please see part one for summary, a/n, etc.
In the morning, Draco had to deal with the mess he’d made the night before. It wasn’t difficult to wave his wand and carry all the debris into the garbage can, but it was an unwelcome reminder of last night. Then, despite getting about two hours of sleep and feeling like he’d been run over by a truck, Draco dragged himself to work. He probably could have called in sick, but he didn’t particularly feel like sitting at home with his thoughts.
The next few days passed too slowly for Draco’s liking, one day stretching endlessly into the next. He stopped going to Madam Paccat’s – he had no wish to run into Potter again – and spent more time than he would admit moping around his house. When the weekend arrived again, he forced himself to get dressed and go out, determined to find a different tea shop to frequent.
By the time he finally found one a thirty-minute walk away, it was three hours later and Draco was cold and hungry. Stomping into the tiny store, he ordered an Earl Grey.
It tasted terrible. The witch at the counter had added sugar and milk without asking him, and Draco nearly choked on the sweetness of the first sip. Throwing the entire thing into the garbage can, he put on his cloak, grabbed his scarf, and trudged miserably home.
After that, he didn’t bother going out for tea anymore.
The worst part was, Draco knew why he was upset. If the entire thing had just been one big joke, Draco had no doubt he would have been angry, but then he would have thought of a way to get his revenge and gotten over it. The part that upset him the most was that he’d actually liked Harvey. Liked him enough to flirt with him, to ask to see him again - and then it had turned out that Harvey had been Potter all along.
Except Harvey had been nothing like the Potter he remembered. Sure, they hadn’t agreed on a lot of things, but it had been teasing, playful, nothing at all like the antagonism he’d come to associate with Potter over the years – and trying to think of Harvey and Potter in his head as the same person gave him a headache.
November came and went, and the first week of December brought with it the first snowfall of the year. It was just a quarter of an inch, if even that, and most of the snow melted before it actually hit the ground, but it brought with it the sense that winter was really here and that Christmas was right around the corner.
Work remained fairly busy, for which Draco was grateful – it kept him occupied. He left the house early most days – too early to ever run into Potter on his way to the Ministry – and by the time he got home, it was usually dark enough that he could pretend he didn’t see the other man even if Potter did happen to be coming in at the same time.
He settled into a routine, of sorts. For the first time in a while, he didn’t think about Potter or Harvey.
And so of course, Potter, who’d always had the worst timing, had to choose then to reappear in Draco’s life. He came to ring Draco’s doorbell, about a month after their last meeting, and this time, he was armed with chocolate chip cookies.
If Draco had checked the peephole properly and had known who it was, he probably wouldn’t have answered. As it was, it had been a long day, and he hadn’t really thought Potter would have the guts to show up at his door again anytime soon. In hindsight, considering what Potter was famous for, perhaps that had been a bit of a misguided assumption.
Potter, too, looked stunned. “Um, hi. I didn’t think you would open the door,” he confessed.
Draco briefly considered yelling at him and then slamming the door in his face, but the initial rage had passed, and now he was just tired. He sighed. “Do you really think that bringing me baked goods is going to make up for anything?”
“I know it won’t. But that doesn’t meant I shouldn’t try,” Potter said, expression determined. “Draco, please. I know that I should have left as soon as you showed up at the tea shop that day, but then you sat down next to me, and we started talking and you weren’t the Draco Malfoy I remembered. You were opinionated and stubborn, but you were also funny and charming and I actually liked you.” He paused, looking as if he was trying to find the right words. “I know I probably shouldn’t have kept in contact after that, but then I couldn’t help myself. I thought – I wanted to get to know you better.”
“That’s not an excuse, Potter.” Draco said.
“I know. I know it doesn’t. But I wanted you to know.” Potter swallowed audibly, then carefully met Draco’s gaze. “When you kissed me that day – I didn’t pull away because it was you. I pulled away because you didn’t know it was me. And I understand if you don’t want anything to do with me now, after everything that’s happened, but. I need to tell you – I didn’t mean to lie to you. And… I still feel the same way.” His eyes were ridiculously green. “Please. I’m just asking for a chance.”
The terrible thing was, Draco believed him. He believed that Potter was sincere, and that the other man meant what he was saying. Despite Draco’s original attempts to convince himself that Potter had merely been trying to play him the fool, he knew at the bottom of his heart what type of person Potter was. He was a Gryffindor through and through.
And it was terrible, because if he’d gone on thinking that Potter was a great big liar, he would’ve been able to cling onto his rage, but believing him meant that some small, unwilling part of Draco was starting to forgive him. Because when it came down to it, Draco had never had a lot of friends, and he’d genuinely liked Harvey. Who turned out to be Potter.
With a nearly inaudible sigh, Draco let the door swing open and turned around to get himself a drink. By the time he turned around, Potter was still gaping like a surprised goldfish outside his door.
“I… can come in?” he asked, voice unusually tentative.
“What are you waiting for, a written invitation?” Draco grumbled. “Shut the door behind you.”
“Oh. Okay,” Potter said, still looking unnaturally cautious as he did as Draco asked. He came to sit on the couch next to Draco, maintaining a few feet between them as if Draco was a tiger he didn’t want to spook.
Draco rolled his eyes, and took another sip of his drink. “You can get yourself something to drink in the kitchen.”
“Oh no, I’m fine!” Potter insisted vigorously, then proceeded to continue sitting while awkwardly alternating his gaze between Draco’s coffee table and the plate of cookies still clutched in his hand.
Draco let it continue for about ten minutes, just to watch Potter stew, before walking over to the kitchen himself. He came back with a filled mug, which he handed to Potter. The plate, he took and placed on the coffee table.
Potter took a sip, and his eyes widened. “Eggnog? Really?” He took another, longer sip. “I didn’t know this was something wizards drank too!”
“Don’t be stupid, Potter. It’s a Muggle drink.”
“Then how come you have it?” Potter frowned at him. “I thought you never went into Muggle London?”
“I don’t.” Draco stole one of the cookies. “I made it.”
“What?” Potter seemed to go temporarily mute with surprise, as if trying to process the idea of Draco Malfoy making eggnog. Finally, he took another sip from his mug. “It’s good,” he said. “Better than the store-bought kind I get.”
“Of course,” Draco said smugly. To his surprise, this conversation wasn’t going as badly as he’d thought it would. He took another cookie, then forcibly relaxed into his couch, letting his shoulders lose some of the tension he’d been carrying since Potter had walked in.
They ended up talking about inconsequential but safe topics like work and holiday traditions, and Draco was almost surprised to find that he didn’t develop any urges to murder Potter in his seat as they talked. Being told Harvey was Potter was one thing, but Draco was coming to discover that some part of him still expected Potter to be a completely different person. Realizing otherwise was going to take some time, but it was probably going to be less unpleasant than he’d imagined.
Potter, for his part, slowly lost the deer-in-the-headlights look, his expression gradually growing more relaxed as he sipped at his drink. He didn’t end up staying long, but by the time he left, there was a tentative something in the air that Draco wasn’t sure exactly how to describe.
All he knew was that while it wasn’t quite forgiveness, but it something close.
The week leading up to Christmas involved having Potter show up at his home at every other opportunity. Draco grumbled and complained and whined manfully about it at every chance, but it would be a lie to say he wasn’t enjoying Potter’s company.
Some small, stubborn part of him still felt like it was too soon to let the past go completely, but a bigger part of him was tentatively hopeful. It was a crazy idea – having something with Potter, of all people – but crazy or not, there was something warm unfurling in the pit of his stomach that he suspected had little to do with eggnog.
It helped that it turned out Potter was a rather excellent baker (not that Draco would admit it out loud), and he frequently brought over steaming plates of sweet things Draco found hard to resist.
“Look,” Potter asked one evening after he’d come over to share a plate of freshly made banana muffins. “What are you doing on Christmas Day?”
Draco shrugged. “Not much. I always visit my mother for dinner on Christmas Eve, but I usually come back after.”
Potter seemed to hesitate for a fraction of a second before nodding, as if making up his mind about something. “I was wondering. If you’re not busy do you want to come over to my house?” he asked quickly. “I mean, I don’t have anything planned either, but I’m going to be baking all day, and it would just be nice to have someone to share it with.”
“You don’t see Granger or Weasley for the holidays?” Draco hadn’t asked, but he’d been curious – he’d always assumed those three were still joined at the hips, but with the exception of Granger that one time, he hadn’t caught sight of the other two thirds of the trio.
“I normally do, but they’re going out of town until past Christmas this year. They’ll be back for New Year’s, but until then, I’ll be on my own,” Potter explained. He fiddled with the hem of his sweater. “You haven’t answered my question.”
He suddenly met Draco’s eyes, and Draco realized abruptly that he’d been wrong. He’d been so angry when he’d found out that Harvey had merely been a disguise, had been so certain that any hint of the man he’d met in the tea shop was gone – but no, he’d been missing it all along. Harry had changed his hair, his face shape, even his height – but there was one feature Harry had never changed at all.
Harry’s eyes were the exact same green that Draco remembered.
“I’d like that,” he said carefully, and watched as Potter tried but failed to hide his pleased expression. “You know,” he continued, munching on a muffin. “This doesn’t mean I forgive you, Potter.”
“Mmm, of course not,” Potter said agreeably, but Draco saw the small, hopeful tug at the corner of his lips.
On Christmas Eve, Draco went to bed early. He’d Flooed to the holiday manor his mother was spending her winter at earlier to drop off her gift, and the dinner the house elves had whipped up had been delicious. Having drunk a little more than usual, he’d collapsed in bed and gone straight to sleep when he’d gotten home.
He woke, hours later, to searing heat.
At first, Draco thought he was dreaming – but no, there were flickers of red and orange, visible even behind closed eyelids. Abruptly awake, he reached for his wand, thinking that somehow, his room was on fire.
Draco revelled in a single moment of sheer relief before he realized what the colours had been. They were the shadows cast by licks of flame, being reflected onto his bedroom wall. Through his window.
Jumping to his feet, Draco looked out his window and realized with a start that no, his house wasn’t on fire – but the next one over was. Potter’s.
Pulling open his window, the wave of heat nearly knocked him over. Any hope that the fire had just been an accident died – he’d read about this in the books his father used to send him. No regular fire could be this hot. This was a magical fire, undoubtedly set on purpose.
“Potter!” he yelled at the top of his lungs, trying to see through the windows, but all he could see were smoke and flames.
Without conscious thought, he was running downstairs and out of his house, heedless of the fact that he was in pyjamas and slippers. He wasn’t the only one who’d come out – there were some figures on the other side of Potter’s house, and here, on this side, a family of four had also appeared, the father looking concerned while one of the children hid behind the mother’s legs.
No one was calling for the Aurors, Draco realized with a sense of sudden desperation. Other than Draco, no one else here knew that Harry Potter lived in this house. All of them were undoubtedly assuming that this was an accidental kitchen fire, a fire that the house owner would be able to get under control soon.
“Aguamenti!” the mother said, confirming Draco’s suspicions. She looked confused when the jet of water from her wand had no effect on the growing flames.
“It’s magical fire,” Draco yelled at her. “Call the Aurors, please!”
He watched long enough to see the woman running for her front door before he cast a Deflammation Spell on himself, followed by a cooling charm and a Bubble-Head Charm to help with the smoke.
“What are you doing?” her husband asked, sounding horrified. “You can’t go in! Your spells aren’t going to hold up against magical flame!”
He was right, but what other choice did Draco have? Leaving Harry to his own devices wasn’t an option – and for all Draco knew, Harry might be injured or knocked out. “I’m going after a friend,” Draco told the man grimly.
Then, taking a deep breath, he ran towards the fire.
The door was barely attached to its hinges. Draco felt the heat of the flames against his sides as he squeezed into the house, and had to jump back to avoid a falling beam. It was stiflingly hot inside, and he could feel the sweat on his face despite the cooling charm.
“Harry!” he called, trying to see through the smoke. “Harry, can you hear me? Are you here?”
There was no reply. Grimly, Draco realized that the fire had already traveled up the staircase to the second floor where Harry’s bedroom was undoubtedly located. With the liberal use of self-levitation spells, he managed to get himself up the stairs. “Harry? Where are you?”
There was a muffled thud from the last room, and Draco followed the sound without hesitation.
The relief he felt when he finally caught sight of the other man was staggering. Harry had his back to the wall and there was a long, painful-looking welt along his left arm, but otherwise, he seemed to be doing better than Draco had imagined.
“Harry!” Draco called again, and the other man finally lifted his head. Draco could see the shock in his eyes when he registered who it was.
“Draco!” Harry sounded horrified. “What do you think you’re doing here?”
“Saving your arse, of course,” Draco snapped. His arm, when he wiped it over his face, came away wet with sweat. “A little gratitude wouldn’t hurt.”
“Hurry up and get out of here before it’s too late!”
A lick of flame flickered a little too close, and Draco jumped out of the way a second too late. He felt the resulting welt already starting to form, but he ignored it. “Did you think I went to all the trouble of getting up here just to leave you?”
“Since when were you the type to go on suicide missions?” Harry asked, and then renewed his own Bubble-Head Charm.
“It’s not a suicide mission, you pillock,” Draco snapped, ignoring the part of him that knew very well how dangerous this was, and how, if it had been anyone else, he probably would have waited outside until the Aurors arrived. He didn’t have time to contemplate any epiphanies though. This wasn’t the time. “Now hurry up and get out of there.”
Harry looked at him. “I can’t,” he said. “Look up.”
Draco did, and felt his heart stop for a moment.
There were a series of flaming beams balanced precariously against one another. All of them looked like they might fall any second, and the movement of any one of them would lead to a cascade of falling beams which would effectively seal the room off.
If that happened, Harry had no chance of getting out alive.
“Hurry up!” he said, the panic abruptly welling inside him. They were running out of time. Despite the danger, until now, Draco had honestly thought that they would get out of this alive – because it was Harry, and Harry always got out alive. But the sight of the perilously balanced beams sent a wave of fear through him: fear for Harry that he hadn’t wanted to admit he could feel. “Get out before they fall.”
Harry shook his head resolutely. “I can’t. If I try to cross, I’ll have to move the door over, and then it’ll fall for sure.”
“There’s still a chance.”
“If I cross, it’ll fall. If this room collapses, the next room probably will too, and likely this entire floor. And you’re still here.”
Draco felt the ridiculous urge to laugh bubbling out of him. His eyes felt too dry, his throat, like sandpaper. “So, what? You’re just going to wait here until the beams fall anyway, and die?”
“You still have time to get out,” Harry said, not meeting his eyes, and Draco was hit with the sudden, terrible realization that Harry thought he was doing this for him. He thought he was buying Draco time to escape.
If Draco had never come up in an attempt to rescue him, then chances were, Harry would be trying to run, risks be damned. But now, to ensure Draco could escape, he was going to stay behind and sacrifice himself – like he always did.
“Why are you doing this?” he yelled, something painful clawing at his chest. “Why are you so stupid, Potter? Why do you always have to be the hero?”
“Because I’m in love with you, you idiot.” Harry said defiantly, as if that explained everything.
And maybe it did. “What if I love you too?” Draco shot back without thinking. The words burst out of him, finally free.
“What?” Harry stared at him. “No you don’t. That’s the whole point, remember? You don’t even like me. You’re still angry with me.”
“What? Are you stupid, Potter? If I was still angry, do you think I would have let you come over to my house?”
“No, but that’s different!” Harry protested. “That’s just you… tolerating me.”
It was completely ridiculous that they were having this conversation in a burning house that could fall on top of them at any moment. Draco refused to be a part of such stupidity.
There was only one choice. Coming to a decision, Draco swallowed hard and met Harry’s eyes.
Then, he plunked himself down on the floor.
“Draco, have you gone insane,” Harry hissed. “What are you doing? We don’t have time for this. Get out of here before it’s too late!”
“Let’s get one thing straight, Potter. I’m not leaving unless you are too. So you can stand there and wait until the beams fall, and we’ll both die. Or, you can try to get out of that room, in which case we’ll at least have a chance of making it out of here in one piece.”
Harry stared at him. Draco stared right back, not letting himself flinch.
A second passed. With the fire and smoke around them, it felt like a small eternity.
“You’re completely crazy,” Harry finally said, his voice shaking, but something in his expression had changed, and Draco knew he’d won. “Alright, get back. I’m going to make a run for it.”
“On three,” Draco said, sliding to his feet. “I’ll levitate the door out of the way, you run. Okay?”
“Okay.” Harry nodded. There was no time to catch their breath. “One. Two.”
Several things happened at once. The door flew up and out of the way, the edge hitting a wall. The vibrations sent the beams crashing to the floor and the ceiling collapsing in. The room Harry had just been in sealed itself off, and Harry landed with a breathless oomph in Draco’s arms, nearly knocking them both off balance.
By some miracle, the room Draco had been standing in didn’t collapse.
“We did it,” Harry breathed.
And then Draco was grabbing his hand and dragging him in the direction of the staircase. Not that there was much left of it by now – Draco very much doubted it would be able to hold both of their weight.
“Look, the Aurors are here,” Harry said, pointing. And he was right – there was a large window directly across from the bottom of the staircase, and from it, Draco could see small figures in Ministry robes roaming around the lawn, trying to get the fire under control.
Around them, the house creaked ominously.
“The window,” Draco decided.
“We’re going to have to get out through the window – I think the house is going to collapse. We won’t make it to the door in time.”
Harry swallowed. “Okay,” he said simply, and tightened his grip on Draco’s hand.
Then, simultaneously, they jumped.
It was only because of how small Harry’s staircase was that they managed to make the distance at all. Seconds after they were airborne, the step they’d been standing on collapsed behind them. For a moment, Draco was certain they wouldn’t make it, that they would land in flames instead – but in the next moment, they were crashing through glass and rolling onto Harry’s lawn, scraped and bruised but alive.
They were safe now. The magical fire was contained within the house itself – it wouldn’t spread, not even to the lawn.
“Harry!” One of the Aurors was calling, but whoever he was, his voice sounded distant to Draco’s ears. His knees felt weak.
“Draco?” Harry was speaking, sounding frantic. He seemed to be trying to pat Draco down for injuries, but Draco wasn’t exactly cooperating. “Draco, can you hear me?”
And then, before Draco could muster up the breath to reply, Harry continued. “Oh god, what’s wrong? You’re hurt, aren’t you?” He waved his arm wildly at someone. “Excuse me! We need a healer here! My friend’s hurt, he came into my house to help me, I think he’s in shock!”
Draco reached up and grabbed his hand, making him drop his arm. “Harry. I’m completely fine,” he said.
“What? No, that’s the adrenalin talking, you’re just not feeling anything yet. It’s going to hit you in a –”
Draco put his finger on Harry’s mouth and felt, rather than heard, him fall abruptly silent. “Shhh. I’m not in shock, I promise.” He smiled, almost involuntarily. “I’m the mediwizard here, remember?”
And then he replaced his finger with his mouth and pressed their lips together.
Harry was still for a second, but then he was kissing Draco back with a vigour that seemed to surprise them both. His arms came up to grasp at Draco’s shoulders, and Draco let himself be pulled forward, leaning in without conscious thought until they were chest to chest and heart to heart.
“I’m not angry,” he said breathlessly when they finally pulled back for air. “I was, but I’m not anymore. I haven’t been – not since you came over with the cookies.”
“Really?” Harry croaked out.
“I promise.” He laughed a little, aware of how ridiculous and over-dramatic this seemed, but for a shining moment, Draco felt wild and fearless, as if he could do anything, say everything.
So he did. “Go out with me.”
Somewhere behind them, the healers had arrived, but Draco ignored them, focusing his attention on Harry.
Harry stared at him for a moment, and then he started to laugh too. “I’d love to,” he said. And then he kissed Draco again.
He tasted like fire and heat and his ridiculous herbal tea, and in that moment, Draco believed that everything was going to work out.
Epilogue: New Years Eve
“I can’t believe you two are dating now,” Granger said, looking at them.
“I don’t want any details, ever,” Weasley was saying, his face screwed up in an expression of disgust. “I mean, Harry, mate, I support all your relationship choices and everything, but if you tell me anything, I might have to go Obliviate myself.”
“Have I mentioned this thing Harry does with his tongue?” Draco said, just to be contrary. “He really –”
“Malfoy!” Weasley howled, as Harry gave Draco a horrified look and turned beet red. “Draco, please, shut up,” he hissed.
Draco preened, and took another sip of his champagne.
There was still thirty minutes until midnight. The four of them were sitting in Granger’s living room, watching the Muggle screen with the moving pictures she’d somehow managed to hook up, and Draco didn’t really understand what was happening but the screen was filled with little Muggles yelling excitedly.
Granger stretched. “I’m just going to take some of these into the kitchen,” she said, gesturing to the dinner plates they’d left scattered on the coffee table.
“I’ll help,” Harry said, moving to stand, but Hermione shot him a look.
“You just got discharged from the hospital three days ago – I don’t care what you say about being okay, you need time to recover.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “Just sit here with Draco – Ron can help me.”
Neither Draco nor Harry had sustained any life-threatening injuries, but they’d both had to be treated for fairly severe smoke inhalation despite the Bubble-Head charm. The two of them had ended up spending Christmas day unconscious at St. Mungo’s.
Luckily, by the time they’d woken up, there had been an Auror around to tell them that the perpetuator had already been arrested – in fact, she’d been caught almost immediately after Draco and Harry had been taken to the hospital. Apparently, the particular spell that had been cast to create the magical fire had required the caster’s close presence.
Draco hadn’t recognized the name of the arsonist, but according to the Auror, she’d been the sister of a criminal who had been killed while resisting arrest last year. It had been the first case Harry had been put in charge of.
“Yeah, I’ll help,” Weasley said agreeably, standing up and gathering the remainder of the plates. They disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Draco and Harry alone in the living room.
Draco kept his eyes peeled on the Muggle moving pictures, but casually, he reached over, grabbed Harry’s hand, and laced their fingers together one by one. Harry’s grip tightened in response. They kept their fingers intertwined, even after Granger and Weasley had returned.
They still had a lot of talking to do, Draco knew. The last few days had been a whirlwind of activities – being discharged, fending off the media, helping Harry settle into Draco’s home now that Harry’s own house was unliveable for the time being – and they’d barely had any time to sit down and figure things out.
But for now, Draco was okay with that. They had time. The talking could wait until later.
The countdown was going to start soon – there wasn’t long left to go now. The announcer said something Draco didn’t catch, but all the little Muggles on the screen cheered loudly.
“Happy New Year,” Harry whispered, breath just a trickle of air against Draco’s cheek. Draco’s responding smile was entirely involuntary.
Happy New Year indeed.