Title: Generosity Ill-Dressed
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Angst, references to suicide and violence, present tense
Summary: Harry finds Draco lying in the middle of Diagon Alley. He takes him home, because he can't leave him there. But it sure would have been easier.
Author's Notes: This story is for diagonfloo's request for a story where Draco has lost everything, his home, his money, his family. And Harry (being Harry) reaches out to him. Perhaps he takes him into his home and/ or gives him a job? Draco should be down but not defeated. And he'll probably resent Harry (at the start) for trying to help him. He's not going to be grateful about it anyway, not that Harry expects him to. The title is from Rupert Brooke's poem "The Funeral of Youth."
Harry isn't sure what the white thing in the middle of Diagon Alley is at first. Someone's dropped blanket, he guesses as he comes near, with his arms loaded down with his shopping. A dead unicorn. A discarded sheet.
But it turns out to be Draco Malfoy, wrapped in a white blanket that looks like he stole it from somewhere, maybe a mating Veela, given the bloodstains and rents that are also on it. And his white hair spills from the end of the blanket onto the stone, and makes him look more pitiful than ever, especially considering that Harry can't tell the difference between his hair and the cloth at first.
Harry stands there, looking down at him. He can see bruises, dark purple, around the insides of Malfoy's wrists, and he can see a line on his brow that looks like someone tried to hit him in the face with a knife, and he can see how thin he is.
He stands there for long seconds, thinking about Malfoy in the Manor, refusing to identify him, and Malfoy taunting him on the Quidditch field, and Malfoy laughing at him about his parents. And he thinks about the photographs that have been in the papers lately, about how Lucius Malfoy went to prison, and the Ministry took the Manor and the Malfoy money when he did because Narcissa couldn't inherit it, since she wasn't a blood relation, and the new laws meant that no one with a Dark Mark could inherit anything, either.
Narcissa killed herself a month ago.
Harry sighs, and casts the spell that will lift the blanket into the air like a stretcher, cradling Malfoy in the middle of it.
Harry's flat is a small, cheap place not far from Knockturn Alley. It's not the place he intends to live in forever; among other things, he would rather not look at the cracks in the kitchen walls forever. But it's a decent enough home to live in while he tries to sort himself out and think about what he wants to do after the nightmare of the war.
Other people are moving on. Starting families. Starting Auror training. Working on jokes. Begging Harry to join them.
But Harry isn't ready yet. He's still talking with Mind-Healers and exploring the artifacts at Grimmauld Place and listening to stories in the Godric's Hollow pub that the people telling them don't realize are about him. When he's ready, he'll pull the shattered pieces of his life together, but he doesn't see a reason to rush. He's only nineteen, after all.
He has only one bedroom, a small drawing room, an even smaller kitchen, and a bathroom. He puts Malfoy on the bed, casts Cleaning Charms on all the sheets and the blanket that held him, tucks the blanket into a cupboard, and then goes and fetches the small stock of Healing Potions he keeps for himself.
It's harder to make someone limp and senseless swallow the pain potion than Harry had anticipated, especially since Malfoy makes nonsense noises and bats at him when Harry moves his arms around. Harry dodges and goes back at it, massaging Malfoy's throat until he swallows. He defeated the Dark Lord. No bruised and unconscious Slytherin is going to defeat him.
When Malfoy falls back on the pillow with his eyes shut and begins to breathe more normally, his bruises are starting to fade and he looks like a human being instead of a stick figure. Harry nods at him and goes to start dinner.
He thinks at first he has no idea what Malfoy would like to eat, but memories of the Great Hall at Hogwarts, and the Slytherin table, come back to him more strongly than he had any idea they could, and he ends up preparing chicken, potatoes, roast beef, and a glass of pumpkin juice. It takes him most of the food he bought that day, but he has the money to get more.
"I would rather you had left me to die."
That's what Malfoy says, of course. Harry just nods and puts the tray with the meal he made down in Malfoy's lap. He's well enough to sit up, which means he's well enough to manage his own fork and spoon. Harry doesn't intend to sit around and feed him. He has other things to do, like try to convince Kreacher not to follow him and stay in Grimmauld Place instead.
He's already turned his back when Malfoy speaks again.
"Why didn't you leave me to die?"
Harry turns around and blinks at him. Malfoy is clutching his fork like it's a lance, or a wand. Harry mentally shrugs. He knows that Malfoy doesn't have his wand; it would have fallen off him when Harry unrolled him and set him up in bed. They can worry about finding it later.
"Because," Harry says, "it wouldn't have been the right thing to do."
Malfoy closes his eyes, slowly, and shakes his head, overcome by disgust. For all that, his fork digs into the chicken, and he starts eating as though it's been forever since his last meal. Maybe it has been, Harry thinks. Or at least half of forever.
He turns away and leaves Malfoy to finish his meal in peace. Time for another, probably fruitless, negotiation with Kreacher. At least it gives him something to do.
"But master is needing Kreacher to tend to him."
Harry sighs and leans back against the fireplace in his drawing room, the one big advantage of his flat. "It's like this, Kreacher," he says. "I need to do some things for myself, to heal. I need to see that I can take care of myself, after all the times that I almost died." He pauses, but Kreacher's wrinkled little face shows no sign that a house-elf suddenly understands human psychology. "I don't want you doing those things for me."
"But Kreacher can be making things easier for master." Kreacher pushes forwards and nearly puts his evil little face in Harry's, which makes Harry glad for the bricks behind his back, so he can't retreat further and hurt Kreacher's feelings. "Master is wanting an easy life, to heal? Kreacher can be doing that!"
Harry opens his mouth, but at that moment, there's a crash from the bedroom, and Kreacher spins around to face it, bringing his small fists up before him.
"Kreacher is defending master!" he yells, and vanishes.
Harry follows him immediately to the bedroom. He's sure that Kreacher won't hurt someone who has Black blood, but he doesn't really know what will happen next, and whatever it is, he wants to be present.
He finds the tray on the floor and Malfoy sitting up, his face furiously flushed, his fists tucked in his lap. One glance at his trembling hands tells Harry what must have happened. He lost control of his food and it fell to the floor, and now Malfoy is angry that someone else might notice his weakness.
Kreacher, meanwhile, is gaping at Malfoy. Then he bows until his ears touch the floor. "Master Malfoy is being helped!" he declares, and waves his hand. The bowls and plates and the spilled flood float off the floor, and Kreacher studies them. He sniffs. "Master Harry's efforts is being substandard," he says, with such spittle behind the word that Harry takes a step back to avoid being drenched. "Kreacher can be making much better food—if Master Malfoy will be allowing it, of course." He glances anxiously at Malfoy.
For long seconds, Malfoy sits there as if he doesn't know what to do with Kreacher's mad effort any more than Harry does. Then he sits up, and his shoulders stiffen in a way Harry knows. He's going to throw the offer back in Kreacher's face because that's what a broken, down-on-his-luck Malfoy does: survives on his pride.
Harry interrupts before he can throw everything awry.
"I told you that I don't need you here, Kreacher," he says, slowly and distinctly. "Not serving me. I don't want you here."
Color floods Malfoy's cheeks, and he holds Harry's eyes for a moment, saying that he knows what Harry is doing. Harry looks calmly back. If it spares Malfoy some pain, then he doesn't much care if Malfoy knows everything he's doing.
Then Malfoy turns his head to the side, and sniffs.
"If it will provoke you, Potter," he mutters. "Yes, Kreacher, you can stay and serve me." He nods at the food. "Cook me some better chicken. It was a tough morsel that surprised me so much I dropped the tray."
Kreacher bobs his head so fast that Harry has to look away in case he gets dizzy and loses his own dinner. "Master Malfoy will not be being disappointed!" he decrees, and vanishes. Harry hears pots and pans banging around in the kitchen a second later.
That leaves him and Malfoy looking at each other, and Malfoy's hands clenching so hard that Harry's sort of surprised his fingernails don't leave dents in his skin.
"You can't—you aren't going to get away with making me weak and dependent on you," Malfoy whispers, his voice charged. "I don't even have money I could use to pay a debt to you, do you understand?"
"I know that," Harry says, and thinks about mentioning the newspaper articles and the bruises on Malfoy's wrists, but in the end he doesn't. If all Malfoy has left is his pride, then let him keep that. "I won't make you pay for the pain potions, either."
He gets up to leave the bedroom, but Malfoy leans forwards, staring at him with unnatural intensity. "Why did you really pick me up?" he asks. "Why are you being so calm about this, when I just told you I can't pay you back?"
His voice is getting loud, but Harry doesn't care; there's no one else who lives here. He and Ginny didn't get along well when they tried to live together, and Harry doesn't think he needs to date until he has his life more worked out. "I know that," he repeats. "Do whatever you like. Stay as long as you need." He leaves the room.
"You didn't answer me, Potter!" Malfoy yells after him.
Harry leans his head back in the room only long enough to say, "I couldn't leave you there," and then goes through the Floo to Ron and Hermione's house while Malfoy is still demanding that he get back here and explain. He knows Kreacher will take excellent care of Malfoy, and it's probably for the best that Harry doesn't spend much time around Malfoy right now. He doesn't want to agitate him.
When Harry comes back near midnight—after three games of chess with Ron, an argument with Hermione about getting back together with Ginny, and lots of apologies—he almost goes into the bedroom before he remembers. He shrugs, kicks off his shoes, and lies down on his couch. A few charms conjure a blanket and smooth out the springs that keep poking him in the back. He would fix them permanently, but he hasn't found any charm yet that lasts more than a night.
He can hear Kreacher humming in the kitchen when he closes his eyes. Harry snorts to himself as he drifts into sleep. He might have solved two problems at once: given Malfoy a place to live and kept Kreacher happy. He reckons he can only wait and see.
"I'm not staying here any longer."
Harry glances up from his breakfast plate, mostly scrambled eggs with the occasional kipper lost somewhere in the fluffy mounds. Malfoy stands in the kitchen doorway, his hands braced against the frame and his glare as deadly as though he had a wand to his name.
"Okay," Harry says, and picks up another forkful of eggs. "Do you want me to Apparate you somewhere, or would you prefer to use the Floo?"
Malfoy eyes him and takes another step into the kitchen. "You aren't going to keep me here? What happened to picking me up and bringing me home with you for my own good?"
"I wanted to do the right thing," Harry tells him, and takes a long swallow of his coffee. "Keeping you here against your will is the wrong thing. Just tell me whether it's the Apparition or the Floo." He turns back to breakfast.
Malfoy stands there and glares some more. Harry ignores him. He'll leave Malfoy his pride, but he's not going to go out of his way to make himself a punching bag for Malfoy. One of the things he's resolved to work on since the war is his tendency to act masochistically where his enemies are concerned.
Malfoy opens his mouth to say something else, and Kreacher appears with a hum that turns quickly to a shriek. "Master Malfoy is not being out of bed!" he says, and flings his hands up in front of his eyes, as though refusing to see it will make it true. "Master Malfoy is not intruding on Kreacher's duties!"
"I'm leaving," Malfoys says, and then takes a step forwards, and then stops. Harry doubts it's weakness stopping him, and smiles behind the Daily Prophet he's picked up. The Cannons have lost again, he notices.
"But then who will be feeding Master Malfoy delicious beakfastses?" Kreacher is wringing his hands now. Harry doesn't watch, but he knows the sound of those nails rubbing together. "Who will be helping him?"
Malfoy hesitates again. Harry doesn't look up. It's nothing to do with him.
"Well," Malfoy concedes, as if grudgingly, "I reckon people aren't exactly lining up to do that." He glares at Harry. Harry keeps his head bowed.
"Master Malfoy is going back to bed now," Kreacher says, his nostrils flapping as he herds Malfoy in the direction of the bedroom. "And he is resting, and he is eating his breakfastses, and he is doing better."
Harry only looks up and smiles when Malfoy is out of the kitchen and Kreacher is too busy frying bacon to notice him.
"I want to do something."
Harry doesn't pay attention when Malfoy stumps into the drawing room, only swinging his feet out of the way so Malfoy can get past the couch to one of the chairs. That he might want to sit on the couch beside Harry is out of the question.
"All right," Harry says, and studies the diary he's holding. It's Sirius's diary from the time he was eleven until a few months after his twelfth birthday, and the things he reads there makes Harry's heart ache: rows with Regulus, chatter about their project to become Animagi, hatred of his parents. "Do you want me to buy potions ingredients, or are you going to do something else?"
Silence, so deep and appalled that Harry looks up. Malfoy is leaning forwards—it seems he's always doing that—and gripping the ratty arms of the chair so hard that it looks like they'll come off. That's happened more than once.
"I couldn't brew without a proper lab," Malfoy says.
"That's true," Harry says, and smiles at him. Malfoy retreats back into the chair, shoulders hunched and face peering out at Harry over the top of his knees like a crab looking from its hole, so Harry faces his paper again and adds over his shoulder, "I've read about theories that let you enlarge a home with wizardspace the way you would a tent, like the ones at the Quidditch World Cup. I haven't tried it, though. I don't know enough about the theories. Do you?"
More silence, so thick that Harry thinks Malfoy might get up and walk out of the room. He finds himself holding his breath, and releases it again with a whoosh. Acting like this is a big deal will only drive Malfoy further away.
"I might have a few ideas," Malfoy allows, and Harry keeps his head bowed as he smiles.
"Great," he says, and turns a page.
"I reckon it doesn't work like this," Harry says, or tries to say. Since the layer of expanded wizardspace beneath him is pushing him up against the ceiling, he can really only say "Urk."
He can hear Malfoy fumbling around beneath him, muttering and then cursing himself when whatever he tried to do doesn't work. Harry turns around on the layer of wizardspace and finds that he can get more space between his stomach and the ceiling than he could between his back and the ceiling.
Kreacher would say I need to eat more, he thinks, but at least Kreacher is no longer hanging over him all the time to scold him with it, and that part, he can thank Malfoy for.
He's opened his mouth to speak again when Malfoy makes a triumphant noise and says, "Finite Incantatem," and the wizardspace deflates beneath Harry like a punctured balloon. He comes down and bounces gently for a second on all that's left of it, a rag of mist and magic in the middle of the rug in the drawing room. Harry stands up, dusting off his trousers and glancing over at Malfoy.
Malfoy stands with Harry's wand in his hand, since they still haven't found his, his face so flushed that Harry wonders what will come out next. Maybe a defense, because he thinks that Harry will mock him for not having figured out a simple Finite will take care of the problem.
Harry grins at him instead, says, "Thank you. I'll make lunch for myself, and you can have those sandwiches and soup and cheeses and chicken Kreacher left," and walks towards the kitchen. Kreacher gets upset now if Harry tries to eat the food he makes for Malfoy and leaves under Cooling and Heating Charms, so Harry just prepares his own, instead.
"Thanks for what?" Malfoy spits behind him, and he sounds different from the battered and bruised man that Harry found on the pavement. "Potter, what do you mean? Are you trying to mess with my head? Potter!"
Harry keeps his back turned as he starts pulling bread and cheese out of the drawers, so Malfoy won't see his smile.
"I think I have the bedroom set up."
Harry glances up from the letter he's writing to Ginny, interested. He thought Malfoy would continue on with his project of expanding the drawing room first, because he's talking about how he wants to make it into a Potions lab. Harry wonders what he wants with the bedroom. "Are you attaching it to the bathroom?" he asks.
Malfoy stares at him, then folds his arms the way he always does when Harry asks some question that gets too close to his heart. Apparently he doesn't think his ribs are protection enough. Considering the old cracks Harry thinks they've sustained, maybe he's right. "So you want to sleep on your couch for the next few months?" he asks.
"Oh," Harry says, and sits there for a second, with the quill dripping ink on the pages, because he doesn't really know how to react. "So you don't really-you would be okay with having another bed in there?"
Malfoy sneers, another patented defensive reaction, as sharp as his cheekbones. "Well, I'm not sharing my bed with you."
My bed, Harry notes, amused, and stretches his arms over his head, while Malfoy flushes and starts to think about what he said. "I reckon a room big enough to accommodate a second bed is acceptable," Harry says gravely.
Malfoy stares at him with wide eyes, sweet in their way. Harry looks gravely back. He bites down on his lip when he feels it quivering. He's made too many sacrifices to assure Malfoy's pride. Giving up now just because he wants to snicker is not acceptable.
Malfoy steps away, then comes back. "We would still have to share the bathroom," he says.
Harry shrugs. "I haven't lived many places where I didn't." And at least Malfoy won't leave the truly disgusting mess in the drain that Dudley does, or scatter the floor with the hair Seamus was always shedding.
Malfoy half-sneers. "You had your own before I came."
That's part of it, Harry's sure. Malfoy would defend this narrow little territory with his life if it was all he had, and he knows, in some obscure way, that this is Harry's place, unlike the others where he's been. He doesn't understand why Harry doesn't throw him out already, to get some of his privacy back.
Harry looks straight into Malfoy's eyes and does his best to convey his response both to what Malfoy has told him and what he hasn't. "Sharing a bathroom or not sharing a bathroom doesn't matter to me. Not compared to other things."
They lock gazes in a way Harry hasn't anticipated. Malfoy looks away first.
"I expect you to spend more time cleaning up the toothpaste you spit in the sink," he says over his shoulder to Harry, and stomps away.
Harry goes back to his letter. Before, the words stumbled out of him. He finds they flow much better now.
"I don't know that it's healthy to spend all your time cooped up in your flat with Malfoy."
Harry raises his glass in a toast to Hermione. He made a silent bet with himself that she would say that to him tonight, or at least a similar thing, in much the same words. He lets himself have a drink of wine now, slowly swishing it around his mouth. He has to be careful about how he drinks it. He never had it before Ron and Hermione started buying it, and it's not something he can either gulp or just sip. The first because it chokes him, the second because then Hermione starts worrying that he doesn't like it and he's too polite to do anything.
"I don't spend all of it there," Harry points out peacefully. "I visit you lot, and go to pubs, and go to the Burrow every Sunday for dinner-" that had taken some working out, a delicate dance, at least for the six months he and Ginny had been really angry at each other "-and I go shopping, and I visit Hogwarts. I don't know what more I need to do to qualify as spending some time in the healthy outdoors."
Ron and Hermione trade one of those private looks, although since Harry is close enough to both of them, he can read it. Ron is telling Hermione that he thought it was a mistake to do this at all, while Hermione is telling him, quite plainly, to shut up.
Harry wonders who he has to trade private looks like that with, and the only person he can come up with is Malfoy, who rolled his eyes at him over Hermione's firecall this afternoon. It came when they were both in the middle of silent reading, and Malfoy seemed to say, without words, that of course Hermione would call now, just to make sure that Harry doesn't spend all his time reading.
Harry tried to eye-roll back that there was no way Hermione could have known that, but Malfoy had already turned back to his book, leaving Harry to feel ridiculous for trying to exchange significant looks with himself.
Hermione's voice is insistent. Harry faces her and sighs again. "I was only trying to give you evidence that I don't spend every moment of my existence between the same four walls, Hermione. What more did you want?"
Hermione blinks for a second, and then says, "But you must see it's unhealthy."
Sometimes Hermione repeats that word like a mantra, and sometimes she's right, as when she's talking about the way most wizards regard house-elves. This time, Harry doesn't think she is. He waits until she catches his eye again, with an expectant expression, and simply shakes his head. "Malfoy doesn't dare venture out until we know more about what happened to him the day I found him beat up. Not to mention that he doesn't have a wand. It's best if he stays there for right now."
"I meant that it was unhealthy for you." Hermione reaches across the table and takes his hand.
"Why?" Harry asks in interest.
"Because you're spending too much time with one person," Hermione says, as earnest and shiny-new as a polished Sickle. "You know that you shouldn't do that, that it can lead—"
Hermione jumps a little when Harry starts laughing, but really, Harry can't help himself. "Was spending every day with you as my only friends most of the time in Hogwarts unhealthy?" he asks through his chuckles. "Was spending as much time as I did with Ginny when we were dating unhealthy?" He leans back and studies them. "What about the fact that you're the only ones I ever eat Friday night dinner with?"
Hermione's face is brilliant red. "That's not really the same thing," she says. Ron leans back and grins at her.
"Told you so," he mouths, when Harry glances at him. Harry grins himself and turns back to Hermione.
"Why not?" Harry asks peacefully. "I see the same people every week, I have the same routine, I spend my time between the same four walls for dinner every Friday night." He gestures at the walls of Ron and Hermione's dining room. They're bright mauve, a color that for some reason Ron has decided he likes—although Harry thinks it's as much to mess with Hermione's mind and have some sort of upper hand in their relationship as anything else—and decorated with little roses. "You could say that it would unhealthy to pursue the same routine so obsessively. But I don't think you would call it that."
"No, but…" Hermione rallies just when Harry thinks that Ron's knowing grin and her own blush are finally going to cause her to fall silent. "I think that being alone with Malfoy in particular that way isn't good for you."
Harry shrugs. "We don't even talk that much most of the time. First he was setting up the wizardspace, and now he's setting up his Potions lab." There are a great number of bangs and curses coming from that room, a stretch of wizardspace that Malfoy's attached to the drawing room, but the one time Harry stuck his head in there, Malfoy flung a vial at him. Harry's decided that the course of prudence is to keep his head and the rest of his body parts outside.
"I meant," Hermione says. "After your breakup with Ginny, I thought."
It's the most authoritative tone Ron's ever used with her, and it makes her freeze and blink at him. Then, a second later, the red color deepens until Harry thinks she wouldn't look any different if she'd taken a Pepper-Up Potion. He refrains from suggesting that they have her take one and make the experiment, though.
"Right," Hermione says, so softly it's hard for Harry to hear her. "I reckon that's it, then." She plays with her fingers and doesn't look at Harry.
Harry rolls his eyes, drains his glass, and stands up. "I ought to go home and make sure that Malfoy hasn't blown the drawing room up," he says, ignoring the way Hermione flinches and stares at him. It's not a real possibility, just a convenient excuse. Harry has become masterful at those in the last year. After Ginny, it was necessary. "I hope you lot have a good evening."
Hermione stands up to hug him, tears briefly dimming her eyes. "I don't mean to interfere," she whispers. "I just want you to be happy."
Harry holds her and thinks about telling her that she knows who she is: in love with Ron, studying for her NEWTS at Hogwarts, ready to pursue dual careers in the Muggle and wizarding worlds. But Harry doesn't yet, and he doesn't want to be hurried into making the wrong choice.
But he doesn't say that yet. He just kisses her on the cheek, claps Ron on the back, and makes his way to the Floo. "Behave, or I'll send Kreacher to cater to you," he threatens them, and vanishes while Hermione is still protesting.
He comes out into a cacophony of yelling and Potions fumes and protests from Malfoy. "I didn't know that putting that yellow dust in the potion would do that!" he's saying at the moment, while Harry brushes soot off himself and casts a charm to clear the air around him so he doesn't breathe in any fumes.
"Master Malfoy is goings back to bed and not to be touching nasty yellow powder again!" Kreacher rasps back. When he comes around the corner, dragging Malfoy with one hand, he has one orange foot and one green ear. "Master Malfoy is gettings rest for his mind!"
Harry gives a gentle wave, ignoring Malfoy's pleading glance, and settles down on the couch, his grin hidden to relieve Malfoy's pride. This is home.
Harry comes around the corner from the bathroom, toweling his hair. Now that Malfoy has expanded the bedroom with wizardspace and made enough room for two beds, Harry can keep his clothes in there and change without bumping his elbows into the walls all the time. It's a big improvement.
He sees Malfoy kneeling down beside his own bed, taking something out of the trunk beneath it, but Harry doesn't think much of it. Malfoy can absolutely do what he wants with his own space. It's one thing Harry's tried to be very careful of, so that Malfoy has no reason to think Harry wants him gone.
But Malfoys bolts around on his knees when he hears Harry coming, and hisses at him. He's holding the white, torn blanket Harry found him wrapped in, and he shakes it at Harry as though it could thunder at him. "Why haven't you made any attempt to figure out where my wand is, or who did this to me?" he demands.
Harry blinks and nearly drops the towel wrapped around his waist, but then reminds himself that no one in the room wants to see his bits, and tucks it in more securely. "Because I was waiting for you to ask me," he says, and sits down on the bed, Summoning his clothes from the cupboard that the wizardspace automatically puts them in.
"You were waiting for me." A flat voice that could probably be laid as flooring. Harry rolls his eyes at the ceiling as he pulls his shirt over his head, secure in the knowledge that Malfoy can't see him.
"Yes. I think you should be the one to decide when the investigation begins, since you're the one it affects the most. And I thought you might have some memories that would matter to the investigation." Harry gives his hair one more rough rub, then drops the towel on his bed and starts pulling on his socks.
There's utter silence from behind him. Harry doesn't look over his shoulder. He knows that Malfoy might be blinking away something or have an expression on his face that he doesn't want Harry to see, and since all Malfoy has, at times, is his pride, Harry wants to leave him it.
"I don't remember what happened when they beat me up, as you should know, or I would have said something by now. And I don't have any idea who did it."
Harry nods and finally turns around when he gets his pants on and his trousers to his knees. Malfoy is standing there now and staring at him with vengeance in his eyes. Harry nods. "Okay. Then that gives us another point to start from."
"What?" Malfoy looks adorably sulky with his hands on his hips like that.
"Your wand," Harry says. "Have you tried Summoning it at all when you had mine? Some of the wands I've read about can answer their master from incredible distances."
Malfoy sneers. "Not all of us are lucky enough to possess the Elder Wand."
Harry shakes his head. "Not what I meant. There's a bond between the wand and the master, and there should be more of a bond between you and my wand, or between it and your wand, than normal, given what happened at the end of the war."
He thinks he's being tactful, but from the hateful way Malfoy sneers at him, being tactful is what Malfoy despises most. "Yes, and that's exactly the memory I want to bring up again."
Harry snorts. "Fine. Then reject the best way to find your wand, and hope that someone turns it in to the Aurors out of the goodness of their hearts."
Malfoy tries to stare him down, but Harry's got a lot of practice at that in the last year, staring down reporters and Aurors and Ministry officials and people who wanted to "protect" him and all sorts who thought they knew what he should be doing with his life better than he did. Malfoy finally grunts and looks away with a thick red flush mantling his throat. "Fine. But you have no idea how much I hate—"
He breaks off. Never expose weakness, Harry decides, even in front of a Gryffindor who's fed you and taken care of you and tried to help you. Perhaps especially not then.
Harry picks up his wand and closes his eyes, falling into a clear, meditative state of mind that makes it easier to recall memories. He might as well try and see if he can locate Malfoy's wand before the git tries, especially since he's made no motion to take Harry's wand yet.
Harry remembers, without much effort since it was such a short time ago, how it felt to win over Malfoy, to snatch the hawthorn wand from him as Dobby took them away from Malfoy Manor, and the way it yielded and called him master. He remembers tossing it back to Malfoy, and the way that the bond between them lengthened for a little before it snapped. Since he had his holly wand back and had rejected the Elder Wand by then, Harry's private theory is that the hawthorn saw it had too much competition and just gave up. It might as well resume its bond to Malfoy.
He opens his eyes, and then grunts a little. Malfoy is standing in front of Harry with his mouth open and moving, probably in some sort of scolding, but Harry can see through him, see how transparent and wobbly his body is, like a floating pall of smoke. Instead, what he can see is a dark grey line, like a splinter of hawthorn, pointing directly through Malfoy's body, and through Harry's wall, too, leading southwest from here. Harry squints for a second, making sure. Yes, definitely southwest.
"—listening to me, Potter? God, even you don't listen to me."
"I think I know where your wand is," Harry announces, standing up and staring. Yes, he can still see the dark grey trail, even though he can hear Malfoy now, and he knows from experience that his mystic trance is pretty much gone completely. "Yeah, I'm sure I can find it."
"How can you do that?" If Harry doesn't listen, Harry thinks, then neither does Malfoy. Maybe that makes them a good match for each other, in some respects. Malfoy stands up and plants his hands on his hips. "There's no way to find a missing wand just by holding your own wand and standing there like an idiot."
"Is that what I looked like?" Harry grins and finishes dressing while Malfoy gapes at him. "I've often wondered," Harry adds, as he whips the last drops of water from his hair. "I can't see myself when I'm standing there and not in front of a mirror, you know."
"You," Malfoy says, but he seems to have built up so much outrage that it won't let him speak beyond that. His jaws work out and open, and then he says, "You," again.
"It might be dangerous," Harry says briskly. "Someone might have found your wand and intend to sell it, or maybe they're holding it until you come for it. It might not even be the people who originally beat you up. You'd better stay here."
"Like hell," Malfoy says, and at least that comes out clear. He steps up and glares directly into Harry's eyes. "I'm not doing anything that you think I should do."
Harry holds his hands up. "Okay."
"I'm coming along," Malfoy says. "I want to see the faces of the people who were involved in stealing my wand from me, since I still can't remember them. And I want to make sure that you don't take it from me again."
Harry winces, and then wonders why. It happened once before, after all, and for all Malfoy knows, he might do it again. "Okay," he repeats. "But put on some shoes, first."
Malfoy gives him a long, thoughtful look before he moves to obey. Just showing that he can rebel, Harry supposes. He manages to preserve a neutral expression on his face, mostly by keeping his eyes on the southwest-pointing grey thread, but it takes an effort.
It is almost laughably easy. Harry supposes that none of the people who beat Malfoy up ever thought that someone would come to find them, or would know that they had his wand there. Except Malfoy himself, maybe, and who would he bring with him to fight when the whole world despises him?
The expression of the young witch who opens the door and tries to simper up at them fades into fear extremely fast when she sees Harry's scar. She tries to slam the door of the little cottage. Harry blocks her with one stiff arm and steps into the cottage, turning his head. The splinter of hawthorn light points straight at one wall, where he can see the outline of a hidden panel. Harry nods and swishes his wand down. "Accio Draco Malfoy's wand," he says, making sure that his voice stays cool and unconcerned.
The wand smashes its way through the hidden panel and flies straight to Harry's hand. Harry grimaces a little as he sees the crushed and dangling wood on the wall. He really must remember to tone down some of the power that he puts into his spells.
He turns and tosses the wand to Malfoy. Malfoy catches it and cuddles it against his cheek like a lost kitten. Harry chuckles and turns to face the witch, who is backed up against a couch—the main room of the cottage is crowded with furniture—and doesn't seem to have her own wand.
"Now," Harry says, and he needs no spell to make his voice resound and leap around the place. "Are you going to tell us who beat Mr. Malfoy here up, or do I have to wring the information out of you?" He moves his wand in a way that's probably more graphic than he intends, because the girl gasps and then bursts into tears.
"Oh, honestly," Malfoy says, with a superior roll of his eyes that Harry can hear even though he's not looking at him, and steps close. "Look at me," he snaps, and both the girl and Harry turn their heads. Malfoy's only concentrating on the girl, though, and he says in a rough voice, "Legilimens."
He doesn't look at Harry as he does it, apparently secure in the knowledge that Harry won't turn him in to the Ministry for illegal practice of the Mind Art. Harry grins a little and leans back against the wall. He didn't know things would work out so that Malfoy could get his own information, but this is grand.
The girl writhes a little bit, indicating that Malfoy probably isn't being gentle when he probes her mind, but Harry doesn't care. If the girl is part of a group who beats wizards up and takes their wands, then she probably doesn't deserve much mercy. Plus, the way she reacted when she saw him indicates someone with little or no innocence. Innocent people tend to fall at Harry's feet and fawn over him in an embarrassing way.
Malfoy rips himself free of the girl's mind with a pop Harry can almost hear and turns to Harry. "They thought I'd inherited the Malfoy property somehow, despite those laws about the Dark Mark," he says in a low voice. "They thought they could persuade me to give them a lot of money and artifacts, especially once my mother was—gone, and I had no protection." He shakes his head, mouth so defined that Harry wants to touch it. "I remember it now, a little. They shouted at me and cast pain curses at me and took my wand. They didn't want to kill me, because they didn't know who would inherit then, but they wanted to scare me."
Harry puts his hand in the middle of Malfoy's back, telling him without words that only the two of them will ever know how scared Malfoy was. Malfoy gives him a quick glance, and then lowers his eyes.
"I think that all of them were together," he continues. "A fairly big group, but not—not overwhelming. And all of them were known to her, so I have their names." He looks with cool, uncaring eyes at the girl whose mind he read.
"What did she do?" Harry asks, turning to place a hand on Malfoy's arm and shield his lips from the girl so she can't read them.
"She cast spells that slapped me around," Malfoy says. "Gave me the sensation of being slapped around, I mean. She wasn't going to demean herself by touching my filthy skin."
Harry has heard a lot of people talk about Mudbloods and how filthy Muggles are, but seeing it turned around and applied to Malfoy doesn't give him any satisfaction. It just makes him tired. Sometimes, people are arseholes, and being an arsehole in another direction just continues the cycle.
"Come on," he says, and wraps his arm around Malfoy's shoulders. "You think that you can stand going with me and giving a report to the Aurors?"
Malfoy's mouth falls open as he looks up at Harry. "But they won't do anything," he says, his voice trembling a little. "You know they won't. They don't care about people like me, and some of these people are related to them."
"If you went in by yourself, you might be right, and they wouldn't do anything." Harry gently flicks his nose. "But with me at your side? It'll get done."
Harry has to grin as he sees the light fill Malfoy's eyes. This is the good thing about being with someone who doesn't have the strict and rigid conscience that most of Harry's friends do. He'll just accept what Harry can do for him instead of arguing about it.
"Right," Malfoy says, viciously enough to make the girl flinch. "Let's do it." He marches to the door.
Harry winks over his shoulder at the girl, and casts a subtle spell that will lock the building from the outside, so no one can flee. They might miss a few who are out now, but since Malfoy has the names, they'll find them. "See you soon," Harry says cheerfully, and walks out after Malfoy.
The interview with the Ministry goes like this:
Malfoy walks into the place and stands there looking lost for a second, before he starts towards the lifts that will take them to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Harry walks at his side, glancing around for threats.
Someone on the other side of the room starts up and opens his mouth.
Harry meets his eyes.
The man finds something else to do in a great hurry, and Harry guides Malfoy to the lifts with a hand on his arm. Malfoy never notices the man who might have called out his name and might have taunted him, but either way, would have caused them trouble they don't need.
They get into the lift, and Harry makes sure the door closes before anyone else can get on.
They go to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
A few Aurors and secretaries and other flunkies try to cause trouble when they get off the lift, but then they catch Harry's eye, and they can't help noticing the scar, and he explains to them in a patient silent language that they're not going to have trouble, because he will personally take them apart if that happens. All of them sit down and pretend that they have important things going on on their desks.
They take the route down the corridor to the Head Auror's office, because Harry insists, in the same silent language, but this time mostly with his hand on Malfoy's arm.
The Head Auror stares at them, but understands better than a lot of underlings, which is one of the reasons that he's the Head Auror. He takes out quill and parchment, positions his ink, and nods to Harry, saying, "Please explain why you're here."
Harry explains the general situation in a few words, including that Malfoy has been living with him since the idiots attacked him. The Head Auror's eyebrow twitches at that, but he doesn't say a word, instead writing down several notes on the parchment.
Then Malfoy begins the list of names, with Harry turning to him as though for help remembering. Better for the Head Auror to think that Harry has investigated and found the names on his own, and is just forgetful of how many there are and what they are, than that he should think Malfoy ripped the names out of someone's mind with Legilimency.
The Head Auror's face grows grimmer as he writers, but he nods to Harry—not Malfoy—when he's done, and says, "Yes. I recognize some of these names as children indulged too long by their parents." Harry smiles, because if it's true that some of the group are related to Aurors, the Head Auror doesn't sound like he'll let that have any weight with him. "I might have a few more questions for you in a week, but we'll look at it for right now and tell you if we do have them."
And like that, they're done and walking out of the Ministry.
Some of the same people stare at them on the way out, but Harry's scar is still on his forehead and Harry's hand is still on his wand, and no one is stupid enough to approach them. Or to say anything about the way Malfoy leans against Harry when they come to the Floo and use it to get back to Harry's flat, either.
Of course, Harry himself is not stupid enough to say anything about that. So maybe they're just picking up on a cue from him.
"I can't stay here any longer."
Malfoy says it, mouth tense and stern, a week after they've got his wand back, with no Floo call coming from the Head Auror in the meantime.
Harry puts the newspaper down slowly, and stretches his arms over his head to gain time. He doesn't know why Malfoy has made his decision, which somewhat limits the ways he can react. In the end, though, he decides that he might as well ask straight out. He's been nothing but honest with Malfoy since the day he brought him into his house.
"Why?" he asks.
Malfoy's eyes almost start out of his head. Harry goes on looking back. He can think of no reason that Malfoy would expect to be kicked out now. Did he think Harry wouldn't ask?
Well, that was stupid of him, Harry decides, and he'll say the same thing if Malfoy asks him. Harry has hardly let Malfoy run around making stupid plans on his own in the last month. Why would he now?
"You can't be serious," Malfoy says.
"Yes, I am," Harry says. "We've been getting along lately, I thought. You have your wand back. You have your potions lab available to you now. Is it sharing a bedroom?" He looks doubtfully at the couch. He could go back to sleeping on it, though he has to admit that doesn't appeal much now that he's spent the last fortnight on a comfortable bed.
And—might as well say it to himself, if no one else—it would be hard to go back to being by himself when he's got used to Malfoy's comfortable little snores in the night. They soothe Harry to sleep faster than any other solution he's ever tried, including sleeping with a Calming Draught in his stomach.
"People are going to wonder," Malfoys says.
"Wonder what?" Harry asks. He would have understood better if Malfoy had said "gossip," but even that has a normal, natural response. Sod to them. Harry shares his home with Malfoy, and anyone else who doesn't like that can crawl away and chew their own regurgitated vomit in a corner.
"If we're—lovers," Malfoy says, and turns so red that he clashes with the wallpaper the way Harry's latest Weasley jumper does.
Harry blinks. Then he smiles. "Would you like to be?"
Malfoy now looks as though he wants to sink down on the floor and hide his head. "You can't be serious," he repeats, but now it's a choked little whisper. Harry stands up and folds the paper up neatly behind him, because that kind of thing matters to Malfoy, and if they're discussing him moving in permanently, Harry sees no reason to start disregarding his wishes now.
"I am," he says, and kneels down beside Malfoy, making no move to touch him yet. Malfoy's more than a little skittish about that after being beaten up, and Harry can hardly blame him. "Would you like to be? The only ones this matters to are you and me."
"Your friends," Malfoy says, or releases a little squeak of breath that sounds like that. His eyes are closed, and he refuses to open them, even when Harry takes his hand.
"They might not like or understand it, but they won't speak against it," Harry says. "They tried that last year with Ginny, and now they understand that I make my own decisions when it comes to who I take into my bed."
"My friends," Malfoy says.
Harry strokes Malfoy's wrist, and doesn't say what he thinks, that none of Malfoy's friends helped him when he was direly in need of their help. "Do you let them control who you sleep with?" he asks.
Malfoy's face is by now the color of a ripe plum. "Never came up," he mutters.
Harry's breath catches. There's no reason for it to do so, or only a silly reason, but there you are. Sometimes the silly reasons are the best ones.
"Because?" he whispers against Malfoy's ear, making him shiver.
"Because I've never had anyone to," Malfoy says, and buries his head in Harry's shoulder.
Harry strokes his hair, and continues talking, because he knows Malfoy would probably say these things, and Harry wants them out of the way before they get down to pleasure, or at least not distracting Malfoy the way they would otherwise. "The public won't like it, but the public hasn't liked any decision I made since I broke up with Ginny. I should be living in a richer place, I should be training as an Auror, I should be married already, I should admit all my dark secrets to them. I can weather it, and you've seen how strong the wards are here. We can keep any Howlers or unwanted visitors from coming in. If you can take some people screwing up their faces and spitting at us in Diagon Alley, I don't think we'll have much to worry about. No more than we would already get because I'm who I am and disapprovable, and because you're who you are," he added gently.
He says nothing about Malfoy's family. Technically, Malfoy still has a father, but even when he gets out, Lucius Malfoy will have nothing, because of the same laws that kept Malfoy from inheriting the Manor and money. They are as free as they want to be. Harry would never say that the obstacles separating them exist only in Malfoy's imagination, but it is true that they're as minor as they can be, given their history.
Malfoy shivers against him, and then lifts his head. "You have to do three things," he says.
Harry smiles at him, and nods.
"You have to be with me," Malfoy says. "Be my best friend. I don't have anything else, and you do. I'm not going to be dependent on you unless you're dependent on me, too."
"Granted," Harry whispers. "I haven't wanted to spend much time with anyone else since you came into my life, anyway."
Malfoy's face, lessening in color to tomato before now, becomes a plum again. "Yes," he whispers. "And the second thing you have to do is help me get a job. I don't want a job just because of your patronage, and I might even have to have a fake name and a glamour to hold one, but I want one."
Harry nods. They can talk about the glamours and the fake names later. Harry would like Malfoy to be proud of himself no matter what, but Harry understands if he really can't make that choice right now.
Malfoy shuts his eyes. "I lied," he whispers. "It's four things I want."
"What are the other two?" Harry smoothes the hair back from Malfoy's forehead.
"Call me Draco," Malfoy says. "And take me to bed right now."
"Granted, Draco," Harry says, and kisses him.
It's a long time before he can fulfill the fourth promise, though. Kissing on the drawing room floor isn't comfortable, but it's overwhelming, and Harry can feel the heat bucking and building between their bodies until he doesn't want to move anywhere else. It's pure agony to tear himself away and lift Malfoy to his feet, stealing another kiss.
"Come on," he whispers, and Malfoy nods in a daze, letting Harry spirit him away.
Making love to Draco for the first time is exquisite, and uncomfortable.
Draco flinches when Harry takes off his clothes. Harry assumes it has something to do with the people who beat him up, and kisses his neck in apology. Draco closes his eyes and lies there, hands fisted beside him so hard that Harry's really afraid he'll break his fingers or something. He reaches out and gently slides his fingers into Draco's fists, teasing back and forth at the small dark holes in the center until they open out.
"I'm sorry," he says.
Draco opens his eyes and shakes his head. "So many people have apologized to me since the war," he whispers. "The Aurors, when they didn't mean it, and my father, and my mother, in her suicide note, and even some of them when they were holding me and trying to make me tell them the location of all these Malfoy properties I can't inherit anyway. Don't you start doing it, too. You're the only one who doesn't need to."
"Well, me and Kreacher," Harry feels it only fair to point out.
Draco stares at him, and blinks, before his face lights up and he laughs. Harry finds himself bowing his head in response. Draco is beautiful when he laughs like that, as though he was a person escaping from the shadow of his wars, the one with Voldemort and the private one that he fought after it.
"Kreacher isn't someone I want to apologize, either," Draco admits, throwing his arms around Harry and coaxing him downwards until their lips hover a little bit apart from each other's, and Harry's all hot and shifting around. "But you're the only one I want here, with me, and doing better things."
Harry can feel the contentment humming through him as Draco kisses him. This is someone who wants him just for himself, and wants what he can give, a stable home and support, like anyone else. Not for fame or history or lots of power and money.
Draco writhes under him, and Harry finds it hard to get him undressed, too. Sometimes Draco acts like he wants all his clothes off as soon as possible, sometimes he pins Harry's hand in place when he tries to unbutton Draco's shirt, and sometimes he looks away and breathes harshly.
"It's all right, if you want to stop," Harry says at last. "Or if you want to go slowly." Even though he doesn't know how much more slowly they could be going than right now, and part of him thinks it's better to back away completely and let Draco take the time that he so clearly needs.
"No, I want this," Draco says, his voice thick with desperation and pain. "It's just—it's like something's shown up to corrupt every good thing that I had for the past year, and now I think it's going to happen again."
Harry stands up without a word and wards the bedroom so that not even Kreacher can come in. He speaks all the spells aloud, although he could do them nonverbally. Draco watches him with wide-open eyes that gradually drift shut.
"Is that better?" Harry asks softly, putting down his wand and climbing into the bed again.
Draco's hastily attacking hands say it is, and Harry laughs and let himself be kissed.
They roll on top of each other, now one and now the other, sometimes on the edge of the bed and sometimes in the middle. Harry is glad that he Transfigured the sheets into softer ones after the first day Draco was here, so they wouldn't be so rough on his bruises. They feel wonderful now, and he slithers out of his clothes first, watching Draco's eyes widen and his eyelashes shiver, while his lips part.
Then, when Harry's naked and kissing Draco gently and nothing terrible has happened, Draco finally lets Harry undress him, too.
He's covered with scars and bruises, the Sectumsempra scars that Harry inflicted on him and some that come from the attacks he's endured and some that Harry suspects are from the Death Eaters, because they look like they come from illegal curses that ordinary wizards wouldn't know. Harry covers a sharp-edged, ragged, ripping one with one hand and leans in to kiss Draco's throat.
Draco closes his eyes. Wetness gathers around the edges. "You don't care," he whispers, and the almost hysterical joy hovering in the back of his voice tells Harry that it's the good kind of indifference Draco sees in his face.
"I don't," Harry says, and rolls on top of Draco, covering Draco's mouth with his and Draco's hair with his hands and Draco's wrists with his fingers, slowly moving, stroking, gathering him in, while Draco moans and groans and sobs, and the sounds melt into each other, not distinguishable, glowing, fierce, rich.
Everything around them seems to melt, really. There's the softness of the sheets stroking against Harry's skin that seems to melt into the softness of Draco's skin, and the way Draco gasps, flinging his head back, that melts into the gasps he makes when Harry sucks on his collarbone, and there's the sweet impatience of Harry's desire that melts into the way Draco lifts his arse at last and spreads his cheeks with his fingers, whispering something so desperate that Harry can't hear it.
And then Harry conjures the lube, and puts his wand aside, where they won't roll over on it in their lovemaking, and slides into Draco.
Draco goes so still, shuddering, that Harry wonders if this will be the final surrender that puts the barriers and the resistance back up. But he doesn't retreat or move. He just waits, with burning need around him and burning need in his head, to see Draco's eyes open again and his smile give Harry permission.
And, in the event, it really doesn't take that long. Draco's eyes flutter back open, and he gives Harry a long, languid smile and a nod that melts into another flinging of his head back. His smile becomes a groan as Harry thrusts, and then Harry's rocking, gone, lost, sucked into Draco's body and held there.
They ride, or they rock, or they thrust, or they mutually make love. It's so hard to be sure, and Harry finds that he doesn't need to be sure. Sucking on Draco's neck and running his hands through Draco's hair teaches him a new kind of surety.
They break apart when they come. Or it melts into breaking apart, and Harry finds himself leaning back and staring in appreciation as Draco comes over his chest, long, long pulses that melt into the rocks and shudders that have consumed Harry for what could be an hour and could be a dream.
He leans back over Draco, and kisses him, and comes. His body trembles as he does it. Draco holds him still and soothes him, hands moving up and down Harry's sides, his voice soft, wordless.
Harry blinks and opens his eyes. He knows that he spent a lot of time lying in bed with Draco, and waking to make love to him again, and he woke up when Draco went to the bathroom and lay there waiting for him to come back, content in the thought that he was only a short distance away, and not needing to get up and make sure he was still there, not when he could hear the sounds that said Draco was. Then Draco came back, and the straining, stretched distance between them melted into closeness, and that was more wonderful than finding him in the bathroom would have been.
That's Hermione's voice, and definitely coming from the Floo in the drawing room. Harry stands up, yawns, wraps the first piece of clothing he finds on the floor and that will cover his groin around his hips, and stumbles out the door. When he comes into Hermione's line of vision, her mouth drops open, comically.
"What?" Harry asks her, mildly, and has to smile when Hermione shuts her mouth and fumbles with nothingness for a while before she replies.
"Um, nothing," Hermione says. "Nothing that can't wait."
The gleam in her eyes tells him that she understands without him saying anything, and Harry's glad, because his gladness isn't ready to melt into explanations. "Good," Harry says. "Then I'm going back to Draco." Confirmation even though she doesn't need it, so that she can tell Ron that, yes, Harry and Draco are sleeping together, and yes, it doesn't mean he needs to do anything except get used to it.
"Good," Hermione says, and blinks a few times before shaking her head. "I mean, good for you that you found someone."
She disappears then, mercifully, and Harry goes back to bed. Draco wakes up and reaches for him, murmuring something sleepily about Harry's friends and how they probably disapprove and how he'll enjoy shocking them.
Harry kisses his neck, and shuts his eyes. Soft thoughts are melting and flowing through his mind, thoughts about generosity and pride and how not knowing what to do with his life doesn't mean he'll never find something.
But for now, they melt into the bliss of sleep and Draco snoring into the side of his neck.