Harry awoke to the most delicious feeling in the word—Draco Malfoy sucking his cock. He arched and groaned as a shudder of delight shook him, penetrating his languor in a most excellent fashion, melding with the dream he'd been having. Since the dream had been of Draco, it wasn't a disappointment.
Draco swallowed him to the root and Harry swore he could feel Draco's nose bump into the flesh beneath his pubic hair. The man was a veritable god of fellatio.
"Draco," he moaned and pushed his hand into Draco's soft hair. "God, you are gorgeous."
And then he was coming, already near the edge because of what he had thought to be a dream, pumping down Draco's throat and staring into his intense grey eyes. Harry's heart jolted to life; he was fully awake now.
Draco released his cock and then lapped at the tip playfully, earning a final shudder from Harry.
"Happy birthday," Draco said with a smirk.
"Best. Gift. Ever," Harry replied with feeling.
Draco chuckled. "I'll remember you said that, later." He pushed himself up to fling himself next to Harry and then planted a kiss on his jaw.
"I'll reciprocate," Harry promised. "Just give me a moment to recover…"
"No need. Consider it the first of your many birthday gifts. I will allow you to reward me this evening, if the festivities don't wear you out too badly."
"Festivities. Right." Harry closed his eyes and stroked a hand over Draco's bare shoulder. It was his birthday and Draco had planned some ridiculous gathering for his party. Already, Harry just wanted it to be over. "Are you sure I can't just stay in bed today?"
Draco's pout had Harry relenting immediately.
"Never mind," Harry said quickly. "Only joking. I'm ready to party!" He felt for his wand to cast a Tempus Charm, but it was out of reach. "Um… what time is it?"
When Draco replied, Harry could only shut his eyes and will himself to sink into the bed and stay there forever. His boyfriend was a sadist. Really, it was the only explanation for why Harry had to rise before 8 a.m. on his birthday.
"We have time for a quick breakfast, a shower, and then you need to go and pick up the flowers from Mandala's. Up you get, birthday boy." Draco gave his arse a pinch and then hopped to his feet and strode towards the bathroom. He paused and looked back at Harry saucily. "Of course, if you hurry, we do have time for an… extended shower."
Harry threw his blankets aside and made it into the bathroom in record time.
Harry dawdled at his task, knowing that Draco had sent him to Diagon Alley largely to keep Harry out of his hair while he attended to every last detail. In truth, Harry was looking forward to celebrating his birthday with a party. He wasn't quite sure what Draco had planned, but he hoped it was a smallish event with a few friends and family attending. The presence of fresh flower "table displays" made that seem like a vain hope, but Draco had been so in his element that Harry didn't have the heart to curtail his glee. Whatever it was, Harry was certain he would survive.
The weather was miserable for July, pouring buckets and unseasonably cold. Despite that, Harry dawdled at his task and browsed the books at Flourish and Blotts before he stopped in at Fortescue's for a raspberry ice. Draco had been casual about Harry not returning to Hogwarts before 2pm, but Harry knew it had been an order.
When he finally Flooed home, just past two, he was not surprised to find Hermione waiting for him.
"Happy birthday!" she cried and gave him a great hug.
Harry grinned and squeezed back. "Are you my watchdog?"
"I prefer the term escort, thank you very much. But yes, I am to keep you from wandering down to the Great Hall until Draco gives me the signal."
"This is going to be ridiculous, isn't it?"
"I don't know, I was not consulted," she said, sounding slightly offended until she relented and added, "Very much."
Harry laughed. The thought of Draco consulting her wasn't nearly as shocking as it might once have been. "You've been busy," Harry pointed out.
"Well, yes, but I still would have helped more."
Harry didn't mention that sometimes her helping was less "help" and more "taking over", but it must have shown in his face because she huffed and tossed her head. Thankfully, Harry was saved from commenting by the arrival of Draco's lion Patronus.
It padded around Hermione, shimmering silver, and said only, "It's time" before vanishing.
She clasped her hands together, suddenly looking like an excited child. "Are you ready?" she asked.
Harry shook his head, but he was smiling. "Probably not. But let's go, anyway."
He took he hand into the crook of his elbow and they headed for the Great Hall.
Harry was not prepared.
The Great Hall was a riot of colour, sound, and people. When he walked through the doors he could barely take it all in. The entire place had been spelled to look like a perfect summer day. The ceiling displayed warm sunlight and tufts of white clouds, opposite the reality of the squalling rain and inky clouds outside. Trees lined the edges of the room, bursting with green leaves and bright flowers. Colourful birds soared overhead and landed in twittering flocks upon the tree branches.
Dozens of round tables had been scattered throughout the room, covered in pure white linen. The flowers—mostly groups of orange lilies and white chrysanthemums—topped each table.
Harry's attention was pulled away from the décor when Draco approached, impeccably dressed in forest green dress robes trimmed in white. He looked stunning and Harry found himself without words as he drank in the sight. He swallowed hard as Draco took his hand with a soft smile.
"All right, Harry?" he asked.
Harry grinned and nodded. "It's amazing."
Draco turned and lifted Harry's hand into the air. "Ladies and Gentlemen, our guest of honor, Harry Potter."
A bedlam of cheers shook the room and then everyone seemed to start forward en masse to offer Harry well wishes. The Weasleys were first, approaching in a ginger swarm. Molly folded Harry into a tearful hug and Arthur shook his hand happily. Bill shook Harry's hand, as well, but Harry wisely avoided George's outstretched palm. Wisely, as it turned out, since the prat was holding an Arctic Button, which would send an icy burst travelling up the arm of the unwary hand-shaker and leaving them shivering with cold and clutching their rapidly beating heart. It was mild for a Weasley product, but Draco gave George a warning stare.
"I would prefer it if you did not incapacitate our guests," he said pointedly.
George clapped Draco on the arm. "Not to worry, mate. I didn't bring anything that will permanently maim. And the punch is spiked enough without me adding to it. Happy birthday, Harry!"
Harry murmured thanks and then found his breath nearly squeezed out as another familiar body clung to him. Ginny pressed a noisy kiss into his cheek.
"Back off, Weaselette, he's mine now," Draco warned.
She pulled away and wrinkled her nose in Draco's direction. "Oh shut it, Malfoy. I can give him a hug if I like. Besides, I'm spoken for." She jerked a finger towards a dark-skinned man with thick curls who lurked nearby, looking uncomfortable. "Isn't he dreamy?" She beckoned and the man joined them. "Harry, Draco, this is my boyfriend, Joaquin. He's the best Keeper in the Argentine league."
The man showed perfect white teeth and shook their hands. Draco smiled at him and draped an arm around Harry's shoulders to pull him close. Harry felt a rush of amused pride at the movement, which was obviously a possessive gesture of warning, even though the handsome Argentine seemed to have eyes only for Ginny.
She bid Harry a happy birthday and then pulled her man away when she spotted a floating tray of drinks.
"Handsome," Harry said casually.
"If you like that sort." Draco sniffed.
"I much prefer blonds," Harry admitted. "And a particular blond, at that."
"Age agrees with you, Harry, you seem to be getting smarter."
Harry chuckled and then left off talking to Draco for some time when a group of his old friends assailed him: Neville, Luna, Dean, Seamus, and the Patil sisters. Harry was so happy to see them again and catch up on their lives that he almost didn't notice when Draco gave his hand a squeeze and moved away.
He did notice, however, and called, "Where are you going?"
Draco chuckled. "I have things to attend to, birthday boy. Mingle, have a drink, and enjoy yourself. It's your party."
Harry frowned, but nodded, and hardly watched at all as Draco moved gracefully across the room in a strange déjà-vu of his ghostly self. Dean nudged him in the ribs. "Plain to see you're besotted, mate."
Harry grinned sheepishly and tugged at his hair. "Yeah," he agreed.
Twenty minutes later, Harry was having a brilliant time. He had forgotten how much he'd missed the people who were now only infrequently in his life. Andromeda Tonks had brought Teddy, who had grown into a rambunctious toddler. Teddy clung to Harry's leg and showed off a toy dragon clutched in one hand.
Andromeda stood next to Narcissa Malfoy and the familial resemblance was unmistakable, as was the unspoken tension between them. They both greeted Harry warmly, however, Andromeda with a kiss on his cheek and Narcissa with an embrace. She had been surprisingly affectionate towards Harry, who had expected her to retreat back to standoffishness with the return of Lucius, but it hadn't happened.
"Harry," Narcissa said warmly, "I hope you are having a joyous day."
"I am, thanks," Harry replied and took her hand to give it a squeeze. His other hand held a fruity, iced drink that he should probably enjoy in moderation—already he felt a bit fuzzy-headed. "Draco outdid himself. This is brilliant." He waved his glass to encompass everything.
Something bumped his arm and Harry nearly spilled his drink all over Andromeda. He credited his still-decent reflexes for saving them both from embarrassment.
"Oh, apologies, Potter, I didn't see you." Lucius Malfoy's voice was overlaid with insincere amusement. He handed Narcissa a full wineglass and ignored her pointed frown.
Harry righted himself with a sigh. Encounters with Lucius never got any easier, in spite of the efforts of both Draco and Narcissa. Their interaction generally consisted of barbed pleasantries, snide comments, borderline hexes. Harry found it draining, but Lucius seemed to regard it as more and more of a game.
"Eyesight going, then?" Harry replied with false concern. "I can recommend a good Optiwizard."
Narcissa choked on her wine and Andromeda's brows rose. Lucius' glare turned positively glacial for a moment, and then his mouth twisted into a familiar smirk. "If he supplied you those… attractive frames, I think I'd prefer to find my own, should the need arise. Fortunately, my vision is still perfect."
"Unlike the rest of you," Harry muttered, low enough that he thought no one would hear, but Andromeda chuckled.
"Pardon?" Lucius asked, eyes narrowing.
Harry made a clucking sound. "Hearing going, as well? Age is a terrible thing." Harry smiled like a Cheshire cat and Narcissa clamped a hand quickly on Lucius' arm.
"Come along, dear. Harry won this round, which is fitting since it's his birthday. Leave him be."
Lucius nodded curtly and raised his glass. "Until next time, Potter."
"Lucius," Harry returned, mirroring the gesture and taking long pull from his drink. Despite his intention of drinking in moderation, he needed another after dealing with Draco's father. Narcissa guided the elder Malfoy away towards a group of official-looking men Harry thought he should recognize, but didn't. It was likely Draco had invited them in order to give Lucius someone else to torment with his superiority. He wished them well.
"You're holding your own," Andromeda said with a grin. "Nicely done. Have you seen Teddy?"
"He was with Luna, last I saw." Harry scanned the crowd and spotted the little boy seated on Luna's lap, listening to her with rapt attention. She was full of enough fantastical stories to keep him entertained for hours. Movement just beyond Luna caught Harry's attention and he turned to Andromeda apologetically. "I'm sorry, but I need to—"
She nodded. "Go. I'll go annoy my brother-in-law some more. Harry birthday, Harry."
He smiled his thanks and hurried across the room to leap on Ron in a happy hug, nearly knocking his friend over. "Ron! You made it!"
Ron pulled away and punched him on the arm. "As if I would miss your birthday party! But even dropping your name couldn't get me out of work too early. Bushnell is a bloody slave driver."
"You love it," Hermione said and rolled her eyes, but her arm, linked through Ron's, tightened and she smiled at him.
"Yeah, I sort of do. She never treats me like an invalid. I appreciate that."
Harry grinned. Ron's recovery had been steady and almost miraculous. His care alternated between Muggle doctors and Medi-wizards, each dealing with different aspects of Ron's treatment. Ron's new liver was apparently growing nicely and working well, too well, according to the astounded Muggle doctors, who were unaware of Ron leaving off their drugs in order to imbibe custom-brewed potions that aided the healing process far better than their poisonous concoctions.
Even with those, however, Ron's recuperation was far from complete. His magic had returned, but he had little control over it, at first. His only explanation was that it felt "different" and he was forced to relearn even the simplest of spells, as though attempting them for the first time as a child. It was frustrating for him, but the wizarding medical community was fascinated. Hermione told Harry that new volumes were being written every day, despite Ron's abhorrence at being a test case. The consensus seemed to be that the liver produced each wizard's magical essence, and since Ron's liver had once been Charlie's, it had led to creation of completely new magic that Ron had to learn to control.
His physical recovery had been swifter, at first leading him to believe that he might rejoin the active Auror Corp. Except for one leg that randomly ached and left him with a slight limp, plus an occasional twitch in his left wrist, he claimed to feel good as new. He had regained muscle tone and colour and looked vibrant and healthy once more.
Until his magic could be controlled, however, he had been prevented from returning to his former Auror duties. The decision had led to several days of depressed rage, many broken items due to magical backlash, and finally an offer to become a Forensic Analyzer, at least until he fully recovered.
Ron had been disgusted at first. The field-Aurors tended to look down upon the "chair riders", even though they relied upon them to analyse the data for their cases. Older Aurors respected them, but the younger crowd seemed to think they weren't "real" Aurors. Ron's boss, Delia Bushnell, had been head of the Forensic team for a long time, and paid no mind to that nonsense.
"It doesn't matter how many criminals they track down and arrest if the evidence can't put them in Azkaban," she had stated. "Now stop wishing you were out banging on doors and do your bloody job."
To Ron's surprise, he had taken to it. His analytical mind loved ferreting out clues and making connections, plus his relationship with Hermione allowed him access to her considerable intellect, helping to piece together seemingly unrelated items. The job required far less magic and far more mental agility. Ron had grown to love it and now wondered if he would even return to field duty, if given the chance.
Harry was not only happy for him, but felt very proud of his accomplishments, as well.
"Your gift is on the table with the others," Ron said and jerked his head towards a table laden with an embarrassing number of gifts. "Bet you can't guess which it is."
Harry took a closer look and laughed. "Could it be the broom-shaped one?"
Ron made a disgusted noise. "I knew I should have put it in a box."
Harry could not stop laughing and Hermione joined him, as did Ron after a moment. The broom had been wrapped in colourful paper and topped with a gigantic golden bow.
"Of course, Draco went in on it with me. Couldn't have afforded it on my own."
"An expensive broom!" Harry said through his chuckles. "Now I can't wait to open it."
"Yeah, he was a complete git to shop with. We looked at every bloody broom in the country. Not that it was a bad thing to look at brooms, mind you, but spending that much time with the argumentative prat… Well, half the gift was my putting up with that torture, I hope you appreciate that."
Harry laughed again, but tried to look serious. "I do. I really do."
They chatted until an announcement from Draco called them to dinner, where Harry found another pleasant surprise. Despite the fancy flowers and crisp tablecloths, the dinnerware was colourful and mismatched, far more suited to Harry's taste than Draco's. It was another small detail that caused Harry's heart to swell with love and he squeezed Draco's hand beneath the table. Draco's fingers tightened, a welcome pressure on his thigh.
Harry sat between Draco and Ron, and next to Draco was Narcissa and Lucius. Also at their table were Andromeda and Teddy, and Luna and Neville. Snide comments from Lucius were quickly diverted—or headed off entirely—by Narcissa and, surprisingly, Luna, who engaged Lucius in a discussion of Japanese customs that lasted nearly the entirety of dinner.
By the time the remains of his treacle tart were cleared away, Harry was pleasantly full, a bit drunk on the fruity punch, and more than ready to go back to his room and spend the rest of the night exploring the bits of Draco he hadn't yet memorized.
His boyfriend, however, had other ideas, and most of the tables vanished to make room for dancing. Harry would have sworn he couldn't move, but watching Draco twirl around the dance floor with Narcissa gave him an unexpected burst of energy and he gladly cut in and held Draco tightly as they moved to the strains of music from Harry's favourite band—Harry could only imagine how much it had cost Draco to bring them to Hogwarts—and he tried very hard not to stamp on Draco's feet.
"Having a good time?" Draco asked with a grin that was definitely smug, and deservedly so.
"Without a doubt, this is the best birthday I've ever had," Harry said. "Thank you."
Draco leaned closer and his breath was hot in Harry's ear. "The night isn't over yet."
A certain part of Harry's anatomy woke up with alacrity at the words and Harry chuckled. "Does that mean you have another present for me?"
"You know I do."
"We'd better keep dancing for a bit or I'm going to embarrass myself," Harry said breathlessly.
Draco shifted against him and Harry realized he had the same problem. "Excellent plan. Let's think unsexy thoughts. You have to open your gifts soon."
Harry groaned. "Can't we just go to bed?"
"Unsexy thoughts, Potter," Draco admonished. "Bringing up the word bed is not helping."
"I wonder if your parents are having sex again?"
Draco groaned. "That's done it. Thank you."
"It worked for me, as well."
Harry tossed his robes over the back of the chair. Unbuttoning them had been an event—even his fingers were tired.
Draco was on the other side of the room, hanging his clothing in the wardrobe where, as he would likely point out to Harry the next day, they belonged. Harry dropped the rest of his clothing on the floor and slipped between the sheets. It was his birthday, well, it was technically August 1st and had been for a few hours, but close enough, so he could do as he pleased.
Draco wore only his dark boxers when he pulled back the sheets and sprawled on the bed next to Harry, pushing his wand under the pillow. His hair fell over his eyes and Harry noted he could use another haircut. Draco loved wearing his hair shorter, since he had been stuck with it the same length during his duration as a ghost.
"Successful party?" Draco asked.
Harry smiled. He had already told him a dozen times, but Draco's need for admiration was akin to a black hole. He could never get enough.
"I would consider that the most successful party of all time, ever," Harry assured him. The gifts had been numerous and humbling. The Malfoy, not to be outdone, had given Harry a house. "A ramshackle hovel in Camden Town," Lucius had said. "It should suit your wardrobe, Potter." Harry thought such an extravagant gift might insult all of Harry's other guests, especially the Weasleys, but Narcissa and Molly Weasley seemed to have become reluctant friends, largely due to Ron, and had spent the remainder of the evening drinking many glasses of wine and reminiscing about their school days.
"I'm glad. I have one more gift for you."
"Draco, this entire party was a gift. And the broom! You don't need to give me anything else." Harry clamped his jaw shut, thinking that he might do with one more gift, as long as it involved hands and mouths and cocks, even though he was stupidly tired and would almost prefer to sleep.
"I like seeing you happy. We might have to have parties more often, although not on this scale, of course, and hopefully with fewer parents involved."
Harry chuckled. "It was amusing when your father had one too many glasses of brandy and attempted to dance."
Draco groaned. "To modern music. I am going to pull out that memory and replay it for him at every holiday gathering from now on."
"Is that my gift?"
Draco laughed and poked him in the ribs. "No, silly." He sobered, suddenly looking very serious in the flickering light of the bedside candles Draco had insisted were "birthday appropriate". Harry had to admit the soft light made Draco look even more gorgeous than usual. Strangely, Draco bit his lip, looking suddenly nervous.
"Harry. I want you to know how much I appreciate you bringing me back. I know I've told you already, but I want you to know that you did more than put me back into my body. You gathered up the broken pieces of my soul and patched them back together to make me better than I was before." Draco rolled his eyes. "Merlin, this sounds utterly ridiculous and I really shouldn't have had that that last glass of wine."
Harry couldn't speak through the tightness in his throat. Draco was rarely sentimental. Harry knew how he felt, of course, but to hear him voice it was a gift beyond measure. He leaned forward and pressed their lips together in a gentle kiss, giving him leave to not say any more, and assuring him without words that he already knew how Draco felt, because it was precisely the same for Harry. The past few months should have been difficult, with the two of them struggling to adjust their lives around Draco's newfound solidity, but it hadn't been hard at all. It still seemed like a miracle to Harry and every time he reached out and touched Draco he felt a thrilling sense of wonder.
The kiss deepened and Draco's hand slipped into Harry's hair, tugging gently. Harry's fingers traced over Draco's ribs and his thumb drew circles around Draco's navel, enjoying the feel of soft skin beneath his fingers. Their tongues twined together pleasantly; Draco tasted of alcohol for a moment, and then he only tasted of Draco.
The kiss was slow and easy. Harry was willing for it to go either way, to deepen into passion or ease into slumber.
Draco pulled away. "Damn it, I'm not finished. You are very distracting."
Harry smiled lazily. Distracting Draco was one of his favourite things.
"Anyway, what I'm trying, with a lack of eloquence usually more your forte than mine, is that we seem to be stuck together due to the nature of the spell that brought me back, and your blood, and the power of sacrifice, and whatnot."
Harry frowned, trying to make sense of Draco's words, which bordered uncharacteristically on babbling.
"Which is to say, I am not unhappy to be stuck with you. Quite the opposite, in fact." Draco sighed explosively and removed the hand from Harry's hair to draw it across his own forehead. "Bloody hell, why is this so difficult? Fuck it." Draco reached beneath the pillow and withdrew a tiny box. He cracked open the burgundy velvet to expose a bright silver band. "Harry, will you…?"
Harry thought his heart might have stopped. Of a certainty his drowsiness was gone, his fuzziness of mind sharpened into clarity as though dowsed with ice water. He stared at the ring in shock.
Time seemed to stretch out while Harry rallied vainly for coherence. Only when Draco's hand twitched, as if itching to withdraw the gift, did Harry realize he had been silent far too long. His fingers shot out and closed over the box, holding it and Draco's hand in place.
"Yes!" Harry breathed.
Draco's guarded expression melted into an uncertain-looking smile. "Are you sure?"
For answer, Harry plucked the ring from the box, held it up to the light to admire it for a moment, and then slipped it over his left ring finger. He felt as if he were the one floating now, not quite attached to the world the way Draco had once been. Draco's fingers, linking through his, were reassuringly solid. He leaned forward again and kissed him, not sweetly and comfortably this time, but with promise.
Breathless minutes later, Draco pulled away, looking temptingly dishevelled. "Of course, we'll have to have some sort of ceremony to make it official. And I'll have to make preparations for father's demise, since the news will most likely kill him. And we'll have to go shopping for my ring..."
"And have another party to celebrate," Harry added.
"To celebrate my father's death or our engagement?"
Harry laughed against Draco's lips, loving his sardonic, impulsive, amazing boyfriend. "Both."
"Until death do us part, then?" Draco asked.
Harry grinned. "Not bloody likely."
Author's note: Thank you SO MUCH for all the awesome reviews and for all of you who suffered through the terrible angst to get to the ending. You guys are lovely! *SNUGGLES YOU ALL*