AU-this is a universe where there was no Tom Riddle and, hence, no wizarding wars.
Warnings: non-explicit sexiness, innuendo, fluffy romance
A bell jingled as Harry entered the shop. "How may I help you?" the man behind the counter inquired politely. His back was to Harry as he reached for some dried roots dangling from the ceiling on a string. He was wearing the traditional white robes of the apothecarist, with the sleeves rolled above the elbows with the help of garters. The voice seemed familiar. Harry noted the long, pale blond hair pulled back in a braid and tried to guess who it could be.
"I'm feeling a cold coming on. Got something that can knock it right out? I don't have time to be sick."
The apothecarist turned to look at Harry. There was a brief expression of recognition, then his face went neutral, professional.
"Oh, hello, Malfoy. Have you been working here long?" Harry asked.
"My father just acquired this shop. I'm only going to be here long enough to get it running properly again. The former owner really ran this business into the ground." Malfoy turned to a tall cabinet with dozens of tiny drawers. "I can make you up something." He opened drawers so fast, it was obvious he remembered exactly where every ingredient was. Roots, powders, thick liquids in small vials: they were all set down on the front counter. Malfoy got out a mortar and pestle and started grinding things together.
Harry tried not to stare, but Malfoy looked... good. Better than good. Beautiful, really. Adulthood had changed him from a cute schoolboy to a very handsome man. And Harry did like handsome men. Especially ones with tattoos. Malfoy had a rune behind his left ear, and Harry was willing to bet that there would be more. A member of a high-ranking wizard family like the Malfoys would only have magical tattoos, since snobbier Pure-bloods considered merely decorative ones to be low class, but it would be just as fun to find them.
"I'd heard that you lived here part time. An odd choice for a Quidditch star. Don't most of them live in London?"
"I do like my place in the city, but I like Godric's Hollow, too. It's quiet. Though the apothecary was rather awful. I think old man Bonsacre once sold me a fertility potion instead of cough medicine. If I was into women, I'd be a father ten times over now."
"Just before my family took this place over, Bonsacre gave a baldness potion to a teenaged girl who wanted a cure for spots. The poor thing looked like an angora rabbit." Draco dumped the ground ingredients into a cauldron.
"So, what do you do besides clean up after incompetent apothecarists? Did you marry Parkinson?"
A small yip of laughter escaped from Malfoy. "Merlin, no! What a horrible thought. No, I was with Blaise Zabini for several years, but we've parted. Amicably."
"So you're single?" Harry leaned forward on the counter in a way that made his hair fall over his eyes. He knew from past experience that it made people want to reach out and push it back. His position also made his shirt fall away from his body, affording Malfoy a view of shapely pecs and manly chest hair and a Puddlemere United tattoo.
Malfoy's gray eyes narrowed as he looked at Harry. "I'm not some broomstick bunny. I'm not going to fall on my back with my legs open just because you're a Quidditch player."
Ah, a hint of the legendary Malfoy hauteur. "You close for lunch, don't you? We could get a sandwich and a pint at the pub together."
The potion was finished. Malfoy used a funnel to pour it into a flask and stoppered it with a cork. "Take a teaspoon every two hours until it's all gone. Now, would you like me to make you up something for herpes or warts or crabs? Because, from what I hear, you'll need it sooner or later. Five Galleons, please." Looking down his nose at Harry, Malfoy held out his slim, pale hand for payment.
Harry grinned what he knew was his most charming grin, tilting his head a little and crinkling his eyes, but Malfoy's icy expression didn't change. "Hard to get, hmm?" Harry let his hand linger as he laid the coins on Malfoy's palm. He emphasized the word hard suggestively.
Snatching his hand away, Malfoy snapped, "Impossible to get. Good day." The tall, slim blond turned away abruptly and busied himself with a feather duster.
As he stepped out the shop door, Harry let out a 'pheeeeeeeeeew'. He was still grinning. Impossible to get? Harry loved a challenge.
Of all the bloody cheek! Treating a Malfoy like some little tart. Potter had been an arrogant prat all through school, and it seemed he had only gotten worse. He had made Draco's school years miserable, really. He and his gang had run Gryffindor, and had tried to dominate the entire school. Daisy and Andew Black; Philomina, Bertrand, Geoffrey, and Martin Lupin; Michael, Sarah, and Matthew Pettigrew. And Potter, their king. Draco had been popular among the Slytherins early on, but then Potter and his minions had decided that he would make an excellent target. Even having Crabbe and Goyle with him could not protect him from the ten Gryffindors, and the two bigger boys deserted him soon enough, anyway. His status within Slytherin had declined rapidly. Draco wasn't the most victimized student in school in those days, but he didn't have a wonderful time, that was for sure.
Now Potter was flirting with him? Sure, the git was attractive in a rather obvious way with that artfully tousled nest of black hair, and the glasses that served to make his brilliant green eyes more noticeable, and that cocky grin that had surely been practiced in front of a mirror for hours. Draco was sure that Potter chose to dress Muggle-style just because faded jeans and henley-style shirts revealed more of that long, lean body of his than robes did. According to the gossip columns in the Daily Prophet, Potter was sleeping his way through the entire gay male population of the British Isles, and parts of Europe. At the rate he was going, he was going to have move to another continent for fresh conquests.
Well, this was one man who wasn't going to fall for Potter's facile charm. A Malfoy was not easy or cheap, and Draco would never, ever settle for being just another toy.
Draco's stomach rumbled with hunger. He took the garters off his sleeves and locked up, walking to the Two Trolls for lunch. Of course, Potter was there, sitting at the bar eating chips. "Come to join me after all?" he asked cheerfully.
"I think not. Bartleby, could you get me something to go?"
The pub owner went into the kitchen. Potter spun his stool around and leaned back against the bar, legs spread and chest out. He stretched his arms up over his head, making his shirt ride up to expose his abs and the tops of his hip-lines.
"It's very nice that you spend so much time working out, but that's not going to work on me. I'm not going to throw myself on top of you just because you showed some skin."
"If you go out with me, you can sit in my private box at the next match. I'll introduce you to my team."
"That might have worked when I was fourteen." Bartleby handed Draco a cloth-draped basket, and Draco handed over a Galleon that he had just recieved from Potter. "Besides, my father owns a Quidditch team." Without sparing Potter another look, Draco left the pub.
Harry hated to admit it, but Malfoy had gotten to him. He had found a delicious nineteen-year-old ginger wizard for the night, but the man bored him with his hero-worshipping prattle, his endless agreeableness. His guest was now sprawled out naked on the bed in his London flat, babbling about Harry's best matches. As if Harry needed to be told. He had lived them, after all. "Please, enough talk," he groaned.
The ginger gave Harry a kittenishly submissive look. "Whatever you want to do is fine with me."
Harry nearly screamed with frustration. "I think I want to be alone now."
"Did I do something wrong?" Copper-colored eyes looked ready to shed tears.
Harry sighed. "No. It's not you, it's me." One of the oldest lines in the book. The other man took the hint, yanking on his clothes and slamming the door on his way out.
Harry got up and padded to the kitchenette, getting a bottle of beer from the fridge. Then he walked to the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up the outer wall of his high-rise flat. The city below was a carpet of light with a black thread through it: the Thames. There were so many men who would be happy to share this view with Harry. He could just pop into the club across the street and pick one up in ten minutes. He had done it before on nights when he had been particularly randy; even Muggles who had no idea how famous he was were easily charmed by him. But, tonight, the very idea made him feel terribly tired. Ah, well, everybody went through moods. By next week, he would be back to his old self. And he would stop thinking about Draco Malfoy.
Malfoy stared at the potted African violet that had been plopped on the counter in front of him. "I'd like to offer an apology," Harry said. "I came on a little too strong."
"You think?" Malfoy sniffed. He was in white robes again today. His hair was loose, covering his rune tattoo; Harry fought the temptation to push the hair back so he cold see it again.
"And I would like to ask you out again. First, we'll eat at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and then we'll go see the Kiri Te Kanawa recital at the Royal Opera. And I will behave like a perfect gentleman the whole evening. I'll even wear a proper suit instead of jeans." Malfoy looked gobsmacked. "Well, is that a yes or a no?"
Malfoy crossed his arms. "Apologize some more, and I will."
"For bullying me in school." Malfoy lifted his chin and gazed steadily at Harry.
"For-what-I never did!"
Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "Oh, really? You got everyone calling me Miss Priss."
"It was just a silly name."
"You flushed my homework down the toilet at least once a week."
"It wasn't that often."
"You pushed me down the stairs and I broke my ankle."
"I didn't mean to hurt you. It's just that I was in a hurry and you were in my way."
"Crabbe and Goyle were also in your way. Why didn't you push one of them?"
"Because they were bigger than me."
Malfoy jabbed a finger hard into Harry's chest. "Think about that. I was smaller than you back then. Bully."
Harry was momentarily unable to think of a thing to say. "That-that's how it seemed to you? I was a bully?"
"What was it about me that drew you attention, anyway? We were in different houses. We barely saw each other. Why me?"
Harry grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck. How was he supposed to remember? It was so long ago. "I guess it was because you were always so tidy. Your hair was always perfectly in place. You put a napkin in your lap before you started eating. You ate turkey legs with a knife and fork. It made me want to mess you up." Harry paused. Huh. So he did remember after all. That weird resentment for a kid who always had a perfectly knotted tie and a tucked in shirt, and who got thrice-weekly violin lessons. Harry and his friends were a rough-and-tumble bunch. A boy like Draco had been a natural target for them. "I'm sorry. I was kind of an idiot then, I guess. Will you go out with me, anyway?"
"Wow. The enthusiasm." Harry grinned and did the best to make his eyes twinkle. Hmm. That did not work on the blond. Malfoy just stared back with his mouth a flat line."I'll pick you up Saturday at five, then."
"All right, then." Malfoy took the plant and placed it on the sill of the front window. "I will see you then." Four elderly women entered the shop then, and Harry took his leave. He had lied to Malfoy. He was going to be a gentleman for the meal and the recital, but after that, he was going to get into Malfoy's pants, under Malfoy's robes, whatever. Harry was going to to hit it and quit it and that would be that. Then it would be back to the broomstick bunnies.
Harry showed up at Malfoy Manor promptly, via the Floo network. He was greeted by Draco's parents. "He'll be ready in a few minutes," Draco's mother said. "Please sit."
This was not the sort of thing Harry usually did. Or ever did. Meeting his playmates' parents? What was the point? It wasn't as if he was ever going to become anyone's son-in-law. But Harry had a lot of practice engaging in small talk; it was a part of a celebrity's life. He smiled engaging and kept the conversation light.
A few minutes turned into a quarter of an hour turned into half an hour. Harry was running out of small talk, and he didn't like the way Draco's father was looking at him. Draco was around the same age as Harry, twenty-eight or so, and that level of protectiveness seemed... misplaced. Though Lucius Malfoy had disliked Harry for a very long time. "I don't plan on pushing your son down the stairs tonight," he said to Lucius, using his eye-twinkling look, and got only a frigid glare back. Oof. Tough crowd.
When Draco finally appeared, looking splendid in a gunmetal gray suit with his hair loose, Harry stood up so fast he nearly tripped. "Shall we get going?" Harry asked, dashing for the fireplace. He re-merged in the Leaky Cauldron.
A few seconds later, Draco followed. He was smirking at Harry. "You couldn't get out of there fast enough. Are you still terrified of my father?'
"I was never terrified of your father. I just didn't like when he shouted at me."
"You deserved to be shouted at. I could have died when you pushed me down the stairs, you know."
"That's a bit dramatic, don't you think?"
"If you don't like dramatic, don't date a Malfoy." Draco headed out to the street, and Harry followed. The sun was just starting to set, and a breeze was picking up, blowing Draco's flaxen hair all around. His eyes were bright, his color was high, and a small smile played on his lips; even in a place like London, he caught the attention of passersby. Harry couldn't help feeling pleased with himself, and he put a hand on the small of Draco's back possessively. "Mind that the hand doesn't go any lower," Draco said dryly.
Harry had his car in a nearby parking ramp. He was a little disappointed that his date wasn't more impressed by his 1959 red MG A Roadster. The two-seater had literally charmed the pants off of many other men, but Draco deemed it... nice. And very shiny. He was very happy with the restaurant, though. Harry tried to steer him toward the oysters-everyone knew that they were an aphrodisiac-but Draco ordered free-range quail stuffed with truffled potatoes, accompanied by a twelve-year-old pinot noir. Harry couldn't help but feel a little intimidated-his own family might be wealthy, but his parents liked a simple roast washed down with beer, and Harry had always been the same way. He had ordered a hamburger, but it was no ordinary hamburger-it had foie gras on it. Harry was starting to feel out of his depth. Then he watched Draco lick a dribble of wine off of his hand and remembered why he was going through all this. That little gesture, the pink, pointed tongue swiping across skin, sent a shock through Harry's body that heated up his nether regions.
Harry wasn't accustomed to talking much with his prospective sex partners, but the conversation went well. Draco could talk Quidditch as well as anyone, but he could also talk about nearly anything else and had a wicked sense of humor. And the way his mouth moved when he spoke... Harry found himself mesmerized. The way Draco's front teeth bit a little into his lower lip when he pronounced a word with the letter F in it, the way his tongue fluttered just a little on the letter R...
"Harry? Harry Potter, are you still there?" Draco reached across the table and rapped his knuckles lightly on Harry's forehead.
Draco laughed at him. "Come on. The recital is starting in five minutes. Give me a ride in your shiny red phallic symbol."
They were only a little late to the recital. Harry knew nothing of opera and classical music. He had just vaguely remembered when he and his gang had mocked Draco for bringing classical music albums to an inter-house party. "Dame Kiri is my favorite singer," Draco told him as they found their seats. Draco's favorite singer, a private box (which Harry had called in some favors for), a bottle of champagne... Harry wondered if it was possible to get lucky during the recital instead of afterwards.
It was not to be. Draco was immediately enraptured by Te Kanawa's soprano. Harry glanced at his program. Liszt, Vivaldi, he knew those names, but Fauré, Duparc, Massenet? It all sounded pretty enough, he supposed. He glanced over at Draco and realized with a jolt that the blond was wiping away tears. Harry was in... so to speak. Past experience had taught him that high emotions tended to lead to the horizontal.
After the performance ended, Harry took Draco's hand as they headed back for the car. It was slim, long-fingered, and silky-skinned, and it held Harry's hand with just the right amount of pressure, not too tight, not too loose. Harry was reaching out to open the car door for Draco when the blond gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I had a wonderful time tonight, Harry."
"It doesn't have to end now. You should come see the view from my flat." Harry's heart sped up when Draco started looking around, seeing if there were any other people in the parking ramp. Was he planning some fun and games right there in the car?
"Maybe next time." Draco smirked a little as he drew his hand out of Harry's. "Call me." Crack. He had Apparated away, leaving Harry standing there with his mouth sagging open.
What now? Harry was all revved up and ready to go, but the idea of picking up some one-night stand just seemed to unappealing. What is wrong with me? Harry wondered. This isn't like me at all. Maybe that potion I got bought from Draco wasn't enough and I'm still coming down with something. Yes, that must be it. Harry was getting sick. He would have to go to an apothecarist about it.
Harry and Draco's second date was sushi and an art gallery. Their third was a movie and the Leaky Cauldron. The fourth was a party at Harry's flat and the fifth was watching Lucius Malfoy's Quidditch team play the Ballycastle Bats. By the time of their sixth date, Draco had taught Harry enough about classical music that he had been able to appreciate a trip to the symphony. They were coming up on their twelfth date, and Harry was starting to feel half-crazed; the very sight of Draco, whether in his custom-made robes or his Hugo boss suits, made his heart race and his palms sweat. The thought of him kept Harry awake nights. He hadn't been to bed with anyone in a month, the longest he had been without since he was sixteen years old. There had been plenty of offers, but Harry just couldn't work up any interest in easy conquests lately. He wanted Draco, and only Draco.
Harry gave himself last look in the mirror. His hair looked good, artfully mussed. He practiced his grin a moment, then stopped, chiding himself. Draco had never been that impressed by it. Draco this, Draco that, Draco, Draco, Draco. Harry wondered if he needed therapy.
There was a knock at the door, and Harry scurried to answer it. Draco sauntered in wearing a navy blue suit with a light blue shirt and gray silk tie. His hair was tied back with a ribbon tonight, showing his rune tattoo, and he carried a bottle of wine. He kissed Harry on the chin. "What did you cook for me tonight, Harry?"
Harry grabbed the blond around the waist. "On the lips!"
Draco obliged with a smile, sliding silky-soft lips across Harry's, but he broke away when Harry tried to use tongue. "Ah, I see you've set the table already." He set the bottle down and uncorked it with a simple charm, then generously filled both wine glasses.
"I, ah, haven't finished dinner yet," Harry confessed.
"Fine." Draco shed his suit jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. "I'll help. Oh, suppose the tie should come off, too."
It was too much. Draco had come waltzing into his flat, looking utterly delicious, and now he was taking clothes off. Harry growled and tackled him, shoving him up against the island counter that separated the kitchenette from the rest of the room. He paused a moment, looking into those gorgeous gray eyes and running his thumb lightly down the side of Draco's face. When it reached the lower cheek, Draco turned his head quickly and caught it between his teeth; Harry moaned when he began to suck. Pulling his thumb away, Harry kissed Draco, parting the lips beneath his with his tongue.
When Harry started to unbutton his shirt, Draco mumbled, "Bed." Harry was never quite sure how they made it there, and how all their clothes came off before they fell onto it. But he would always remember Draco crouched above him, pulling the ribbon off, letting soft blond hair fall all around. And he would remember discovering the other tattoos: alchemical symbols on right shoulder and left hip, and another rune hidden on an inner thigh; Harry ran his tongue across them all. "Aren't you going to take your glasses off?" Draco asked, laughing as Harry pinned him down on the mattress.
"I want to see you," Harry replied, but he took his glasses off and put them on his bedside table. Then he allowed himself to be tangled up in long, slender limbs.
The timer-controlled blinds raised themselves, letting in the morning sun. Harry blinked, seeing a pale blur moving in front of the bed. "Where are you going?"
"I have to be back in Wiltshire in half an hour. I'm interviewing some potential employees today."
Harry put on his glasses and got an eyeful of a perfect bottom as Draco bent over to pick up his socks. Harry got up on his knees and grabbed Draco by the hips. "You're not going anywhere, yet."
Just before Draco had left that morning, he had made another date with Harry for the following Saturday. It was a date that Harry had no intention of keeping. He had gotten what he wanted, and, any time now, he would be over this... single-mindedness.
But it was Saturday already, and Harry still had Draco on his mind. He sat on his brown leather couch, watching the clock's hands tick ever nearer to nine o'clock, the time they were supposed to meet at an Indian restaurant. Harry puffed out his cheeks and jittered his legs, then plowed his hands through his hair. It was so ridiculous. Harry Potter, the Casanova of the Quidditch world, mooning over someone like a schoolgirl. Next, he would be writing 'Mrs. Harry Malfoy' on notebook covers. Sure, Draco was gorgeous and interestingly complicated and great in bed, but, in the end, he was just a man like any other. Harry ignored the voice in his head that said, no he isn't.
His eyes wandered around the room. There on the coffee table was a stack of CDs that Draco had given him. Draco had promised to take him to the London Symphony again-but, no, Harry wouldn't be going.
Harry abruptly stood up. He grabbed his leather coat from the hook by the door and strode determinedly to the lift. Out on the street, he went right, walking as fast as he could through the Saturday evening revelers that were swarming the sidewalk, not stopping until he was hit by a blast of techno from the open door of a club. He had never been in this particular one before. Harry entered a cavernous, industrial-looking space, all metal and rubber. A shirtless man in leather trousers and a bullet belt gave Harry the once-over.
Draco was still in his silk paisley bathrobe, hair uncombed. He had been up all night thinking (seething) about being stood up by Potter, and about how his calls to Potter's cell had been ignored, and about how utterly stupid he had been to fall for someone with that sort of history. Potter had not changed a bit since school. He was still thoughtless and self-centered and mean. Draco had tried to sleep, but had gotten out of bed two hours later.
He was sipping some Earl Gray and trying to de-fuzz his brain when his phone rang. "I'm sorry, Draco, I just forgot, you can't be angry with me if I forgot, can we-"
Slam. Draco hung up hard enough to crack the receiver. Harry forgot? He forgot? That was a worse insult than being deliberately stood up. When the phone started ringing again, Draco turned the ringer off.
Fifteen minutes later, green flames started up in Draco's fireplace. When the image of Harry's face formed, Draco Vanished the fireplace. Harry didn't have a fireplace at his place; he must have gone to Diagon Alley to use one there. Not that this changed Draco's mind at all.
Within half an hour, there was a knock at the door of his flat. A deliveryman held out a paper-wrapped package. Draco set the package on the kitchen table and unwrapped it, revealing a brown and gold box. Did Potter honestly think that he could be bought with chocolate? Granted, the box was from Godiva, and it contained four truffles that were as perfect as jewels, but it wasn't going to work. It wasn't. Potter had screwed up far too badly, and there was no way Draco was going to see him again. Not after getting an ego-bruising like that.
Twenty minutes after that, there was another knock. A deliveryman with an armload of red roses. Chocolate and roses-how cliché. Next, Potter was going to send him a teddy bear. Draco slouched in a kitchen chair, staring at the roses and pouting. He didn't like Potter that much. It wouldn't bother him one bit if he never saw the man again. Not at all. Not one iota. He had already forgotten the way Harry's bright green eyes had looked when he took off his glasses, and how adorably ridiculous his hair had been when he had woken up in the morning, and how lovely the the length of his back was when he pulled his shirt off. Draco delicately nibbled at a truffle while he contemplated just how much he didn't miss Potter.
There was a soft tap at the door, and a scrap of paper was slipped underneath. Draco picked it up. It said, 'I'm sorry. I didn't forget. I think I'm falling in love with you and it frightened me, is what really happened. You're beautiful.'
Draco opened the door so fast, he tore the security chain right off of it. Harry was grinning, but it wasn't the slick, practiced grin; it was wide and genuine and just a little goofy. "This is for you."
"A teddy bear. I knew that was coming. Har-" His words were cut off by an embrace and a kiss and Harry moving him backwards. The door closed behind them and they made it as far as the sectional couch. Harry discovered that there was nothing under Draco's robe but Draco.
"You Vanished your fireplace. You truly, honestly Vanished your fireplace."
Draco smiled as he nestled back against Harry. "If it had been you here in the flesh, I might have Vanished you."
Harry nipped at Draco's neck. "Do you want to know what I was doing when we were supposed to be on a date?"
"I went to a club. I don't even know what it was called. It was awful, really. The music was atrocious. I met a man there, and I went out behind the club with him." Draco stiffened, scowling as he struggled to get up off the couch, but Harry was holding him too tightly. "I couldn't do anything with him. I just couldn't. He was blond, but not blond enough. He was tall, but not slim enough. He was good-looking, but... he wasn't you." Harry laughed against the nape of Draco's neck. "It was a bit embarrassing. I had to tell him I'd had too much to drink."
"Don't expect me to feel sorry for you," Draco huffed. Harry didn't say anything; he started kissing, licking and nipping along Draco's shoulders. "Harry, I think you should know that I know some pretty interesting hexes. If you touch another man, I will make your man parts fall off, have you got that?"
Harry ran a hand down Draco's flank. "Loud and clear." Draco moved onto his back, stretching and arching his back up. "Oh, Merlin, you're beautiful." Draco didn't have to worry. Harry knew that the days of the easy pick-ups and broomstick bunnies were over for good.