry in order to scratch the symbol in the box provided and notate the meaning. Harry admired his long fingers as he wrote. One finger drew down the list when he finished. "All right, we'll cut through the alley next to Melvin's Monstrosities and that will bring us out next to the Apothecary. I'm not sure where we are going to find a teacup at this hour unless I pop into the shop to get one. I doubt Puddifoot's will be willing to hand them out to drunken scavengers."
Malfoy handed the list back and started off again. Harry wrapped the scarf more tightly around his neck and shivered. It was getting colder and although the Charm kept the rain off of them, it didn't protect his feet from the puddles. They were wet and cold.
The alley Malfoy strode into was pitch black. Malfoy's wand lit brightly and dispelled most of the shadows, but it was still creepy and Harry stuck close to Malfoy with his own wand in hand, alert for danger. Despite the fact that Hogsmeade was a peaceful town, scurrilous characters lived everywhere and dark alleys seemed to be places they enjoyed lurking.
Potter's footsteps quickened behind him and Draco shook his head. He was having a ridiculously good time with Potter, which was a marvel. The man looked good enough to eat in Draco's shirt, even with his silly Gryffindor scarf half choking him.
Draco stopped and turned, meaning to ask Potter a question. Potter walked straight into him.
Draco caught his arms. "Bloody hell, Potter, you're freezing! Why didn't you wear your cloak? And don't you understand the concept of Warming Charms?"
"I didn't know we would be walking all over town! We were just going to eat," Potter protested. "And I'm not that cold..."
Draco rubbed his hands briskly up and down Potter's cold biceps, enjoying their firmness beneath the silk. "Come here, you idiot." Without stopping to rethink his actions, Draco pulled Potter into an embrace, plastering their torsos together—and jamming the stiffened parchment into Draco's ribs.
"Sorry," Potter muttered and withdrew the list, which could have Vanished from the earth for all the attention Draco paid to it after that, because then Potter was pressed completely against him and his arms were going around Draco's waist. Draco decided Potter must be drunker than he thought, because Potter buried his face in Draco's neck, earning a shiver due to Potter's cold skin. "You're so warm," Potter breathed and pressed even closer.
Draco cast a Warming Charm just as Potter's Umbrella Charm collapsed. When the first raindrops hit his face, Draco had to laugh; the situation was just too unbelievable.
"Shit," said Potter while trying to untangle his wand from the edge of Draco's cloak.
"For the world's Saviour, you are remarkably inept," Draco commented, still chuckling.
"Shut up," Potter said with a petulant moue. His long lashes were dotted with raindrops, which also gathered atop his thick hair.
"Make me," Draco whispered.
Potter's eyes widened and he stared at Draco before slowly—very slowly, as if Draco might be stupid enough to try to escape—touching their lips together.
Finally, Draco thought triumphantly. Potter's lips were hesitant at first, and then he seemed to realize Draco was not going to pull away. He pressed harder then, and took Draco's lower lip in his mouth to suck lightly on it. The hand no longer holding the parchment clutched at Draco's sleeve and the other—partially caught by wand and cloak—touched Draco's hip with solid knuckles.
Draco pulled Potter closer with one arm around his neck—still gripping the wand that spilled light over them both—and the other tightened around Potter's waist.
Potter drew back for an instant, his eyes wide and questioning. Draco considered saying something sardonic, but in the end simply leaned forward and sucked Potter's upper lip into his mouth. For several long, blissful minutes, they battled to see who would resist the longest, but finally Potter opened up to Draco's questing tongue and then it became quite a lot more interesting, especially when Potter drove Draco backwards until his shoulders hit the stone wall.
If the feel of Potter's body pressed entirely along his length wasn't enough, the bastard began to speak, mumbling words against Draco's mouth in between molten kisses.
"You… so hot. Wanted to do this… all fucking day. Sexy. Gorgeous bastard."
As if reflecting the intensity of their encounter, the rain poured even harder, running in rivulets down Draco's face and mingling with their kisses. Potter did not seem to care. Draco's hand left his waist to slide downward and clench around Potter's tight arse to pull him even closer. Potter's erection felt lovely, grinding against Draco's.
"Need to touch you," Potter said and released Draco's sleeve to shove his hand between them. Somehow, Potter disentangled his wand from Draco's cloak and his other hand joined the effort of opening Draco's trousers. Thankfully, the fasteners parted easily and then Potter's—holy fuck, cold—hands were wrapping around Draco's cock. "Sorry," Potter whispered to his hiss.
Draco murmured something he hoped was encouraging and then got his own free hand in on the action. He kept his other hand on his wand, still wrapped around Potter, because the light illuminating them was too mesmerizing to remove. The rain dripped from Potter's hair and caught in his lashes and made his lips…
Draco kissed him again as he stuck his hand into Potter's pants-free jeans and felt Potter's warm abdomen tense away from his cold, wet hand, but Potter's cock was thick and warm and very hard. It was difficult to concentrate with both of Potter's hands stroking his prick, twisting and curling around it while moving in a repetitious up and down motion. The occasional cold drop of rain only made it more erotic.
They stopped kissing in order to watch, resting their foreheads together by mutual, unspoken consent. Draco's hand seemed inadequate next to both of Potter's, until finally Potter opened his and took both cocks in hand, placing his hands around Draco's.
The feel of Potter's hot prick against his own was indescribable and Draco made an undignified noise that seemed to make Potter's breathing hitch.
"Please do that again," Potter whispered.
Draco thought about it for a heartbeat and then closed his eyes and said, "Potter", but he turned it into a throaty groan.
"Fuck," Potter said and Draco felt his cock twitch in their hands. "Fuck. Try it again with Harry this time."
Draco grinned wickedly and opened his eyes to watch their hands stroking in unison. Bloody hell, he was close, partially because of the amazing feel of it, but mostly because he was receiving a handjob from Harry Potter in an alleyway in the rain.
"Harry," Draco whispered, drawing it out into a long sigh that ended on a moan.
"Draco, Draco, Draco," Potter chanted in return and each syllable was like a jolt. With a startled rush, Draco came. He focussed on their moving hands and watched as both cocks spurted fluid in unison, splashing their shirts and making their hands slicker as they stroked.
When the last drop was coaxed out, Potter collapsed against him, crushing Draco even harder against the wall. His hands moved up beneath Draco's shirt to caress his ribs. To Draco's amazement, he felt Potter laugh against his neck and then he felt a biting kiss there.
"Please tell me you're not going to regret that, because it was fucking brilliant."
Draco's hand held tightly to Potter's hipbone, smearing their mingled release over Potter's skin and thinking how delicious it would be if it dried there.
"I regret that we didn't do this sooner," Draco admitted.
Potter pulled back and looked at him with an expression that would not look out of place on a child at Christmas. "Honestly?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Yes, Potter, how dense can you be?"
"Pretty dense. Perhaps you should prove it."
For reply, Draco dragged him closer and Apparated them straight to his bedroom.
In the deserted alley, the rain washed away the ink on the forgotten list.
Harry drew on Draco's chest with an index finger and smiled happily. He was quite comfortable nestled between Malfoy's legs and had been using him as a pillow until moments before.
"What are you writing?" Draco asked in a drowsy tone. Harry should be tired, since it was long past midnight and they had made love four times in different positions since falling into Draco's bed.
"I am writing a secret message in Runic," Harry replied.
Draco snorted. "Knowing your skill at Runic, I imagine it says unicorn morning beech tree."
Harry chuckled. "You're probably right."
"What's it supposed to say?" Draco asked.
"Beautiful dragon," Harry admitted and grinned when Draco blushed. He did look beautiful, even with his normally perfect hair tangled and dried into near-curls from their encounter in the rain and subsequent activities. Harry had added to the mess by burying his hands in it several times.
"Hufflepuff," Draco muttered.
Harry rested his head on Draco's chest and traced over the barely-visible outline of the Sectumsempra scar. He had apologized profusely for that one, hours before, kissing the length of it before moving lower to take Draco's exquisite cock into his mouth and show him how deeply sorry he was.
"That tickles. Stop it and go to sleep."
"You're very bossy."
"You mentioned that."
Harry laughed. He recalled mentioning it when Draco had been directing exactly how Harry should fuck him, keeping on with the demands until Harry had finally pounded him to incoherency. Just thinking about it made his cock twitch. He shifted to ease the pressure.
"Not again," Draco said firmly. "We're sleeping now." Despite his words, Harry felt a growing hardness against his abdomen.
"You're right," Harry replied. "We're tired. I'll just have to save it until morning."
There was a long, long pause and Harry suppressed a wicked smile as he counted the seconds. Finally, Draco asked, "Save what?" His tone was exasperated, but more awake than it had been.
"Nothing much," Harry said casually. "Just thinking about how you might taste down there. Never tried rimming before."
The hand that had been lightly stroking Harry's shoulder stopped and the hardness became more pronounced beneath Harry's ribcage. His own erection increased with alacrity at Draco's response.
"You are an insatiable beast."
"Just turn over," Harry said thickly.
As he pushed himself up so Draco could comply—which he did, despite his declarations of exhaustion—Harry caught sight of Pigwidgeon nuzzling Raptor's feathers on Draco's corner owl perch. He gave the tiny owl a quiet murmur of thanks and then turned to his new favourite pastime of worshipping Draco Malfoy's body.
Later, with his tongue flicking in and out of Draco's quivering hole and his hands full of Draco's throbbing cock, Harry figured he owed Pig premium owl treats for life.