|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-08-13 09:17:00
|Entry tags:||hp fic draco/harry, hp fic settlement|
HP fic: Friends [Harry/Draco, general]
Warnings: Deathly Hallows spoilers.
Summary: As agreed, Draco makes efforts to become friends with Harry so that they can finally settle their life debt.
Note: Another in the Settlement series, after "Settlement" and "Choices."
Tuesday evening was a good time to go to Diagon Alley. Most of the shops stayed open until six, but because it was a weeknight there were generally fewer people there than – for instance – on a Saturday. A fitting at Madam Malkin's might take longer than an hour, but Tuesday after work was the perfect time for Draco to collect his newly-finished set of robes.
Package shrunken and tucked in a pocket, he was strolling back along the street a few minutes after six when he saw that the lights were still on at Ollivander's. The shop might have changed hands, but tradition prevailed and the name had remained the same as ever. On an impulse he went in.
"Sorry, we're clo–" Harry looked up from behind the counter. "Oh. I don't suppose you're here for a new wand."
Draco quelled the suggestive remark that first came to mind and shook his head. "Happy with my old one."
"Ten inches, hawthorn and unicorn hair, right?" Harry's mouth quirked. "I'm not as good at remembering wands as Mister Ollivander was, but I used yours, after all."
"That's right, you did. Thirty years, though, I'm surprised."
"Yeah, well, it's funny what lingers in the memory," said Harry quietly. "So since you're not looking to buy a wand, what are you here for?"
"I just thought I'd say hello. That's what friends do, right?" Draco cocked his head. "I might have asked if you'd like to grab a pint at the Leaky, but I imagine you're in a rush to get home."
"Actually I'm not." Harry took a stack of boxes from the counter and began replacing them on the shelves. "Ginny goes 'out with the girls' on Tuesdays – Hermione and Luna and I don't know who all, I think it changes. I'm in no hurry to go home to an empty house and a plate of leftovers."
"I see. Would you like to stop for a drink?"
"I... don't think so." Before Draco could respond, Harry continued, "The times we've met about the life debt – we've been drinking each time, quite a lot. If we're going to try to become friends I'd like to do it without the alcohol. If that's okay with you?"
Draco gaped for an instant, then closed his mouth hard. It wasn't necessary to go out drinking, even if that had been what he'd rather expected he and Harry might do as friends – it wasn't as if they had much in common, and a glass or two tended to ease conversation. But if that's what Harry wanted...
"Sure." Draco shrugged. "We could walk, maybe have dinner somewhere?" He gave Harry a small grin. "Save you from your leftovers."
"Oh, they're good, it's just... not very interesting to eat them alone." Harry pushed the till closed. "Let me take the money back to the safe and I'll be right with you."
Draco waited, looking around at the shelves and shelves of boxes, each with its unique wand. He remembered his awe and excitement when his father had brought him here, and how he'd seen the same reaction in his own son. It was good that Harry was carrying on the custom.
"How did you decide to go into wand-making?" he asked as Harry locked the shop door behind them. "I'd have expected you to become an Auror or a cursebreaker or something like that. Or maybe a professional Quidditch player."
"I didn't want any job with that kind of publicity," said Harry shortly. "Look, where do you want to walk? There are some pleasant Muggle parks... have you ever been to Kensington Gardens? There's a safe Apparition point not far away from there. Your robes are close enough to Muggle business clothes that no one will notice."
"That's fine. You'll have to take me by Side-Along, though, as I don't know it." Draco braced himself.
"Right. Hang on, then." Harry put an arm around Draco's back; Draco could feel him taking a deep breath. "Now."
The disorientation of Apparition was almost welcome as a distraction from Harry's touch. As soon as they arrived, Draco stepped away from him, willing himself to ignore the heat and spark that seemed to have sensitized every inch of skin.
"Follow me," Harry said, and led Draco along the street to the park.
It was lovely in the summer evening, Draco admitted, although there were more people than he quite liked. Still, the chance of any of them knowing or recognizing either himself or Harry seemed slim. Presumably they were all or nearly all Muggles.
"After we rescued Mister Ollivander," said Harry, picking up on the question Draco had asked back at the shop, "I talked with him a bit about wand lore. I'd had to use several wands that weren't my own during that year... well, you know that." He glanced sideways at Draco, who remembered very well indeed both when Harry had taken his wand, and when he had returned it after Voldemort's defeat.
"It was... well, it just interested me." Harry shrugged. "And it seemed like a nice quiet sort of occupation. Not a lot of danger in wand-making, and I'd had more of that than I ever hoped to have again."
Draco had flushed a little at the mention of Ollivander's rescue from Malfoy Manor, and was glad that Harry didn't harp on it.
"Have you enjoyed making wands as much as you expected?" he asked.
Harry thought about it as they continued strolling, shoving his spectacles up his nose. "On the whole, yes. There's quite a bit of satisfaction in matching each witch or wizard to the best wand for them. It's unpredictable, what will suit. And it's challenging. Ollivander preferred a very limited range of magical cores – Veela hair, for one – although he used a broader group of woods. I've done some experimenting with different cores, and used some exotic woods on occasion too."
"It sounds interesting." Draco meant that. Compared to a safe and dull desk job at the Ministry, Harry's choice of career sounded positively fascinating.
"Yeah, I've had the chance to do some traveling, search out suppliers, that sort of thing. So. You're at the Ministry, right, in Law Enforcement? Hermione's mentioned you once in a while."
"I'm just a parchment-pusher." Draco dismissed the question. "Really. Nothing important, nothing that has any impact."
"Is that what you wanted?" asked Harry, steering them onto a fork in the path. "I can see why you might not have gone for something high-profile when you began, mind."
"At first, yes, it was a safe option," Draco said with a hint of bitterness. "I didn't have a lot of choices. And then... I suppose I never had the drive to try to change. Maybe I didn't want to take the risk. It's respectable, uncontroversial – qualities that I needed, that the Malfoy name needed to be associated with, regardless of whether or not I personally enjoyed the job." He considered. "I don't dislike it, but to be honest I'm a glorified file clerk, and by now it's rather late to make a change, you know? I'll just drift along for a few more decades until I retire."
He realized that he had kept walking, while Harry had stopped a few yards back. He turned. Harry was looking at him with a peculiar expression, which he wiped from his face almost before Draco could register it. It hadn't been pity, not quite, nor even sympathy.
"What?" The word came out with more of a snap than Draco intended.
"Nothing," said Harry quickly, and moved to catch up. He glanced at his wristwatch. "Do you want to keep walking for a bit, or grab something to eat?"
"Doesn't matter. Whatever you want."
Harry looked around. "I'm not too familiar with this area when it comes to restaurants, I have to admit. Other than the café by the playground – that has sandwiches and salads and simple things like that. Ginny and I used to bring the kids sometimes, a few years ago now. We could go somewhere else... I know a little place that grills a nice steak. Argentine beef, and they have a decent wine list... I won't mind a glass if we're eating, too."
"Fine," Draco agreed, and they talked about the safe topic of British versus imported meat until they had left the park and reached a spot from which they could Apparate discreetly.
Once again Harry took Draco by Side-Along, although it wasn't strictly necessary. Draco tried not to show his reaction. His pulse beat faster, though, and he was sure his face was flushed.
"There it is – Pampas." Harry pointed ahead at a set of deep blue awnings.
Both food and wine were as good as Harry had intimated they would be, and Draco relaxed. The conversation jumped from food to foreign travel to sport – they both took care, in this Muggle restaurant, not to say "Quidditch" too loudly – and by the time that Draco had eaten his last bite of papas fritas, he wasn't at all expecting Harry to reach across the table and take his hand.
Draco froze. Harry threaded his fingers through Draco's, evidently not noticing that Draco made no move to cooperate. Warmth shot through Draco's arm, into his belly... he tried to ignore the fact that he was becoming aroused by such a simple touch. He wasn't a teenager any more; this was ridiculous. At least sitting at the table no one else could tell, especially not Harry. Unless he was reacting too, but Draco saw no sign of it.
"Thanks for stopping by the shop tonight." Harry looked very earnest, despite lines that crinkled around his eyes as he smiled. "I've had a good time."
"So have I," Draco managed to say.
"Maybe we could do it again? As I said, Ginny goes out with her friends on Tuesdays... if you want to, if it's a day that's all right for you," Harry added hastily. "I wouldn't want to presume on your schedule."
"Tuesdays would be fine." Harry was still holding his hand; Draco forced himself to return the pressure of Harry's fingers before he let go, afraid he'd do something foolish otherwise. "That's a good idea."
Harry gave Draco a smile that called to mind the triumphant young Seeker of so many years past, who had just caught the Snitch and won the game for his House. "They make a gloriously decadent chocolate confection here. I think this calls for one of those to celebrate. Don't you?"
"Celebrate... what exactly?" asked Draco cautiously.
"Being friends now." The words were simple, even if Draco thought he saw something more flicker in Harry's eyes.
"Something worth celebrating, to be friends," Draco agreed.
When they'd finished and paid and were walking back along the street – Draco had to Apparate, although Harry lived close enough to walk home – Harry said, "Same time next week?"
"Shall I meet you at your shop again?"
"Yes. I close at six, and you finish earlier at the Ministry, right? So that seems best."
They did meet the next week, and the one after, and the one following that... and on into months, until it was simply a regular part of Draco's life, to spend Tuesday evenings with Harry, walking and talking and having dinner, sometimes even going to see a play or a musical performance together.
Draco never quite got used to Harry's touching him, although Harry did it quite a lot. For a while Draco wondered if Harry was trying to get him to react, if it was some kind of test of Draco's emotions – but then one day Harry's son Albus happened to be in the shop when Draco arrived, and Harry hugged him several times. Draco decided that Harry was just a tactile person, and to be touched by him didn't mean anything special.
Over time they talked about all kinds of things. Their children – that was always a safe and endless topic. Quidditch, of course; Draco had supported the Magpies his whole life, whereas Harry backed the Cannons, apparently out of loyalty to Ron Weasley. As they grew to be better friends, they were even able to discuss subjects that they disagreed about, like some of the Ministry's laws regarding wizard-Muggle interactions, and Draco felt a carefully-hidden thrill when he convinced Harry to rethink his position on appropriate penalties for the ownership of contraband but not actually dangerous artifacts.
Friendship with Harry was better than Draco had ever imagined it could be. He told himself that if it wasn't enough for him, that was a private problem, and to accept what Harry offered without being a child begging for the unreachable moon.
After well over a year, however, he realized that Harry had never again brought up the prospect of settling the life debt. Draco knew that his own emotions remained unresolved, but he'd understood from Harry that as long as that wasn't mutual, then the Relinquishment Spell should work. And no wizard with any sense wanted to die with a life debt still owing. His stomach clenched, and he resolved that he would ask... next week. Or the week following. Soon, in any case, he promised himself. Soon.