Warnings: Ginny bashing, but only by Draco. WIP
Summary: A story in which Draco falls madly in love (but with a straight, heartbroken boy), Harry is said straight, heartbroken boy (but you know, shit happens). A tale of friendship, love, Gryffindor determination and all the news that is fit to print. (And lots of drinking)
Author's Notes: I will freely admit that I took a great deal of inspiration from several wonderful gay story lines out there: Maurice, Were the World Mine and primarily Clara Sheller (a fabulous French show which you MUST watch if you haven't!) The main premise of Draco falling in love with a straight boy, comes from a college friend of mine who when one day she was looking very down simply explained, "I've fallen in love with a straight girl." They were together for 5 years!
This is a fairly large section. We're probably looking at two more big parts!
Fit to Print - Part 2
Of course by "work" Draco had meant "bar". And by a "story on owl pellets" he had meant "several strong drinks with Pansy".
She is already sitting at a table near one of the front windows when he walks in, removing his gloves one finger at a time and surveying the place. It's a muggle bar but that is typical for her. The Leaky Cauldron is the only real magical establishment in London and Pany considers herself far too posh to be seen with its rowdy clientele.
Pansy, who hasn't had a drop of alcohol in years but smokes like a chimney, has her hand curled around a mug of coffee and a lit cigarette in the other. There are already three shots of Ketel One vodka waiting for Draco. She knows his vices as well as she knows him and he loves her for it.
He sits and does the three shots in rapid succession, barely giving himself a moment to bite back the burn.
"So to what emergency do I owe the pleasure of your company? I have to say I was a bit surprised to get your owl so late and on a work night, too," She teases taking a long drag from her cigarette.
Draco braces himself against the edge of the table, letting the liquor spread through his system. "I've fallen in love with a straight boy."
"Not again." Pansy's voice is tinged with a smile yet with enough sympathy that he doesn't completely regret confiding in her. She settles back in her chair, flicking the smoked-down ash into the ash tray. "You do realize that, as a gay man, you need to fall in love with another gay man, yes? Or at least a bisexual one?"
A steely look quells her sarcasm. "This is different, Pans. This isn't some, pathetic, school boy, come and go in an instant, hard-on just being in the same room kind of crush," Draco bites his lip. "Well, maybe that last bit."
Pansy lifts one dark brow. "What is it then?"
"More like…never felt so strongly, feels like my soul is matched, imagining our china patterns and joint retirement plans kind of love."
"Well then." She sits forward, putting out her cigarette. "Do I know him?"
Draco groans running his palms down over his face then nods.
"Care to share?" She prods.
Draco shakes his head.
"Come on," she teases. "It can't be that bad."
"It is." Draco slumps over the table, pressing his forehead against the smooth wood. "It's Potter."
She laughs sharply then covers her mouth with purple-manicured nails, but giggles sneak out behind them anyway.
"I know, I know," Draco groans, rolling his head back and forth on the table. The coolness of the veneer helps to sooth his blush.
"Draco, darling, our Lord Chosen One is as straight as his wand. And incredibly taken."
"Not anymore," Draco says quickly snapping his head up. The room spins for a minute as the vodka does its work. "He found her in bed with Finch-Fletchly just last night. The wedding is off."
"I didn't read about it in the Prophet today."
"It's because I didn't put it in the Prophet today."
Pansy's eyes widen, as if the reality of situation is finally hitting her. "This is serious then." She leans across the table. "Do you really think you love him? I mean, I know you've been friends ever since the Hogwarts rebuilding project took off, but to love him? It seems rather sudden."
"It's hit me like a steam train, Pans." Draco says. "Last night he was there and he needed me and I just…" Draco drops his hands with an exasperated shrug.
She smiles softly. "You've always had a bit of a soft spot for him."
"Yeah, soft as dragon's tooth."
"No, really. It's always been about Harry in one way or another." She squints at him through the dim light. "I almost wonder if that is why you hated him so much growing up. Because he made you feel something that you couldn't put a name to."
Draco looks down at his empty shot glasses and really wishes they would fill up again on their own. Why the hell hadn't they met at a magical bar? And why did she have to be so right? He picks up one of the shot glasses anyway, squeezing it tightly in his fist.
"What will you do?" She asks gently.
"I've no idea," Draco states. "If I tell him, I'm sure he'll never want to talk to me again but if I don't tell him I don't know if I'll ever be able to be near him again without imagining being with him. His body all pale and slender, tight with those Auror muscles…"
"You can stop right there."
Pansy snaps him out of his quickly materializing fantasy. His pants already feel a bit tight in the crotch and he adjusts himself as discretely as he can though Pansy doesn't miss much and gives him a disbelieving look.
"Regardless, things will never be the same." Draco looks down at the glass in his hand, slipping into a resigned silence.
"Look, I have a proposition," Pansy says after a spell, she reaches into her purse, bringing out a small golden envelope. He recognizes it as an invitation to the 10th Annual Hogwarts Alumni Ball - an institution started after the school was reopened after the war. He'd gotten one too.
"I assume you're going." She says, twirling the glittering paper back and forth between two fingers. Draco nods. As Chief Editor he didn't have much choice. "Well, since you can't go with the straight boy you want and there aren't any straight boys that are remotely good enough for me, why don't we go together? I won't let you get past first base, but at least you'll have someone to kiss at midnight."
"Pitty," Draco murmurs. "You used to let me get much further than that." A blush floods her cheeks and for a moment Draco is sad. It was not so long ago that they were a couple, but it feels like a different lifetime. Then in all seriousness a friend as timeless and loyal as Pansy deserves, he answers, "I'd be honored."
The next few days pass in a skillfully performed pas de deux on Draco's part, dancing around Harry and avoiding him as much as possible. He puts in plenty of late nights and early mornings at work, spends his evenings finishing up his shopping and sleeps like the bewitched in the hours in between.
He would have hardly known Harry was staying at his flat at all and therefore could ignore that pesky, niggling need to snog him. Of course, that would have been much easier if it hadn't been for Harry's toothbrush next to the bathroom sink, the bristles all smooshed and caked with paste. Or the set of Auror robes flung over one of Draco's chairs or left in a pile on the floor near the door. Draco does not press his nose to the grey fabric and fill his nostrils with the spicy smell of Harry's cologne when he hangs them up in the closet. Never. Not even once.
Before he knows it, a week has passed and it is Christmas Eve. In a fit of seasonal good will, his staff force him to take the remainder of the day off. "We're not going to ruin the paper in one afternoon," they say as they merrily push him out the front door. Draco has his doubts.
Being the middle of the day, he assumes his careful string of Harry-lite days will go unbroken. So when he opens his front door to see Harry bent over a travel case, tweed trousers pulled tight over his perfectly round derriere, Draco cannot help the completely unmanly yelp that jumps from his lips.
"Don't you ever work?" He asks, flustered.
Harry stands, turning to look at him. He has a half folded jumper in his hand. "I've been known to put in a few hours here and there." He smiles weakly. "I took a personal day today though. I went to see Ginny."
"When did you do that?" Draco asks. "What did she say? And why didn't you tell me? I would have gone with you."
"You weren't exactly here to tell."
"There are owls, Harry."
"I'm suppose to send an owl to the person I'm staying with?" Harry snaps, wadding up the sweater and throwing it in his bag. "What a waste of owl food." He turns his back on Draco, rustling through his things.
Draco feels like a complete ass. Harry had needed was a friend this week and Draco hadn't been there for him.
"Look, I'm sorry I haven't been around."
"I know," Harry says, accepting Draco's apology-of-a-sort. "It doesn't really matter," he says as he picks up a pair of inside out socks and stuff them in the side pouch. "I needed to go alone."
Draco takes off his coat and folds it over his arm. "Well. How was it?"
Harry drops to the couch and Draco, following suit, slowly sinks to an arm chair. "Awful."
Draco can tell Harry is doing everything he can not to cry. Draco can almost feel the bite of tears at the back of his own throat.
"She told me they've been sleeping together for four months, off and on. She said the pressure of being 'the future Mrs. Harry Potter' was more than she could bear so when she saw Fintch-Fletchly at one of her Quidditch training seminars they ended up in bed together." He looks down at his hands. "She's not in love with him, or so she says. Part of me thinks that makes it even worse. It would be one thing if she'd ruined everything because she'd found the love of her life but just for some random fuck? I don't know...It hurts."
Draco is silent, unable to come up with any words because inside he is fuming. He hates that unfaithful bitch more than he's ever hated anyone in his life. And that is saying a lot, considering. But Harry mistakes his silence for something else.
"Look, I should get going." He stands and does up the zipper on his suit case. He reaches in the front pocket of his trousers and takes out a key to Draco's flat which he places on the side table. "Thanks again for letting me stay. You've been so busy and I'm sure I'm the last person you want hanging around on Christmas Eve."
Harry shrugs on his coat, a puffy muggle thing that Draco cannot stand. Whenever he had pointed this out in the past, Harry would simply tell him to fuck off with a big grin and that it was warm.
"Where will you go?"
"Home. Ginny is with her family through the holidays so it's safe to go back."
"You still planning on going to the Weasley's tomorrow?"
He zips the coat all the way up to his neck and tucks his chin into the collar for a moment, blowing out a puff of air before speaking. "I spoke with Hermione and Ron last night and Ron insisted that I come. Said I was still family as far as he was concerned, but I don't think that would be a good idea. For anyone."
"So you'll be alone? At Christmas?"
Harry reaches behind him to pick up his bag. The look on his face is just so sad. "Wouldn't be the first time."
Draco stands quickly. "It's settled then. Harry, I'd like to officially invite you to Christmas at the Malfoy Manor tomorrow. As my guest."
Harry blinks at him. "Draco," the corner of his mouth lifts. "You can't be serious."
"No, no, I'm quite serious."
"Your father hates me."
"And my mother loves you. She'll insist upon it once she hears that you'd be alone otherwise and so do I."
Harry looks at him for a moment, weighing his options.
The half smile turns into a full one and Draco's heart does a double-thump. "Alright, I think I'd like that." But then his face pales again. "There's just one problem though," Harry says, quite seriously.
"What in bloody fuck am I supposed to get your father?"
The house elf bows so low its pachyderm-like nose brushes against the Oriental rug, all while the crystal snifter of Brandy remains perfectly balanced on the silver tray above his head.
"Would Mr. Harry Potter like another glass, Mr. Harry Potter, sir?"
Harry glances down at the small creature from where he stands by the fireplace. He shakes his head no, a gracious smile on his lips. Draco can't help but think he looks rather regal standing there, his long neck pale against the deep red of his shirt collar, his dark hair falling in careless tendrils. Draco slams back the rest of his drink.
"That will be all, Ferry." Drops his glass on the tray. "Leave us."
The elf bows towards Draco and then vanishes.
Harry's eyes have been lost in quiet contemplation all day, leaving him the impression of being present in the moment but only just. The day had been lovely. His mother had decorated the house with all the beautiful touches he remembered from his youth. Both his father and Harry had been on their best behavior, kissing each other's proverbial asses with niceties and decorum that, no matter how fake, had been believable enough that diner had been comfortable, enjoyable even.
However, now that dinner has ended and he and Harry have retired to the blue salon alone, the good face he'd put on all day has seemed to wilt. His mouth is narrow, set in a tense line. His brow is dropped. The pain he feels is still so new he still wears it outwardly all the while feeling it to the core. Draco can't fathom how deep his ache must go.
It makes him want to gather Harry fully into his arms, kiss the lids of his eyes and make him forget all about her. And yet he knows he has no right to that sort of comfort.
Harry's eyes shift and he catches Draco staring. Instead of looking away demurely, he holds his gaze and speaks. "I bought her a diamond and moonstone necklace for Christmas. I saw it, way back in October and all I could think about how it would catch her eyes when she wore it. It cost me…" He shakes his head. "A lot. What am I supposed to do with that now?"
"Keep it," Draco suggests, moving around the settee to sit on the ottoman. "Sell it. Destroy it."
Harry snickers through his nose. "Yeah, I do have some experience destroying jewelry, don't I?"
"More than most wizards I know."
Harry presses his lips into a small smile. But then his eyes return to the fire, becoming lost once again. Draco rises.
"Hopefully you won't feel the need to destroy this." He reaches into his pocket and takes out a small, neatly wrapped box.
"You got me jewelry?" Harry asks, flatly.
"No, you four-eyed idiot," Draco snickers, "Take it." As soon as Harry does, the glittery Santa with his eight reindeer take flight across the paper, flying around the top edge of the box as the corners begin to gradually spread outward, enlarging the box until it is so large Harry must cradle it in both forearms.
He gives Draco a curious look and a smile as he kneels, placing the package on the floor and begins to tear at the paper.
Inside the box rests a beautiful set of deep blue robes made of the supplest cashmere-wool blend with luxe, velvet lapels to match. Harry fingers the fine fabric, shaking his head. He looks up at Draco.
"It's too much."
"It's nothing." Draco says, casually dismissing the statement with his hand. "Your Auror robes are too workaday to wear anywhere nice and that plumped up monstrosity you've been wearing the past two winters needs replacing."
"I like that coat. It's really warm." Draco smiles at the expected response. "I should let you wear it sometime just so you can see." .
"I will do no such thing."
Harry stands and shakes the cloak out to it's full length. He holds the garment up to his body, smiling warmly. Draco knows it will be a perfect fit.
"I just wanted you to know," Draco crosses his arms across his chest, suddenly feeling unsure as he goes on. "That even though you may have been unlucky in love lately, there are still plenty of people in the world who love you." An ache pulses through him as he says it and if there had been any doubt that his feelings were true, there is none now. Harry drops the cloak and engulfs Draco in a long hug.
And there with Harry's defined arms wrapped securely around him, with the smell of Harry's cologne making him delirious, with the warmth of Harry's skin bleeding through his shirt and into his own, the words come splattering out.
"I love you, Harry."
Harry pulls back, one hand still resting on Draco's shoulder. His face goes blank for a moment before he smiles and squeezes Draco's shoulder. "Love you too, mate."
Draco knows he should just count his losses. Be thankful that Harry hasn't run from the room crying fowl. But there is something so ridiculously chummy about the way Harry throws those words back at him. Harry's tone is so painfully platonic, that Draco must make himself clear. He takes Harry's hand from his shoulder and places it carefully in his own. Harry watches then cautiously meets his eye.
"I love you." He sees Harry's eyes go wide. "I'm in love with you."
Harry takes a step back, slipping both his hands into his trouser pockets. He watches Draco for a long moment, as if giving Draco the time to say, "Just kidding". But this is no joke.
Harry clears his throat, begins to speak, freezes and then restarts. "I...don't really know what to say…"
"You don't need to say anything." Draco's thankful for the poise his father instilled in him from a young age. It allows him, even in this moment, to keep his voice calm, his chin high and his hands steady. "I know anything between us is…impossible. But that doesn't make what I feel for you any less real."
Harry chews at his lower lip and nods. "Was this why…last week…"
"I avoided you like the plague?" Draco finishes. "Yes. I thought I might be able to push my feelings away, but…" He sweeps his hands in front of him. "Well, here we are."
"How long have you felt this way?"
"Does it matter?"
"No. No I suppose not," Harry says.
"Long enough," Draco answers anyway. "But not long. Not years, if that's what you're worried about."
"I'm not worried about…" He stutters, a pained expression cutting him short. He rubs at his scar, a subconscious reflex Draco has see him do in times of severe stress. Harry drops his hand with a huff. "I just…I like women, Draco."
"Oh, I know. You don't need to remind me of that."
Harry takes a hasty step forward, coming to stand close to Draco. His eyes are impassioned and locked on Draco's. Their intensity makes his breath catch. "I care about you, so much. More than I certainly thought I ever would."
"Don't," Draco cuts him off, moving to stand with his back to Harry. He presses his palms against the credenza, watching as the magical snow falls on the porcelain nativity scene laid out there. "It's so very like you to be nothing but gallant at this moment. You've already behaved far better than I could have expected, but anything you say is only going to be further proof of why I love you and make it hurt all the more that I can't have you."
"Then why tell me at all? Why tell me when you know I can't give you what you want?"
"I needed for you to know. Even if that means losing you."
"And it's worth risk then, is it?" Harry's nostrils flare, his eyes burning with insult. "To throw away everything we've done to overcome our past. To become such good friends."
Draco turns to him, a defensive snarl on his lips. A memory of the way things used to be, way back at Hogwarts flashes through his mind. A reckless thought that maybe in the end it would have been easier if the animosity between them had never changed.
"I'm a newspaper man, Harry." He says, darkly. "You know I can't keep quiet about a good story for long."
Harry's jaw goes slack in silent disbelief. "Damn you, Draco," He says and is through the floo before Draco even has a chance to move towards him.
The woosh of the fire knocks Draco back. He drops to a nearby arm chair, staring blankly at Harry's abandoned gift still nested in its wrappings on the floor. He sighs, wishing Ferry would come back with more brandy.