'And All the Real People Are Really Not Real At All'
Lance smirked in satisfaction as Harry quietly collected his discarded clothing and began to dress. "Same time next week my beloved?"
"Sure," Harry replied listlessly.
Lance stretched out on the silken sheets, feeling quite content. Having access to Harry on a weekly basis was making him positively cheerful.
"You know, I might have to give Malfoy a very good Christmas present this year."
"I thought we weren't supposed to mention him?" Harry snapped. He actually liked that rule and it was like a knife to the gut whenever Lance broke it, ruining the tenuous hold he had on blocking out his "other life" as he had come to think of it.
"I may do as I like," Lance replied loftily. He propped himself up on his side, one hand on his cheek, as he watched Harry with intense blue eyes. "You are a gorgeous creature, Harry, you know that? You must have a lot of men throwing themselves at your feet."
"Just you," Harry muttered as he slipped into his grubby trainers.
"Really?" Lance replied, pleased. "Good, I really don't want to share you with anyone else - besides Malfoy of course."
"Anything else then?" Harry asked once he'd finished dressing. He turned to face Lance expectantly and hoped the man would just let him leave.
"No that's all," Lance said, lying back and shutting his eyes with a sigh.
Harry wrapped his fingers around the return portkey and closed his eyes as he was whisked away back to the familiar surroundings of the old shack. He took a minute to compose himself once he had arrived, taking deep calming breaths and releasing them slowly. Draco had immediately pounced on him the last time he had returned home, feeling Harry's intense emotions through their connection and causing Draco to worry. The last thing he wanted was to concern Draco.
Harry opened his eyes and gave his head a little shake before leaving the shack and heading for home. His heart felt heavy and he was mentally exhausted, all he wanted to do was take a hot shower and crawl into bed for a while, hoping to be his normal self again before Draco got home from work.
Harry opened the front door and walked in, throwing his coat onto the bench and kicking off his shoes before heading for the bedroom.
Harry nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Draco's voice from the direction of the lounge room. He quickly clamped down on the immediate panic that clenched his heart. What if Draco knew where he had just come from? Harry took a steadying breath and sauntered into the lounge as naturally as possible.
"You're home early," Harry said, forcing a smile.
"Where've you been?" Draco asked, walking over to greet him with a hug.
Harry quickly stepped back out of the way. "Uh, I've been at the gym. Sorry, I'm just a bit sweaty and filthy. I'll just go hop in the shower."
"Mind if I join you?" Draco asked, quirking one brow suggestively.
Harry laughed weakly. "I'm a bit tired for… uh, that, I think. Rain cheque?"
"Of course." Draco frowned as Harry turned and headed for the bathroom. The blond followed him into the ensuite and leaned against the counter as Harry quickly undressed and stepped into the shower. "Are you alright Harry?"
"Yeah I'm fine," Harry replied, sending him a smile through the steamy glass of the shower cubicle. "Just tired. How was your day?"
Draco smiled, instantly diverted. "It was great, those new staff members we hired started today. That's why I'm home early. Looks like it might be a common occurrence now."
"That's great!" Harry enthused as he scrubbed himself all over with the soapy loofah then started on lathering up his dark hair.
Draco swallowed. Watching Harry in the shower was making his trousers suddenly feel a little too tight. "So… I thought we could maybe go look at some properties today," he said, forcing himself to look away and focus on some stray lint on his sleeve.
"Properties?" Harry questioned as he rinsed the remaining shampoo from his hair.
"Yeah, I thought it might be time to move into a more spacious place, an actual house."
"Oh." Harry turned off the hot water and stepped out.
Draco handed him a towel, his eyes straying to the little water droplets running down Harry's chest as the brunette wrapped the navy blue towel around his waist. Draco blinked and looked up. "What's wrong? You don't want to move?"
Harry shook his head, feeling much improved after his shower. He playfully hooked his arms around Draco's neck with a smile. "Nothing's wrong. I would love to move, somewhere with a large garden."
Draco smiled and slipped his arms around Harry's waist. "Wait until you see these places Harry, the photos make them look stunning."
Harry felt himself relax in Draco's arms. "I hope they're not ridiculous Malfoy. I don't want to live in some bloody big mansion with stone gargoyles and a moat."
Draco chuckled. "They're not ostentatious, but we do need somewhere befitting of a Malfoy and a Potter."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You mean a Malfoy, Potters do just fine in nice normal homes."
Draco leaned in to whisper in Harry's ear. "You deserve more than normal Harry."
Harry felt his body start to respond to Draco's proximity and drawling voice. He was pleasantly surprised to find that even when he was exhausted and felt like shit, Draco could still pull him out of it. Draco Malfoy really was someone special.
Harry pulled back a little and looked into Draco's warm grey eyes. It confirmed where he was and grounded him. He was indeed back in his chosen reality, with the one he loved. Harry leaned in and kissed Draco's soft lips, keeping his eyes open the whole time, even as Draco's eyes fell shut.
Draco sighed into the kiss, his body melting and arms tightening around Harry's warm naked torso, water droplets soaking into the sleeves of his shirt.
Harry pulled back after a moment and rested his forehead against Draco's, his breathing a little faster than normal. Draco seemed to be just as affected.
"I love you," Harry murmured earnestly.
Draco's breath hitched as he opened his eyes to stare into heartfelt emerald orbs. Harry had said those words only a handful of times and every time it made his heart jump. "You're going to be the death of me Potter," he breathed.
Harry smiled and pressed another kiss to Draco's lips before stepping back. "Do I need to dress up for our property viewings this afternoon? Are we playing rich magnates?"
"We're not playing rich magnates, we are rich magnates," Draco scoffed, straightening up and adjusting his wrinkled shirt.
Harry laughed as he walked off to the closet to pick out some appropriate attire for their outing.
. . . .
"Have I told you how absolutely delicious you look?" Draco said into Harry's ear with a smirk.
"Yes," Harry hissed, elbowing his boyfriend in the ribs and trying not to laugh as the two of them followed the estate agent up the long drive towards the next house. Harry had chosen a finely tailored outfit that he normally stayed clear of and Draco couldn't keep his eyes off of him.
The agent turned to them with a smile as they stopped at the main entrance. She was a woman in her mid-fifties, with dark hair streaked with grey that was pulled back into a high bun, and she wore the highest pair of stilettos that Harry had ever seen. She also had a good sense of humour and was very sharp. She seemed to know exactly what they were looking for. Each and every house had been breath-taking without being over the top. It was a house for only two people after all.
Harry looked around the entrance to the last house on Margaret's list. This place was slightly larger than the previous one, with an all brick exterior and white pillars at the entrance. There was a healthy covering of ivy entwined around the pillars and up the house to one side. It was beautiful and trimmed to perfection, enhancing the country charm of the place.
"Looks promising," Draco said to Margaret upon seeing Harry's eyes light up as he looked around. "Shall we move inside?"
"After you." Margaret unlocked the door with a flick of her wand and waited for the two men to pass through into the foyer.
"Wow," Harry exclaimed, completely losing the pretense of a cool façade. "This place is amazing!"
Draco had to agree as he took in the shining marble floors and curving staircase. The house looked much larger on the inside than it did from the outside. He looked to the right to see a small elegant sitting room with windows on every side, the sun streaming in and lighting the pleasant furniture that was a little too flowery for his taste but still cheerful and homey none-the-less.
Draco smiled and turned to Margaret. "Very nice."
She smiled knowingly; she knew when a buyer was hooked. "Shall we continue on to the kitchen?"
The two young men toured the entire house, which was made up of five bedrooms, large bright kitchen, sitting room, office, a formal dining room and a sunny lounge room. There was even a second staircase up into an existing art studio, separate from the rest of the home.
Harry stepped out into the back garden and marvelled at the grounds. There was a large green lawn that went on and on, surrounded by very tall trees that would keep their privacy intact. There was definitely room for him to fly and train at home now.
"What no swimming pool?" Draco quipped to Margaret as they looked at the huge area.
"No." Margaret smiled, "but plenty of room to put one in and design it yourselves."
"Fair point." Draco watched Harry's expression as the Gryffindor looked around. He could see that Harry was definitely taken with the place. "We will discuss it at home and let you know."
Harry turned around with a disappointed expression.
Draco couldn't suppress the smile of amusement. "Or perhaps we'll just take it," he said, turning away from Harry to look at their agent.
Margaret chuckled and nodded. "Very good Mr Malfoy, I shall go get the paperwork and bring it inside. Won't be a moment."
Draco turned back to Harry after she'd left. "Is this the one you want Harry?"
Harry grinned and nodded. "Yes, it's perfect. As long as you like it too?" he added worriedly.
"If you like, I like it."
"It's your money," Harry pushed.
Draco frowned. "It's not my money Harry, it's our money. You have a good career now and contribute too, and even if you didn't it would still be a mutual decision. That's what relationships are."
Harry nodded, knowing it was something he needed to work on. Draco always seemed like the rich one, the one in charge, and he was just tagging along for a free ride. But Draco was right, he did have a respectable career now and earned good money, he just needed to remember that.
Draco clasped his hand tight and gave it a squeeze as Margaret walked back out onto the patio with a sheaf of papers and an eager smile.
. . . .
Draco and Harry walked home from dinner from their usual restaurant in Godric's Hollow, taking their time as they meandered down the street looking into shop windows. The local merchants were beginning to prepare for the coming spring with pretty window displays of elaborate floral designs.
They were both still on a high from submitting an application for the purchase of their new home. They walked, hand-in-hand, content to take their time.
"Why do I always order garlic bread with my pasta?" Harry moaned, holding one hand to his belly. "Don't let me do that again, I think I'm going to be sick from carb overload."
Draco chuckled. "You're just lucky that you have an active job and can work it off."
"What's your excuse then?" Harry chided.
Draco narrowed his eyes at him. "I'm not the one ordering a basket of garlic bread with every meal Potter."
"Yes but you always end up eating half of it," Harry pointed out with a grin.
Draco pointedly ignored his comment as he stopped to look in the jewellery shop window. "When's your birthday Harry?"
"Uh… July thirty-first," Harry replied, having to think about it for a second. He couldn't remember the last time he actually celebrated it.
"What do you want?" Draco asked, straightening up and turning towards him.
"I dunno." Harry shrugged. "I haven't really thought about it, it's five months away still."
"Really?" Draco said in disbelief. "I constantly think about what I want."
"Why does that not surprise me?" Harry replied with a smile. "When's your birthday?"
"Jeez, do I have enough time to prepare?" Harry said in mock panic. "Four months to find a unicorn with a twenty-four carat gold horn."
"Don't be stupid," Draco replied. "I wouldn't want something so useless."
Harry laughed. "What do you want then?"
Draco's haughty expression melted into a thoughtful look as he pondered the question. "A photo album, of the two of us."
Harry's brow rose in astonishment. "That's… not what I was expecting."
"Not every gift needs to be expensive."
Harry smiled to himself, his boyfriend still managed to surprise him. Draco seemed to have a Gryffindor side to him as much as Harry always seemed to have a part of him that belonged to Slytherin.
"Did I ever tell you that the Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin?"
Draco glanced at him to see if he was joking. "Really?"
Harry nodded, watching the footpath pass beneath their feet as they walked. "Yeah, I told it not to and it listened."
Draco digested this. "So… we could've been in the same house."
"Yeah, I wonder what would've happened."
Draco tried to picture Harry in the snake den. "I think you would've been eaten alive Potter."
"You weren't," Harry pointed out, glancing at him.
"Yes but ninety-five percent of the Slytherin families weren't after my blood Harry," Draco reasoned. "And I was a right prick back then so I fit right in."
"Maybe I would've been too."
Draco shook his head with a smile. "Not possible, you're too pure."
Harry smiled sadly. "I'm not that good," he said. "I've done my fair share of horrible things; horrible thoughts and actions that had repercussions that I didn't stop to think about."
"Name one," Draco asked, not believing him.
"I could name dozens, but there was one that affected you," Harry answered. "Sectumsempra."
Draco looked at Harry's guilty expression and pulled back on his hand to stop him. "I probably deserved that."
"You could've died."
"And I bet you had no idea what the spell did."
Harry couldn't meet his eyes. "Exactly, I rushed in and used an unfamiliar spell on someone that could've killed you on the spot. I… I still can't quite believe I used a spell like that on another human being."
Draco lifted Harry's chin with one finger and met his remorseful gaze. "Harry, we both did our fair share of fucked up things back then. I broke your nose and left you on the train, and believe me, I knew exactly what I was doing. We just need to accept that we had a shit childhood that we can now make up for and figure out who we really are - without that fucking war affecting us."
Harry exhaled and nodded his head.
Draco smiled and gave Harry's hand a tug to get him to fall into step beside him once more. They walked the rest of the way home in silence.
Harry automatically flipped on the telly as he entered the lounge room and collapsed onto the couch. "The Bachelor's on," he informed Draco as the blond walked into the room.
Draco's eyes lit up and he sat next to Harry, putting his feet up on the ottoman and relaxing back into the cushions. Harry smiled at Draco's fascinated expression, the blond loved trashy muggle television.
"He is so fake," Harry muttered during the first ad break.
"Well he is on television Harry," Draco defended. "Not many people would be able to act completely natural with cameras following them twenty-four hours a day."
Harry snorted. "And what about the ridiculous expectations these girls have now. Nothing will compare to the fairy-tale dates these producers are coming up with, of course the insipid bimbos think they're in love, who wouldn't be?"
Draco chuckled and looked at his irritated boyfriend. "Jealous Harry?"
Harry couldn't help but smile at him. "Getting on stage in front of thousands of people and dancing is not my idea of a dream date," he said.
"Hmm… what about the romantic hot tub for two surrounded by falling snowflakes?"
"Yes, that is definitely more my style."
"Maybe we could put in an outdoor spa at the new place," Draco said suggestively, leaning close to Harry so that his mouth was next to the brunette's ear. "I'm sure we could have some fun in there. Swimsuits optional."
Harry swallowed when Draco nipped his ear gently before moving his lips down to Harry's neck to place soft kisses to the sensitive skin. Harry's eyes fell shut as he tilted his head away, encouraging his amorous partner.
Draco gently pushed Harry down onto the couch and lay on top of him, continuing his attention to Harry's delectable skin. Harry spread his legs a little to allow Draco's body to rest comfortably between them.
Draco smiled against Harry's skin and gently nipped the tempting juncture between his neck and shoulder.
Harry immediately jumped as though he'd been shocked. His eyes flew open and he could feel his heart beating erratically in his chest. He'd forgotten for a second where he was and who he was with, Lance had bitten him in the exact same spot only this morning, and with his eyes closed he'd lost track of which reality he was in for a split second.
"Harry?" Draco questioned with concern. "What's wrong? Did I hurt you?"
Harry quickly blinked and looked up at Draco's worried expression. "No," he said, forcing a weak smile. "I'm fine, just uh… I think I kinda dozed off for a second there or something. Sorry, I guess I'm still a little tired."
"Oh." Draco frowned at the false note in Harry's voice. "Alright, did you just want to go to bed then?" he asked, sitting up and shifting off of him.
Harry shook his head with a smile as he pulled himself back up into a sitting position and cuddled into Draco's side. "I'll wait with you until the show is over."
Draco wrapped one arm around him and turned back to the television screen, a slight frown still marring his face.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
* Just a reminder about the warnings for this story, especially the Non-con, as the story gets a bit dark and depressing from here on out. The people that are already saying "poor Harry" are not going to be happy with me ;)