This Means War
By: Asagi Tsuki
Pairing: Harry/Draco, Neville/Draco, past OMC/Draco
Summary: researcher and Potions Master Draco Malfoy gets involved with Auror Potter and Auror Longbottom in more ways than one as they work together to solve a mass food poisoning case that turns out to be not as simple as they thought
(Or the cracky, plagiaristic summary: it's Auror against Auror)
Warning: OOCness, very much non-canon compliant
Disclaimer: obviously, Harry Potter is not written by me. If it were, it would be so lame, that this fandom would be non-existent. And I would be off writing another book instead of fanfics
A/N: somehow I got roped into watching This Means War although I absolutely hate sitting down for a long period of time just watching a movie, and I hate sappy romance movies in which two people fight because of a girl. I also don't like the role of the girl, but I suppose anything that gives me inspiration is alright in the end... I hope :P
This is my longest one-shot to date. Nearly 19500 words and 33 pages in Word with virtually no border. This took me weeks to finish, even months, but I enjoyed every second of writing this :D I hope you enjoy reading it too, and that it would be something you'd like to reread when you're bored :P
This Means War
"Malfoy," a tall man called as he peeked into the basement where the potions lab was set up. "Shacklebolt wants you. Something about the newest case involving potion poisoning or something like that."
Draco looked up from the bubbling cauldron he was watching and turned to his assistant. "Parker, watch the potion for me, would you?" he said. "It's done so you only need to wait until it thickens. It should only take thirty minutes or so."
Parker looked up from his clipboard and nodded. "Sure, Boss. Have fun with Carter."
Draco shot a glare at the grinning man and walked out of the lab to catch up with the man who called him earlier. The walk back to the head Auror's office was awkward at best and everyone they passed stepped back as if they were suffering from something contagious.
"So, uh," Carter cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, "how are you holding up?"
"Oh, I'm good," Draco answered with a strained smile. "Perfectly dandy, even. I'm doing great. Really," he added with a lopsided grin.
"Yeah?" Carter asked with a grin of his own. "Well, I suppose since you're not bitter about us anymore, I ought to tell you that I'm having an engagement party this weekend, and I'd like you to come."
Draco's heart clenched and he felt like throwing something at Carter's head—be it his own fist or the nearest potted plant. He stopped himself in time and stared at Carter's awkwardly grinning face and shot him another awkward grin.
"Sure, I'll be there," Draco said, then quickly looked around. "Oh, look! We're here already. Time sure flies when we're having fun, doesn't it?"
Carter patted Draco's shoulder. "See you then, Malfoy."
Draco watched the tall man go and bit his lip. He would be lying if he said he was fine, but what good would it do to be upset at someone who didn't even care?
Giving in to temptation, Draco cast a quick spell to make the words 'I'm a jerk, kick me!' appear on the back of Carter's robes before he turned around again and knocked on Shacklebolt's office.
"Auror Shacklebolt? You asked for me?" Draco asked from outside.
"Yes, come in, Malfoy."
Draco opened the door to the room and saw Kingsley seated behind his desk reviewing case files. The two seats in front of the desk were occupied by two Aurors—he could tell from their robes and Draco looked around awkwardly to find where he should stand.
One of the Aurors, the taller one, turned to look at him and shot him a smile before getting up. "Come have a seat," he said, motioning at the chair he had just vacated.
"Oh, no, it's quite alright," Draco refused quickly as he stood beside the door.
"No, I insist," the brown-eyed man continued. "We asked for your help. The least we could do is save you a seat."
"And you're my seat warmer?" Draco couldn't help but ask as he laughed, then caught himself and flushed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
"That's quite alright," Kingsley said as he looked up. "Well, come on then. Have a seat, Mr. Malfoy. This might take a while."
Draco stared at the Auror standing up and moved to take his seat.
Kingsley began by briefing him about the case. There was a mass food poisoning case in Sydney, Australia, and the health experts couldn't pinpoint what had caused it. Some of the wizards who had settled there suspected it might be potion poisoning and reported it to the British Ministry of Magic as Australia was associated with England, and they didn't have their own Wizarding world.
"That is probable, but what would he gain from poisoning the Muggles with potion?" Draco asked. "We either have a terrorist or a psychopath. Not knowing what had caused their problem would no doubt leave the medics confused and everyone suspicious. No one is safe as the poisoning didn't come from a specific place or ingredient."
"We had theorized that the culprit might want to make the Muggles aware of the existence of the Wizarding world," Kingsley said. "Or this could be something simpler than that. They might just want our attention and once they have it, they would ask for a ransom or something similar."
"That is possible too," Draco agreed. "So what do you need me for?"
"We have set up a makeshift potions lab for you in an apartment unit in Sydney," Kingsley said. "You are to go with Auror Potter and Auror Longbottom to Sydney to investigate this case. Secure a sample and analyse it to see what is in it and the extent of the damage it could cause."
"Potter, Longbottom, keep a lookout on anyone who looks suspicious and has a magical trace," Kingsley added. "Be especially careful, Potter. We don't know if rogue ex-Death Eaters might want your head again like last time."
"I thought they were all captured already?" Draco asked curiously.
"It seems we didn't have the complete list of Death Eaters," Kingsley admitted. "We found one not in the list. There might be no more, but everyone is suggested to be careful. They have gotten sneakier."
"But I don't have to worry, right?" Draco asked, thinking it over. "After all, I wasn't here during the War and before that."
"You should be fine," Kingsley agreed. "I will arrange for the international portkeys to be delivered to your offices. Activation time would be at ten tomorrow morning so I expect all of you to be ready by then. Each would have their own portkey for safety reasons. I will also give you a bracelet that would notify the Aurors if you are in trouble."
"Thank you," Draco said, bowing at Kingsley. "May I return to my lab now?"
"You are excused," Kingsley said and after Draco got up he made shooing motions at both Aurors.
The three walked out and paused for a while right in front of Kingsley's office door.
"Yeah?" Draco asked.
"Would you like to go for lunch with us?" the one he had identified to be Auror Longbottom—after all, who could mistake the renowned Harry Potter?—asked.
"We think we should try and get to know you better before we go off on a mission together," Harry reasoned. "After all, we still don't know your name, and you probably don't know Nev's name too."
"Oh, right, how could I forget," Draco said quickly. "I'm Draco Malfoy, pleased to meet you."
"Neville Longbottom," Neville said as he shook Draco's hand. "And I'm sure you know Harry."
"Yeah, I heard a lot about you," Draco admitted. "But mostly as the boy who saved Gabrielle. Fleur just can't stop talking about how you bravely saved her sister."
Harry grinned. "I'm sure I'd like to be known as that better."
Draco grinned back at him. "Well, it's really a pleasure to meet you two gentlemen, but I really have to go back to my lab. I left my assistant there and the potion should be done soon. I really don't want to seem irresponsible but it would be my pleasure to go for lunch with you!"
Both Neville and Harry raised an eyebrow at the sudden change of mind and outburst before they frowned when they noticed that they had an intruder.
"Hey, Draco," Carter said. "Done with the briefing?"
"Hey," Draco greeted back. "Yes, we are. In fact, we're just heading out for lunch, aren't we?"
Carter turned to look at the two men with Draco and his eyes widened in surprise. "Wow. I never knew you know them."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Well, it seems there are a lot of things you don't know about me."
Carter stared into Draco's eyes and reached up to cup his cheek. "I'm sorry," he whispered, stroking Draco's cheek with his thumb. "But you know we would never work out."
"That's not what you said in France," Draco retorted bitterly.
The corner of his lip curled up into a smile and Carter leaned forward. Panicked, Draco turned to look away so he ended up kissing his cheek.
"What do you think you're doing!" he demanded, pushing the taller man back. "You have a fiancée!"
"I lied," Carter replied, reaching up to cup both cheeks now. "I wanted to make you jealous."
"You left me!" Draco shouted again, trying his best to push Carter away.
"And I regret it," Carter answered easily. "Every day ever since that night."
Being smaller, Draco was easily overpowered and he was now pinned to the wall with the weight of Carter. He still struggled, but it was easy to see it was a losing battle.
A sound akin to someone clearing his throat interrupted them and Carter looked up in annoyance while Draco nearly sagged in relief.
"As much as this is amusing to watch," Harry started, his voice drawling slightly, "I really don't appreciate you manhandling my boyfriend like that."
Draco's jaw dropped while Carter stared at Harry strangely.
"Your boyfriend?" Carter asked disbelievingly.
"Indeed," Harry confirmed, pushing him back and pulling Draco close to him. "We just got together, but he's a really sweet man. I'm very lucky to have found him, and I don't plan to let go of him. Ever."
Carter narrowed his eyes at him. "You're lying."
"No, he's not," Neville stepped in. "Draco is a really sweet person and we're glad they've found each other. Don't you think they look really good together?"
Harry wrapped his arm around Draco's waist and shot Carter a winning grin before he pressed a kiss on top of Draco's head. Draco pressed himself closer to Harry's side and mentally cheered when Carter's face flushed an unhealthy shade of red.
The man stomped off and the three looked at each other.
"Can we just say I got involved with the wrong person and drop it at that?"
Harry and Neville stared at him pointedly.
"I thought so. Alright, I'll tell you while we have lunch."
Draco sat beside Neville while Harry sat across him. The two had wanted to both sit across Draco, but he complained, saying it made him feel like he was being interrogated, so they changed the seating plans.
"We went to Beauxbaton together," Draco started, picking at his pasta dish. "In Beauxbaton, if you're really good at a subject, you're allowed not to take that particular subject for the last two years of your schooling and instead get an apprenticeship in it. A Potions Master took interest in me while an Auror took interest in him."
"We started dating in our Sixth Year. My father doesn't like him, but he rarely likes anyone. My mother told me it's probably because he's dating me and my father's feeling a bit protective," Draco continued. "One year after we graduated, our apprenticeship is finished and he became an Auror while I became a Potions Master. He told me he'd like to go to England because that's where all the actions are and asked me to come with him."
"My father began threatening to curse him into oblivion when he saw him while my mother grew hysterical. I'm an only child so they don't want me to go," Draco explained. "I stupidly rebelled against my parents and followed him here. Six months in, I realized that the real reason he wants to move to England is because his other lover lives here. He wants me to come along because I get better pay and he knows I'll give him money if he asks."
"And that's it," Draco finished with a shrug. "Serves to tell how much of an idiot I am."
"No, you're not," Harry said, reaching out to touch Draco's hand. "You're strong. Not a lot of people can go against their parents to pursue something they want. You were just misled by a jerk. You're honest, trusting, and a little bit naive."
"I like to think I'm gullible."
Draco grinned. "Thank you," he said. "Not many know about why I'm here. That actually feels good, telling others about it, I mean."
"We'll charge the therapist fee from your pay," Neville said teasingly and Draco stuck his tongue out at him. "Don't you want to return to France to see your parents?"
Draco smiled again. "No," he said softly. "They're coming back here. My mother said they fled to France because the Dark Lord wanted her firstborn as a sacrifice for some ritual or something. Now that the threat is gone, they're coming back to England. I'll definitely feel bad for Carter when my father's done with him."
The two laughed.
"That's great," Harry said. "You have a great family."
"I do," Draco agreed. "I'm just glad that it doesn't turn out to be a huge mistake to come here. I like it here, and I'll like it even more when my parents are here."
Draco paused when he noticed that the two always seemed to be a little sad whenever he mentioned his parents. He had heard of Harry's parents dying one night when he was still but a little baby, and he had heard about Neville's parents as well, because he had visited the place a couple of times.
"I'm sorry, that was so rude of me," Draco said quickly.
"Oh, no," Neville replied just as quickly. "We don't mind, really. In fact, it makes us feel better to know that those who still have their parents value them very much. We've seen a lot of people who take their parents for granted, so we really like you. You care a lot for your family, and I'm sure you care about your friends too."
Their lunch date lasted a little over an hour. Neville and Harry told Draco their life stories as well because Draco had told his. He respected the two for what they had done for others, but didn't worship them and it made Harry like him even better. He was tired of being referred to as the Boy-Who-Lived, so anyone who calls him Harry is someone he likes.
"Thank you for the lunch," Draco said. "But I really need to go back to my lab or my assistant will have my head. He doesn't like being left to watch the potion for too long."
The two walked him back to his lab and passers by paused to stare when they passed. When they reached the lab, Draco thanked them and they kissed his cheeks goodbye and Draco kissed them back. It wasn't strange for him because he was used to it in France. Only when he turned around and saw Parker staring at him strangely did he realize what he just did.
He flushed bright red and Parker started to snicker.
"Oh, shut up, you."
The next morning, Draco made quick breakfast and went to instruct Parker on what to do while he was away. The international portkey was sent to his lab at about nine and he finished last minute paperwork before he was sent off to a place he had never been to before.
He let go of the parchment and quill he was holding when ten o'clock rolled by and felt the familiar tug of portkey. The next second he found himself sitting in a small apartment unit with two bedrooms and one bathroom.
"Well, well, it seems as if they're expecting us to stay here for quite some time," Neville commented as he looked around the unit. What should be the dining room was converted into a small potions lab while the table and chairs were put in the living room instead.
"This place looks nice," Draco added as he looked outside the window. "I'd like to come here on holiday one day."
"I'm sure. This is a charming city," Harry replied, joining Draco in staring out. "Do we have a lead as to where the cases often happen?"
"Not specifically," Neville replied. "It seems the most cases happen in food courts rather than restaurants, but it might be just because there are more people in food courts than restaurants."
"Well, in any case, we should buy something from food courts and restaurants and bring them back here for sample analysis," Draco suggested. "We should be careful ourselves. I have a feeling that this is not what it seems."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"It's hard to do a mass food poisoning, isn't it?" Draco wondered. "A lot of dishes don't have common ingredients with the others, so this might take a while."
"Agreed," Neville said. "But let's just do what we have to do for now. We'll make further assumptions when we have the basics done."
"Alright, let's go."
By lunch time Draco had made them all drink a mild antidote for indigestion and food poisoning. They bought takeaways and brought them back to their apartment, where they proceeded to eat half and save the other half for analysis. Afterwards, both Harry and Neville walked around trying to find anyone with magical trace while Draco holed himself in the lab.
During dinner, they each shared their finding.
"We haven't found anyone yet," Neville said as he poured grated cheese on top of his spaghetti bolognaise. "They've either fled this country or have moved to another place outside of town."
"Even the wizards who have moved here become victims of the poisoning," Harry added.
"If you would tell them about us, I could make them the antidote," Draco offered. "I can't make it for the Muggles, but I can make it for the wizards."
"We'll do tomorrow," Neville agreed. "What about you? What have you found?"
Draco bit his lip and sighed. "It's clear."
"What's clear?" Harry asked.
"The test result is clear," Draco repeated. "None of the food items have any trace of herbs or other ingredients that could cause indigestion."
"That's curious," Neville remarked. "Well then, you'll be coming with us to visit the sick people. Maybe they know something."
"Alright," Draco said as he stared down at his plate. He fell silent for a moment before he looked back up at the two. "Thank you."
"What for?" Harry asked.
"For trusting me," Draco replied, a grin on his face. "Anyone else and they would have sent me back to the lab to do the tests again. So, thank you."
Neville chuckled. "We aren't that close-minded, Draco. Those people believe the problem must be with the food and if they don't find anything, they get angry. On the other hand, we're not quite sure if it's really the food, so your analysis actually helps us eliminate a possible cause."
"Well, there's not many ways to cause food poisoning aside from using the food items," Draco admitted. "I'd like to talk to the doctors handling this case if possible; and the wizards or witches who become victims of the poisoning too."
"Sure, that's why you're coming with us tomorrow," Harry said. "Go to sleep early and don't think too much. We don't have enough to make a hypothesis yet."
"Of course," Draco agreed. He finished his dinner and put the plate in the sink. "I'll be in my room if you need me. I'll come back out in half an hour to do the dishes."
The two waved him off and continued eating. Thirty minutes later, Draco walked back out and found the kitchen and the dining table sparkling clean. He chuckled and shook his head.
"It's a rare thing to find a man who actually does chores," he commented to himself. "Whoever ends up with them is very lucky indeed."
The next day the three found themselves in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, one of the big government hospitals in Sydney. They were nearly overwhelmed by the amount of patients submitted daily due to food poisoning and all nurses and doctors ran to and fro to attend to all the patients there.
"The effects are mostly laxative," one of the doctors commented. "The strange thing is, they don't get better even when we stop them from eating solid foods. They're now relying on liquid nutrients and vitamins delivered to their blood via IV tube. We're at a loss."
His comment got Draco thinking. He frowned in thought all the way to one of the wards where a wizard stayed. As there were other people there, Harry and Neville cast privacy charms around them before questioning the victim.
"It's definitely a magical herb," the wizard commented.
Draco screened him and confirmed that it was indeed a magical herb used for its laxative effects. Too much of it could cause indigestion and it was the cause of the poisoning.
"I still don't get how he managed to do it," Draco said.
"Don't stress over it too much. We'll find out sooner or later," Harry said, patting Draco's head. "Now, we're going to walk around scouring for anyone with magical trace. What do you want to do?"
"I'm going to walk around the city a bit," Draco said. "I was bored yesterday so I thought I should go out today."
"Are you sure that's a wise decision?" Neville asked.
"Don't worry, I'll be fine," Draco said with a wide smile. "Whoever the culprit is, unless they're French, they shouldn't know me. I've kept a relatively low profile while in England."
"If you say so," Harry agreed although he still looked reluctant. "Do you have your bracelet with you?"
"I do," Draco answered, lifting his hand to show the bracelet secured around his left wrist. "Really, I'll be okay!"
They parted ways and Draco went to go gift-shopping. He wanted to buy some uniquely Australian souvenirs for his parents and friends back at France. He might buy something for Parker too, no matter how insufferable the git could be sometimes.
When he was walking past the big cinema building, he noticed an alleyway with its walls covered in graffiti. He never explicitly said it, but graffiti had always interested him. He liked seeing the pictures and words painted onto the wall so he walked in to see what they were.
"If you want to corrupt a community, poison the water," Draco read the writing aloud. His eyes widened in realization. "The water! Of course! That explains why all the food items are clean and the patients couldn't get well even when they have stopped eating solid foods."
"That's right," a voice spoke from behind him. "Aren't you a smart little boy?"
Before he could do anything, the one standing behind him had pulled him back, covering his mouth with his large hand and taking his wand from his pocket and dropping it to the floor.
"Calm down, my little lamb," the eerie voice continued and Draco shivered in fear. His captor seemed to notice the bracelet around his wrist because he suddenly set up anti-apparition wards that covered a large area around them.
"He's powerful," Draco thought to himself. "And he hides his magical trace really well."
"So, I heard you're Harry Potter's boyfriend," his captor said and Draco frowned. "Is that true?" he asked, whispering into Draco's ear harshly.
"No," Draco answered.
"Don't lie to me."
"I'm not lying," Draco insisted. He tried to crane his neck to look at his captor, but the man pulled his head back to look straight to the front harshly and he didn't dare try again. "He only said that to anger my ex-boyfriend."
The wizard hummed and Draco stiffened, nervously waiting what was to come next.
"Very well, I shall let you go for now. After all, you are of no use to me if you're dead."
"What use do I have to you?" Draco dared himself to ask.
"Why, the use all little damsels have, of course," the wizard answered mockingly. "You are bait. Potter will not stand still if his loved one is in danger."
"He doesn't love me," Draco insisted.
"We shall see about that," the wizard replied. "For now, I believe you have known too much."
The tip of his wand was pressed against Draco's temple, and Draco squeezed his eyes shut, bracing himself for the spell about to be cast.
"Draco!" Harry shouted as he ran into the alleyway followed closely by Neville. He found the blonde man sitting on the ground, slumped against the wall, and quickly walked over. "Draco, are you alright?"
"Harry? Neville? What are you doing here?" Draco asked curiously as he looked up at them.
"We got the signal from your bracelet and came here as fast as we could," Neville answered. "What happened?"
Draco frowned in thought, trying to remember what he was doing in the alleyway, but it soon morphed into a look of confusion. "I don't remember," he said finally, looking lost. "I don't remember."
Harry's hold on Draco's arm tightened, but not enough to hurt. He growled lowly, then turned to look at Neville. "He's been Obliviated."
"The culprit found him," Neville stated. "But how? And why?"
Harry stood up and helped Draco up.
"I'm sorry," Draco mumbled. "If only I remember, I might be able to tell you who the culprit is."
"Draco, you were Obliviated," Neville pointed out. "The whole point of the spell is to make you forget. Plus, even if you see him, you might not recognize him."
"Stop taking the blame for something that's not your fault," Harry said.
"That applies to you too, Harry," Neville replied. "But he's right. It's not your fault. You're the victim."
"You're not to leave our sight from now on," Harry added. "I'll move your bed to our room tonight."
"Eh? Why?" Draco asked, surprised. "I'm fine, see? Whoever the culprit is, he didn't do anything to me."
"Yes, he didn't do anything to you yet," Harry insisted. "But who can tell what he will do next time?"
"He's right," Neville agreed. "Your safety is important too."
"Draco, you're a Ministry official helping us on this case," Harry cut him off. "By law, you are to be protected from anything that could compromise your safety."
Draco was confused when he felt the pang of disappointment. Why was he disappointed? What was there to be disappointed about?
His train of thoughts were interrupted when Harry grabbed his arm. "Let's get out of here. Nev's taken down the wards."
"Wait!" Draco called out suddenly. "There's... it's the water."
"Huh?" the two asked, looking at him strangely.
"It's the water," Draco repeated, pointing at the graffiti. "See, it says to corrupt a community, you have to poison the water. Our culprit has been poisoning the water all along, not the food."
"He must have got you just when you realized that," Neville commented. "No matter. Let's get back first, and we'll get a sample from the tap water. If your suspicion proves true, we'll do some damage control here first before reporting back to the Ministry."
The three agreed, then apparated away.
"Why so glum?"
Draco looked up to see Neville standing beside him with a wide smile on his face and two mugs in his hands. "Hot chocolate?"
"Yes, please," Draco answered with a smile of his own. He accepted the offered mug and brought it to his lips.
"Is something bothering you?"
"You're a terrible liar, do you know that?" Neville asked as he chuckled. "Really, Draco. What's bothering you?"
"I don't know," Draco said, looking out towards the cityscape. "It's just that... you two are few of my closest friends. I don't usually tell what I told you to my friends, and I guess I'll miss you when we get back to England."
"Draco," Neville called, and Draco looked questioningly at him. "Why do you think we're going to leave you when we get back to England?"
"Isn't that what they always do?" Draco asked back. "When the case is done, everyone goes their separate ways again."
"That will be true if we haven't befriended you," Neville answered. "As it is, I daresay none of us will be leaving you anytime soon. We like being with you; at least I do. I won't leave you just because we're not solving the same case."
"Yeah," Draco said. "I guess I'm just being stupid."
"No, you're being insecure," Neville corrected him. "After what you've been through, it's quite normal to be insecure. But trust me, we're not going to leave you."
"And this case is far from over," Neville added. "We'll still have to keep a close eye on you, see what the culprit wants."
"Why?" Draco asked. "Because I work with you on this case?"
Draco himself was surprised at how bitter he sounded, but instead of frowning, Neville burst out laughing instead.
"Of course not," he said. "Are you upset because Harry said that?"
"Don't lie, Draco," Neville chided, poking his small nose playfully. "He only says that to force you to accept our protection. You're way more stubborn than you thought, you know. We care for you as a friend, at the very least. We'll protect you not because we have to, but because we want to."
"So don't ever doubt us again, okay?" Neville asked. "Don't ever doubt me again."
Draco smiled shyly up at him. "Okay."
The two turned back to stare at the lights of the city and of the passing cars. Neville wrapped his arm around Draco's waist and pulled the shorter man closer while Draco pressed himself closer to Neville's side.
Unbeknownst to them, a pair of green eyes was watching every little movement during their exchange from inside, an equally green fire burning behind those eyes.
The next day, after confirming that the source of problem was the water, the three returned back to England. A team of Aurors were dispatched to track down just where the poison was put in and both Harry and Neville were given the task of finding the culprit while keeping an eye on Draco.
Kingsley was notified of the incident in which Draco was found by the culprit and Obliviated to make him forget the exchange, and he too agreed that they should look after him, at least until the culprit was caught.
"We're having lunch with some of our friends today," Harry said. "Do you want to come along?"
"Are you sure I won't be imposing?" Draco asked back.
"No, you won't," Neville reassured him. "You're our friend too, remember? And we still need to keep an eye on you."
"Okay, I'll come," Draco said as he huffed. He followed the two as they walked towards the Ministry's canteen and towards a table already occupied by two other people.
"Hello Ron, Hermione," Harry greeted, patting Ron on the back and giving Hermione a quick hug. "This is our new friend, Draco. We work with him in this latest case."
"Hello," Hermione greeted. "I'm Hermione Granger. It's nice to meet you."
"I'm Draco Malfoy. It's nice to meet you too," Draco greeted back.
"Malfoy?" Ron asked as he frowned. "You're being chummy with a Malfoy?"
"What's wrong with that?" Harry asked, frowning as well.
"A lot is wrong with that!" Ron exclaimed. "Malfoys are prejudiced purebloods who think they're better than others just because they're rich! I bet they fled from the War because they're afraid of it too."
Harry, Neville and Hermione stared at Ron in shock, and were about to jump to Draco's defense when a harsh slap landed itself on Ron's cheek.
"How dare you!" Draco shouted at him angrily. "If you must know, my family fled to France because the Dark Lord wanted to sacrifice me for a blood ritual of some sort. Wouldn't your family have done the same? And we don't think we're better than others because we're rich or pureblooded. We know we're better at something than others and we're proud of it, but we never gloat about our state of wealth or blood status. You have absolutely no right to badmouth my family when you don't even know them!"
Ron's eyes were wide in shock and his jaw was hanging.
"How would you feel if I launch into accusations when I heard your family name? How would you feel if I accuse your family of being prejudiced jerks who judge others before they bother to get to know them?" Draco challenged. "Wouldn't you be mad even if it's closer to the truth? Look at how prejudiced you are!"
When he was finished with his rant, he was panting and his face was flushed. Tears were threatening to spill from the corner of his eyes, and before they actually did, Draco turned and fled.
"Nev, go after him," Harry urged. "I'll catch up soon."
Neville nodded and rushed after Draco. He distinctly heard both Hermione and Harry giving Ron an earful because of his extremely rude and uncalled for comment, but he ignored them and focused on not losing Draco.
"Draco!" Neville called as he ran to catch up with the shorter man. He grabbed Draco's arm and turned him around before pulling him against his broad chest, pressing Draco's face to the crook of his neck. "I'm sorry."
"What for?" Draco asked through his sobs. "I should be sorry. I'm not usually this emotional."
"It's not surprising," Neville said as he tightened his embrace around Draco and rested his chin on the blond head. "You love your family so you become protective. That's normal."
"It is, huh?" Draco asked, chuckling. He pulled back slightly to wipe at his eyes. "I'm sorry, though. For causing a scene."
Neville laughed and offered Draco his handkerchief. "It's fine. No one saw."
Draco groaned and buried his face into the handkerchief. "I sure hope so," he mumbled. "I don't want anyone to see me screaming and crying like a girl. I even slapped him! Goodness, how much more of a girl can I get?"
"Not much, I reckon."
Draco mock glared at Neville. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
"Draco," Harry called as he walked over to them. "Are you alright?"
"Of course I am," Draco answered, grinning at him. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"You're not bipolar are you?"
Draco swatted at him playfully while Harry stepped back to avoid it. He tensed slightly when he saw Ron and Hermione walking over towards them.
"Hey," Ron said awkwardly. "I'm sorry. For all it's worth, I'm truly sorry. I know it was uncalled for and extremely rude of me. You have a point. I shouldn't judge anyone before I know them, and I will try not to judge anyone anymore."
"I'm sorry, again. You're a good person. No wonder Harry likes you," Ron finished. "So, shall we start over?"
"You know, there is one thing that we have that not many people know of," Draco started, and Ron began fidgeting. "We have a heart big enough to forgive anyone who's truly sorry."
Ron visibly sagged in relief, and grinned at Draco who smiled back at him. "Hello," he said, "I'm Ronald Weasley. Nice to meet you."
"Draco Malfoy," Draco said, taking Ron's hand. "The pleasure's mine."
"So, when are your parents coming back to England?" Harry wondered.
"I asked them to wait until this case is done," Draco answered. "I don't want them to be worried. I hate seeing my mother worry."
"Such a good son," Harry commented teasingly.
Draco kicked Harry's shin from under the table and the other man nearly doubled over in pain while Draco shot him a triumphant look.
The case was put on hold when the poison source was taken care of and the culprit hadn't done anything yet. He could still be in Australia, or he could already be in America for all they know, so Kingsley decided to put a hold on it until he acted again while reminding everyone not to lower their guards.
Ever since the lunch fiasco with Ron, the five actually grew closer. They go for either lunch or dinner together once a week, all five of them, and Harry and Neville took turns taking Draco out to lunch on other days.
Parker, the annoying and nosy git, had asked him again and again what his relationship with the two was, and was never satisfied with the answer he gave him. Draco kept saying they were just friends, but Parker was somehow deluded into thinking they were more than that.
However, his constant question had got him thinking. Did he feel anything more towards any of the two?
"Nah," Draco told himself. "They're my good friends, and some of my only friends in England. I don't want to ruin or complicate things between us."
"You sound completely idiotic," Pansy, one of his friends, said through the Floo. "If they're what I think they are based on how you describe them, they won't let something as trivial as that ruin your friendship. And it's time that you have someone who cares for you, Draco."
"But they care for me," Draco argued, sitting in front of his fireplace. "We have lunch together every other day and we talk a lot. I think they're a bit protective because of that incident I told you about."
"I'd be protective too if I were them," Pansy agreed. "After all, you're going against a madman. If he can stay quiet for this long, he's probably not a terrorist, but rather a psychopath."
"I agree. No terrorist will specifically look for someone only to Obliviate them afterwards," Draco said. "Which makes me wonder. What exactly happened that time?"
"I don't think you'll ever remember," Pansy said. "Better just to forget it ever happened, darling. How are you holding up, by the way? The jerk still gives you trouble?"
"No, not anymore," Draco said eagerly. "Ever since that time when Harry told him we're dating he hasn't been bothering me anymore."
"Good," Pansy replied. "I heard your parents are returning to England. Blaise and I will be back in England too, and Theo might be coming along too. Vince and Greg miss you too, you know."
"Yeah, I probably should give them a call," Draco said, remembering his friends-cum-bodyguard. "I'll see you later, Pans. I have to get back to work before Parker starts harping at me again."
Pansy laughed. "I actually like him," she said. "Someone has to keep you in line, and I believe he'll be an excellent source of gossip, won't he?"
"Shut up, Pans," Draco chided half-heartedly. "Well, I better go now. I'll call you again soon."
The fire died and Draco stood up from where he was seated. He was about to walk out when there was a knock on the door so he opened it to see who it was.
"Carter," he greeted coldly. "How can I help you?"
"I'd like to talk," Carter said as he pushed forward and walked into Draco's office, much to the blonde's annoyance.
"We have nothing to talk about," Draco replied, turning to keep a close eye on Carter as he walked towards his desk. "And don't touch any of my things."
"Oh, no, no, I wouldn't dare," he said as he raised his hands in mock surrender. Draco frowned at him and he grinned.
"Auror Potter, Auror Longbottom," Parker called and the two were surprised to see the look of urgency on his face.
"What happened?" Harry asked.
Parker shifted uneasily for a moment before he steeled himself and stood up straight. "Draco has been assaulted in his office."
The three found themselves walking towards Draco's office while Parker briefed them of what had happened.
"He's in the office making a call to one of his friends in France," Parker stated. "The mediwitch said he was attacked from behind, but no one was around to see it. The janitor found him when he noticed his office door open because Draco never leaves his door open. He's now in St. Mungo's."
"Is he in danger?" Neville queried.
"No, thankfully," Parker replied. "He was hit with a stronger version of Stupefy, so he might be out for a couple of hours, but you can go see him."
They reached the office and Harry and Neville's eyes widened as they took in the sight.
The office was a wreck. The books were dropped from their respective places on the shelves, papers were scattered everywhere, and there were huge gashes all over the walls. The wallpaper was scratched off, and right behind the desk, on the ruined wall, was the word 'liar' written in big, red capital letters.
"Liar?" Neville asked. "Who did he lie to?"
"I have a feeling that this is the work of our man," Harry said and Neville stared at him. "He's targeting Draco for some reason."
"He's referring to something Draco probably said before he was Obliviated," Neville commented. "But what? I don't think Draco is the type of person who lies to save his own hide."
"Good question," Harry said. "But I'm afraid we can do nothing aside from wait and see."
Neville clicked his tongue and shook his head. "So even in the Ministry he can't be left alone. We think too highly of the Ministry's defences and too lowly of our man's skills."
"Indeed," Harry agreed. "This time it's an honest mistake. Next time, it's negligence."
"I agree," Neville said. "Well, let's go pay him a visit, shall we? See if he remembers anything from before he was attacked."
"Hello, Harry, Neville," Draco greeted cheerily when they walked into his ward.
"You sound way too cheerful and unconcerned," Neville commented.
"Well, even if I worry too much, it'll only stress me out," Draco said as he shrugged. "Before you ask, no, I don't really remember what happened. All I know is that I was talking to Pansy, then Carter came into my office."
"How is it, by the way?"
"Your office is wrecked," Harry answered. "There is nowhere safe at the moment, so even if you don't want to, I'm afraid you'd have to move in with one of us for the time being."
"Hm, well, that depends on where you live," Draco said.
"I live in Longbottom Hall with my Gran," Neville answered.
"I live in Grimmauld Place," Harry added.
"Grimmauld Place? Isn't that the Black's house?" Draco asked, genuinely surprised. "Has... has the main branch died out?"
Harry frowned. "Yes," he said. "Sirius died years ago and left the house to me."
Draco fell silent. "I see," he mumbled. "Do you... I'd like to visit his grave."
"You know him?" Harry asked.
"I don't quite remember him," Draco admitted, "but my mother talked about him and her sisters. My mother was a Black."
"Ah," Harry mumbled. "I must have missed your name in the family tree. I don't look at it much."
"I'll come with you," Draco said. "The Black family house is said to have many secrets. Perhaps there are some secrets you can only unlock if you have Black blood, and I can help you with them."
"Then you're more than welcome to come," Harry said with a grin. "I'm certain I'll enjoy your company."
"I?" Draco wondered. "Don't you have a house elf? I thought that the Black family had a couple of house elves."
"Sirius had one, but I sent him to work in Hogwarts," Harry said easily. "I figured it'll be alright. After all, I live alone, and I don't need their help as much as the staff does."
"Gryffindors," Draco said as he rolled his eyes and Harry playfully flicked his forehead. "I'll go back to my apartment later and pack up my things."
"I'll come with you," Harry said.
"Alright," Draco agreed, not even bothering to convince the two that he'd be okay. After all, it had proved otherwise.
Draco knelt in front of a tombstone with the name Sirius Black engraved on it. His body wasn't buried under it because it was lost behind the Veil, but Harry wanted to put his tombstone next to his parents', so he made one in Godric's Hollow.
"Hello, Uncle Sirius," Draco said as he smiled slightly. "I'm sorry we couldn't come see you when you were still alive. Mother would have a fit if she knew you're dead. Do you know that she believed you'd live the longest in the Black family?"
"That's probably because I'm the only one left in the Black family. Technically, I still lived the longest."
Draco yelped in surprise and fell on his bum while Harry's jaw dropped when a ghostly apparition appeared in front of them. Sirius grinned mischievously at them and bent down lower to look at Draco.
"My, you've certainly grown! Last time I saw you, you were still a bump in your mother's stomach!"
"Oh? Then how did you know it's me?" Draco asked, looking up at the nearly transparent face of Sirius.
"Bella doesn't have a child and I know Tonks," Sirius answered with a shrug. "Cissa's child is the only one I haven't seen, so you must be him."
"How did you appear here?" Harry asked, still in shock.
Sirius looked up and smiled at him. "Before you ask, no, I couldn't materialize whenever you visited," he said, and Harry nodded. "I only noticed that I could materialize here after he spoke. We're bonded by blood, and blood magic is extremely powerful. So whenever you want to talk to me, bring him here."
"I have a name," Draco said, looking affronted. "I bothered to know your name and you didn't bother to do the same?"
Sirius laughed, reaching out to ruffle Draco's hair. It felt like a breeze was playing with it.
"Of course I know you, Draco," he said. "My mother is deluded into thinking you share the same views as her and hate Muggles, and always tells us about how you're her favourite. I wonder what she will say when she finds out her favourite is friends with Muggleborns and half-bloods."
"I've heard of Grandaunt Walburga," Draco said. "If she could have an aneurysm, she'd probably have one."
Sirius laughed again. "Well, well, it's nearly nightfall now, so time for you kids to return home."
"We're not kids," Harry protested.
"Ah, but you'll always be kids to me," Sirius said with a grin. "Now go."
"Okay," Draco agreed, standing up and dusting off his trousers. "We'll be over to see you again. Soon, hopefully."
"I'll be waiting," Sirius said. "Or I'll come find you in Grimmauld Place. I'll see if I can materialize myself there if you're there."
Draco nodded, then turned to walk towards Harry.
"Oh, and look after each other, yeah?" Sirius asked. "Be happy, you two."
The two waved at him and once he was gone, apparated back to Grimmauld Place.
The five had just had their weekly dinner and were gathered in Grimmauld Place. Draco and Hermione were discussing the pros and cons of allowing certain field agents to use the luck potion to do their missions while Ron was trying his best not to fall asleep. Harry was in the kitchen, preparing drinks and snacks for them, and Neville was helping him.
"Harry," Neville said suddenly as he was pouring lemon tea into glasses filled with ice. "Do you like Draco?"
Harry paused, his hand hovering above the selection of cupcakes he made the night before with the help of Draco. He lowered his hand and grabbed another cupcake, putting it on the platter he was going to take back to the living room.
"Why do you ask?" Harry asked as casually as he could.
"Because I do," Neville said easily. He finished pouring the tea then turned to face Harry. "Let's be honest, Harry. Draco is charming and sweet. I will be lying if I say I don't like him. What about you?"
Harry finished putting the cupcakes on the platter and put it down on the countertop. He too turned around to face Neville. "I do," he said simply. "At least as much as you do."
"I see," Neville said as he nodded. "How are we going to do this, then?"
The two stared at each other almost tensely.
"Harry—oh, sorry, did I interrupt something?" Draco asked as he peeked into the kitchen. "Um, I'll get the cakes and drinks outside. You two can continue."
"Yeah, alright," Harry agreed. He watched as Draco levitated the tray and the platter out of the kitchen, then turned back to Neville. "So..."
"We'll just do it like this," Neville said with a small smile. "Draco will feel something is wrong if he suddenly loses one of his friends. We'll court him and, well, let the best man win."
Harry stared at him, then nodded. He extended his hand and shook hands with Neville.
"May the best man win."
The two got back out to the living room and saw the three chatting about how their schools were different. Draco shot them a worried glance when they came, but Harry waved it off and Draco only nodded, although he still looked at them suspiciously.
"So, tell us more about the Arcane Magic class!" Hermione exclaimed excitedly, and Ron groaned as he buried his face in his hands.
Harry and Neville laughed, then sat down together with the three, joining in their conversation as they enjoyed the cakes and tea.
"Is there something you'd like to tell me?" Draco asked as he chuckled when he saw the vase of lilies on their table but none on the other tables. "Should I expect candles too?"
Neville pulled the chair back for him and pushed it in once Draco was seated. He then sat down in his own seat and moved the vase aside so that it stood near the edge.
"It's blocking the view of something more beautiful."
Draco flushed slightly as he grinned. "What happened, Nev?" he asked. "You're not usually such a sweet talker."
"I've just realized how popular you are," Neville said with a matching grin of his own. "Do I have a chance among your other admirers?"
"I don't have admirers," Draco said as he looked at Neville strangely.
Neville stared back at him pointedly.
"I don't, do I?" Draco asked.
"You're too cute, Draco," Neville said as he chuckled. "You have a lot of admirers. They're just not brave enough to actually talk to you."
"Well, then you definitely have a chance," Draco said. "I don't date anyone I haven't known as a friend."
"Well, that's good to know," Neville said, nodding. "Let's order then, shall we?"
"Yes, we shall."
Draco stood at the edge of a huge lake and stared in awe. "Harry, where is this?"
"This is Hogwarts," Harry said with a grin. "You said you wanted to see what our school looks like, so here you are. This is the Great Lake. There's a Giant Squid in it, but if you fly above it high enough, it can't reach you."
"Wow, this place is awesome!" Draco exclaimed excitedly. "Can I go inside too?"
"Sure, I asked Professor Dumbledore," Harry said, his expression turning fond at the mention of his mentor. "He said I could give you a tour of Hogwarts."
"Come on, what are you waiting for?" Draco asked, tugging at Harry's hand.
Harry only laughed at Draco's enthusiasm. They walked up to the entrance, and since the students all had classes, they had a quiet lunch in the kitchen after Harry showed him the Great Hall. They went as far up as the Astronomy Tower, and as far down as the dungeons.
Draco stopped and turned when he heard his name called, and Harry did the same. "Uncle Sev!" he exclaimed. "You look well."
"As do you," Snape commented with a small smile. "How has England treated you so far?"
"Well," Draco answered. "Especially well since I met Harry and Neville."
Snape nearly scrunched his nose but settled for rolling his eyes. "Potter," he said finally, acknowledging the other man. "So I see you've befriended my godson."
"Ha, if only his enthusiasm could be transferred to you," Harry said sarcastically.
"Save the silly chatter to yourself," Snape said as he glowered. "I might have a life debt to you, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start throwing petals on the ground you're going to walk on."
"Never asked you to, but that actually gives me a good idea. Maybe you could be the flower girl in my wedding," Harry replied teasingly.
"A life debt?" Draco asked in surprise. "What happened?"
"The war happened, Draco," Snape said and Harry was amazed at the patience in his tone. "I'm lucky I managed to survive the war. I suppose I should thank Potter for that."
"You should have come with us to France," Draco said, clearly upset and distressed.
"The important thing is I survived," Snape said. "Now go on. I have a class to teach and you have a castle to tour."
Draco nodded. "Alright," he agreed. "When Mother and Father are back in England, come join us for dinner."
"I'll see to it," Snape said. He then turned to Harry and spoke in a low voice so Draco couldn't hear him. "You better take good care of him, Potter. If you hurt him, I will hunt you down, life debts be darned."
Harry chuckled. "I'll remember that," he said.
Snape nodded and left towards his class and the two continued their tour. Harry showed Draco the Quidditch pitch, Hagrid's hut and even the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid was suspicious of Draco at first, but soon was charmed by the blond.
It was nearing sunset by the time they left Hagrid's hut, so they walked back to the Great Lake. The water was sparkling with the sunlight and Harry mentally patted himself on the back when he saw Draco was completely taken by the view.
"Come," he said, taking out his shrunk Firebolt and returning it to its original size. "Let's fly."
Harry got on his broom and helped Draco up in front of him. He gripped his broom handle with one hand and wrapped his other arm around Draco's waist to steady him. They flew up and above the lake, going in circles, sometimes fast sometimes slow, and Draco was cheering whenever they went fast. It was supposedly his first time on the legendary Firebolt because his mother never let him have a fast broom. She said it was too dangerous.
"This is nice," Draco commented as they flew slowly above the lake. "Thanks for taking me here, Harry."
"No problem," Harry replied, resting his chin on Draco's shoulder. "I'm glad you like it."
"Of course I'll like it," Draco said. "Any time spent with you is time well spent."
Harry chuckled. "You mean that?"
"Of course," Draco said, sounding almost scandalized. "Are you trying to suggest otherwise?"
"No, not at all," Harry said quickly. "Stay still."
"What—Harry!" Draco yelped when Harry picked him up and turned him around so that they were face to face. "Are you out of your mind!"
"Well, at least you wouldn't have fallen," Harry tried.
"Telling me to stay still is not warning enough!"
Harry grinned sheepishly. "I'm sorry?"
Draco huffed, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
"Forgive me?" Harry asked again, ducking his head to stare up at Draco with big eyes.
"Oh, stop that. That look doesn't fit you," Draco said as he shook his head. "Oh, look, the sun is setting now."
Harry turned to stare at the setting sun, then at Draco.
"Thank you for taking me here, Harry," Draco said again. "It's really beautiful."
Harry raised his hand to cup Draco's cheek and turned him so they were looking at each other. Harry smiled, then leaned forward slightly, their lips nearly brushing.
"You are more beautiful."
He pressed his lips against Draco's.
Neville had taken Draco to a carnival to take his mind off work. He was suspended until further notice because it wasn't safe for him to be without anyone watching after him, but he hated it when someone watched him while he worked. He had protested vehemently, but the decision was final and Draco could only sulk.
There was no trace of displeasure in his face anymore and Neville wondered if he was doing a good job or Draco was too easily amused.
They had got on all the rides, tried out all the food to the point they were about to vomit, and had tried their luck in arcade games. Draco proved to be an excellent marksman as he won himself a huge teddy bear that was almost as tall as he was, and won Neville a stuffed potted sunflower doll.
"It should be me who won these things," Neville said as he shook his head.
"Don't worry. I'm sure everyone thinks you were the one who won me this doll," Draco said with a cheeky grin and Neville playfully swatted at his arm. "Come on, let's get something to eat. I'm famished."
"As you command, Your Highness," Neville said with a mock bow. He shrank the sunflower doll and put it into his pocket then shrunk Draco's doll to a more reasonable size then let him carry it around. It made the man look like a tall twelve-year-old instead of a twenty-year-old and truthfully he found it cute.
They stopped by at a small cafe and ate sandwiches and pastries. Neville learned that Draco had an unholy addiction with anything sweet, but miraculously he stayed thin no matter how much sugar he ingested. He was just glad Draco didn't get sugar rushes as well.
They left only when the carnival was closed and Neville took Draco back to Longbottom Hall where he would go back to Grimmauld Place via the Floo.
"Thank you for taking me out tonight," Draco said as he smiled up at Neville. He reached up and smoothed his hair down, then his hand moved lower to smooth away the wrinkles on his robes. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah," Neville said. "Good night, Draco."
He leaned down to kiss Draco but Draco pulled the teddy bear up between them to keep some distance and looked away so Neville kissed his cheek. He then leaned up to kiss Neville's cheek as well, and stepped back.
"I'll see you around, Nev. Take care."
Neville watched as Draco grabbed a handful of Floo powder and called out the address of the Black family house. He felt his heart sink slightly as he did.
Harry had gotten to him first.
Harry padded along the hallway towards his own room. He had gone to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and while he usually wouldn't deliberately walk soundlessly, he didn't want to disturb Draco whose room was just across his.
"Harry, what do you think I should do?"
Harry paused, his hand hovering over the knob of his room. How did Draco know he was out there?
"Do you think I'm reading too much into things?" Draco continued. "I mean, they're both great men. Surely they would have no difficulty getting anyone they want. Why would they want me?"
Harry turned to open the door to Draco's room and ask him who he meant when Draco continued again.
"But he kissed me," Draco said. "And Nev tried to kiss me too. You don't try to kiss people you don't like, do you?"
Harry lifted an eyebrow. How was he going to answer if Draco kept talking? Also, how did Draco know he was out here, listening to him?
And really, why did he sound like a teenage girl gossiping over the phone with her friend at midnight?
Harry opened the door to Draco's room and stood by the sill. "Who are they, Draco?"
Draco squeaked and nearly fell off his bed. He whirled around, pulling his teddy bear close to his chest and stared at Harry with wide eyes.
"Harry!" he exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Strange, I seem to recall you calling my name," Harry said with a small smile. "Did I hear wrong?"
"Maybe you did," Draco replied as he flushed and hugged the bear closer.
Harry chuckled. "You're still a terrible liar," he commented. "So... Harry?" he asked, grinning widely.
"Oh, shut up," Draco said, chucking a pillow at Harry.
Harry caught the pillow and walked over to the bed. He put the pillow down and sat beside Draco.
"Just to answer your question," Harry started, "yes, they could have anyone they want. And they happen to want you."
"Why not?" Harry asked back. "Feelings don't listen to the voice of reason, Draco. You're a good person and they like you for that. Don't doubt yourself."
"Am I really?"
"Yes, you are," Harry said firmly. "And after what you've been through, I think it's time that you be happy, don't you? We'll take good care of you, I promise."
"You talk like my mother," Draco said as he laughed. He fell silent, staring at Harry who looked back at him, then smiled.
Harry shook his head and smiled back. "Go to sleep, Draco. You're almost incoherent."
"No, I'm still perfectly sane," Draco protested, but allowed Harry to push him down so he was lying on the bed.
Harry placed the teddy bear beside Draco and tucked them in. "Night, Draco. Night, Harry Jr."
If Harry didn't know better, he would've sworn that Draco had giggled.
"Night, Harry Sr."
"Don't call me that. It makes me feel old."
"You brought it upon yourself."
"We've got a lead on our man," Kingsley said to Harry and Neville who were seated in front of his desk. "The research team suspects our man is Landon Gillian. He has the knowledge and skills needed to pull off what he did, and he has motive."
"Ex-Death Eater?" Neville asked.
"Correct," Kingsley said, taking out a document and putting it in front of the two. "They seem to think he's psychotic enough to do what he did."
"Don't go there, Harry," Neville said quickly when he saw the look on Harry's face. "You're not helping anyone if you do anything foolish."
"It's to ensure his safety," Harry insisted. "I think I know why he's called a liar. But who told him? How did he know?"
"I don't think I'm following," Kingsley said. "What happened?"
"The day we were given this mission, I sort of told people that Draco is my boyfriend," Harry said almost sheepishly. "But how would he know?"
"Someone inside the Ministry is helping him," Neville concluded. "But who? There weren't many people around at that time."
"Unless—the bastard!" Harry suddenly shouted. "Kingsley, do you know where Carter Green is?"
"Why?" Neville asked. "What about him?"
"Think, Nev," Harry said. "He was there when I said Draco is my boyfriend. Why else would Gillian target Draco? At that time, there was nothing between us, so Draco said so. When his office was wrecked and he was called a liar, Green had been watching us, and he was there."
"He was there?"
"Remember what Draco told us," Harry said, a hint of urgency in his tone. "He was talking to his friend, then Green came by his office. That was the last thing he remembered. If Green wasn't involved with Gillian, he would have fought him or at least gotten back up, not leave Gillian to do as he wished!"
"Well, I suppose that accusation is not farfetched," Kingsley commented. "Carter Green has just submitted his resignation letter yesterday."
"He knew he's going to be discovered," Harry spat out. "Coward."
"Calm down, Harry," Neville scolded. "We'll just have to track Green down then. He couldn't have gotten too far away from here."
Harry scowled, but then he looked ahead resolutely. He took out a key from his pocket and handed it to Neville.
"What is this?" Neville asked curiously.
"It's the key to Grimmauld Place," Harry answered. "As long as you have it, the house will recognize you as its master. I want you to stay there and look after Draco."
"What? Where are you going?" Neville asked. "Shouldn't you at least consult Draco first? He—"
"He's in danger because of me. It's better if I stay away from him," Harry reasoned. "Draco will understand. I hope."
Neville shook his head. "It's not fair, Harry," he said. "He chose you. Did you know that he hesitated to even be close to me? It was all because of you, and now you want me to tell him you're leaving?" he demanded. "You're a coward too, Harry."
"I know, but I don't... I can't tell him I'm leaving," Harry said with a sigh. "I suppose I am a coward."
"I refuse to be your mediator," Neville said, trying to hand the key back. "If you leave him, I won't promise I'm not going to take him away from you."
"Then do so," Harry replied. "Maybe it's better for him to be with you. No one has a grudge on you."
"You believe what you want to believe, don't you, Harry?" Neville asked as he glowered. "I was there during the war. I killed Nagini, and I'm considered a war hero too. Yes, they might not hate me as much, but they do. Draco is not safe with me either, but at least I will fight for him instead of leaving him to fend for himself while you delude yourself into thinking that Gillian won't target him anymore just because you left!"
"Why not?" Harry protested. "He'll think there's nothing between us if I leave without a word."
"Do you honestly think he would think like that?" Neville asked in disbelief. "Gillian is a smart man, Harry. He had avoided us for a long time while terrorising Muggles and wizards alike. He knew there was something between you two before Draco even realized it. He is keen. He has watched you, no doubt, and he'll know you're trying to protect Draco by leaving. That'll make him target Draco more to bring you back!"
"Which is why I'm leaving to hunt him down," Harry said. "Offense is the best defence, so I'm going after him before he has a chance to go after me."
Neville let out a harsh sigh. "There is no way I can convince you otherwise, is there?"
Harry smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry, but for now, this is for the best," he said. He took out his wand and held onto it. "Tell Draco I love him."
Neville glared at him. "That is something you have to tell him yourself."
"Then tell him I'll miss him," Harry compromised. He nodded when Neville nodded, then turned and Disapparated on the spot.
Kingsley stared at Neville who stared back at him, and then lifted an eyebrow.
"What's the title of the soap opera I just watched?"
Neville had considered not telling Draco the truth and leaving Harry to handle the irritated blonde, but he felt it was unfair to Draco too. He had taken the news quite well, or so he thought. He cursed Harry to hell and back when he came to Draco's room to check on him and saw that Draco had cried himself to sleep while mumbling Harry's name.
While Harry was away, Neville had forbidden Draco from stepping out of the wards too, so he grew even more restless and depressed. He had even tried sneaking out once before Neville strengthened the wards from inside and sealed the Floo connection so Draco couldn't use it. It drove the blonde crazy, so Neville made sure to take him out once in a while so he didn't truly go insane.
"Am I troublesome?" Draco asked over breakfast one day. "Am I pulling you back?"
"I want to go to France," Draco said with a small sigh. "I want to see my parents."
"Draco, you know you can't," Neville said as softly as he could, reaching out to touch Draco's hand. "You don't want to endanger your parents, do you?"
Draco mutely shook his head.
"I'm sorry about Harry. I really am," Neville continued. "I tried to stop him, but he's too stubborn for his own good. Somehow he believes that by leaving, he's leading Gillian away from you."
"That's just stupid," Draco said as he frowned.
"That's what I said," Neville said with a smile. "But it's not Harry if he doesn't have a hero complex. He feels the need to throw himself to the wolves to ensure the safety of those he cares for."
"But how could he care for me if he isn't even here?" Draco complained, then fell silent. "I'm sorry. I have no right to rant at you like that."
"It's alright, Draco," Neville said, patting Draco's hand. "I'm here to listen. You can tell me anything you want, and I'll listen."
"Anything at all," Neville confirmed.
They had stayed up until well past midnight, just talking about anything and everything. Draco had apologized to Neville for being awkward around him and not trusting him enough to talk about what he wanted to talk to Harry about. He reasoned that since both were his good friends, he shouldn't have any qualms in talking to either of them.
Draco had fallen asleep while they were watching a romantic comedy that Harry happened to have—which caused the two to mock Harry about his taste behind his back—and Neville carried him up to his room. He laid Draco on his bed and tucked him in.
"I'm here," Neville replied. He was mentally cheering at the fact that when he was nearly unconscious, Draco hadn't accidentally called out Harry's name.
"You won't leave me, will you?" Draco asked with a pleading look.
"No, of course not," Neville replied as he brushed Draco's hair away from his face. "I'll be here when you need me."
"Okay," Draco agreed with a sleepy smile. "Stay with me tonight."
Neville considered his options. Harry and Draco hadn't actually gone out, so it technically wasn't stealing someone's boyfriend. Also, he had warned Harry of this happening and he had still left on his own accord.
"Okay," he agreed.
Draco shifted to make room on the bed and Neville climbed into it. He pulled Draco close to him and stared at the ceiling as Draco rested his head on his chest and sighed in content.
Had Harry ever done this with Draco? Had they done more than just kissing? Did they sleep together like this every night?
There were so many questions in his head. Questions he knew he might not get the answer for. He shook his head resolutely, and decided to just ignore it.
With that in mind, he fell into a dreamless sleep.
One week had passed and still no sign of Gillian. He had managed to hide himself somewhere secluded and Carter was nowhere to be found too, which agitated Harry to no end. Even the Aurors rarely saw Harry around because he was always off following his own leads, and while Neville understood why Harry wanted to catch the two as soon as he could, it still made him cross.
"Will you stop this idiocy!" he demanded as he strode into Harry's office the one time he was actually there.
"I nearly got him," Harry insisted.
"Yes, but at what cost?" Neville asked sharply. "Draco is not a damsel in distress! He is a decent fighter, and he only got attacked just because he was attacked from behind. You're not the only one looking out for him as well, so stop being stubborn and go back home!"
"Why are you doing this?" Harry asked curiously. "I thought you would take the chance to have him for yourself."
"Draco is not an object, Harry," Neville said with a scowl. "He has free will. He is free to choose who he wants to be with, even if it's not one of us."
Harry fell silent.
"And you two have been miserable since the day you left," Neville pointed out. "I will have none of it anymore. You are coming back home, or I'm going to burn your office."
The corner of his lip twitched slightly, and Harry grinned at Neville. "Alright, I'll return," he said. "Thanks, Nev."
"Someone has to keep the idiots in line," Neville said with a huff. "Well, here's your key."
Harry accepted the key. "Come visit us often," he said. "Draco will miss you."
"I know," Neville said. "That's what I plan to do."
"Good," Harry said.
Neville only nodded at him and left his office.
"Neville?" Draco called as he peeked into the living room when he heard the fire came to life. He nearly dropped the mug he was holding when he saw Harry walking into the house.
He jerked back and screwed his eyes shut when he saw the look of anger cross Draco's face and his hands jerking up slightly. He was thankful the hot chocolate wasn't scalding hot as it dripped down from his hair to his robes. He shook his head and took off his glasses, wiping them with his shirt before putting them back on again.
"I won't say I didn't deserve that," Harry said with a wry smile as he pushed back his sticky hair and then wiped his hands on his robes. "How are you doing?"
Draco scowled at him. "That was a waste of chocolate."
Harry grinned, then without warning pulled the blonde close to him, almost crushing him to his chest. Draco yelped indignantly as his pyjama shirt became sticky too.
"I've missed you," Harry breathed out as he breathed in the scent that was uniquely Draco. "So, so much."
"Who talked you into your senses?" Draco asked as he pushed away slightly.
"Oh," Draco mumbled.
Harry leaned down slightly, but Draco looked away.
"I can't do this," Draco said slowly.
"Oh," it was Harry's turn to mumble. "Well, if you choose him—"
"No!" Draco exclaimed. "That's not what I meant. I—I can't..."
"Hey, calm down," Harry said as he cupped Draco's cheeks. "Neville is coming tomorrow for lunch. We'll talk then, alright?"
Draco sighed. "Alright."
"Now," Harry started, "you want some more hot chocolate?"
Draco grinned. "I'm sorry," he said. He cast a cleaning and drying spell on Harry before he tucked his wand away. "I don't know what got over me."
"At least you didn't throw a vase at me," Harry said with a shrug. "Come on, let's go to the kitchen."
This time, when Harry snaked his arm around Draco's waist to lead him to the kitchen, the smaller man didn't protest.
"Hey, Draco," Neville greeted as he kissed the blonde's cheek and handed him a bouquet of lilies. "How are you doing now?"
"Better," Draco answered with a grin. "Thank you for bringing the idiot back."
"Don't talk like I'm not here," Harry said with a scowl.
"Oh, are you here? I didn't notice," Draco said as he glared at the taller man slightly. "Maybe because you weren't here for at least a week."
Harry winced at Draco's tone. The man sure knew how to hold grudges. He had a feeling he had a lot of grovelling to do to get back into Draco's good graces.
"Don't be too harsh on him," Neville said. "He did it for you too."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Come help me put these in a vase," he said as he held the bouquet close to himself.
Harry went back to finish making lunch while Draco and Neville put the flowers into a vase and set the table. Lunch was pleasant, even though Draco still made his displeasure clearly known. Harry couldn't help but notice that the two had indeed gotten closer. Draco was much more at ease being close to Neville, and the two spoke so freely, more so than before he was gone.
When they were finished, the three went to the kitchen together to wash the dishes.
"Harry, Neville," Draco said softly as he dried the dishes. "I'm not sure if I read too much into things, but I'm flattered that you like me," he added. "I really, really am. But I can't be with you."
"Why not, Draco?" Neville asked. "Have you found someone?"
"No! Goodness, no," Draco exclaimed. "If you notice, I've been spending too much time with you two lately. I barely have time to go out by myself, let alone with someone else."
"Then why?" Harry asked.
"Because it makes me feel bad," Draco admitted. "I mean, one moment I'm close to one, and the next moment I'm close to the other. It makes me feel despicable, like I'm leading you on."
"And I don't want to get in between you two," Draco said quickly when he saw Neville was going to protest. "I mean, you two are good friends, and I don't want that to change. Especially not because of me."
The two suddenly burst out laughing, much to Draco's indignation. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at the two as best as he could.
"What's so funny?" he demanded.
"Oh, you're too precious," Harry said with a grin. "What makes you think like that?"
"Isn't that what always happens?" Draco asked as he frowned. "Two guys like the same person and their friendship gets ruined."
"I know what the problem with you is," Neville said with a chuckle. "You watch too many movies, Draco."
"Yeah," Harry agreed. "We're not going to fight just because of that, Draco."
"And how would you know that?" Draco challenged.
"For starter, you're not like those bitchy girls at all," Harry said, holding up one finger. "You know both of us and we know you too. Secondly, we've both agreed on courting you, so no matter what happens, there is no bitter feelings between us."
"No buts," Neville said. "You won't get between us, I promise. We've agreed to do this and we'll do it like adults, mature and responsible. And we promise you too that no matter who you choose, the other won't leave you. We'll still be friends."
Draco still looked dubious, but the two stared at him with determination.
"Very well," Draco said. "I will hold you onto your words. If any of you leave me, I'm going to hunt you down, tie you up and put you in the basement of my house."
The two men laughed.
"Sure," Harry agreed with a smile. "But are you sure you want one of us? Or do you want someone else?"
"Well, considering I don't know who that someone else is," Draco said with a chuckle. "And don't say it like you two are my last resorts."
"We aren't, are we?" Neville asked.
"Of course not," Draco said with a huff.
"Because you don't have first choices?" Harry asked teasingly.
"Shut up, Potter," Draco said as he stuck his tongue out at Potter. "Well, it still makes me feel bad, though, so I'll give you one week."
"Yes, a week. By the end of the week, I'll decide who I choose," Draco said. "Is that alright with you?"
Harry and Neville looked at each other.
"Yeah, sure, however you want it," Harry said.
Draco smiled and hugged the two. "Thank you, guys. This means a lot to me," he said, "because I value friends more than boyfriends. I don't want to date one of you if it means I could lose the other."
"You have our word, Draco," Neville said. "No matter what, we're still your friends. Even if you find someone else in this one week and you decide you want to be with him instead."
"Aw, how sweet. You definitely have the renowned Black charm, dearest nephew."
"Sirius! You're ruining the mood!"
"Did you two agree to take me out doing the same thing?" Draco wondered as he stood in front of a theatre. There were people going into the building, all dressed impeccably, some even wearing masquerade masks.
"Did he take you watching too?" Harry asked.
"Wicked," Draco answered. "Beautiful, that one. What are we watching tonight?"
"I'm afraid we're going for a classic tonight," Harry replied as he placed a hand on Draco's lower back. "Stay close."
The crowd didn't push and shove like they would should they go to a pop or rock concert, but it was still packed inside. Harry steered Draco to their gate and waited in line to get inside. Once they were, they took their seat and stayed there.
"What is it, Harry?" Draco asked again.
"You'll like it," Harry said. "I hope."
Draco chuckled. "If you tell me the title, I'll tell you if I like it or not," Draco tried again.
"No, you'll just have to wait and see," Harry replied with a grin. "Anticipation is needed for a good time, you know."
"But I don't even know what to anticipate!"
"Hush now, the show is starting."
Draco leaned back in his seat with a huff, but waited for the show to start. Not ten minutes into the show, he already knew what it was.
It wasn't a secret that Draco liked ballets, although not many knew because they didn't bother to know. He also liked classic plays, so he absolutely loved the performance.
After the play, it was already night time so Harry brought Draco back home. He had planned on a night of movie marathon, but Sirius had appeared again, settling himself quite comfortably between Harry and Draco on the couch, the bowl of popcorn floating in front of him.
Harry was amazed at how ignorant and oblivious Sirius was. Or, if he did it on purpose, how shameless he was. He would even get in the way of his own godson's love life.
Granted, if Snape was there he probably would have sent Draco to his room and Harry out of the house. Whenever he visited Hogwarts to see his mentor, Harry would always feel the Potions professor give him the evil eye. Especially after he knew that he was courting Draco and had hurt him once by leaving without goodbye.
They ended up only watching one movie before retiring for the night because it was quite late already. Sirius said goodbye to the two and said he enjoyed the movie too, and that he would come over again if they were having a movie night. Draco only laughed.
"Well, that was really nice. Thank you, Harry," Draco said with a smile as he stood in front of his room. "We should do that again."
"Yes, we should," Harry agreed. "Preferably without an overly nosy godfather interfering."
"I heard that!"
"Sirius! I thought you went already!"
"Don't be harsh on him, Harry," Draco reprimanded with an amused look on his face. "And Uncle Sirius, don't tease him too much."
"Anything for my favourite nephew," Sirius said as he blew air kisses at Draco.
"I'm your only nephew."
Draco looked around the ballroom and strode over when he caught sight of Harry. He was holding onto two champagne flutes and was dressed in an attire Draco never knew he even had. It wasn't that Harry dressed sloppily, but he was never that formal.
"Harry," Draco called and the taller man turned to look at him.
"Draco, you're early," Harry commented. "I was just picking up a drink for you. Champagne?"
"Would be lovely," Draco replied as he accepted the offered drink. "I thought you hate parties, Harry. What changed?"
"Nothing, I assure you," Harry said. "This is not just any party. It's Ron and Hermione's engagement party."
Draco's jaw nearly dropped, then he shot Harry a scandalized look. "And why didn't you tell me that?" he demanded. "We have to go find them and congratulate them."
"We'll do that in a minute, they're not here yet," Harry said, quickly grabbing onto Draco's arm to keep him in place. "They asked me to lead the dance. Would you care to be my partner?"
"Are you sure that's safe?" Draco asked, concern in his eyes.
"Safe? Safe for what?" Harry asked, worried as well.
"Safe for my toes," Draco answered with a teasing grin. "I won't have you stepping on my feet, Mr. Potter."
"Brat," Harry said as he chuckled. "Oh, there they are."
Draco turned around to see the happy couple and waved at them when they saw him. Hermione waved back at him while Ron only smiled, clearly too nervous and jumpy to be his usual happy-go-lucky self.
"Would you look at that. Weasley is quiet for once," Draco said as he laughed and Harry playfully nudged him. "If you're going to have cold feet on such an important day, you shouldn't have held a big party like this. Invite only close friends and relatives."
"Oh, but they are relatives and close friends."
Draco stared at him in surprise. "You're pulling my leg."
"No, I'm not."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
The two went to congratulate the pair and Ron was beginning to be more of his usual self, much to Hermione's relief. The time for the dance came, and the two did the first dance. After the first song, Harry and Draco joined them, and then other couples began to join as well.
To his surprise, Harry turned out to be an excellent dancer. He had assumed that since Harry hated formal meetings and parties he would be pants at dancing, but that wasn't the case.
"You're surprising me every day," Draco whispered almost reverently as he stared up into Harry's eyes, his left hand grasped tightly in Harry's right and his right resting firmly on the taller man's shoulder. "What else is there that I don't know yet?"
"I like bungee jumping," Harry answered.
"Really?" Draco frowned.
"No, that one is a lie," Harry replied with a chuckle. "You're cute."
"And you're an arse," Draco said as he shook his head. "Really, Harry, what else is there?"
Harry smiled at Draco in an affectionate and adoring way. "If you really want to know," he started, "you'll just have to stay by me and find out for yourself."
"And you'll find out about me?" Draco asked.
"If you'll let me," Harry murmured, lowering his head so their faces were only mere centimetres apart. "We'll have a lifetime to do that."
Draco didn't know who moved first. All he knew was that they were kissing the next second, and Harry's hand was resting on his lower back. His hand was tangled in Harry's dark locks, pulling him down to deepen the kiss, and somehow, it just felt right.
"Where are we going?" Draco asked curiously as they walked down the street. "You know there are mostly bars here, right? I never pegged you for the type to be out in a bar getting wasted. You two are surprising me a lot on this second date."
"Element of surprise is good occasionally," Neville commented. "Here we are," he said as he stopped in front of one of the classy bars. It was a place where people come to hang around with friends and have some drinks, without overly loud music and a mass of people grinding against everyone on what they call a dance floor.
"Oh, this place is nice," Draco said as he brightened. He had feared of going out to dance in a club, but it turned out his worry was unfounded.
"Well, come on in, and we'll see just how nice this place is," Neville said, urging Draco inside. He stopped at the entry and told them they had a reservation. One of the guards then went to show them the way. He stopped in front of one of the VIP rooms, then bowed at them and left.
"Go on," Neville said. "This is our room for tonight. See for yourself what it's like."
"You make it sound naughty," Draco replied as he nudged Neville, then reached for the knob. He opened the door and nearly had a heart attack.
"Pansy!" Draco exclaimed in shock. "Blaise! Theo! Vince and Greg too!"
"Hello, sunshine," Blaise greeted with a chuckle. "Surprised to see us?"
"Very!" Draco agreed. "I thought you said you couldn't come here for another two weeks because of one thing or another."
"Indeed," Theo confirmed. "But your friend there helped us organize everything so we could come here early, and we agreed on surprising you."
"That's so sweet of you," Draco said as he turned to Neville. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Neville said as he mock bowed and Draco laughed. "Well, let's enjoy ourselves tonight, shall we?"
Draco glanced at his friends and smiled up at Neville. "Yes, we shall."
Draco looked around in Longbottom Hall in awe. He had never been to the Longbottom house before while he lived in the Black family house, so it was new to him.
Neville had invited him over for dinner with his Gran, and Draco had accepted. He felt somewhat uneasy, but he liked meeting other people so he accepted.
"Good evening, Mr. Malfoy."
"Good evening, Madame Augusta," Draco greeted as he bowed at the elderly lady sitting at the head of the dining table in the room. "How fare you today?"
"I am doing well," Augusta replied. "Come. Please, have a seat."
Dinner wasn't awkward and the conversation wasn't stilted. Neville was awed at how good Draco was as a conversationalist. He kept the conversations flowing and his speech was respectful. It was the first time Neville saw him talking as if he was talking to the Minister of Magic, and to put it simply, he was amazed.
After dinner, Madame Augusta excused herself so she could retire for the night, and Neville escorted Draco back to Grimmauld Place as Harry said he would be out late reviewing case files with Kingsley that night. Since it was Neville's turn to take Draco out on a date, Harry had offered to do it himself so Neville didn't have to come to the Ministry building as well.
"It was good meeting your grandmother," Draco said with a smile. "I don't know my grandparents, so it was really good, at least for me. I've always wanted to know how having a grandmother feels like."
Neville chuckled. "You could come over to visit us anytime you want, you know," he said. "I can see that Gran likes you a lot too. We'll still be your family, Draco."
"I know," Draco replied, staring up into Neville's eyes, seemingly searching for something. What that something was, Neville wasn't sure.
Neville looked surprised. "Are you sure?" he asked, remembering the incident when he had tried to initiate a kiss and it had ended awkwardly for them.
"Yeah," Draco answered firmly. "Kiss me, Nev."
"If you say so."
Neville leaned down and pressed his lips against Draco's. They were softer and smoother than Harry's, which were slightly rough and chapped. Draco thought of telling Harry to get a chapstick, but quickly pushed the thought to the back of his mind. Neville was a gentle lover. Everything he did was gentle and slow, almost in reverent worship, as if he was a millennium old vase that would break with the slightest pressure.
When the kiss ended, there was no panting, flushing, or racing hearts. Instead, there was a pleasant warmth spreading from his core outwards to the tips of his limbs, leaving him feeling slightly heady, but comfortable and content.
"That was... wow," Draco said as he snapped out of his trance. "I'm speechless."
Neville didn't say anything. He simply lowered his face again to kiss Draco and Draco grasped onto the front of his robe like a lifeline.
Their second kiss was nowhere near slow. It was needy, frantic, and desperate. They were caught up in the frenzy of their passion. They pushed and pulled and somehow ended up on the couch in the living room. Their robes were shrugged off and their lips never parted for more than a second. Neville attacked Draco's throat, kissing and biting and licking, as Draco tugged Neville's shirt free from his trousers and started unbuttoning it.
The fire came to life and Harry stepped out of the fireplace, pausing at the sight in front of him. Both Draco and Neville stopped too, their expressions quite similar to those of deer caught in the headlight.
"No need to stop on my accord," Harry said tensely as he straightened up and dusted his robes off. "Good night, Draco," he added, then turned to Neville. "You too, Neville."
With that said, he walked off to his room.
Draco and Neville stared at each other. The moment was already ruined and Neville helped Draco sit up.
"I'll see you soon," Neville said, kissing Draco again. "Good night, Draco."
"Good night, Neville," Draco greeted back, pulling himself up to kiss Neville chastely. "Sweet dreams."
Neville pressed a kiss on Draco's forehead then grabbed a handful of Floo powder and went off to Longbottom Hall, leaving Draco sitting alone on the couch, staring at the green fire as it died down.
"Harry," Draco said as he sat in front of his huge teddy bear on his bed. "What do you think I should do? I feel so terrible, like I've disgraced myself and become a whore."
"I didn't think of it that way, but considering your sometimes overly insecure self, I think it's not that surprising that you did."
"Harry!" Draco protested as he turned around to see his housemate standing by the doorsill. "Wouldn't you knock first before entering?"
"As far as I know, you were calling my name," Harry replied with a grin. "And so, I am entitled to answering your questions."
"Draco, you're not a whore," Harry said as he sat down in front of him. "You acted on your passions, and that's understandable. It's not like you go out to bars in skimpy outfits and hook up with the first man to catch your eye. You know Neville and you have feelings for him. Wanting to be connected to him sexually is perfectly understandable."
"But I didn't want to do it," Draco said almost petulantly. "At least, not yet. I was too caught up in the moment. If you hadn't come back, I would've regretted everything."
The corner of Harry's lips twitched upwards. "You want to save yourself for your spouse?"
"It's the least I could do," Draco confirmed. "Have you done it, Harry?"
"No," Harry answered. "In fact, you were my first kiss."
Draco's cheeks coloured at the admission. "You were my first too," he said. "I thought it wasn't yours, so I didn't dare say it."
Harry chuckled and leaned in to kiss Draco. "You're too cute."
"You don't think I'm dirty?" Draco asked almost hopefully.
"Of course not," Harry said quickly. "You're far from dirty, Draco. Don't ever forget that."
Draco smiled at him. "Thank you, Harry."
"Well, you better get some sleep now," he said. "We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow."
"Where are we going?" Draco asked.
"It's a secret," Harry said with a wink. "But I promise you'll like it."
Harry got up and left the room. Once he was outside, Draco pulled out his wand and spelled the teddy bear to have a lightning bolt scar on its forehead, a red and gold scarf wrapped around its neck, a miniature Hogwarts robe around its body, and a pair of wire glasses perched on its nose. Draco examined his handiwork and smiled in satisfaction, before pulling the bear down and snuggling up to it, falling asleep almost immediately.
Draco stared at the newly rebuilt house in confusion. The two had gone to The Burrow in the morning and Harry introduced Draco to everyone. He explained of how the Weasley family had practically adopted him when he was still little. Fred and George had wanted to prank Draco, but Harry and Ron warned them against it so they didn't.
After lunch, Harry told Draco he wished to take Draco somewhere else. He promised Molly that they would be back before dinner and the Weasley matron let them go. First they went to visit Andromeda Tonks and Teddy. Andromeda admitted that she didn't know Draco was already in England. She only knew that Narcissa was still in France. The three had got along fantastically well and Teddy was quite taken with Draco.
After they tire of playing with the hyperactive child, the two excused themselves, and Harry brought him to a secluded place. That was where they were right now.
"Where is this, Harry?" Draco asked, looking around.
"This is Godric's Hollow," Harry answered at the same time as when Draco noticed the two gravestones standing side by side at the side of the house.
"This is your parents' house?" Draco inquired.
"Yes," Harry replied with a smile. "Come."
They walked towards the gravestones and Harry knelt in front of them, laying down the bouquet of lilies he bought earlier on his parents' graves. "Hello, Father, Mother," he said softly. "I'm content and doing well. I'd like you to meet Draco Malfoy. He's the one who has made me happy these past few weeks. I'm sure you'd like him too."
Draco flushed slightly at Harry's words. He knelt beside Harry and smiled. "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Potter," he said. "It's a pleasure knowing Harry. Please rest in peace knowing that your son has grown into a respectable man."
They stayed for a while, Harry narrating what had been happening in his life for the past month while Draco sat there, listening. When he was done, they walked back towards the Apparition point and prepared to Disapparate back to The Burrow.
"You really mean that?"
"What?" Draco asked, looking up confusedly at Harry.
"That I'm a respectable man."
Draco smiled. "I didn't think you'd be insecure," he said. "But yes, you are quite a respectable man, Harry. Your parents would be so proud of you."
"One day," Harry said, "I'd like to meet your parents."
"They'll love you," Draco replied.
"I hope so."
"I'm sure," Draco said reassuringly.
The two Disapparated back to The Burrow and when they got there, they found themselves stuck, unable to move. A quick look around showed them that they were stuck under a magical mistletoe set up by Fred and George who knew they would come back together.
"The pranksters," Harry said as he shook his head. "It's not even near Christmas."
Draco laughed, then stood on tiptoe and pressed a kiss on Harry's lips. Harry was surprised because it was the first time Draco initiated a kiss between them, but caught up quickly and soon began kissing back.
They pulled away from each other when they heard wolf-whistles and found the twins grinning knowingly at them. Draco blushed and buried his face in the crook of Harry's neck while Harry mock glared at the two, who mock saluted at him and walked away.
Harry stole another kiss from the adorably blushing blonde in his arms before escorting him to the dining room.
Draco was sitting in the living room, watching a romantic comedy movie when his phone rang. He stared at it curiously because not many people knew he actually had a phone—even Harry and Neville only knew recently, and no one should have a reason to call him. He frowned when he saw the name.
"Hello?" he greeted tersely.
"Draco," Carter said. "How are you?"
He inhaled quickly to calm himself down. "Cut the chase, Carter," Draco snapped. "We both know you're not interested in my welfare. What do you want?"
"Whoa, calm down, babe," Carter said. "I only wanted to talk to you."
"Don't call me babe," Draco said harshly. "And now you have me. Say what you want to say."
"Could we go out somewhere to talk?" Carter pleaded. "I want to see you."
"I can't go out," Draco replied curtly.
"Please? For old time's sake?" Carter nearly begged. "I know you're being confined to Potter's house, but I promise you I'll look after you and return you safe and sound. He'll have no reason to worry."
"Please, Draco," this time he really begged. "I wanted closure with you. I want to see for myself if you're really happy with Potter. Please. Do me this one favour and I won't bother you anymore."
Draco stared down at the hem of his shirt and fiddled with it. "Very well," Draco agreed finally. "I can't go out from the wards, but the Floo is open. I'll meet you in Diagon Alley."
"That's fine. Thank you, Draco."
"Don't thank me," Draco said testily. He hung up the call then got up with a sigh.
Oh, well, might as well go get something from Diagon Alley while he was at it. Preferably something that Harry would like so he wouldn't explode when he knew Draco had snuck out.
Harry frowned when he felt the wards shift. He had taken down the barrier from inside for the Floo so Draco could go visit the Weasleys if he was ever bored, but if he went to visit them, the wards shouldn't have shifted. He must have gone outside then, but why didn't he tell him of his plans?
"What's wrong?" Kingsley asked when he noticed Harry's look of worry.
"Draco is going out," Harry answered easily. "But he didn't tell me he was going out."
"Strange," Neville commented, going through the case file beside him. "He never does reckless things."
"Maybe he's out with his friends," Kingsley said with a shrug. "They're here now, aren't they?"
"Let me try calling him," Harry said as he pulled out his phone and dialled Draco's number.
"So?" Neville asked.
"He's rejecting my call," Harry said, his frown deepening. "Very strange. He wouldn't do that if he was out with his friends."
"He has a phone?" Kingsley asked in surprise. "Do you know who else knows his number?"
"Well, his friends obviously do, and—"
"Wait," Neville said. "Harry, when we pinpointed on Green as Gillian's accomplice, did you ever tell Draco?"
Harry's eyes widened in shock. He cursed and got up from his seat so quickly he knocked the chair back then rushed out of the office, Neville soon following after him.
Kingsley stared after the two disappearing figure and shook his head. He walked out of his office and called his secretary to hold an emergency meeting for all Aurors.
Draco blinked his eyes open and tried to remember when exactly he had closed them. He was greeted by an unfamiliar room and then tried to remember what happened before.
Draco looked to the side as he was lying on a makeshift bed made out of cloaks. He saw a man who was much taller than him. His eyes were bloodshot and his grin wicked. He had a nearly deranged look on his face and Draco couldn't help but feel like there was something familiar about him.
"Who are you?" Draco asked. "What do you want from me?"
"Not much," the man replied. "Do you remember our first meeting?"
Draco frowned in thought.
"Oh, my bad! How could you have remembered? After all, I Obliviated you," the man said, his smirk widening.
Draco looked up at him in surprise. "So it was you," he said through gritted teeth. He tugged at the ropes binding his hands together, but they wouldn't give. Plus, he couldn't find his wand anywhere. "What do you want?"
"Don't worry your pretty little head off," the man said. "You're not good for me if you're dead. Although, it would be a pleasure to see how broken Potter would be when you die."
"Leave Harry out of this," Draco said, his tone somewhat beseeching. "What do you want from me?"
The man grinned wickedly. "I can't 'leave Harry out of this'," he said. "You are bait that will bring Potter to me. And he will come. Very soon."
Another figure walked into the room and Draco's eyes widened again, in surprise, shock, and anger.
"The Aurors are coming here," Carter said. "Oh, I see you're awake now, Draco."
"You bastard!" Draco shouted at him. "This was your doing all along, wasn't it? That's why he targeted me back in Sydney."
"You've always been sharp," Carter said with a chuckle. "But apparently not sharp enough to see through my lies. What a good child you are, following me here like a good little puppy."
No one was prepared for what happened next. In a fit of rage, Draco's magic had exploded, throwing the two men back. Landon sailed through the doorway and hit the staircase leading down to the basement while Carter hit his head against the wall and was knocked unconscious. All loose items fell down onto the floor and the flammable materials burst into fire.
"You brat!" Landon shouted in rage as he picked himself up and stormed back into the room. He cast Aguamenti on the fire and Stupefy on Draco, knocking him out. He looked around the room then marched upstairs, confident that not long after Harry Potter would come find him.
Harry and Neville reached the place at the same time. While Harry walked towards the rundown building, Neville sent Kingsley a Patronus with their location so he could send back-up. He knew Harry was too angry to think clearly so he had to stand back a little and be on guard just in case Gillian had someone ready to do a sneak attack on them.
"Where is Draco?" Harry demanded when Landon walked out of the rundown building.
Neville noticed the slight limp in his gait. Harry didn't.
"He's alive," Landon said with a sneer. "For now."
Neville ducked and braced himself as Harry's magic exploded, his teeth gritted as he seethed in fury. If he was powerful when he defeated Voldemort, he was even more so now. Fighting to avenge his lost loved ones and fighting to save his loved one had different effects on Harry.
Landon snarled and glared at Harry, anger evident on his expressions too. He was definitely one of the more loyal Death Eaters, and one who had complete faith that Voldemort would win.
He had prepared himself to fight more ex-Death Eaters, but the army Landon summoned wasn't what he expected at all. The ground around them opened up and from inside, Inferis crawled out.
Right at that time, the Aurors got to the battlefield too, and the battle commenced.
Draco gasped as he came to, his eyes looking around frantically. When his gaze fell on Ron, he relaxed visibly and allowed the redhead to help him sit up and cut the ropes that bound his wrists together.
"Are you alright?" Ron asked. "We've already got Green."
"Where's that madman?" Draco demanded. "Where is he?"
"Madman?" Ron asked curiously. "You mean Gillian? The one who did the mass poisoning?"
"Yes, that's the one. Where is he?" Draco asked with a hint of panic in his voice.
"He's up there. Harry and Neville are duelling with him," Ron answered. "Now, let's get you to St. Mungo's—oi!"
Draco broke free from Ron's grasp and ran upstairs.
"Someone, catch him!" he heard Ron shout behind him but he ignored it. The other Aurors were too surprised to act fast and he made it outside. He nearly threw up when he saw the army of undeads that Landon had summoned, but managed not to.
Neville was duelling an Inferi while Harry was duelling Landon. The other Aurors too had their hands full with the Inferi as they seemingly keep on coming. He noticed Draco rushing out of the rundown building. He wanted to shout at him, telling him to go back inside. He also wanted to shout at Ron for allowing Draco to break free.
He snapped his attention back to Landon at Neville's call and was barely in time to block the curse sent his way. He noticed two people who he didn't know joining in the battle. Before he had any chance to think whether they were allies or enemies, he ducked because they were shooting curses everywhere.
Harry chanced a glance to see Neville kneeling on the ground, Draco cradled in his arms. Kingsley used the moment of confusion to knock Landon out, and the Inferis stopped coming afterwards. The Aurors who were in the building cleaning up things came up and joined their fight, so in less than fifteen minutes, the Inferis were taken care of, Landon was captured, and the two other ex-Death Eaters were captured as well.
Ron, Harry and Neville escorted the casualties to St. Mungo's for treatment while Kingsley led the uninjured Aurors back to the Ministry to put Landon and the two ex-Death Eaters into a holding cell for questioning.
"Where are you going?" Neville asked when he saw Harry walking away.
"Out for a walk," Harry said easily. "I'll be back soon."
"Congrats, Nev," Harry said with a strained smile. "It seems he chooses you, after all."
Neville stared at him in confusion. "Why would you say that?"
"He chose to save you," Harry answered with a shrug. "I don't know what that implies other than that."
"He'll hunt you down when he wakes up," Neville stated flatly.
"I know, that's why I'm going now," Harry replied, staring down at the still unconscious Draco with something akin to tenderness in his gaze. "After all, I promised. I'm going now so when he wakes up I can be back here."
"You two are way too stubborn for your own good."
"I hear that a lot," Harry said. He leaned down and pressed his lips against Draco's before he straightened up again. "Take good care of him."
Neville only stared as Harry walked out of the hospital room. Once outside, he Apparated to Hogwarts. Dumbledore had made an exception to allow Harry to Apparate into and out of Hogwarts at will because it was his second home. He liked to spend a lot of time staring at the Great Lake while thinking.
This time, he got on Firebolt and flew above the lake. He had gotten used to shrinking Firebolt and putting it in the coat of his robes, so he could take it out and use it anywhere he wanted. He flew around then stopped, staring at the nearly setting sun, remembering the first time he brought Draco here.
Here was the place they shared their first kiss.
He smiled at the memory. He might not be able to be intimate with Draco, but they would still be good friends, and it was enough for him.
His smile dropped and he sighed.
Who was he kidding? Of course it wasn't enough because he wanted all of Draco, but as Neville had said, Draco was free to choose whoever he wanted and if he chose Neville then he'd just have to live with it. Hopefully with time he'd be able to move on.
Or he'd die without partner like Sirius. Maybe there was a curse going down and he didn't notice it.
The sun was almost touching the horizon now and Harry wondered if he should return to Draco's hospital room yet. He might want some private time with Neville first and he didn't want to intrude, so he decided against it.
"Harry bloody Potter, you overly assuming fool!"
Harry nearly fell off of Firebolt. He turned and saw a figure standing by the edge of the lake, wand held out as he cast a Sonorous charm. He flew over and landed in front of the blonde, tucking his Firebolt away.
Harry yelped, and in hindsight, he should've expected it, really. Draco was, after all, prone to a bout of violent act when he was angry, according to that time he drenched Harry in hot chocolate.
He spluttered as he came out of the lake and wondered if Draco was going to dunk him underwater again. He decided not to risk it and quickly scrambled up the shore.
"He chose to save your life, and I can't think what else it could mean other than he chose you?" Draco asked as he glared down at the soaking wet man. "How about 'he chose to save you because I saw the curses coming and could avoid them in time while you didn't'?"
Harry stood up quickly, staring down at the blonde. "But you—I mean I—he..."
"Harry," Draco said as he reached up to cup Harry's cheeks. "I choose you."
"He—what?" Harry asked, blinking in surprise.
"I choose you," Draco repeated, a small smile on his lips. "You're awkward at times, rash, tactless, and stubborn as heck."
"I'm not done," Draco said quickly. "But despite all that, I still love you. You're like family to me and I don't want to lose you. You make me feel like it's so easy to fall into routine with you. Into a routine that might last years, decades, even a lifetime. I can't explain why exactly I choose you, but... I do choose you."
"Are you—are you serious?" Harry asked, his voice choked as he tried to speak with his constricted throat.
"Yes, Harry," Draco said, circling his arms around the taller man's neck. "Feelings don't listen to the voice of reason."
Harry laughed. "So, if it does, you won't choose me?"
"That depends on what my reason says, doesn't it?" Draco asked as he chuckled.
Harry laughed again, picking Draco up and twirling him around in his joy. In a fit of nostalgia, he took out his Firebolt and took Draco flying above the lake. They paused just as the sun was setting, and as they stared at the setting sun, they slowly inched closer to each other.
Draco stared at Harry and whispered, "You're more beautiful than the setting sun too."
Harry smiled at him and pressed their lips together. They sat there for a while, sharing the first of many kisses as an official couple.
First time writing a mix of romance, humor, action and drama :D hope I didn't botch it up.
In retrospect, it should've been pretty obvious that Draco will end up with Harry. They've kissed a lot of times, and the only time Neville kissed Draco, Draco was the one who demanded it (granted, they nearly went all the way if Harry hadn't come home, but yeah)
This is my longest one-shot to date, beating Aurors in Wonderland in length and word count.
Hope you enjoyed that :D if you do, do leave a comment coz I'm a comment whore :P