Wednesday morning sees the Malfoy household somewhat disarranged. Helene has conferred with Narcissa the night before and decided to cheer Draco up with a soiree in the conservatory, which devolved into a family Cakefest, followed by star watching and ghost storytelling, which only drew to a close when Great-great-great-Uncle Theophilus Malfoy declared he was tired of telling tales of his time as young Queen Victoria's Wizarding Advisor and retreated to his nether realm.

Narcissa concluded the evening by conjuring up divans, and the family camped out, inside the house. They are woken late by house-elves with trays of steaming pastries and chocolate, thanks to Scorpius organising breakfast.

They have barely had time enough to dress before Albus arrives, citing ten as a perfectly reasonable hour for a luncheon appointment. Draco suspects that he has designs on some personal time with Scorpius, which are neatly torpedoed by the similarly early arrival of Lester Biggs.

Draco is happy to see Lester. He is a week behind on Ministry gossip, and after the rush of information yesterday, no-one has updated him on the progression of the Martin Byford case.

"I'm afraid that's because it's tedious, Mr Malfoy," Lester informs him. "Byford has decided to go with an insanity defence and is declaring that he was pushed over the edge in the Second Wizarding War, which led to every subsequent disaster."

"I'd happily demonstrate what being pushed over the edge actually feels like," mutters Draco, but he is forced to concede that Byford is due his fortnight's examination at St Mungo's. "I have to confess, I hope they stamp him sane and he's in the Wizengamot before the holidays finish.

"Still," he says, brightly. "Gives me a chance to catch up with you before lunch, Lester."

"Ah," says Lester. "Actually, I'd hoped to kidnap Scorp and Al and take them up to town. We've been planning a day out for as long as I can remember and it's always thwarted by one crisis or another."

"Right. Yes, of course. Splendid idea. I have a number of things I was hoping to discuss with Helene and Mother today, so that will work out well for me, timing-wise."

Draco leaves the young people to organise their adventures and goes in search of his mother.

She is tying a large straw hat over her carefully arranged hair.

"Garden party, darling," she reminds him. "At the Albrechtsen's. You declared you had something Terribly Vital on and so I'm taking Helene."

"It's nice weather for it," Draco allows, looking out the window at the bright blue sky. Under which he can see three youthful figures walking across the lawn, before they Apparate out of sight.

"They're ghastly people, but there will be dancing, and they do an excellent lunch spread. You don't mind, do you? You won't be lonely?"

"Mother, I'm not a child. Go off and have some fun. Helene has spent all week cheering up sick people, she deserves a treat."

After Helene and Narcissa head out, the house is alarmingly empty. Draco busies himself in the library by reorganising his wizarding biographies bookshelves according to author, then realises he will never find anything again, so reverts to subject, and alphabetically by author within each set. He briefly contemplates spelling the whole library into coordinating sets by cover colour, but realises that then everyone will be able to see the insanity that has come with his loneliness and boredom. When the owl knocks at the window a little after midday, he nearly knocks over a side table in his hurry to open it.

While the owl helps itself to the tray of treats kept on hand, Draco reads his letter: an invitation to lunch if he is free, from Ron and Hermione, who find themselves unencumbered by children and would like some adult conversation. No reply necessary if you're coming, it says, just turn up, and if you have any spare cake sitting around, it would not go astray.

Draco bellows for a house-elf as he runs to change clothes into something suitable for company.

Hermione greets him at her front door, a streak of flour down the front of her top. "Hello," she says cheerily. "I went mad and decided to make the pastry from scratch. Things aren't as bad as they seem."

"You look lovely." Draco kisses her cheek and follows her in. "I brought apple spice cake, everything else met with a tragic end last night, but it has a lovely thick icing, so it's suitably evil."

"Good man. I have pies in the oven, a nice cold dish done, and just need to get the veg sorted. Would you like a drink?"

"I'm fine for the moment."

"In that case, keep going through, Ron's in the back garden getting some sun. I'll be out shortly."

"Anything I can do to help?" Draco offers, adding his cake to the assembly on the table.

"Just entertain Ron, it'll take me less time to do what's left than explain it to you."

Ron is lazing in the shade of a tulip tree, which is still covered in a ridiculous number of flowers. The walking sticks propped against his footstool and the wheelchair nearby are the only clues that he is injured, all the colour has returned to his face, and his eyes, when they open at Draco's footsteps, are bright and amused.

"You came!"

"I heard you were bored, so I left behind very important matters and very important people."

Ron laughs, but peers at Draco closely. "How's your head?"

"Fine, all better. How are your legs?"

"Getting there. A few more weeks, but steady improvement."

"Good. It's not right seeing you lazing about, you're meant to be loping off somewhere."

"Sit down." Ron waves his hand at the chair near his. "It's unnatural looking up at you."

Draco plonks himself down and looks around. "The garden's looking good. I think it's improved since I was last here, and that was only a week or so ago."

"Hermione works wonders. Between you and me, I think she's bored out of her mind and dying to get back to work. But in the meantime, she's going to have this household running at peak efficiency."

"You married a brilliant woman, Ron."

"I did. And gorgeous."

"It's as though you knew I was here," Hermione says, appearing behind them with a tea tray.

"Hello, Darling," Ron says, while Draco gets up and moves the garden table forward for her.

"Lunch is slightly delayed, so I made you tea. By the time you finish this, I should have won my battle with the oven. Should we eat out here?"

"Sounds lovely," Ron says. "I'll enlarge the table."

"See you shortly," says Hermione, heading back inside.

Draco watches her walk away. "Did I not send you a house-elf to help until you're back on your feet?"

Ron nods. "Yep. Blentyn, and he's a treasure. She gave him the day off."

Draco shakes his head.

"I think he's hiding in the barn polishing boots," Ron admits. "But this baking thing has made her happy all day."

"She's worried about you," Draco points out. "You gave us all a scare. It's amazing to see how well you've recovered."

"You've been in St Mungo's, too," Ron replies.

"For a bump on the head. Hardly the same thing. Now, milk? I'll pour."

"White and two," says Ron, holding out a hand for the teacup Draco passes him.

Draco pours one for himself and adds a slice of lemon. He takes a sip and relaxes in the warm shade.

"So what's happening with you and Harry?" Ron asks.

Draco chokes on his tea.

Ron continues, "I ask because I have few opportunities for comedy in my current state, and you two were providing dozens before the weekend. Was there a fight while you were trapped? Did he insult your complicated fashion sense? Because I think you can still carry off those high-necked tops, regardless of what others say. Or did the two of you finally shag and it was awful?"

Draco has wisely put his teacup down, which is the only reason he does not spill it all over himself at that last comment. "No we have not been … Oh Merlin, I cannot believe you asked that. There's nothing happening. It's … it's a complex situation, which I think would not be wise to push at the moment."

Ron gives him a dubious look. "Draco, mate, I say this with love, but you and Harry are anything but complex people."

"Hilarious. Look, I don't know what he's told you …"

"Nothing. I have eyes. Observant eyes that work, though Blind Freddy would have noticed the two of you ages ago. So don't tell me nothing's happening, because that's obviously untrue."

Draco opens and closes his mouth. He engages his brain and then tries again. "There was a moment of confusion, out of which a misunderstanding arose, which is in the process of being sorted out. And going back to normal. And don't give me that look, going back to normal is probably the best option all round. Think of the reaction at work. And in the media. And Scorpius and Albus probably wouldn't welcome us … well … anyway …" Draco's brain gives it up as a bad job.

Ron nods. "I admit that Fawcett would be devastated, but I'm not sure that his feelings ought to be considered in the matter. Anyway, have you asked them?"

"Asked whom?"

"Scorpius and Albus."

Draco blinks.

Ron continues: "Because they're very bright young men and far more able than you seem to think. From what Al was saying yesterday, I think both the lads were rather hoping that you and Harry might actually sort yourselves out."

"Albus said what?"

"Apparently he was against the idea at first, and then Scorpius was, and then they both decided that they were being ridiculous. I had the impression one of them was going to say something to you. But anyway, they're a terrible reason for you entering into this spirit of monastic denial."

"I can't believe I am having this conversation with you …" Draco mutters.

"You're surprised," Ron counters with a laugh. "But someone has to talk sense to you, and out of all your friends I'm the only one who is still in possession of and on excellent terms with his family, wife, children, friends and workmates."

Draco gapes. He realises this and snaps his mouth shut, before swallowing his own laugh. "Oh Merlin, it's true. You're actually the most successful adult of all of us when it comes to relationships. What a horrible thing to realise!"

"To be fair, Hermione did boot me into usefulness in the marriage department, though I worked out the family and friends bits myself."

Draco does laugh now – at himself more than anything else. "It's just … hard," he admits after a little while.

"It's meant to be hard," Ron says. "But you're good at it. Do you remember how you and I became friends?"

"Through the kids," Draco answers quickly, still embarrassed at his early treatment of all people Weasley.

"Yeah, but not the way you think. I still thought you were a prat for a long time after we started working together, and even after Scorpius started hanging around with Rose and Al."

Draco smiles, he remembers.

"But the more I saw your son, and saw what you were like with your son, the more I liked you. And you decided that you had to get on with me, because you were friends with Harry, and because Rose would have been hell-bent on correcting you otherwise, and you worked at it. And much as my younger self would be horrified, I quite like having you around now. That's the thing about relationships, you're meant to have to work at them. But you're good at that, just look at you and me. "

"Don't take this the wrong way, Ron, but it's not quite the same."

"Which I put down to your abominable taste in men and my excellent taste in wives."

"Exactly." Draco grins.

"But still, it's not totally different." Ron looks at a tree some distance to Draco's right, and his cheeks turn pink, but he ploughs on. "At the risk of sounding like Rose, it all boils down to something very simple. Do you love him?"

Draco stares at the back of Ron's neck in horror. "I'm not going to … talk with you about … Oh, bugger it. Yes."

Ron nods, then turns back. "Then stop worrying. It won't be easy, the two of you will obviously cock things up many times and there may be a mild spot of hexing, but Hermione and I made it through that period in our relationship and survived, I'm sure the two of you can manage it."

"What if we can't?" Draco asks. "What if it all goes horribly, horribly wrong?"

"Is it going to be any worse than how the two of you are right now? Because from the outside, you're behaving like two people who've broken up. And you didn't actually get the relationship first. Which seems a stupid way to do it. Now I have to say that the thought of the two of you together is not something I want to imagine in detail, and I will probably just pretend it's not happening a lot of the time, and for Merlin's sake you can never share any of the actual details with me on fear of extreme hexing, but you make each other happy, and stranger things have happened."

"You and Hermione."

"Exactly." Ron waves a cane in a particularly geriatric fashion. "I know whereof I speak, young Malfoy! I wasted years because I was afraid to try anything and fail. And then we both realised that failing wasn't the worst thing that could happen – not trying was."

"You're secretly very wise," Draco says with a fond smile.

"People overlook it due to the extreme handsomeness."

"It's your curse."

"So, just be brave, Draco. Go and see him."

"You're the second man to talk to me about feelings in the last 48 hours. It's tremendously disconcerting."

Ron grins. A bowl of salad floats past him.

"Ah, lunch, excellent. Pick up your tea, Draco, I'm just going to push the table out."

Draco takes his cup and saucer, and Ron casts a quick Engorgio, tripling the size of the garden table. He is just in time. Hermione appears, surrounded by a flock of plates, pies, glasses, cake, bread and cutlery. A tablecloth rushes past and throws itself across the table, the lunch items settle into place on top. Hermione adds the large jug of iced water that she has been carrying and sits down, smiling at both of them.

"Did you have the talk?" Hermione asks.

Draco does snort tea at that, but thankfully there is a napkin to hand. He coughs until his nose is free of beverage, then tries to look serious. "Why is it that all my friends are so interfering?" he asks.

"Because you and Harry are dim, dear," Hermione tells him. "Lovely and brave and very pretty, but oh-so dim."

"How is it that you never became friends with Pansy?"

"There are limits, Draco."

"I talked with him," Ron says. "He's going to sort it all out."

"But after lunch, yes? I'm quite proud of that pastry, it turns out all you need is to make sure the ingredients are very cold."

"After lunch," Draco agrees. "But if everything goes completely wrong, I'm hiding in your barn until it all blows over."

"Absolutely. I'll tell Helene and she can ship some creature comforts across for you. Ron will deny all knowledge of your whereabouts and I'll lay in a large supply of cake and firewhisky. But it's not going to come to that."

Draco bows a thank you at her. "Now can we change the subject before I die of embarrassment?"

Hermione pats his knee, and passes him a slice of very good pie. Ron talks nonsense about Quidditch and, for ninety minutes, Draco relaxes happily.

At last, he stands up, offers to help with the dishes, and thanks his hosts when the offer is declined.

"Off to the Ministry?" asks Ron.

"I'll have Blentyn let you know if I find myself in the barn," Draco replies.


Draco steps out of the lift on the second level of the Ministry and follows a familiar path. The door to Harry's office is open, and he can see the back of a head-full of black hair. But the figure beneath is wrong.


"Mr Malfoy," Albus jumps a little in surprise. "I wasn't expecting to see you here."

"I thought you were out with Lester and Scorpius."

"I am, but Dad asked me to stop in and pick up a few papers for him."


"Were you looking for him?"

Draco is unable to come up with an alternative explanation for his presence there. "Harry was going to fill me in on the Byford arrest," he settles on.

"He's taken the day off. I thought you weren't coming back to work until next week."

"I'm not, I was just … in the vicinity."

Albus nods. "He's at home. Alone." Albus smiles with not entirely convincing innocence and holds out a sheaf of parchment. "You could take these to him and then we wouldn't need to go back there tonight at all."

Draco doesn't move.

Albus's certainty wavers. "I thought Scorpius had a talk with you."

Draco takes a breath. "We did have a discussion, but he was extremely cryptic. He could have been encouraging me to go and see your father, or he could have been angling for a new racing broom. It can be hard to tell."

"It was …"

"Yes, thank you, Albus, I think I can guess. You go back to lunch. I'll … I'll take those papers for you."

Albus smiles widely. "Thanks, Mr Malfoy. I'll see you soon."

He starts to leave, then pauses. When he turns around, his cheeks are reddening. "Mr Malfoy, if you and Dad do … do you know about … because it's not like …"

Draco freezes, horrified at what Albus could possibly want to share that would make him blush.

"That is to say …" Albus stammers to a stop, looks at Draco's face and clearly decides that discretion is the better part of valour.

"You're a research wizard, it will be fine," he says, and all but runs from the office.

Draco stands, blinking, for a moment, before he decides it will probably be best all round if he pretends that never happened.

He heads to the lift, parchments tucked under one arm. It arrives after a few seconds and he steps in, noting the other occupant.

"Hannah, good to see you."

"You're looking well, Malfoy," Hannah Abbot says with a smile. "I didn't know you were back. Do you have a few minutes? I can tell you all about capturing Byford. I used particularly sticky hexes, just for you."

Draco grins. "You're a true friend, Hannah. I owe you a drink."

"I've got time now."

Draco hesitates. It's a perfectly valid excuse, after all … "No, thanks. I'm headed over to Harry's."

"Ah. That's fine. We'll catch up later."

The lift doors close and it starts its journey towards the atrium. "So are you two shagging?" Hannah asks conversationally.

"Is there anyone left who doesn't think we are?" Draco sighs.

"People who haven't seen you in the last few weeks, a few witches and a few wizards who are convinced one or the other of you is habouring secret desires for them, and Keating in Accounting – I'm not sure he realises that genitals have recreational purposes."

"I love you, Hannah," Draco says.

"Of course you do, in a pure and spiritual way. So?"

"Off to go and find out," Draco replies, as the lift bings and the doors open.

"Good luck!"

And because the day can't get any weirder, Draco kisses her cheek lightly and sets off, humming to himself.


There is an unusually loud Apparition crack announcing Draco's arrival at the trees that line the rear of the Potter garden – this is what comes of rushing. Harry is seated at the outdoor table close to the back door. Draco is surprised that Harry doesn't look up, but then he sees the quill in his hand and the piles of paper around him, and realises he must be catching up on his reports.

Draco pauses for a minute, watching as Harry writes fluently, then stops and checks something on another sheet, before returning to his task. It's so mundane – not at all the man of action Harry purports to be, and yet, this is what it will be like most of the time. Years and years of mostly normal. And they might even grow used to each other, one day. Though if past history is anything to go by, there will probably be explosions enough to prevent that.

All he needs to do is step forward out of the shadows and start that life.

Yet another moment in his life when everything is about to change thanks to Harry Potter.

At least, Draco decides, the changes have definitely improved over the years.

He has just lifted his foot to move when Harry speaks, voice carrying across the lawn: "I can see you there."

Draco puts his foot back down. "I didn't want to disturb you. I was waiting until you paused in your diligent efforts."

Harry puts his pen down meaningly, but does not stand up. "How are you?" he asks.

"Well. I've been flying, Apparating, it's all fine."

"That's good."

Draco takes a step. "I received your note."

"I was expecting to hear back from you," Harry says.

Draco takes another step. "I'm here instead. Besides, it took you a week to write to me."

"Thr–" Harry pauses and counts on his fingers. "Four days!"

"You lied," says Draco, lightly, with another step.


"You said that nothing would change."

There is a pause, where Draco thinks that last step may have been a wrong one, and then a smile flicks across Harry's face. "Nothing will change. Once I've finished having a good sulk about things."

And it really is all right then, so Draco grins. "So you're resigned to it all?"

Harry shrugs. "You said yourself this was a bad time."

This step is slightly longer. "No, I used a similar phrase as the start of a longer sentence."

"And then you stopped talking."

"Because I was unconscious."

Harry hears what is not yet being said, and he starts to grin, too. "You raise a convincing point," he concedes.

"So you decide to put the worst-possible light on things," Draco goes on – he is halfway across the garden now.

"I didn't think you were very keen on the idea."

"I had my tongue in your mouth a short time before."

"That was a near-death situation, we have a history of losing our heads."

And then Draco has to stop walking, because he is laughing far too much to coordinate movement at the same time. After a minute, he shakes his head. "Hermione was right, we are dim."

"Hermione said that?" Harry asks, without surprise.

"She did. She meant it as encouragement, I've been sulking, too, you know."

"That's the best news I've had all week," Harry says.

And he smiles so brightly that Draco realises that no matter what happens, even if he ends up living in Ron's barn, it will be worth it, because that smile will be turned on him, and for him … and he has walked all the way across the garden now and tossed the papers onto the table, where they lie unregarded.

Harry stands up.

"Thoroughly dim," Draco repeats. And before Harry can respond, or move, or do anything, because Draco is determined that this action will be his, he reaches forward and tilts Harry's jaw ever so slightly and kisses him deeply.

He takes a half-step back.

Harry blinks at him. "Are we near death?" he asks, still smiling.

"It is quite possible that Ron will kill me if I don't put you out of your misery, so I am going to say yes."

"Ron will …?"

"It's a long story."

"I'd be quite interested in hearing–"

"Shut up, Harry," Draco says, and kisses him again.

And three fingers on a slightly stubbled jaw are nowhere near enough, so he pulls him close. Harry's hip fits neatly into his hand, which is a marvel in itself, and then Harry's hands are on his back and Draco's own smile threatens to make kissing a technical challenge, at which point Harry shifts his weight and since there is nothing behind Draco the two of them go tumbling onto warm thick grass and Draco finds himself with a face-full of black hair.

He reaches up to unhook Harry's glasses from the one ear they have remained attached to. "You are a complete lunatic," he says.

"Was that what you were planning to tell me in the hospital?" Harry asks, rolling to one side and with that smile again.

"Yes," Draco lies. "No. I had an entire speech planned. It was moving and very eloquent."

"I'm sure it was a work of genius," Harry says, brushing Draco's hair back from his face and squinting at him.

Draco shakes his head and holds out the pair of glasses. Harry slips them back into place.

"That's better," he says. "I can see you." He traces the line of Draco's nose, then leans in and kisses the place where jaw meets neck.

Draco's head thuds ever-so-slightly back against the ground.

"How did the speech end?" Harry whispers.

"Yes," Draco replies. "Of course it ended with 'Yes'." And to prove his words, he leans to his left and kisses Harry again.

Time passes. Draco has no idea how much, but his skin is warming under the sun and Harry's touch.

Harry breaks their kissing slowly and leans back. He shakes his head, with a rueful smile. "You could have said that weeks ago, you know. Months or years, even. Think what we could have done."

Draco knows that's a lie, but he doesn't stop smiling. "We'd have killed each other. Now. Now is the right moment. Possibly a few days ago if you'd been less hasty." He sits up on one elbow and looks down at Harry. "You're not going to leave your glasses on all the time, are you?"

"Only till I have you memorised."

And he is teasing, but Draco realises that Harry will see every part of him, learn every pore, and that Harry's body is likewise something he has permission to trace until he knows its lines by heart. Albus was right, this will require research – hands-on seems best.

Draco starts his study with the hip his hand hasn't left. Harry's shirt is happily not tucked in, and there is skin just a short movement away. Draco traces the line of the bone with his fingertips, and even in the mid-afternoon of a summer's day, Harry shivers. Encouraged, Draco shifts his hand further inside Harry's shirt, making a bid for ribs this time.

Suddenly he is being tipped backwards, and then Harry is on top of him, one thigh pushed between his and with hands that move quickly from Draco's shoulders to sink into his hair – all of which registers only hazily, because he is being kissed so fiercely that he has to remember to breathe. And then he becomes acutely aware of where Harry's leg is, and where his hips are, and that the rhythmic upward yearn of his own hips is being answered in kind. And …

"Stop," he manages to gasp.

Harry leans back quickly, looking uncertain.

Draco arches up and quickly kisses Harry's jaw to reassure him. He is startled at the quickness of his own breaths. "Seriously," he says. "We need to stop for a bit. I came in my trousers for you once before, I want something more dignified this time."

And Harry laughs. Throws his head back, rolls over to his back and laughs. After a second, Draco joins him. They end up with their heads together and arms wrapped about each other, still grinning.

"That was a lifetime ago," says Harry.

"I remember it perfectly, too," Draco tells him. "I've always remembered it, even when I thought you didn't care in the slightest, I held onto it. And when things were bad, it made them better."

Harry isn't grinning anymore. Draco worries that he has said too much, but Harry reaches up to brush the hair back from Draco's face.

"I always cared," Harry says simply.

"Well I know that now. At the time it was more near death, followed by first serious sexual experience, followed by abandonment."

"I did not abandon you. You waltzed off with your family. Completely different."

Draco sits up. "That is not what happened."

He is careful to keep his legs where they are pleasantly entangled, but needs to be out of kissing range for a moment. "You told me to wait in the castle and the next thing I knew, you were off cavorting with Death Eaters, before disappearing, defeating the bad guy, and then disappearing again. I spent several hours in mortal fear for your life, during which time I perfectly accept that you had other priorities. But afterwards you didn't even look at me. The only reason I ended up with the details of where you'd been is because my parents found me and told me …"

Harry interrupts. "I was looking for you. And you were with them. You didn't even turn around. You weren't even watching to see whether he killed me." There is just the slightest edge of petulance in his voice, though Harry looks embarrassed by it.

"But I knew he couldn't kill you," Draco says in slow wonder. "After seventeen years of trying, why would he suddenly work it out at that exact moment? I thought you were going to kill him and I didn't want to watch that, because … because I didn't want to see you become a killer. That's not you. If I had known you had a cunning plan …"

"He'd already mostly killed me once that evening, you know," Harry reminds him, levering himself up onto his elbows.

Draco waves the idea away. "I assumed it was a wily ruse. That you were using some of those famed Potter skills to hold your breath for ten minutes. Never once thought you were actually dead."

Harry is genuinely startled. "Wily ruse? When did I have wily ruses? Those were your stock in trade."

"Oh please," Draco snorts. "Invisibility cloak, gillyweed gills, secret passages abungo – you were the wily wizard."

Harry looks at him, for a long moment, then bursts out laughing again.

Draco tries to resist, because this should be a serious moment. This is sorting out 25-and-a-bit years of misunderstandings and they should definitely begin this relationship on clear ground. But it's hopeless. He's already laughing. Harry reaches up to him and drags their foreheads together, then slips and they both end up back on the ground.

"We are so much dimmer than Hermione credits," Harry says between laughs.

"Best not tell her. She'd be a bit insufferable about it."

"But with love."

"Oh, absolutely."

Harry pushes Draco's hair back again, Draco is starting to quite enjoy it when he does that, it sometimes leads to snogging. But this time, Harry speaks instead, his voice tinged with astonishment.

"All that and you came back. You thought I'd just walked away, but you still let me become your friend …"

Draco pokes him in the arm. "Of course I did. You never tried to fix me. You just took me as I was, even when I was an idiot. In my whole life, you've always been the only person who always saw me exactly as I was."

"I thought you were fascinating."

"You thought I was a spoiled rotter."

"But a fascinating one."

"You gave me space to fix myself, and you noticed when I did. You trusted me to do the right thing. You were the first person who ever did."

And for a moment they are back in a war-ravaged castle, with the bitter dust of ash lining their throats and the sudden realisation that they are both alive thanks to each other.

Harry's hand sinks further into Draco's hair. "Even when you hated me," he says, "you hated me. Not some construct with the same name as me. Even when I hated you, I thought you were brilliant for that."

And Draco finds it ridiculous that not long ago he was predicting a future full of mundane moments for them. There will never be anything not remarkable about this.

He smiles at Harry, and there must be something about smiles today, because Harry pulls him back to the ground and holds him tightly for a moment. And then Harry relaxes his grip and moves back a little to just look at Draco.

Draco looks back. There is a bloom of colour along Harry's cheeks and lips that has nothing to do with the sun, and the brightness of his eyes is not a trick of his glasses. Draco can see the smattering of silver hairs in among the black, and is relieved that the sun will be hiding the similar ones on his own head. He can smell the warm grass they have somewhat crushed, and the rich sweet fragrance of heliotrope in sunlight. Closer, he can smell Harry's soap, and a touch of tea, and a sort of healthy vigour that doesn't have a name and would be absurd to call Potteryness. In the distance he can hear the river, and birds, and life outside this small space, but he bets none of that is quite as pleased as he is to be wherever and whatever it is as he is right at this moment.

Harry kisses his cheekbone fleetingly. "Do you want to try for something more dignified?" he asks. "Or do you want to stay out here for a bit? It's warm today, and beautiful."

"Both," says Draco.


"Where you're concerned? Always."

"Excellent news."

And the corners of Harry's eyes crinkle up with his smile, which Draco finds utterly charming, and he doesn't begrudge him the very slight relief he hears in his voice, because he strongly suspects they will both have no idea what they are doing for some aspects of what's to come, and Merlin help him, he may well end up doing actual research, but thankfully there are books for that sort of thing. Right now, there is a perfect summer's afternoon and no one has tried to blow them up for days and neither Lester nor Fotherington knows they are here, so there will be no interruptions with moments of national crisis.

"Do I have you all afternoon?" Harry asks, then adds more hesitantly but hopefully, "All night? When do you have to go home?"

Draco bunts his forehead against Harry's. "Thicky," he says, fondly. "I am home. I'm with you."

And the smile Harry turns on him in reply convinces Draco that he has underestimated just how worth it everything will be. He twines his fingers into the mess of Harry's hair and rubs noses before adding a languid kiss. And while part of his body suggests that he could, with advantage, impart a sense of urgency to the proceedings now, the rest of him is content to take its time. He doesn't need the Room of Futures to predict there will be many years for them, and that they can spare the first few hours.