Fanfic: Kaleidoscope by Saras_Girl (Read for Free, 1,332,114 Clicks)

Description: If Harry¡¯s honest, the last thing he needs is a house full of Draco Malfoy, but partners are partners, and perhaps, the thing he wants the least will turn out to be absolutely everything. 2021 advent fic, completed.

Characters: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive WarningsDraco Malfoy/Harry PotterHarry Potter Draco Malfoy

Summary: Summary:

If Harry¡¯s honest, the last thing he needs is a house full of Draco Malfoy, but partners are partners, and perhaps, the thing he wants the least will turn out to be absolutely everything. 2021 advent fic, completed.

Notes: Notes:

Yes, I¡¯m back! I can¡¯t promise I¡¯ll be able to do one of these every year but last year I missed it so much and it was wonderful to come back to the advent madness. I really enjoyed writing this story and I can only hope you all enjoy reading it, too. There may be a bonus after the 25th because I wasn¡¯t quite ready to stop writing in this universe, so look out for that.
Warnings: EWE, more crime-solving than my usual advent fic, mental health/hurt-comfort vibes, insane amounts of UST and pining. It¡¯s also worth noting that allusions to colour-blindness in this fic are very literal and unrelated to the non-magic version. Also original characters, a certain amount of angsting but ALWAYS a happy ending. Secret self-referential fun that you may or may not enjoy. It¡¯s one of my fics, basically. It is what it very much is.
Also, I know the whole JKR thing is shitty right now but as far as I¡¯m concerned, fandom belongs to us and I don¡¯t care what she thinks. What doesn¡¯t belong to me, sadly, is the music of the 1980s, which features a fair bit in this story.
Thank you as always to my favourite one, who chose some great prompts this year and, as always, held my hand, bounced up and down for me and took me out for walks in the leaves whenever I got stressed. Apparently, I hit every one of my ¡®advent bingo¡¯ targets this year, one of which was, apparently, loathing the story until I read it back in editing, at which point I decided I quite liked it. She tells me that I do this every year. We¡¯re probably all very lucky she is a very tolerant being and has decided to put up with me for the last 12 years.
This story is inspired by every last fucker involved in this years Olympics, for keeping me together this summer, and especially to Tom Daley, Simone Biles, and Gianmarco Tamberi, all of whom are singularly brilliant.
Kaleidoscope is for everyone who believed in me when all my words dried up. Thank you so much. Everyone always tells me to write for myself, and I promise I do, but I also do it for you, and here it is. Have the most wonderful December you can possibly make for yourself, and believe in the magic of Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not. The lights are shining for all of you.
Much love,Nat x

Chapter 1: Chapter One

Chapter Text
First of December – a long woollen coat
Harry looks out at the frost-covered street and sighs. Grimmauld Place is dressed for winter, every wall and railing and bare tree branch sparkling with ice, but inside Number Twelve, conditions are positively tropical. Despite his thin t-shirt and shorts, Harry is sticky with sweat and his hair is curling chaotically across his forehead, and his best efforts at restoring the temperature to more appropriate levels have just left him hotter and more frustrated. Gripping his wand in what he hopes is an assertive manner, he stomps back into his parlour and once more addresses his collection of house plants.
¡°I¡¯m sorry about this, because I know you¡¯re enjoying this madness, but I¡¯m going to have to make it colder again,¡± he says, and several of the plants wave their fronds in the air in protest. ¡°I know. I do. But I can¡¯t live like this and if I die of heat stroke, there won¡¯t be anyone to look after you.¡±
This time, the plants let out a low rumbling sound and one of the taller palms shoots tiny yellow berries at Harry. He ignores it, deciding to grab a spritzer and attempt to mist everyone into submission. As he walks slowly around the room, filling the warm air with soft, earth-scented humidity, he tries to remember a time when his house wasn¡¯t filled with attention-seeking entities. He thinks there had been a year or two, after the end of the war, when he had rattled around Number Twelve quite contentedly by himself, and then Neville had given him a popping fern, and that had been the beginning of the end of that. And then there had been Patrick, and Calliope, and the whole thing had taken on a life of its own.
The trouble with old magical houses, he has found, is that they are rarely just buildings to be lived in. He might have stripped the place of everything dark years ago, but Number Twelve retains a life force, a personality of its own. It bristles with wild magical energy, hums with a strident sort of agency and desire to do whatever the fuck it wants to, whether Harry likes it or not. The house had taken to that first little green resident, infusing its leaves and stems with exuberant life and causing it to grow almost to the ceiling. When Neville, summoned by a very confused Harry, had set eyes on it, he had immediately rushed back to his nursery and returned with a crate full of plants and instructions for Harry to keep detailed notes on their growth. Now, over a decade later, Harry¡¯s back room is stuffed full of unusual specimens and he has filled several notebooks with his observations. Neville continues to be thrilled with this arrangement and brings him new plants regularly, apparently delighted to use Harry¡¯s house as a testing ground for new projects of all sorts.
Which is fine, for the most part. He doesn¡¯t mind the note-taking or the feeding or the regular misting of leaves. What he does mind is that the house seems to be enjoying the new warming charm recommended by Neville for the winter months, and has decided to kick it up a notch, just for fun. Originally confined to the plant room, the heat has now pervaded all floors of the house and the humidity is almost unbearable. Harry has tried repeatedly to temper the spreading warmth but so far has achieved nothing more than frustration and steamed up glasses. Finally, feeling his nerves beginning to fray, he closes the door on his little rainforest, walks out into the hallway and promptly trips over a book he definitely didn¡¯t leave there, stumbling and stepping on a stray whippy tail.
Calliope lets out an offended cry and pelts up the stairs, leaving Harry to steady himself against the wall and look wearily around for the most ridiculous ghost he has ever met.
¡°Sorry, Calli,¡± he calls after the cat, catching a translucent shape out of the corner of his eye. ¡°Stop leaving my stuff in the middle of the¡­ thoroughfare,¡± he attempts, scowling. He picks up the book and scans the cover. Grace Under Pressure: A Guide to Elegance in Social Situations. ¡°Very funny, Patrick, you little shit,¡± he mumbles, rubbing his banged elbow and returning the book to the living room shelf.
Patrick floats through the wall in front of him and sketches a little bow. Harry has no idea what kind of a person he might have been in his living years, but as a sort-of, not-very-good poltergeist, Patrick is a menace. He seems to have come with the house, appearing for the first time while Harry was having a bath, deciding to drop a shampoo bottle into the water from a height and scare the ever-living crap out of him for no reason at all. Despite being unable to make a sound on his own, he is more than capable of moving Harry¡¯s possessions around and creating endless trip hazards for his own entertainment.
Hermione had gently suggested Harry have him ¡®moved on¡¯ some years ago, but in spite of the inconvenience, he has never been able to bring himself to try. Because he lives here, Harry tells himself, just like him, and Calliope, who has been inherited from an elderly neighbour, and all of the plants and the mess of wild magic that winds around the bones of the old house. All of them live here, all together, and that¡¯s just the way things are. He is often told how quiet and lovely it must be, living in a big house with no children and no partner, and though he thinks he¡¯d feel alone if that were true, there are moments when he¡¯d like just a little bit more control.
He¡¯d like to be able to dress in jeans and a jumper on the first day of December. He¡¯d like to be able to cast a simple warming charm and have it stay where it was put. He¡¯d like anything in the house to stay where it was put, to be honest, but he won¡¯t hold his breath. Pushing his damp hair back from his eyes, he has one last attempt at removing Neville¡¯s charm, pouring every ounce of magical energy he can muster into the cast as he closes his eyes and whispers, ¡°Finite.¡±
For a moment, nothing happens, and then a fresh wave of heat hits him as though he has flung open an oven door. Patrick swoops back through the wall and adjusts his translucent cravat. The plants pop and rumble happily through the closed door. Calliope streaks down the stairs and yowls up at Harry, fixing him crossly with her single orange eye. Harry sighs. Defeated, he fills up her water dish with his wand and watches her drink for a moment, letting his eyes focus on her stripes, her one white sock and her long, elegant whiskers. Mrs Chowdhury next door hadn¡¯t been sure how old the little cat was when she found her, but they¡¯d lived together for over twelve years before the old lady had had to move into a retirement home. Calliope is not a young cat, but no one seems to have told her that. She must be at least sixteen now, and Harry can¡¯t help wondering if there¡¯s a little bit of magic in her, just like everything else in this house.
Whatever she is, Calli certainly adds to the general air of chaos that makes up Harry¡¯s home, and even though he quietly enjoys complaining about it, he suspects he wouldn¡¯t have it any other way. That being said, he would be a little bit happier if it didn¡¯t feel like the arse end of August in his living room; he has festive things to do, and it¡¯s difficult to get in the mood when sweat is trickling all the way down his back. He will, however, have to try, because traditions are important and must be observed, even when things aren¡¯t going quite to plan. Harry always buys his Christmas cheeses on the first of December, and that is exactly what he¡¯s going to do. Calli can go out if she wants to, and everyone else in the house seems quite contented with the heatwave, so he can leave the lot of them to it.
He walks slowly up the stairs, feeling as though he is pushing through warm water with every step. He turns the water in the shower as cold as he can stand it and shivers through washing his hair and body, finally emerging into the stagnant air and rushing to get dressed before the heat can take hold again. He stands in front of his wardrobe in his underwear and gazes at the hanging jumpers and shirts, squinting his eyes this way and that in a pointless attempt to see their true colours. It¡¯s been almost twelve months since he was injured in the line of duty, nine months since he gave up on quill-pushing for the Auror Department and seven since his partner, still convinced the whole thing was his fault, was reassigned to work with Ron after his own partner was promoted to supervisor. It¡¯s been perhaps two hours since the repercussions of that curse to the back of the head have made Harry want to swear and throw things, not least because he has lost almost all of his colour vision.
The Healers at St Mungo¡¯s had said it could come back at any time; in fact, they still say that, but they also say that it might never come back at all. Since the incident, Harry¡¯s world has become almost completely monochrome, lifted only by occasional washes of colour that allow him to remember that his plants are green and Calliope¡¯s single eye is orange and his favourite red jumper has a distinctive tag that helps him to identify it. He has lost count of the number of times he has grimaced through a cup of tea after adding the wrong amount of milk, and he has completely given up on trying to match his clothes properly. Sometimes, Hermione will give him a curious look as though to say, ¡®That? Really?¡¯ but he brazens it out, because it doesn¡¯t really matter what he looks like, and because she, like everyone else, is under the impression that he¡¯s on the mend.
Which he might be. He goes to his hospital appointments and he looks at the colour charts and he keeps himself ready for the day when he might be allowed to go back to work. He hopes, because despite filling his days with every new hobby and interest he can think of, he misses the job. He misses the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of a collar and he misses his partner. He really¡­ Harry sighs and reaches for his favourite jumper, stuffing himself into it and knowing that, at the very least, the rich red will look festive to everyone else.
Outside the window, the wind whips savagely around the trees and he wavers, all too aware of the other, much more debilitating, aftershock of his injury. For reasons that no one has been able to explain, cold weather causes him headaches so severe that he feels as though someone is ramming an ice pick into his skull, and have occasionally been so shockingly painful that he has had to drop to the ground and curl into a ball. Not a good look for an Auror, he supposes, but with a hat and a warming charm, he might just be able to make it to the cheese shop without incident.
Why don¡¯t you just use the fireplace? someone asks from inside his head, and Harry scowls.
¡°Because I don¡¯t like it, and because it¡¯s a Muggle cheese shop, as you very well know,¡± he mumbles, shrugging into his coat and hunting around for his wallet.
¡°Oww?¡± offers Calliope, sitting on the bed and regarding him with interest.
¡°Why yes, I probably have gone mad, but what are we going to do about it now?¡± he asks her, and she merely whisks her tail in response.
Finally, he locates his wallet in the bread bin, gives Patrick the finger and heads for the door. Just as he is stepping out into the chilly sunshine, he hears the fireplace in the living room roar, followed by the sound of a familiar voice. With some reluctance, he goes back into the sweltering house and peers into the flames.
¡°Fuck me, it¡¯s a bit hot in here,¡± Ron says, frowning. ¡°House mad at you again?¡±
¡°Something like that,¡± Harry admits. ¡°Everything alright? I was just going to Madigan¡¯s.¡±
Ron hesitates. ¡°Yeah, it¡¯s¡­ I mean, he¡¯s okay now, but Draco¡¯s been hurt.¡±
Harry¡¯s stomach twists unpleasantly. ¡°What? What happened? Where is he?¡± he demands, yanking at his scarf as he suddenly feels like he¡¯s going to boil over.
¡°He¡¯s at St Mungo¡¯s,¡± Ron says, and while his tone is calm, there is a little line between his eyebrows that Harry doesn¡¯t like one bit. ¡°He¡¯s going to be fine but Harry¡­ it was Grisalda Finton again.¡±
¡°What the fuck¡­?¡± Harry mumbles, heart racing. ¡°Why has no one caught her after she¡­ what the fuck, Ron? What did she do to him?¡±
¡°It was so fast, we¡¯re not sure. The Healers think he¡¯s just shocked¡­ it was this great big concussive wave and then she disappeared and now he sort of can¡¯t use his magic,¡± Ron says, presenting this last bit of information all in a rush. ¡°It¡¯s just temporary but he¡¯s pretty pissed off. I wondered if you could¡­¡±
¡°Come down there and talk some sense into him?¡± Harry finishes. He drops onto the hearth rug and pulls off his hat, feeling slightly sick now. ¡°He can¡¯t use his magic? Seriously?¡±
¡°He¡¯s fine, Harry,¡± Ron promises, and then sighs. ¡°I just thought he might listen to you. You know how he is.¡±
¡°Of course I know how he is. He¡¯s my partner,¡± Harry snaps, and then sags. ¡°He¡¯s your partner. He was my partner. Jesus, this is fucking horrible.¡±
¡°He¡¯s still yours,¡± Ron says lightly, and Harry almost can¡¯t stand it. ¡°I¡¯m just keeping him warm for you. Literally, some days. Why is he always so bloody cold?¡±
Harry smiles. ¡°I don¡¯t know. Look, I¡¯ll come over now. Give me two minutes.¡±
Ron disappears from the flames, leaving Harry gazing into an empty fireplace. He takes a deep breath, blasting himself with a cooling charm when he realises that his jumper is already starting to stick to his skin. Grisalda Finton may have already turned his life upside down but she¡¯s not having Draco. Not today, and not ever. Bracing himself, he flings a handful of glittering powder into the flames and prepares for a bumpy ride.
Seconds later, the Floo Network spits him out in the foyer of the hospital, where Healers, nurses and visitors of all kinds are bustling back and forth, all intent on their destinations and none interested in the fact that Harry feels sick and disoriented. He knows how to find the Spell Damage ward¡ªhe¡¯s been there more than enough times¡ªand he breaks into a jog, no longer caring that his coat is too warm or that St Mungo¡¯s is almost as hot as his tropical living room. Ron can say that Draco is fine all he wants to, but Harry isn¡¯t going to feel better until he sees it for himself.
With the help of a stressed-out nurse with tinsel in her hair, Harry finds his friends in a small room at the end of the corridor. Ron is pacing in front of the window, scribbling in a notebook. He looks relieved to see Harry, pausing in his writing to worry his hair and leave a section of it standing straight up. He is pale in Harry¡¯s soft-washed vision, Auror robes a watery red-brown and vivid hair barely tinged with peach.
¡°I told you he was alright,¡± he mumbles, and glances at the bed.
¡°I can hear you, you know,¡± Draco snaps, and when Harry turns to look at him, hot, painful warmth rushes around him in a wave and his breath catches in his chest.
Fuck, I love you, he thinks, and he can¡¯t help himself. He smiles at the impossible bastard, causing Draco to raise an enquiring eyebrow before smiling back. He sits bolt upright on the bed, half dressed in trousers and an undershirt, robes folded neatly on a chair, while three separate medical professionals buzz around him, casting nets of light and scrutinising long spools of parchment. His expression is one of pure ennui, and Harry wants to laugh in spite of the anxiety pulling him tight.
¡°What are you doing here? I¡¯m fine,¡± Draco says.
Harry just sighs, because he really is alright, and the relief is so sharp that he wants to sink into a chair and drop his head into his hands, but he doesn¡¯t. He doesn¡¯t because he doesn¡¯t want Ron to think he¡¯s lost his mind, he doesn¡¯t want the Healers to decide that he needs a bed of his own, and most of all, he doesn¡¯t want everyone in the room to know. He has been quietly and painfully in love with Draco for over a decade now, and the only thing worse than that would be having to admit it out loud.
After all, Auror partners don¡¯t fall in love with Auror Partners, friends should, more often than not, leave it at that, and he¡¯d rather have Draco around than push him away with unhelpful feelings. Granted, Draco isn¡¯t around as much as he used to be since Harry left the department, and okay, he has learned to live with Friday night dinners at Ron and Hermione¡¯s instead of spending every day with him in a shared office, but that¡¯s okay. He¡¯s very nearly content. He¡¯s just fine. He doesn¡¯t care if he doesn¡¯t see other people; he gave his heart away a long time ago and there¡¯s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.
He¡¯s lost, and Draco is okay. He¡¯s alright. He¡¯s sitting right there, leaning away from one of the Healers with visible irritation and looking at Harry for support.
¡°Will you stop¡­? I¡¯m fine. Harry, will you please reason with these people?¡±
¡°They¡¯re trying to help you, idiot,¡± he sighs, and one of the Healers gives him a grateful smile. ¡°How is it possible that you¡¯re a worse patient than me?¡±
¡°And you once signed yourself out with a foot missing,¡± Ron says helpfully, still scribbling away. ¡°This is all going in the report, you know.¡±
¡°Kindly go and fuck yourself, Weasley,¡± Draco murmurs, but he is smiling and Ron just pokes out his tongue. ¡°Excellent idea, Harry. I¡¯d like to sign myself out.¡±
Harry stares at him, horrified. ¡°Please don¡¯t do that. Draco¡­ seriously.¡±
¡°We have a lot more tests to run,¡± says one of the Healers, taking Draco¡¯s wrist and pressing the tip of her wand against it. ¡°We still don¡¯t know why you lost your magic.¡±
¡°Yes, yes, and you said it was most likely a temporary blackout,¡± Draco says, tugging his hand away. ¡°I¡¯ll go home, get some rest, and everything will be fine in the morning.¡±
¡°Mr Malfoy, I think¡­¡± the Healer begins, but Draco is already struggling to his feet.
¡°Right, what do I need to sign?¡±
¡°Malfoy, don¡¯t be a pain,¡± Ron says, but he sounds resigned.
¡°I¡¯m not being a pain. I¡¯m freeing up a bed for these wonderful people,¡± Draco says, picking up his coat and stumbling slightly against Harry, who steadies him with a careful arm. ¡°There you go. I¡¯m fine.¡±
The Healer that seems to be in charge regards them carefully. She sighs. ¡°I can¡¯t advise that you leave right now, Mr Malfoy, but if you¡¯re going to insist, someone is going to have to take you home¡ªno Flooing, no Apparating, nothing that will drain your magical energy in any way. Do you understand?¡±
Ron looks at his watch. ¡°Kingsley wants me to report back ASAP,¡± he says, eyes drifting to Harry.
He shrugs, knowing that this is going to cost him. The cold is harsher here and he has managed to leave his hat at home. More than that, he¡¯s going to have to be on his own with Draco, and the thought of it makes him feel weak. But he¡¯s going to do it, because the fucker has to get home somehow, and partners don¡¯t let partners Splinch themselves.
¡°Go,¡± he says, and Ron gives him a grateful slap on the back before hurrying out into the corridor.
Two of the Healers continue to fuss around Draco as a third struggles through the necessary paperwork and then pushes several potion bottles into Harry¡¯s hands.
¡°He needs to drink all of these tonight. They¡¯ll make him sleep and help him to restore his magical centre. If things aren¡¯t back to normal in the morning, he needs to come back for more tests,¡± she says, opting to address her instructions to Harry instead of Draco.
¡°Are you listening?¡± he prods.
Draco looks up from buttoning his coat and blinks. ¡°Yes, yes, everything¡¯s normal and I¡¯ll sleep on my magical core in the morning.¡± He peers at his buttons and sighs. ¡°Harry, this is all wrong.¡±
Harry steels himself and steps closer, undoing all the buttons and starting again. Despite trying not to breathe, Draco¡¯s clean, warm scent steals into his nostrils, overlaid with something rough and static-like that pulls him back several months in time so quickly that he has to pause, resting his fingers against the soft wool of Draco¡¯s coat and steadying himself. Slowly, he straightens up, adjusting Draco¡¯s lapels and avoiding his eyes. He can feel that warm, curious gaze all over him, but he doesn¡¯t look. He can¡¯t. He likes this coat, thinks it might be Draco¡¯s favourite, too, heavy and dark and perfectly tailored to his slender frame, hemline brushing his calves and collar folding up to meet the ends of his pale hair. Harry doesn¡¯t need colours to see Draco because he¡¯s bright and sharp, black and white and silver-grey like stardust. Even in the harsh light of the hospital room he seems to glow, filling Harry¡¯s vision and making everything else fade into background noise.
¡°Are you having one of your headaches?¡± Draco asks, startling Harry into eye contact.
He takes a careful breath. ¡°No,¡± he says, turning to look at the Healers now. ¡°No. I¡¯m not.¡±
¡°Are you sure? You look a bit¡­ fraught.¡±
Harry suppresses an unhelpful snort. ¡°I¡¯m fine.¡± He forces himself to scan Draco¡¯s face, finding him paler than usual and a little unsteady, but otherwise his usual self. ¡°Are you going to be able to walk back to your flat or do I need to call us a taxi?¡±
Draco shudders. ¡°Please don¡¯t,¡± he says, casting an appealing glance at the nearest Healer. ¡°They smell funny and the drivers keep asking me about ¡®the game¡¯. They never say which one, but I think I¡¯m just supposed to know.¡±
Harry grins, finding himself caught between exasperation and warmth as he stuffs the potion bottles into his coat pockets and takes Draco¡¯s arm. It¡¯s a familiar feeling, warm and rough against his skin like an old towel dried in a stiff breeze, and the sensation only intensifies as they are processed, advised, and released into the milling crowds of the foyer. Draco walks stiffly, pulled up to his full height, but his fingers grip Harry¡¯s wrist fiercely enough to betray his uncertainty. Harry says nothing, even when it starts to hurt, and he continues to say nothing when they step out into the cold evening and a shock of pain slams through the back of his head. Now that the sun has set, the temperature has plummeted below freezing, and it doesn¡¯t seem to matter how much Harry has braced for it, the pain is almost blinding. He closes his eyes for a moment, trying to adjust to the sensation that his brain is splintering into pieces, and it¡¯s only the feeling of Draco¡¯s fingers that stops him from folding to the icy ground in a heap.
Draco shivers and gives him a sharp look. ¡°Are you alright?¡±
¡°Yeah,¡± Harry lies, forcing a smile and pouring every bit of his famous stubbornness into standing upright. He¡¯s not alright, but he will be, and no amount of pain is going to stop him from getting Draco home. With a massive effort, he controls his breathing and urges them forwards. ¡°Come on. The faster you get home, the faster you can take these horrible potions and get to sleep. The green one looks like it¡¯s going to taste of cabbage.¡±
¡°I don¡¯t mind cabbage,¡± Draco admits, but he quickens his steps anyway.
¡°Old cabbage. Boiled cabbage,¡± Harry murmurs, pushing away the phantom taste on his tongue and dragging in a gulp of cold, earth-scented air. His head screams in protest and he shoves his tongue against the roof of his mouth as though trying to chase away an ice cream headache. It helps a little bit, and Draco is too exhausted to notice him, eyes flitting wearily around at the windows they pass, some already bright with watercolour Christmas lights. Harry¡¯s mind paints them in vibrant primary colours, adding dark green for the lamp posts and orange for a Sainsbury¡¯s Local full of harassed looking people in office attire.
It must be five or six o¡¯clock already, he thinks, realising that the endless admin of the discharge procedure must have taken longer than he thought. Beside him, Draco is starting to sag, strides slowing and shoulders drooping. Harry takes a deep breath and shifts closer, allowing Draco to lean against him if he wants to, and, after a moment or two, he does. The warm weight of him makes Harry hurt all over, and it¡¯s all he can do not to pull them to a stop and hug him tightly.
¡°What happened?¡± he asks, just for something to say.
Draco frowns. ¡°We were undercover. Weasley and I¡­ we¡­ I don¡¯t know.¡± His mouth sets into a cross little line and he turns to look at Harry, pale hair whipping in the wind. ¡°That woman. It was that woman, Harry.¡±
¡°I know,¡± he says, attempting to sound soothing even as the thought of Grisalda Finton makes the pain in his head twist and crackle. ¡°Ron told me. Did she curse you, or¡ª?¡±
¡°I don¡¯t know,¡± Draco snaps, scowling. ¡°I don¡¯t know what happened and I don¡¯t know why I¡¯m like this. I don¡¯t know, alright? All I remember is her laughing and pointing her wand at us and then I was on the ground, and when I tried to grab her with a spell, nothing happened.¡±
¡°I¡¯m sorry,¡± Harry says, letting out a long breath when he feels Draco relax against him. ¡°It doesn¡¯t matter. Let¡¯s just get you back to your flat so you can get some rest. I bet Ron¡¯s already got people out there looking for her.¡±
Draco sighs but says nothing, just gripping Harry¡¯s wrist and brushing solidly against him as they turn onto the back streets and head along a tree-lined avenue where the biting cold of the city seems to soften just a little bit. Draco¡¯s flat perches at the top of a beautiful white Georgian building, reachable only by scaling four flights of steep, rickety stairs. Their steps are careful, unhurried, and when Draco stumbles near the top, Harry merely puts an arm around his shoulders. The wool of his coat is warm against Harry¡¯s fingers, and he lets them settle there, feeling safe and scratched raw at the same time.
The flat is dark and smells like coffee and beeswax. Harry breathes in deeply, allowing the gentle warmth to smooth away the sharpest edges of his headache until they blunt into a dull, heavy throb. Draco draws his wand and flicks it at the lamps, swearing softly when nothing happens. Harry lights the nearest one, a huge frosted glass thing that fills the room with gentle, diffused light.
¡°Don¡¯t force it,¡± he says, hating the way Draco stares at his wand arm as though it doesn¡¯t belong to him. ¡°Drink these and get into bed. I¡¯ll make some tea if you want.¡±
¡°Yes, Mum,¡± Draco mutters, but he takes the bottles from Harry and peers at them. ¡°Don¡¯t bother with tea, I forgot to buy milk.¡±
Harry nods and then frowns. ¡°Do you want me to call your parents?¡±
Draco stares at him. ¡°No.¡±
¡°Are you sure? Because if this happened to me and I didn¡¯t tell Molly¡­¡± Harry leaves the end of the sentence hanging there, quietly horrified at the thought of what might happen to him.
¡°Absolutely not,¡± Draco says, taking off his coat with some effort and looking around for a hook. Eventually, he shrugs and drapes it over the back of a chair that Harry thinks is usually dark blue.
¡°Why not?¡±
¡°Because for one, they are in Sweden,¡± Draco says, opening the green potion and grimacing at it. ¡°B, my mother will panic, and¡­ furthermore, my father is a horrible old goat and he will find some way to make fun of me.¡±
For a moment, Harry says nothing. He has nothing to contribute on the subject of Lucius Malfoy, certainly nothing constructive, and Draco is starting to sound rather frayed around the edges. His bedroom is just through that door, and what he really needs to do is throw down the potions and allow them to do their thing. What he really doesn¡¯t need to do is stand here having a pointless discussion with someone who is going to worry about him no matter what.
¡°Go to bed,¡± he says at last, and his strident tone surprises a smile out of Draco.
¡°If you insist.¡±
¡°I do.¡±
¡°You have a leaf in your hair,¡± Draco says, stepping close and extracting a bit of greenery for Harry to see.
¡°Flamenco Fern,¡± Harry murmurs, feeling oddly embarrassed. ¡°It¡¯s always groping me when I¡¯m not looking.¡±
Draco lifts an eyebrow and Harry wishes he wouldn¡¯t. He takes the frilly leaf at Draco¡¯s insistence and gazes at a point just over his left shoulder. It¡¯s safer there.
¡°I can sleep on the sofa if you like,¡± he offers.
Draco rolls his eyes. ¡°Go home and take care of your menagerie.¡± He opens all three potion bottles and tips the contents into his mouth with a shudder. ¡°Disgusting. I¡¯m going to bed. Look,¡± he says, making a show of crossing the floor and only tripping over his own feet once.
¡°Be good,¡± Harry says, because he doesn¡¯t know what else to say.
Draco grins. He closes the bedroom door almost all the way and then pauses. ¡°Harry?¡±
¡°Thank you.¡±
¡°It¡¯s nothing,¡± Harry whispers, but the door is already closed.
He stands there in the flickering light for rather a long time, listening to the creaking and crashing noises that filter out from under the door, until finally, there is silence. Harry lets out a long breath, allowing his fingertips to trace the lapel of Draco¡¯s abandoned coat until he feels just steady enough to let himself out of the flat and walk slowly down the stairs. He takes one look at the clear, cold night sky and retreats back into the building¡¯s lobby in search of a place to Disapparate. He might be a glutton for punishment, but the last thing he needs tonight is yet another headache.
When he arrives in the kitchen of Number Twelve, Patrick is making a sculpture with the contents of the fruit bowl and the help of Calliope, who is chasing a satsuma around on the kitchen table. The air is stuffy and oppressive, and Harry really fucking needs a cup of tea. But it¡¯s all fine.
¡°It¡¯s fine,¡± he sighs, stripping off his coat and taking a seat at the table. ¡°Everything¡¯s fine.¡±

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