Title: Stars, Hide Your Fires
Author: Aristide Cauquemaire
Rating: M for grown-up language, some hotness and a sh*tload of drama.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
This is the third fanfiction I ever shared with all y'all, and I'm still as excited as if it were the very first.
First and foremost: Mighty thanks to my dearest beta-reader Nia! Your comments are like warm honey. I *love* warm honey. Nia also baptized this story for me and helped with the summary. Hugs & kisses, my love.
To all the readers who have read my stuff before: Welcome back! To all those who have fav'ed and followed my other stories (or even... me) in the meantime - Ashteldar's Jewel, Luzydeath, nightworldangel, Madoma, Jeane-Granger, oakdraconis, loewchen, MagpieShadow, scadooden (Did I forget anyone?) – THANK YOU!
Everyone: You should know that comments make me happy as a puppy. If you log in for your comment, I will also respond personally. If you don't, I will respond with the posting of the next chapter.
About this story:
This story contains slash, meaning love between two men. If you do not like to read about this, don't read it.
It is also a pretty long story. It'll probably have around 20 chapters when it's done.
This story is complete on my computer and thus not *really* in progress any more, but as I did with "Thoughts", I will post one new chapter every evening.
For now, have the prologue and the first chapter. Enjoy.
He is tapping the heel of his foot against the leg of his chair. Rapidly and repeatedly. That, and the frequency with which he is checking his watch and looking around him, and maybe the unnecessary straightening of hair and cuff links and the rest of his – tailored and very handsome – clothes, give away that he is nervous. Restless. Maybe – dare it be said? – a little scared.
More than a little.
The thought makes him profoundly uncomfortable.
Malfoys are not supposed to be any of those, since feelings such as fear are reserved for the people who are not in control of the situation. And Malfoys are always, always in total control of the situation. Always.
Except when they're not.
Like these past seven months.
And especially like right now.
Draco rubs his thumb against his index finger to keep himself from gnawing his fingernails or his knuckles.
Potter is two minutes late.
Hundreds of scenarios have crossed Draco's mind. Maybe Potter didn't get the owl and somebody else entirely sent that last note to him. This note is well-folded and frayed now from all the times he has validated and re-validated what it says. He is currently carrying it around in his right trouser pocket – he knows it's there because he just checked half a minute ago. May's Café, tomorrow, Wednesday, 5 pm. Agreed. HP
Or maybe Potter got held up at work, or at home. Perhaps he cannot find this café in the Muggle part of London, small and hidden as it was between two flashy clothes stores and behind a stubbornly parked furniture lorry as well as a veil of drizzling English February rain. These seem very likely to Draco.
Most other rationalisations are located further towards the 'unlikely' end of the spectrum. Perhaps Potter got mugged on the way. Or maybe he got mauled by a herd of angry centaurs on his job – Merlin know what Aurors are up to exactly these days. Perhaps he splinched himself while apparating because his determination had wavered significantly as he remembered whom he was going to see. Draco imagines him lying bleeding on the pavement as the Muggles pass by him, thinking that he was another drunk homeless person.
Unlikely rationalisations, maybe, but persistent.
All these explanations for Potter's tardiness – three minutes now – prance through his mind in the vain effort to fend off the one, most glaringly likely rationale, the one that makes Draco physically sick and break out in cold sweat.
Because Harry Potter might have simply chosen not to come. He might have changed his mind. Draco already sees him in his mind's eye as he is discarding his very formal and polite letters – addressed to a 'Mr Harold J. Potter, Head Auror to the Ministry of Magic, London, Order of Merlin, First Class', opened with 'Esteemed Auror Potter', for Mordred's sake – whose politeness and formality only managed to veil very thinly the utter desperation and shame which had driven him to writing – and then posting – them in the first place.
Draco knows he owes Potter quite a lot. His life, for starters. That, on top of the fact that he had given the man seven atrocious years worth of reasons to not do him a single, solitary favour for the rest of his existence is more than enough for Draco to see why Harry Potter wouldn't come. It only makes sense.
In fact, some part of his brain is so convinced of the logic of Potter not showing up that it takes him three full seconds to notice Potter standing right in front of him.
"Potter!", Draco exclaims ungracefully, wondering how he could have missed the man walking in through the door since everything about his appearance is magnetic to the eye, as per usual. "You came!"
He realizes that somewhere between the one exclamation and the other he has risen to his feet, so his body goes through the motions of offering a hand to shake – mannerisms carved into him indelibly by his mother – but in the middle of reaching out he remembers who is standing in front of him, so the abortive handshake becomes the most awkward, erratic quasi-chair-pointing motion ever.
Potter looks on with knitted brows, irritated with a hint of worry. "Yes, I apparently did." He speaks slowly, quietly and deliberately, like one would speak to a child. Or a madman. "I wrote I would. You must've got my last owl, or you wouldn't be here, yeah?"
"Yes. Yes, I did. Of course." Draco pats his pant pocket reflexively. But I judged you by my standards, he thinks but does not say.
"You have me intrigued and maybe a little worried," Potter says to him and "Just some water for me, please, thanks," to the waiter. He sits down in the chair on the other side of the table that Draco finds decidedly too small for comfort - or maybe I'm just being overly sensitive.
"Your letter was cryptic enough, so I'm sufficiently wound up for you to just get straight to the point," Potter says and leans back, visibly at ease which Draco almost hates him for, and adds an offhanded "If you would" which quickly dispels all ideas – ludicrous, insane ideas – that Draco might have entertained about this meeting.
Not even a passing remark about how they hadn't really seen or talked to each other in years and years, how things had changed, how they both had grown up and started families and how their kids got along much better than they themselves did at Hogwarts. No time for talk about the bad old times either. That was probably for the best, but it still stung a little.
Also, it didn't buy him any more time to stave off the inevitable. The cause of all of this – the whole scene and the fuss, his sweaty palms and his flights of fancy – it had to be admitted to. Straight to the point. The highest hurdle first.
So he breathes in, looks Potter in the eye the best he can and tells him.
"It seems," he says and is astonished that it sounds light and steady, as if he were talking about the eternally bad English weather, "that I desperately want to have sex with you."