Rose folded the parchment and handed it to him. Albus took it solemnly and tamped down the prickle of fear that kept rearing its ugly head. He had to do this, despite the fact that it would likely get him in so much trouble that he would be grounded until he reached an age to unground himself.

"Don't worry. It's an easy walk from Bimsey's Bookstore to Trafalgar Square. Mum and I have done it many times, although never so late at night, of course. But it's bound to be busy with it being New Year's Eve and all, so just watch out for the Muggles and don't do anything stupid. You're dressed okay with that jacket and jeans, and you remember that Warming Charm I taught you if you get cold, right? But save that as a last resort because otherwise you'll get fined for use of underage magic."

Rose's chatter was comforting. I can do this. "I wish you could come with me."

"Merlin, I would, but I'll be in enough trouble just for helping you. Mother would have me sent to a permanent boarding school for wayward girls if I went to London without permission."

"They have those?"

"Muggles do. You're lucky you don't get the Muggle threats as well as wizard ones held over your head. My mum can be scary."

Albus nodded. His aunt Hermione was one of the most terrifying people he knew. If she was his mum, Albus probably wouldn't have considered the crazy course on which he was about to embark. "What time is it?"

Rose pulled out the wand she had nicked from somewhere; she'd had it for as long as Albus could remember and he had seethed with envy until he'd located the old hawthorn wand tucked into his father's forgotten belongings. He touched his pocket and felt for its solid presence.

"Eleven twenty. You should go, in case he's a bit early, plus you'll need some walking time. Good luck."

Albus nodded, shook her hand solemnly (Rose didn't go for girly things like hugs), and then scooped a handful of Floo Powder. The sounds of merriment rose in volume from the main room for a moment, but Albus knew his father's laughter was forced, and later that night he would sit alone on the sofa and stare out at the waves, brooding. Albus' resolve strengthened. He was doing the right thing.

"Bimsey's Bookstore!" he called and stepped into the flames.

The clerk at the store barely glanced up from his book when Albus stepped from the fireplace. The public Floo was near the front doors and did not require one to enter the bookshop to purchase something out of guilt for using the Floo, for which Albus was grateful. He liked books, but had no time at present to browse.

He pushed through the front doors and entered Muggle London. Rose's directions were spot-on and it didn't take long for him to reach Trafalgar Square. Muggles were everywhere, packs of them, loud and boisterous and intimidating. Albus kept a tight grip on his wand, but even though he was only ten years old, and alone, he did not draw much attention. He walked with confidence and pretended to know where he was going, a lesson he remembered from his Uncle Bill. "Confidence draws far less attention than fear or insecurity."

Albus had a few moments of panic when he could not locate the lions, but after pushing through the crowd—"Oy, watch it, boy!", "Rude!", "Watch yer schnozz, lad, you nearly took me elbow ta yer noggin"—he located the massive lion statues with a sigh of relief. Albus was disappointed to find no one waiting there, even though he was late. Several Muggles crowded round the space, but they were obviously part of groups and none looked tall, blonde, or wizardly.

Albus tucked himself into a darkened corner to avoid attention and curled into a ball for warmth. His head jerked up at every set of footsteps and his hopes were dashed again and again by the people approaching: a laughing young couple, a stern-faced man dressed in a Muggle suit and carrying a briefcase, a lone woman in a long leather coat and shaved head bobbing her head in time with music only she could hear, and a group of teens passing around a cigarette of some sort whilst arguing about how lame the fireworks display might prove to be in the upcoming hours.

The air was cold and the chill seeped through his Muggle jacket and into his shoes; his toes were freezing. Despite the cold, he was sleepy. It was far past his usual bedtime and his nice warm mattress and blankets began to seem enticing. He was considering pulling out his wand and casting a Warming Charm when he heard voices that caused his head to snap up.

"…should be over here somewhere, Father. See, the lions are right there!" The voice belonged to a boy and Albus leaned out from his secluded place to search for the speakers. His eyes fastened on a blonde boy walking next to a tall, similar-looking man. Albus' heart thudded, sounding loud to his own ears. Could it be?

The crowd had thickened in the time Albus had spent lurking. A Muggle carrying a metallic bottle jostled the blonde man, who looked at him as though he's been touched by something tentacled and coated in slime.

"Pardon," the Muggle said loudly and staggered away. The man said something to the boy, who rolled his eyes and shook his head. Albus needed to get closer.

"…not here and not going to be here," the man said. "Are you satisfied?"

"Hello," Albus piped up. "Are you, by man, the chance looking for someone, um?" As soon as the words tumbled out, Albus wanted to kick himself. Rose had made him practice them until they had rolled smoothly off his tongue; but of course in the heat of the moment he would mangle them.

The blonde boy laughed. Albus shot him a sidelong glance, suddenly uncertain.

"Shush, Scorpius. I am, indeed, looking for someone. Judging by your appearance, might I assume that your last name is Potter?" The man's voice was rich and tinted with amusement. Albus was instantly smitten and his reservations vanished.

"Yes, sir. I am Albus Potter. Um… I'm really sorry my dad isn't here. See, he's been… ah." Albus' mind went completely blank. Rose had coached him on what to say. Albus was supposed to invite the man back to the Burrow to ring in the New Year. With all of Al's relatives, another body would hardly be noticed, even with the blonde boy in tow. But Albus had completely forgotten the proper way to ask.

"He isn't here, then?" the man asked. His voice was no longer soft and amused. It had sharpened and his smile disappeared.

"Well, no."

"I see. Does your father often allow you to jaunt off to the centre of Muggle London all alone in the middle of the night?"

"No!" Albus said, near frantic. Don't blow this, he admonished himself angrily. "I am here to invite you to come with me. To my aunt's house."

"You are here alone, to invite me to your aunt's house." The man's voice was clearly disapproving now. Albus looked to the boy, desperate for some sort of assistance, but the boy's face was a mirror image of his father's.

"I have a wand!" Albus squeaked. He pulled the wand from his jacket and tried to hold it with casual ease, the way he had watched his father do it many times before.

"You have a…" The man's words trailed off and his stared at the wand as though he had never seen one before. His voice was nearly a whisper when he stepped closer, as if to shield Albus from another group of loud Muggles. "Did your father give that to you?"

Albus bit his lip. If he told the truth, the man might think him a thief, but if he lied and the man later spoke to his father about it… Either way Albus was in a bad spot. "What's your favourite Quidditch team?" he blurted. Distraction sometimes worked on his father. It was worth a shot.

A large band of Muggles approached and then parted around them like a school of fish navigating a sea anemone. Albus stepped closer to the man and boy, not afraid, of course, but simply unwilling to get trampled. He shoved the wand back into his pocket.

"Pardon, gents," one Muggle said loudly.

"What a lovely boy," one of his female companions added. Albus looked at the blonde boy, Scorpius (his name was worse than Albus', honestly), but it was impossible to tell which boy she had meant.

The man had not looked away from Albus. "Do you know my name?"

"No," Albus admitted.

"I am Draco Malfoy. It appears that these Muggles plan to fill every portion of this space, so it would be prudent for us to find a quieter location to converse. Shall we?"

"Oh, can we go to Boundary, Father?" Scorpius asked and tugged on his sleeve. "Can we?"


Draco Malfoy, Albus repeated under his breath. It was a fabulous name, and sounded somewhat familiar. Where had he heard it before?

The man jutted an elbow in Albus' direction, so he took it. The man pulled out a wand and cast a spell that Albus recognised immediately; a Disillusionment Charm. His father cast one nearly every time they went out in public, in an effort to remain anonymous.

Scorpius took the man's other arm and they Disapparated. Albus was impressed. It wasn't just any wizard that could Side-along two people at once.


"Dad, where is Albus?" Lily demanded. "I've been looking for him everywhere and we're not playing Hide and Seek. James and Hugo don't know, either, and Rose just gave me that look when I asked her. She's so mean."

Harry ruffled her hair, listening to Ron with half an ear as he argued with George about the legalities of a sweet that would turn people into pastries.

"What if someone becomes a fairy cake and gets eaten?" Ron demanded. "That would be murder."

George scoffed. "It's only murder if he administers the sweet to begin with. Otherwise it would simply be accidental."

"'Accidental,' he says. The paperwork alone would be brutal."

"I'm sure Albus is around somewhere. Did you check in the bedrooms?" Harry asked Lily.

"Dad. I already said I looked everywhere. He's not in the house. Or the garden. I looked there, too."

That caught Harry's attention. If Albus wasn't in the house or the garden, or with Rose, then where would he be? A sharp knife-edge of panic twisted in Harry's gut, even though he immediately tried to talk himself out of it.

"Where is Rose?"

"In the study, reading some dusty book, like always."

Harry hurried out of the room. Hermione appeared at his side almost at once. Her ability to sense his mood had not diminished with the years.

"What is it?" she asked when they reached the door to the study.

"Not sure. Hopefully nothing."

Rose was propped in a window seat with a book in her lap, looking so much like a younger version of Hermione that Harry fought back a wave of near-crushing nostalgia. She looked up when they entered and did not seem surprised to see them.

"Rose," Harry asked, "do you know where Albus is?"

"Not precisely," she replied.

The knife twisted again. "Then more generally? Can you tell me if he is within a mile of this very room?" Harry tried to keep his voice reasonable, remembering that he was dealing with a child, albeit a ridiculously intelligent one.

Rose sighed and shut her book with a snap. "Albus is in London."

"What?" Hermione's voice was a shocked whisper.

The knife morphed into a spike-headed mace, heavy and painful. "Alone?"

Rose nodded. "It's your fault, really. He was determined to meet with this mystery man, so he went to Trafalgar Square."

"Rose! How did he—? Why—?"

"How did he get there?" Harry asked, cursing himself for not casting a Tracking Charm on Albus. His children detested such an "invasion of privacy" and Harry only did so when they were out in public, just in case one of them was kidnapped or wandered off, or something. He hadn't expected to need it whilst at a Weasley gathering, for pity's sake.

"Public Floo at Bimsey's."

"I'll come with you," Hermione said.

"No, I'll need you to send me a Patronus in case he comes back. I don't want the others to worry. Keep an eye on Lily and James, will you?"

"Of course." Her grip on his arm was fierce, but quick. "You'll find him. Go. I'll stay here and deal with my daughter."

Rose went pale, but lifted her chin in a manner far too reminiscent of her mother. That one would have no remorse—she obviously believed she had done the right thing.

Harry tossed a handful of Floo Powder and went to London.


Trafalgar Square was bedlam. Muggles of every sort were stood on every bit of pavement, talking, laughing, and waiting for midnight. Harry should have asked Rose how long Albus had been gone; he tried to remember the last time he had seen Albus at the party.

He didn't dare cast a Tempus Charm in the midst of so many Muggles, but he figured it was close to 11:30. He fought his way through the crowd, trying not to be rude, but growing increasingly desperate to find Albus.

It seemed to take forever to reach the lions and frantic searching disclosed no dark-headed, wayward children.

"Albus!" he called, giving up any pretence of subtlety. "Albus?"

"Lose someone then, mate?"

"My son," Harry replied. "He's ten. About this tall—" He held up his hand. "He looks like me without glasses. Albus!" His shout was nearly drowned by the raucous laughter of a nearby group.

"I saw him a few minutes ago," a dark-haired girl said. Harry turned to her with his heart in his throat. She nodded at his unspoken question. "He was with a hot blonde bloke and a youngster that could have been his clone. Spittin' image, he was."

Harry swallowed, gripping his wand and wondering if utilising Legilimency amongst so many Muggles would result in time in Azkaban. "Where?"

"Boundary," the girl's companion said. "I heard him say Boundary. I remember because I had a date scheduled there last month, until the arsehole cancelled on me."

"Bloke was a complete minger, Darcy," the first girl said with a laugh.

"I know that now, don't I?"

They both laughed and Harry said, "Thank you! Thank you so much."

"Hope you find him!" one called as Harry turned away and tried to locate a safe place to Disapparate. Why would the man take Albus to a posh restaurant? It didn't make sense, but it was his only lead; hopefully the Muggles hadn't been drunk and confused, or deliberately misleading.

It only took minutes to locate a relatively secluded spot, cast a Disillusionment Charm, and Disapparate. Harry walked into the restaurant and scanned the seated patrons as the maître d' eyed him.

"May I help you, sir?"

The place was a rare establishment that catered to both Muggles and wizards. "I'm meeting someone in your back room," Harry said and let the tip of his wand handle slide from his sleeve. The man glanced at it and nodded.

"Charles, please escort Mr…?"

"Potter," Harry replied and barely refrained from shaking his fringe back from his forehead to expose his scar. Now was not the time to cause a scene, but if his fame would help him find Albus, then he would utilise it.

"Potter?" Charles repeated in a too-loud tone and Harry gave him a weak smile, hoping a scene would not be forthcoming. The maître d' stared at him through eyes gone wide. Charles recovered first. "Yes, sir, right this way, Mr Potter, sir."

The waiter turned and marched through the clustered tables, leading Harry past the Muggle diners to a palm-hidden passageway and an ornate set of doors.

"We are completely full tonight, Mr Potter," Charles said, "but I'm certain we can find a place for you if you'll only—"

"I am looking for a particular party," Harry interrupted. "If they are not here, I won't be staying. But thank you."

The wizarding section nearly mirrored the Muggle portion, with the same ornate stone alcoves and silver trays tacked to the walls as décor. Harry scanned the diners through an increasing difficulty to breathe—not here, not here—and then he spotted a tall, vaguely familiar blonde man. His eyes widened and then he noticed the man's two companions, a smaller blonde boy and… Albus.

"There they are," Harry said to Charles. "I'll just go join them, shall I?" He did not wait for the man's response as he strode across the room to confront the blonde kidnapper. Harry itched to throw a hex, but as he got closer he saw that Albus looked animated and seemed to be chattering happily while clutching a steaming mug in both hands. Whatever he was saying stuttered to a halt when he caught sight of Harry.

"Albus," Harry said tightly and then turned his attention to… Draco Malfoy. Harry's jaw gaped open and he later realised he most likely resembled a stuffed carp hung on a fisherman's wall. Words refused to surface for a long moment or two.

"Potter. How good of you to save me the trouble of tracking you down. Your diminutive likeness here is quite stubborn. I have no idea where he gets that quality, of course. He'll do well with a career in the Ministry." Draco indicated the chair opposite him and Harry dropped into it.

"Malfoy. You… Do you want to tell me what this is about?"

"I begin to wonder, myself. Here, have a drink of hot cider. It's excellent and you look half-frozen."

Harry took the mug and lifted it partway to his lips before remembering himself and lowering it back to the table. The amber liquid smelled divine, but trained Aurors did not go round accepting drinks from former Death Eaters who may or may not have kidnapped one of their children, regardless of how attractive said person might be.

"It isn't poisoned, Father," Albus grumped beside him.

Harry turned a stern gaze upon his wayward son. "You might want to remain silent lest I tack additional months onto the current very, very large number of years you shall be without privileges."

Albus hunched low into his chair and flicked a glance at the blonde boy, who looked back at him with a sympathetic expression.

"I assume you know nothing about Albus' claim that he arranged this meeting in order to escort me to a party this evening?"

Harry shook his head.

Draco frowned. "Allow me to backtrack to the beginning, then. Do you recall a certain radio show that aired a few days before Christmas?"

Harry nodded.

"And was it not your voice on the radio, filled with such loneliness and woe that the hearts of every eligible maiden in wizardom were pierced to the core? Or was it only my son who was so smitten?"

"I… don't know what you mean." Harry admitted to himself that he might have followed the words better if he weren't so distracted by watching Malfoy's features as he spoke. The git hadn't been nearly this attractive in school. The years had been kind… hell, the years had tripped over themselves gifting Malfoy with stellar good looks. What had been pointy and sallow in boyhood had grown and softened into a wonder to behold.

"After the radio show, my son wrote you a letter," Draco was saying.

"Not just him," Albus piped up. "Lots of people. Dozens. We got owls for days."

"Owls for days," Draco repeated.

Harry flushed and opened his mouth, but Albus beat him to it. "But yours was the only one I liked!" His green eyes were turned on Draco, and then confusion crossed his features. "I mean… yours." He nodded at Scorpius.

"I had help writing it," Scorpius said without sounding the least contrite. In fact, his tone was only a gnat's shadow from smug.

"And then I wrote back," Albus said with a grin. "With help from Rose."

"There you have it. Scorpius wrote to you pretending to be me and Albus wrote back, pretending to be you. Now that everything is cleared up, we can go our separate ways and all will be well." Draco sounded matter-of-fact.

"You left out the part where you went to Harry's house," Scorpius said and took a drink of his cider.

Albus gasped and Harry blinked across the table at Draco, whose cheeks went an attractive shade of pink.

Scorpius nodded. "Yes. And he said you hated him because he broke your nose once, and maybe tried to kill you."

Harry stared from the younger Malfoy to the elder and back again. "I don't… hate him," Harry admitted. He glanced over and met Draco's surprised gaze. Merlin, but his eyes were beautiful. Ice-pale and intense, even though hooded and wary at the moment.

"You don't?"

"Of course not. I testified at your trial, if you'll remember. The war… well, it made people do horrible things in order to survive. I know that. You weren't exactly under an Imperius, but you weren't willingly brandishing a wand and joining your aunt in torturing Mug—" Harry broke off and tugged a hand through his hair, remembering the boys. He did not want to get sucked into a discussion of the war, regardless. "Anyway. I don't hate you. The broken nose was rather unpleasant, though."

"Indeed. Perhaps I can make it up to you," Draco said. His tone was teasing, flirtatious. Impulsively, Harry reached across the table and picked up Draco's cider. He took a long drink, eyes locked with Draco's.

"Father, may I show Albus the bubble chamber now? Please?"

Draco looked at his son, seeming just as out-of-his-element as Harry. "I… suppose. As long as his father allows it. Harry?"

Draco Malfoy speaking his given name gave Harry another flash of unreality; he began to wonder if he'd slipped into another universe. He returned the cider mug to the table. The cider was delicious. "Um. Yes?" Before he could register his own capitulation, he was seized in a hug launched at him by Albus.

"Yes! You're the best, Dad! Back in a few!" With that, Albus scooted his chair back, leaped to his feet, and fled with Scorpius Malfoy.

Harry thought about calling him back, remembering how he'd got here in the first place, but Draco's chuckle derailed the idea. "It's hard to punish them even when you know you should, isn't it?"

Harry grinned wryly, surprised anew to hear Draco commiserating the woes of parenthood. "I feel like the worst person alive when I see his expression. Lily gets angry and James shrugs it off, but Albus—bloody hell, I feel like I've been stabbed in the chest when I have to punish him. Honestly, how do people do it?"

Draco smiled again and he was even more handsome when he smiled. "You are asking the wrong person. Scorpius is so hopelessly spoiled he has barely received more than a cross frown in three years."

Harry laughed. "And yet, he seems very well-mannered and polite. And happy. You must be proud."

"I am. Scorpius is nothing like me." Draco paused and then snorted. "All right, perhaps he is like me. But I was a nervous, angry child and Scorpius is… Well, he's brilliant." Draco took a drink of his cider, not meeting Harry's eyes, and Harry found himself wanting to get to know this mature version of Draco Malfoy.

"Did you really come to Selsey?"

Draco nearly choked on his drink and he set the mug aside. "Yes. Scorpius badgered me into it. I am… I have been… in a serious relationship for quite some time, but…"

Harry's sat up straight. A serious relationship. Of course he was. And yet… "But?"

"But… Perhaps everyone is right and I have been settling for ringing Quaffles instead of seeking the Snitch. By all accounts, William is completely wrong for me. I abandoned him at a party tonight."

"To come here?" Harry asked gently.

Draco nodded.

"Even though it's me and you thought I hated you?" The very idea was mad. The two of them were like fire and ice. Or possibly yin and yang.

"Even though." Draco smirked and his grey eyes sparkled over the rim of his mug as he drank. Harry felt an answering smile quirk his lips. Maybe it wasn't so crazy, after all.


"Curiosity? Insanity? Do you think I should leave?"

"No," Harry said and let his smile grow. "I'm feeling a bit of curious insanity myself. I sort of want to know where it leads."

A throat-clearing sound made Harry look up to find Hermione Granger watching him with a not-pleased expression. The sparkle-laden skirt of her green gown looked incongruous beneath the puffy Muggle coat she had obviously donned in a hurry.

"Did you find Albus?" she asked, "or did you get sidetracked?"

Harry flushed. "Of course I found him. He's over there… with Scorpius." Harry gestured vaguely towards a glass-walled room filled with hundreds of floating bubbles, and a large number of children leaping around trying to catch them. To Harry's surprise, Albus was perched atop Scorpius Malfoy's shoulders, reaching for the higher bubbles. Both boys were laughing.

"I see. Thank you for sending a Patronus to let me know."

"I… forgot."

"Obviously. Hello, Draco." Her tone was polite, but cool.

"Hermione," Draco replied, surprising Harry anew. He had half-expected a sneered, "Granger" but apparently Draco really had grown up.

"How did you find me?" Harry asked.

"Well, you might be reluctant to keep Tracking Charms on your own children, but I have no such qualms about keeping one on you. Shall I take Albus back to the party?" She paused and then looked at Draco. "Scorpius is welcome to come along. You two can continue your…"

Harry turned a hopeful stare on Draco, who looked flummoxed. "I suppose that will be acceptable. If he wants to go, of course."

"I'll go ask him, shall I?" She hurried towards the bubble room and a moment later both boys tumbled out, looking even more excited. Scorpius ran back to the table, nearly colliding with a tray-laden waiter on the way.

"Father, may I really? May I go with Albus to his aunt's house to watch fireworks? Did you know his uncle owns Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes? The fireworks must be kedavra! And look what Albus caught for me!" He opened his hand to disclose one of the bubbles, its gossamer-looking shell containing a tiny blue dragon made of cut glass.

The smile Draco bestowed upon his son melted every last misgiving Harry might have harboured. If nothing else, Draco adored his son. "That's very nice. And yes, you may go. I'll be along soon to fetch you. Be on your best behaviour and—"

Scorpius gave him a hug and cried, "Yes, Father, thank you, Father!" Then he bounded back to Albus, who lurked back with Hermione, probably still wary of Harry's wrath. Harry gave him a smile and thumbs-up and Albus grinned hugely and waved. The two boys went out with Hermione, leaving him alone with Draco. Well, with Draco and a room full of diners, some of whom were staring at them curiously.

"Your celebrity is showing." Draco's tone was dry, but amused.

"Yeah. You want to get out of here? Go for a walk, or something?"

"All right."

They made it outside with a minimum of fuss from the staff (was everything satisfactory, sirs; we hope to see you again, sirs) and Harry pulled at the collar of his shirt, wishing he had thought to at least grab a jacket before rushing off to London.

He felt a hand on his elbow, halting him, and then a warm, fleece-soft scarf was being wound around his neck, smelling of Draco's cologne. Harry breathed it in and gave him a grateful smile. A Warming Charm followed and then they were walking again.

The trees had been strung with green fairy lights—Muggle ones, as they were still in a Muggle neighbourhood—and they looked brilliant, almost magical.

"Thanks," Harry said.

"Can't have you freezing on our first date."

Harry's sudden warmth had nothing to do with the scarf or the Charm. "Is that what this is?"

Draco's glance was sidelong and wary. "Do you want it to be?"

"I think… Yeah. I think so."

Draco gave him a curt nod and the situation suddenly seemed too-formal and lacklustre. They were not exactly old men and for the first time in a very long while, Harry felt a spark of mischief.

They turned onto Camlet Street and Harry kept up with Draco's ground-eating walk. The buildings were all similar tall structures of brick with rows of windows—some lit, some decorated, and some dark—looking out upon the street, broken by occasional walls of unadorned brick.

Harry gripped Draco's arm, halting him, and stared into his surprised eyes for a moment. With a wicked grin, Harry backed him up against the flat wall and pressed himself along Draco's length. There was no resistance, and Draco felt exquisite, an intriguing mix of soft and hard. Harry wanted to seek out and memorise every inch of him.

Draco said nothing, not even when Harry leaned in and brushed his lips lightly over Draco's. His lips were cold, and tasted of spiced apple. Harry flicked his tongue against them, seeking another taste.

A hand slipped into Harry's hair and then his head was angled as Draco pulled him in. Their lips pressed together, awkwardly at first, and then finding a balance and fitting together perfectly. Mouths opened and their tongues sought, met, and slid together. Everything meshed, except Harry's senses, which seemed to be flying apart. How long had it been since he had kissed anyone? Even Ginny's kisses, before her illness, had grown perfunctory and rare.

There was nothing perfunctory about Draco. He was entirely present and seemed very much into taking everything Harry had to offer. As if the first few kisses had served as an appetiser, the next few grew hungrier, almost violent. Hands roamed over cloth, teasing, promising bliss if they could only reach bare skin.

Harry was shaking, a near-painful erection digging into Draco's groin, and he pulled out of the kiss as if fleeing a whirlpool. He panted, staring through askew spectacles into Draco's partially-blurred, but gorgeous face. He seemed just as shell-shocked as Harry.

"Merlin," Harry breathed, hyper-aware that he was still intimately pressed into Draco. He thought he could feel his heartbeat racing, but perhaps that was simply his own.

"That was… certainly not boring."

Harry laughed at Draco's words and the tension seemed to crack. A smile stretched Draco's lips and then he chuckled. Harry needed to kiss him again, so he did, but gently. A Muggle street was neither the proper time nor place for them to… explore one another.

Bells began to chime suddenly, some loud and some fainter, farther away. A window above them flung open and someone yelled, "Happy New Year!" A crackle of fireworks split the dark sky and car horns joined the din. More revellers shouted and the sounds of Auld Lang Syne drifted down to them.

The fairy lights gleamed upon Draco's hair and sparkled in his eyes. His breath fogged the cold air as he spoke, and added to the mist upon Harry's glasses. "Happy New Year, Harry Potter."

"Happy New Year, Draco Malfoy," he replied and the following kiss was the sweetest yet, laden with promise for the year to come.

~END (for now)~

Notes: This was supposed to be the end, but several things keep poking at me, so I'll probably plug a bit more into this one as time permits. Boundary is a real restaurant and looks like the sort of place wizards would go, and posh enough for Draco. I chose Selsey because it seems like the perfect place for Harry trying to escape whilst remaining close to the Weasleys. Harry's refusal to keep Tracking Charms on his children is loosely based on the time I threatened to put a GPS tracking chip on my six-year-old daughter and she was so horrified that people probably heard her shrieking for miles about "invasion of privacy" and silly concepts like that. I expect Harry's kids would put up similar arguments.