Some years later...
His phone buzzed once atop his notepad. He discreetly turned it around so he could read the screen.
'URGENT! CALL ME!'
He flipped the phone over and sat back against his chair, pressing his tented fingers against his lips as he listened to the stout man in the sweaty grey suit who happened to love his pointer a little too much. The room had gotten stuffy over the course of the hour. He wanted to ask the presenter to take his coat off, but he figured that wasn't exactly appropriate considering he hardly knew the man.
"Excuse me," he interjected the man's droning. A dozen pairs of eyes swiveled towards him. He gestured at the windows vaguely and asked, "Mind if I open one?" He received a few nonsensical answers that he took to be 'go ahead'. He nodded at the presenter to continue before getting up off the chair and undoing the latch on one of the windows. An inviting breeze flowed in, instantly cooling him. He smiled in satisfaction as he returned to his seat.
His phone buzzed again. He stifled a sigh as he glanced at the message.
He turned it off.
A few minutes later, the presenter finished up and pulled out a handkerchief to dab at his forehead and under his nose. There was some mild chatter as the rest of the conference members shuffled through their notes to make sure they were on the same page. The cool breeze helped wake everyone up. Budget meetings were always the bane of everyone's existence, except maybe the accountants'.
"So, Mr. Potter, you see our dilemma?"
The room quieted down and everyone turned to look at Harry once again.
He didn't meet their gazes because he was reading the proposals in the package before him. "In essence," he murmured, "you can't give me what I'm asking for, hmm?"
"In essence, yes."
He couldn't be sure why this whole elaborate meeting was necessary if that was the verdict. There were never enough funds to pass around. "Hard to argue with this," he figured, finally looking up at the board members. "I was never any good at maths." He earned a few chuckles. "I'm just going to keep trying until you cave in," he added as he shuffled papers together into a neat pile and started getting up. "I'll be back next quarter."
"Looking forward to it."
Once he was in the elevators, he slumped against the wall glumly and loosened his tie. What a disappointment. Fourth time in a row. He fished his phone out of his pocket and turned it on. Messages flooded in with fierce vengeance. "Ah," he yelped as soon as it started buzzing like mad. He fumbled with it in fright and didn't waste a second switching it off again. "Sheesh…"
"Rough day, huh?" the elevator operator remarked conversationally.
He scoffed once. A moment later he was on the second floor. He nodded at the operator once on his way out. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement was buzzing, as it always was on weekdays. He bee-lined it past the cubicles to the back where the break room stood.
His team looked up in unison when he entered. They tilted their heads as one, expectantly waiting for good news.
He shook his head.
A collective sound of disappointment echoed through the room. Some of the staffers outside took notice, looking at each other in puzzlement before hesitantly getting on with their day.
"I'm sorry, guys," he apologized. He pressed a hand to his heart. "I had to sit through an entire budget meeting. I probably feel the worst out of all of you." He walked over to the stained table and dropped the folder on it. His team was all up on the papers as soon as he had stepped away. "Listening to Malone is one thing," he continued as he took off his suit jacket and tossed it on a chair. "But watching him break a sweat talking about numbers is enough to get me thinking about a cold shower." He opened up the communal fridge to find a cold beverage. "Tell you what," he added after fishing out a bottle of water. "I'll cover the cost."
"Oh, come on, Harry," his team rebuked as one. They talked over each other, all of them saying 'no way' in one form or another while Harry chugged the water, never minding the rivulets running out either side of his pursed lips. "You squandering away your salary is not what we have in mind," Marty made clear.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Do you guys honestly think I'm strapped for cash?" he asked playfully. "Don't worry about it. I think all of you deserve a new locker room. We've had a great year, right?"
"You know the Minister won't let you do that," Olive quipped.
Harry laughed as he pushed off the counter and made his way out the door. "I'm counting on that fact." He made his way to his private office, acknowledging a few notes that had managed to follow him. The flying parchment knocked against the back of his head until he had snatched at them in exasperation and scowled at no one in particular. Just as he was about to step through the door, his assistant called out to him over the bustle. He turned to quirk his brows at her.
"Teddy firecalled," she managed to tell him despite holding a quill between her teeth and frantically sorting through a growing pile of forms on her desk. "He should be calling back any second now."
"Oh, thanks." He always looked forward to his godson's calls. He closed the door behind him and was finally able to catch his breath. He drank the rest of the water before tossing the bottle into the trash bin and flicking his wand upwards to the ceiling so cold air could circulate through the room. He undid his cuffs, rolling them up haphazardly as he strolled over to his messy desk and quickly examined his schedule after dropping the new notes on top of all the old notes.
The fireplace suddenly crackled, catching his attention.
"Harry! Come here! Come here!"
He obliged, quickly striding towards the blue flames and kneeling down to look at Teddy's face that was flickering in the fire. "What's up?" he asked.
"I MADE IT!"
He gasped. "You did?"
"Look!" Teddy held up his new Quidditch gear. "Isn't that so exciting?"
"I bet you were the best out on the field today, huh?"
The boy had the sense to appear modest. "Oh, I don't know." He grinned abashedly.
"I don't doubt it," Harry said with pride. "I knew you'd make it. It was only a matter of time."
"I got so many points! You should have seen me! I wish you had seen me…"
They chatted for a few minutes, but Teddy had to leave for a study session that he didn't think much of. He reluctantly said his goodbyes and showed his Quidditch stuff one last time before extinguishing the call. After that bit of a break, Harry felt invigorated. He enjoyed sharing Teddy's success, no matter what it was. The two of them were quite alike. It was hard not to feel happy when something awesome happened to one of them.
"You're so impulsive," Hermione tsked over lunch. She sat across from her best friend at a small table in the large cafeteria downstairs. "I'm just glad you keep your promises."
"They're a good team," Harry said. "The least I could do is make them feel appreciated. It's just a locker room."
"I doubt appreciating them means buying them things."
"Ah, what do you know?"
She rolled her eyes. "What do I know?" she echoed under her breath. "Anyway, enough with your drama for the day. Malfoy's driving me mad!"
Harry sighed. "What did he do this time?" he asked even though he didn't really want to know.
"He comes in fifteen minutes late and didn't even apologize for holding the morning meeting up."
"Oh no." Harry faked concern. "Fifteen whole minutes? Whatever did you do for fifteen whole minutes? Such a travesty."
Hermione huffed. "This is why I never tell you anything."
He laughed and held his hands up in surrender. "Sorry, sorry. Keep going. I love to hear the nitty gritty about Malfoy, you know that." He liked to egg her on. These occasional afternoon rendezvous did them both some good. As bosses, they could only vent to each other since their coworkers were all working under them. Their get-togethers were usually full of gossip and grievances.
He managed to squeeze in two more meetings, an interrogation, and three charge sheets before he was burned out for the day. By the time he was done signing off on the last bit of paperwork that had been on his to-do list, it was past six. The second floor was quiet as most of the day workers had left. The night crew wasn't nearly as loud. He acknowledged them with a wave on his way out. "Try not to wreck the place," he said as he always did before he went home. The Aurors and Hit wizards booed him away.
It was dark when he got to 12 Grimmauld Place. He opened the door and was pleasantly surprised. The house smelled like heavenly food. He hurried to take off his shoes and discarded his jacket on the stair before investigating the source of the scent. It was always nice to come home to dinner. It didn't happen often enough for his liking.
Harry nearly jumped out of his skin and whipped around. Before he could say a word, he was bent backwards and kissed fondly. He laughed, winding his arms around Edward's neck. He liked coming home to a kiss too. That did happen often enough for his liking.
"How was work?"
"Alright." He nuzzled against his vampire. "You made spaghetti?"
"I don't know if it's any good."
"You never know if it's any good."
In less than an hour, Harry made short work of the pasta and tomato sauce. He sat on the countertop with his plate on his lap, a glass of wine by his side, and Edward listening to him yak on about how completely unfair it was that his Auror team couldn't get a new locker room because of budget restraints. "I mean, it's not like I'm asking for new brooms," he continued to rant despite having a mouthful of spaghetti that he was spraying all over. "It's just a room to change in. The linoleum's peeling off, the walls have been needing paint for ages, and the lockers hardly every lock."
Edward hid his amusement well. "So?"
Now Harry quieted down and looked down at his plate, only to discover that it was empty. He reached for his wine, realizing just as he brought the glass to his lips that it was empty as well. He finally exhaled loudly. "Iofferedtopayforit," he said in one go.
Edward wasn't sure why he was so surprised to hear that. "Mhm."
"I'll use my own money," he went on to say. "Don't worry, okay? It won't cost a lot. It's just that they've been waiting for a year for this and I'd hate to-"
"It's fine, Harry," Edward chuckled. He grabbed the open bottle of wine to fill up the empty wine glass. "You don't have to explain yourself to me. I understand."
"Hmm." Harry held out the glass and watched Edward pour. There was silence for a bit. He took a small sip of wine, letting the sweetness sink into his tongue before swallowing. Then he suddenly shook his head and looked up to frown. "Why don't I have to explain myself to you?" he asked. "I want to explain myself."
He huffed. Edward was always way to tolerant. "When it comes to matters of money, we're supposed to make decisions together, right?" he pressed on.
"And I trust your judgment," Edward assured him. "You know that. I know you won't do anything that I wouldn't approve of."
He crinkled his nose in obvious irritation. "Look at me. I'm so perfect," he mocked under his breath.
Edward knew when to keep his mouth shut. He turned away to hide his amusement and started putting away some of the open containers. "Teddy called today. Did he call you?" he asked mildly.
"Oh yeah!" Harry's mood changed in the blink of an eye. "He made it onto the team! Isn't that great news?"
"He was very excited, so it does seem to be great news."
He shook his head at the unenthused vampire. There was that one thing neither of them could agree on - Quidditch... "It really is safe, I already told you that. And it's fun. Everyone does it. I mean, you've been to enough games with the Weasleys. I just wish you'd try it some time."
Edward glanced over his shoulder. "In your dreams," he said plainly.
"One day, Edward. Just you wait."
"Oh yeah?" He turned to face the wizard who was looking a little sly. "Are you going to make me?" He stepped forward, took the glass out of Harry's hand and leaned in.
Harry didn't give in until he was pressed against the cupboards and had nowhere else to run. "Sure, I could make you," he said with deliberate nonchalance. He set his plate aside and braced himself with his hands on the counter. "But where's the fun in that?"
Their lips melded together with practiced ease, cutting off the rest of their dwindling banter. They kissed lazily, letting the tempo build up on its own without hurry. They had the whole evening to themselves. Edward ran his fingers down the front of the Auror's button-down shirt. "Did I tell you that you look really good today?" he whispered.
Harry allowed himself an imperceptible nod. "You might have." He wrapped his legs around Edward's waist. "You can tell me again. I don't mind." He was scooped up without warning. The kiss grew fuller as he was carried out of the kitchen and towards the stairs. He caressed the marble face pressed so close to him while letting his tongue linger against the cold.
"My room or yours?" Edward was heavy on his words.
"I didn't make my bed."
"Yours it is."
Harry chuckled and squirmed when a slow breath tickled his neck. "It's always my room."
"Is it?" Edward feigned ignorance as he weaved into Harry's bedroom. They sank into bed, breathless laughter and quiet murmurs scattered between kisses. It didn't matter that the lights were off. Harry let Edward unbutton his shirt for him, especially because each inch of skin was worshipped as it was exposed. He was lost in a haze of lust once lips skimmed across his waist. He was aroused from the alcohol and smooth touches. Edward felt like groaning too as he let Harry's thoughts take him over. He slid over top of his lover and rocked his hips.
"I have work tomorrow," Harry managed to gasp out.
"I remember." He felt a thrill run through him when Harry arched up. "Good?"
"Yeah," he breathed out. Everything Edward did felt good. He allowed his body to move instinctively for gentle stimulation. "You gave me wine on purpose, didn't you?" he realized.
"You make it sound like a bad thing…"
"If you just told me that you wanted to have sex, we would still be in this same situation."
"I know," Edward smirked. He started unbuttoning Harry's pants. "But then where's the fun in that?" He started working the pants and boxers off in one go when he felt a strange weight in one of the pockets. So he reached in and pulled out Harry's cell phone. "You never put your phone in your pocket," he mumbled.
Harry blinked back the fog in his mind as he tried to focus on what Edward was holding. "Huh?" He reached out without thinking, snatching the phone away. Then his eyes grew wide as he suddenly remembered. He shoved Edward off of him and scrambled to sit up while trying to turn the phone back on and pull his pants up at the same time. "Shit, shit, shit," he kept muttering. Edward sat by the pillows and watched him panic for a moment. It was always fun to see that. He finally managed to get his boxers on, forgoing his pants because they were too cumbersome, and punched a few numbers into the phone before sticking it against his ear.
Edward cringed when he heard loud screaming on the other end.
Harry nearly dropped the phone while jumping to his feet. "Sorry, sorry, sorry," he tried to say over the melodramatic shrieks. "I'm sorry. I-I was at work, Ash. You know that! I-I don't have reception-" He winced and yanked the phone away from his ear to give it some reprieve. He flicked his eyes at Edward for much needed help, but Edward responded with a careless shrug. Harry scowled furiously at him, making a few obscene gestures before turning away and beginning to pace along the length of his room. "I really am sorry," he said for the umpteenth time. "Tell me what's happened. I'll listen. I swear. I always listen, don't I? Please, stop yelling at me? Please?"
He was immensely glad when the screaming on the other side died down to quiet muttering. "That's better," he said encouragingly. "Now tell me what the matter is. What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, you blockhead. Bella's gotten engaged and Angelica got into med school."
He sagged in defeat. "That's all?"
That was the wrong thing to say.
He actually did drop the phone when Ashley started yelling at him again. Edward laughed aloud while he watched the young man go through the whole apology routine a second time. Thankfully, it wasn't long before Ashley was led away from the phone on her end and a very calm, "Hello?" sounded.
Music to Harry's abused ears… "Hey?" he tried.
"Sorry about that," Angelica told him. "She's had a little too much to drink. You know how she gets."
"Congratulations on the admission."
"Why, thank you."
"Long awaited, huh?"
"You have no idea, Harry."
"You guys having a party without me?"
She giggled. "You're always here in spirit," she joked.
"Yeah, yeah," Harry drawled. "You're just glad you don't have to share the booze with me."
"Oh, that's hardly our worries," she assured him. "Jake's friends are over. You have no idea how much they drink. It's like they never get drunk. Awful. Mike's going to go broke if this keeps going."
Harry looked over his shoulder at Edward, asking him in mime whether he wanted to speak with her. He shook his head, but Harry seemed to take that as a yes. "Hey, Ang? I'm putting you on speaker, okay? Edward's here too." He then held the phone away from his ear and pressed a button.
"Hey, Edward," Angelica said loudly. "Did you hear the news?"
"Ashley was a bit excited, so hard not to hear," Edward answered her. "Congratulations, Angelica. Your parents must be very proud."
"Aw, shucks. Thank you."
Harry then interjected. "Is Bella around?"
There was a lot of fumbling and shuffling on the other end before a flustered Bella answered. "Hello? Harry?"
"And Edward," he added.
"Did you hear?"
"We sure did. Congrats."
Bella laughed. "Thanks. Wish you guys were here. It's… um… a little rowdy over here. Jake's friends and all."
That wasn't difficult to believe. If the shapeshifters were celebrating, then there was a guarantee of loud ruckus. "Isn't it morning over there?" Harry asked suspiciously.
She simply laughed again. Then there were more disturbances before a loud voice yelled, "HARRY!"
"Oh no. Who let you drink?" Harry tsked.
Seth sputtered. "I'm a grown man. And never mind that. When are you coming over? There's gonna be a wedding!"
"Let me know the date. I'll be there, alright?"
"How's Teddy? He's in school, huh?"
"He's doing very well. Thank you for asking."
Mismatched conversation continued for nearly an hour. By the end of it, Harry and Edward had figured out how Jacob had proposed and what Ashley was thinking of buying as her bridesmaid dress. Thankfully Eric and Angelica seemed to be handling the celebration by moderating the 'festive drinking'. Once everyone had said their goodbyes, Harry was thoroughly exhausted. He tossed his phone on the bedside table and flopped down onto the bed. "Wow," he sighed. "Crazy. Everyone's growing up."
Edward moved up and hovered over Harry, looking down at his upside down face. "While we stay the same?" he finished.
"But that's okay?" He brushed his thumb against Harry's jaw.
Harry turned his head to one side and kissed Edward's palm. "Ashley must have texted me at least twenty times today." He appeared sheepish. "I turned off my phone. You know how she exaggerates, right? She said it was an emergency. I know her too well."
"She was thrilled for her friends, that's all."
"I always knew Bella and Jacob were going to get married. And of course Angelica would make it to med school. She's so smart, isn't she? Like Hermione at times. It's not a big deal at all."
Edward slid the tip of his nose against Harry's. "Not a big deal?" he repeated. "Getting married isn't a big deal?"
"Of course not. People do it all the time. Why? Do you want to get married?"
Harry's brows bunched up suddenly. "What?" he snapped. "To who?"
Edward paused, then cocked his head. "What sort of a question is that?" he mumbled. Harry turned bright red and he snapped his mouth shut a few words too late. Realization dawned on Edward, making his eyes widen in amazement. "Seriously?"
"B-but I didn't know you-I mean you didn't say-That's not what I-You're taking words and-Look, I was just confused because-You and I never really…" He trailed off into nonsense and squeezed his eyes shut. "Please stop laughing at me."
Edward was trying. He really was. But why Harry thought these things was beyond him and he found the prospect hilarious. He pressed the back of his hand to his mouth in an attempt to silence himself. Never a dull moment…
"Whatever," Harry grumbled as he sidled up next to Edward. "I just blurted something out. There's nothing to laugh about."
"But you were jealous. You were jealous for no reason! Isn't that even a little amusing and excessive?"
"I had a long day at work and that's my excuse."
"That's your excuse for everything. Why isn't the laundry done? I had a long day at work. Why are there dirty dishes in the sink? I had a long day at work. Why is there mud on the carpet? I had a long day at work. It's starting to lose its effectiveness, love."
"Don't call me 'love'. And it's not an excuse. It's the truth, isn't it? I work hard while you just sit around looking pretty."
"Oh, stop right there, Potter."
"I even saved your life twice and this is the thanks-"
"Why is that brought up every time you want to win-"
In a fluid motion, Harry had straddled Edward and bent over double to peer into his eyes, stopping his argument effectively. He stroked one side of the vampire's neck. "I really have had a long day at work," he murmured. "Be nice." He planted a chaste kiss on Edward's lips before moving down and chaining more kisses together. One of his hands crept up the vampire's shirt, sculpting his lean body. "Hermione says it isn't healthy, you know?"
Edward reached out to grip Harry by the waist and rolled him over onto his back, switching positions with him. "What isn't healthy?" he wanted to know while pulling his shirt off. "You being with me?"
"No," Harry answered as he appreciated the flawless body atop him. "Us not worrying about the future and all that."
Edward rocked forward and pressed his forehead against Harry's. "You worry all the time," he whispered. "Didn't you tell her that?"
"Maybe I'm not worrying enough," Harry figured.
"And maybe worrying will only make you lose sleep."
"Still sucks that I need sleep, right? I can't die, but I still need sleep. Shitty deal."
Edward loved the way their conversations could always move from somber topics to wisecracks so fluidly. He pressed a fleeting kiss on Harry's lips. "Enough talk."
"You just read my mind, Edward Cullen…"
A/N: Thanks for coming along on this awesome journey with me! Thanks for sticking with me, following this story, and reviewing it! It means a lot to me to hear encouragement. I've had a fun few months with this. And if you need some follow-ups on this story, don't shy away from using your imagination! As always, I give permission to anyone who wants to use this story or premise or even the exact same plot with better dialogue (because we all know dialogue is something I am not all that great at, heh heh). If you have any questions regarding this story, please PM me! More fan fictions to come!