A Sense of Perspective
"Why are we doing this again?" said Harry plaintively, staring down at the glossy card in his hand.
Hermione emerged from the bathroom with her hair in a sleek chignon, wearing more black than Harry had thought she owned, in robes that were cut to flatter the curves she'd grown when he wasn't paying attention. Not that he really wanted to pay that kind of attention to her; she was Ron's fiancee. He was just the bloke she dragged to cultural events because she felt that both she and her gay best friend should be more interested in such things.
"It's a revolutionary new exhibit," she said, flipping over the card. "All the paintings were done by house-elves, can you imagine! The perspective we could get on their unique, if oppressed, culture."
Harry rolled his eyes. "And I have to dress up like Snape because?" he asked. She'd chosen all black for him as well, fitted robes in layers that the shop girl had said invited one to imagine removing them. Harry thought they just made it harder to use the loo.
"Don't be absurd," Hermione said, grabbing the clutch purse he knew for a fact could hold more than most backpacks. "You look dashing, now come on. I don't want to be more than fashionably late."
Harry glanced at the invitation, then his watch. The card said the reception would begin at six thirty, and it was barely quarter to seven. At least he'd managed to cure her of showing up early. "Apparate?" he asked, though the co-ordinates were right there in black and white.
"Of course," she said, snagging the invitation.
"Ladies first," said Harry; he was pretty sure he remembered the directions, so he let her take the card away with her. He followed a few seconds later, ending up in a black and white Apparition foyer, just to the left of dead centre on the compass rose pattern inlaid into the floor. Hastily stepping to the perimeter of the room, Harry looked around until he spotted Hermione, already waiting by the doorway with a program in her hand. "You don't have to look at me like that," he said with a wry smile, "I followed, didn't I?"
She smiled back at him and shook her head. "You took a bit longer than I expected. I thought you might've changed your mind," she said. She tried to hand him a program, but he waved it away in favour of snagging a glass of wine from a nearby house-elf, who was wearing an impeccably clean and pressed tea towel and looking utterly pleased with himself.
Harry shrugged and took a sip, finding the wine dry and apple-crisp, just the way he liked it. "I just had to remember the co-ordinates, since you took the invite," he teased, and she rolled her eyes. They moved into the gallery and he looked around, impressed with the paintings straightaway.
The white walls were decorated with smallish canvases hung just slightly too high for comfort, each one depicting a domestic scene of some sort. Everything in them seemed large despite the small size of the paintings, but even though tables and counters were well above his eye line, nothing seemed like it was out of reach. Nor did any of it feel overwhelming, which he'd always imagined it might, to be surrounded by furniture and people that towered over you. Instead it was comforting, almost like being a child again and running around in the secret places where everything you wanted was just within reach.
"How oppressive," said Hermione, nose wrinkling.
Harry stared for a moment, then shook his head. "I think it's a bit like being a kid again," he said. "Besides, house-elves can use magic to get things from up high."
She glared at him, but declined further comment, and Harry let her get ahead of him as they moved through the maze of rooms, until he lost sight of her completely. He was standing in what seemed to be a bedroom, looking up at a painting of a bed with a crisp white sheet arched over it, in the midst of settling onto the bed itself. He could practically smell the laundry soap, and it reminded him of making his own bed the summer after his first year at Hogwarts, when he'd actually had a bedroom for the first time.
"That's a rather odd smile," said a woefully familiar voice. Harry turned to find himself face-to-face with his former nemesis, Draco Malfoy.
"I wouldn't think house-elf art would be your thing," said Harry, refusing to discuss his childhood with the likes of Malfoy.
Malfoy laughed. "I take it you haven't read the program yet?" he said, passing Harry a pristine copy.
Harry opened it, paging through photographs that failed to convey the feeling of the paintings at all. Finally, Malfoy got impatient and turned him to the front credits page, which read:
Art by Scrumpy, Winky and Snergle of Hogwarts
Harry blinked, then cocked his head. "Winky can paint?" he asked, while he processed the idea that Malfoy might not only know something about house-elf art, but care enough to arrange for this controversial showing.
Malfoy chuckled. "She's one of the best," he said, nodding at the painting Harry had been ogling. "That's one of hers."
"Are they for sale?" asked Harry curiously; his walls at home were nearly bare, and he couldn't imagine anything better than this for the first thing that wasn't a Quidditch poster or Businesses of Diagon Alley calendar.
Malfoy nodded. "Of course," he said, and Harry wondered if he ought to congratulate him on restraining the eye-rolling obviously trying to get out. "All proceeds go to the Wands for Widows fund, to help replace those confiscated or destroyed during... Well, you know." At least he had the grace to look abashed.
Harry nodded, noticing for the first time the discreet card next to each painting, with the title, artist and a price. He glanced around the room and asked, "What're the red dots?"
"A half dot means someone has offered for the painting, and a full dot is sold," said Malfoy, once again using the that tone that suggested Harry ought to have known such things before ever setting foot in his gallery.
"I'll take this one, then, how do I do the dot thing?" asked Harry, waving his hand. The more he looked at it, the more he wanted it on his bedroom wall where the sunlight would hit it in the mornings.
Malfoy looked surprised, but he recovered with surprising grace. A tap of his wand against the card and a red half-dot appeared, obscuring the price. "Like this," said Malfoy with a smile that managed to be pleased without the look of superiority he always wore in Harry's memories. "It will become a full dot as soon as payment is arranged, and delivery will be complimentary once the show is over. Winky likes to install them herself."
Harry smiled fondly. "It'll be good to see her again," he said, thinking of how she'd been near the end. "I take it she's doing better now?"
Malfoy nodded, looking almost fond. "She gained a permanent position at Hogwarts, so she's back in a tea towel like the rest of them. Actually the artists insisted on serving at the party, so she's here somewhere with the hors d'oeuvres."
Harry smiled, thinking how happy she must be with a proper master and hundreds of students to care for. "I'm glad she recovered from her grief," he said. "So, how'd you end up with this gig, anyway?"
They began to move through the rooms, chatting almost amiably. Malfoy explained that the gallery had been a family asset for many years, and he'd decided to take it over as a charitable enterprise to help rebuild the Malfoy reputation. Harry talked about his own career as a public speaker, which he'd fallen into after the war when people needed someone to tell them it was all right to move on. They discussed art and culture, Harry drawing from his Hermione-forced experiences and Malfoy from a lifetime of proper breeding, and by the time they made it to the buffet table in the last room, Harry was feeling almost fond of this new, more mature version of Malfoy's personality.
"When did you figure out you were gay?" asked Malfoy casually, accepting another glass of wine from one of the elves.
"Well, I... What?" said Harry, glancing around to see that no one was paying them any heed. "Why would you think that?"
Malfoy shrugged. "Sorry, I didn't mean any offence. I figured it out the first time Pansy tried to get more than a snog off me," he said. He took a sip of his wine, a rich red this time, his pink tongue flicking out to catch the last drop from the rim of the glass.
Harry swallowed and looked away, realising he'd spent most of the conversation staring at Malfoy's mouth, memorising the exact shade of delicate pink and the precise curves of the bow when he was smiling, or thoughtful. "Recently," said Harry with a little blush. "But I don't... No one knows."
"Ah," said Malfoy, as if that explained everything. And Harry supposed it did. A witch came up to Malfoy to ask about one of the paintings, and Harry realised he'd been monopolising Malfoy's time and attention all evening.
"You'll owl me about the arrangements for the painting?" asked Harry, touching Malfoy's arm lightly and trying not to think about how warm he felt through his robes.
Malfoy nodded gratefully. "Yes, of course. Perhaps we'll do lunch so you can sign the voucher?"
"Sure," agreed Harry easily. It wasn't until after he'd rescued Winky from Hermione that he thought it might have sounded a bit like a date. Hermione had been appalled to learn that the once free elf had found herself a new master, and Harry had eaten all of the food remaining on Winky's tray, giving her a grin as he did so.
Winky looked appropriately grateful, and it wasn't until he saw her reappear a few minutes later with a full tray of salmon puffs that Harry thought to say, "I bought one, by the way. It's good of you to let Malfoy donate the proceeds."
Winky's face lit up, though her eyes still shifted to Hermione once in a while as she exclaimed, "Winky is so proud to be having her work in Harry Potter's home! Winky is having no more use for wizard money, except for supplies, and the Malfoys is giving her all she needs for that." She offered her refilled tray to Harry, who took one more of the delicious treats.
"Thanks, Winky. I'll see you again when you deliver the painting, right?" he said, thinking again of his lunch plans with Malfoy.
She nodded and smiled, already distracted by another patron, who was gesturing for treats. "Winky will see Master Harry Potter again, yes, thank you!"
"I should be thanking you," said Harry absently as she scampered off, tray held perfectly steady in her awkward-looking hands. He looked around the room one more time, taking in the sense of scale and light and belonging, and wondered if this was how it felt to be a happy child.
Then he shook himself out of his absurd funk and went to find Hermione. It was definitely time to go home.
Harry pointedly did not check himself in the mirror yet again before he Apparated to the restaurant, a small wizarding bistro in the same off-Diagon neighbourhood that housed the gallery.
"Ah," said a voice at his elbow, "Mr. Potter, I have your table ready." Harry looked around and then down, to find a grinning goblin in a neat suit waiting patiently for Harry to get a clue.
"Oh, um, thank you," said Harry, nonplussed. He followed obediently inside, only to find Malfoy already waiting, chatting amiably with an elegantly-dressed witch Harry didn't recognise.
"And here's my plans, right on time," Malfoy was saying, eyes sparkling as he turned them on Harry, making the grey seem silver-bright. "As lovely as it's been to catch up..."
"But it wouldn't do to keep Harry Potter waiting," she said, managing to make it sound both charming and slightly disparaging at once. She left without a backwards glance, which to Harry's mind rather reinforced the latter and left a bad taste in his mouth.
Harry shrugged and sat; he'd learned long ago that some people would dislike him no matter what he did or said. "Am I such a tyrant?" he teased, taking a sip of the lemon-scented water that was already waiting for him, then opening his menu.
Malfoy snorted. "Obviously," he drawled. "At least you're on time; some clients make it a point to be late or early in an attempt to get the upper hand."
Harry's brows knit. "Upper hand for what?" he asked, looking over Malfoy's face under the pretence of politeness. The sharpness had filled out just enough that he'd gone from pointy to attractive in the past few years, and Harry felt a stab of envy. Harry's features were much the same as they'd always been, his build still small and hair as unruly as ever, and even changing glasses to something more fashionable hadn't helped.
"Negotiating the final price of the painting," replied Malfoy, in a tone that suggested Harry obviously needed a bit more education if he hoped to appear cultured.
"Oh, speaking of which," said Harry, handing Malfoy a charmed Galleon purse. "There's a bit extra there, I can't really donate to charities under my own name so I was hoping you'd pass it along as part of the gallery's contribution?"
Malfoy weighed the bag thoughtfully before tucking it away. "I should think they'd all welcome the patronage of the great-"
"Don't," said Harry sharply, cutting Malfoy off. "I can't donate to just one, or the rest complain."
"Ah," said Malfoy, shrugging. "Father is teaching me to ignore the clamour and make the best choices politically, which is how the gallery ended up supporting WfW."
"A very politically correct charity, I guess," said Harry wryly; he'd never understood what made people see one group as more worthy than any other, so he tended to make small anonymous donations where he could, and try not to worry about it otherwise. He'd done his job of saving people, though it was a hard habit to break.
A waiter came over to take their orders, and Harry chose something random and hoped it would be good. Despite Hermione's efforts, he'd never learned to appreciate fine cuisine, preferring a good steak and kidney pie to anything whose name he couldn't pronounce.
Draco looked intrigued by his choice, which didn't bode well, but Harry just smiled and nodded and said, "Whatever you recommend," when asked about specifics.
"You've never eaten here before," said Malfoy once the waiter had left, sounding surprised.
Harry shrugged. "I'm not much for fancy restaurants," he said, looking around at the crisp white tablecloths, the long-aproned waiters serving wine, and the food that looked more like sculpture to Harry.
Malfoy smiled. "To tell you the truth, I'm not always, either. I think Hogwarts spoiled my palate."
Harry laughed. "I'm just shockingly uncultured for a gay man," he said, "or so Hermione would have me believe."
"You have excellent taste in art," replied Malfoy with a smirk. "I sold several more of Winky's paintings on the strength of Harry Potter's dot."
It was Harry's turn to laugh, surprised to find Malfoy both charming and more down-to-earth than he expected, despite their rarified surroundings. "So, what did I order, anyway?" asked Harry, just for the look of shock it put on Malfoy's face.
Malfoy shook his head. "You'll see," he said ominously. The waiter came and poured them both a glass of the wine Malfoy had apparently ordered before Harry arrived. "This is the white we had at the opening, which Winky tells me you enjoyed."
Harry sipped it and smiled, letting the flavours wash over his tongue. "I do like it, though to be honest I don't know much more about wine than I do about food."
"You know what you like, which is a start," said Malfoy. A gentle chime sounded, and Malfoy put his napkin in his lap, nodding that Harry do the same. As soon as Harry complied, the artful stack of dishes in front of each of them vanished, to be replaced by a small and meticulously arranged salad on Malfoy's part, and a bowl of some creamy soup in front of Harry.
"I wonder if it's safe," said Harry, picking up the outermost spoon, as Hermione had taught him. He poked at it, finding the whole thing had been pureed and strained to one homogenous texture, then gave in and dipped in his spoon to taste.
"Lobster bisque?" inquired Malfoy, his own fork still poised over the small pile of greens and crumbled cheese.
Harry blinked, then nodded. "I think so, yeah. Something seafood, anyway," he said, taking another, bigger spoonful. "It's tasty."
"Score one for haute cuisine," said Malfoy with a snicker, diving into his salad. "How do you keep so fit if you still eat like you're seventeen?"
Harry shrugged, secretly pleased that Malfoy had noticed. "I play a lot of pick-up Quidditch, and sometimes I help Neville with the heavy work in his greenhouses."
"Really?" asked Malfoy and then, much to Harry's surprise he went on to add, "Longbottom has supplied some wonderful flowers for Mother's garden, and I've heard nothing but good things about his potions ingredients."
Harry put more soup in his mouth to keep from saying something stupid, and then had another sip of wine just because. "He's foisted a few houseplants on me, but he has to come by and tend them, too," said Harry with a chuckle. "They're nice, though."
"Mother tends her own garden, it's her pride and joy," said Malfoy fondly. Harry felt a pang; he knew now that much of Malfoy's behaviour in the past had been about keeping his family safe, and Harry sometimes wondered what it would be like to have that sort of pride and affection for his family.
He shook off the mood and smiled. "I'd love to see them sometime, I bet they're wonderful," he said politely.
"I'm sure that could be arranged," said Malfoy, his tone almost flirty, and Harry felt his cheeks heating. He hadn't meant to invite himself over, but now that he had, he found himself quite curious about the house Malfoy had grown up in -- everything except the cellars, at any rate, which he had no wish to revisit.
"I can't wait," said Harry, his smile warmer than before, speculative. He hadn't really considered Malfoy a possible dating prospect before this, but he was finding himself charmed and intrigued by this new face of his old enemy. Those days of suspicion and foolish hexing seemed like a lifetime ago, and he had a hard time attributing the old arrogance to this new, elegantly confident man.
"I suppose that's my cue to ask when you'd like the painting delivered?" said Malfoy with a smile that was nothing at all like the smirks of his youth.
Harry grinned and shrugged. "Is the show over?" he shot back, though he had the impression that Malfoy had deliberately waited.
"Tomorrow," said Malfoy. "We could stop by again after lunch, just in case something else catches your eye," he suggested, though his expression suggested that he knew he was being the salesman, and was making a joke of it between them.
Harry laughed. "I'm not sure I can afford two of them, but it would be nice to see it again before it all comes down. I love the way you hung the show, it really gave the paintings the right perspective."
They ate as they talked, and soon enough the shallow soup bowl was empty and the main course arrived. Harry's was some sort of seafood creation, which he nibbled dubiously until it proved to be delicious, and then dug into with gusto.
"That was my idea," said Draco smugly. "Scrumpy suggested hanging them at house-elf height, but I thought that took away from the effect." He nibbled neatly at his own food, which Harry didn't even want to venture a guess about, other than hoping it tasted better than it looked.
Harry nodded his agreement, and Draco's smile changed a little as he asked, "So, if you haven't eaten here before, what other cultural experiences are you lacking in?"
"I never know until Hermione is dragging me to them," said Harry with a laugh. That led to an explanation of the various torments he'd been subjected to in the name of culture, and by the time they were done, the wine was gone, and they were both left with rich French coffee and the remains of some sort of delectable pudding.
"Just let me finish this coffee," Harry was saying as he put Galleons in the little tray containing the bill. "I'd hate to spoil my reputation by staggering out of here."
"Though it might enhance mine, if it induced you to lean on me for support," teased Draco, sipping his own coffee with a smile.
"I'm not sure you'd want that rep," said Harry. "Despoiler of the Boy Who Lived," he added dramatically, rolling his eyes.
Draco's eyes narrowed speculatively, but fortunately for Harry's fading resolve, he chose to go with the joke rather than speculate on Harry's experience, or lack thereof. "Defiling the Rescuer of Wizarding Britain sounds like an excellent hobby to me."
Harry swirled the last of his coffee in the cup, then drank it off with a satisfied sigh. "I think there was a private tour involved there somewhere?" he said, setting the cup down.
"Indeed, come into my parlour," said Draco teasingly. He produced one of the show's postcards with a pass worthy of a Muggle magician, then stood and offered Harry a hand up. "You're sober enough to Apparate, I trust?"
"I think so, yeah," said Harry. He took a few steps and found himself steady, the coffee and rich meal having been enough to blunt the edges of the alcohol from half a bottle of wine. He accompanied Draco out to the Apparition point, and then waited for a count of ten before following him to the gallery.
The rooms felt different with the afternoon sunlight filtering down through skylights Harry hadn't noticed the first time, and Harry found himself fascinated with the feeling of the show all over again. "It's like being a kid in a world where nothing's ever out of reach," said Harry quietly. His gaze wandered around the first room, which held half a dozen cosy scenes depicting a kitchen in which good things were clearly being made.
Draco stood next to him, a wistful sort of smile on his face. "I remember when I first got taller than the house-elves, it changed my whole perspective on the world," he said, sounding regretful.
Harry nudged him. "You're finding a new one now," he said, hoping it was true.
Draco's answering laugh was wry, and his tone self-deprecating when he spoke, something Harry never thought he'd hear. "I suppose even a Malfoy can learn, eventually."
They wandered in silence after that, through parlour and bathroom, dining room and several different bedrooms, the last seeming more like a child's room. "I think I'm starting to see their styles," said Harry, once they came to the end, a mixture of single paintings without a unifying theme, including a wrought-iron bench tucked away in a conservatory full of flowers, a massive desk in some wizard's study, and a library towering with books. Harry touched the card next to the conservatory painting, the half-dot obscuring its price. "It's too bad about this one, I'd love to get it for Neville."
Draco shook his head, chuckling. "Mother is already," he said, giving Harry the same sort of shoulder-bumping nudge that Harry had used earlier. "I thought you couldn't afford another painting?"
Harry blushed. "It doesn't count if it's for someone else," he said defensively, though in truth he'd thought of Neville the moment he saw the painting, which spoke to Harry of a gardener on his or her knees, weeding while the world stretched green and blooming high above.
Draco laughed. "I'd suggest you buy the library one for Granger, but somehow I'm not sure she'd appreciate it."
Harry shook his head, chuckling. "No, probably not. Let's go back through one more time anyway, just in case I decide I can afford to spoil myself," he said, though in truth he wanted one last chance to wander through the magic of it before the show came down, and the paintings were scattered to their new homes.
The gallery was still mostly empty, and this time Harry let himself really look at each individual painting. Draco stood with him, occasionally having to answer a question from a patron or employee, but otherwise content to talk when Harry wanted to talk, and stay silent otherwise. When they got back to the 'kitchen,' Harry turned and asked, "You really do love these paintings, don't you?"
Draco smiled, warm and sincere, and Harry got that tingly feeling of interest again that went beyond the admittedly nice packaging to the man beneath it. "I really do, and I love that you love them, which is why I'm dying to sell you another."
Harry laughed. "All right, well, show me which ones aren't sold yet one more time, and I'll let you sucker me into a second purchase."
Draco's smile was equal measures triumph and something else, something Harry couldn't identify because putting a name to it seemed a little too much like hope.
Harry silently thanked Hermione for convincing him to hire a cleaning service after she found one too many questionable takeout containers stuffed in his couch. It allowed him to keep his anxiety contained to his own taste in clothing and furniture, without having to worry about mysterious stains or stray dirty underwear. "There's no reason to be nervous," Harry told himself for the seventeenth time, pacing back and forth in his living room while he waited for three o'clock, and Draco's arrival with Winky and the two paintings he'd bought.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when the crack of Apparition echoed through the flat, and he was glad they appeared in the living room while he was in the bedroom. "In here!" he called, trying to slow his racing heart.
"Winky is bringing Master Harry Potter his paintings, sir!" said a familiar squeaky voice.
"Not to mention my excellent company," drawled Draco, following her and the floating paintings through the doorway. "I assume you want one of them hung here, and aren't just trying to lure me into your bedroom?"
Harry blushed. "Yes, the one of making the bed, I'd like to put it up here," said Harry, pointing to the space not over his bed, but opposite it, so Harry would be able to look at it whenever he woke up in the morning or drifted off to sleep.
"Winky is approving, Master Harry Potter," she said, and then began the work of unwrapping and hanging her art.
"Just like at the gallery?" suggested Harry hopefully.
"Winky is doing it the best way," she replied slyly, and Harry laughed.
"Of course you are," he said, moving over to stand near Draco. "Have you delivered the rest already?"
"Most of them," said Draco, stepping closer. "You're my last for today, I was hoping I could continue your cultural education and take you to Anguiano's?"
Harry blushed, since he'd been hoping for such an invitation. "I suppose, though you'll probably have to dress me," he said, then laughed, embarrassed. "I mean, choose appropriate attire for me."
"Not that the other is out of the question, though only after the prerequisite undressing," teased Draco.
Harry felt his cheeks get even redder, and certain other parts of his anatomy got a bit of extra blood flow as well. "Not with Winky watching," he said, hoping it was half as clever in real life as it had sounded in his head.
Draco laughed, anyway, which Harry figured was about all he could hope for at this stage.
"Winky is done!" announced the elf, stepping back and out of the way.
Harry dragged his attention back to the painting and sighed. "It's perfect."
"Where's the other one going?" asked Draco curiously.
Harry grinned. "The kitchen, of course," he said, leading them into that room. Harry showed Winky the odd bit of wall where there was no cupboard or appliance, a space just the size of her small painting. "There?"
She grinned. "Winky is approving of Master Harry Potter's choices very much," she said, sounding satisfied.
Harry grinned back. "I thought you'd like that," he said.
"It's awfully hidden," said Draco dubiously.
"That's the point," explained Harry. "It's like a secret, something that surprises you when you get far enough into the room, with a view of a world you weren't expecting."
Winky pulled the painting out of its wrapping, and Harry watched her hang it. It depicted a hidden corner, a little pantry nook with jars that seemed both far away and just barely in reach, full of tempting-looking foods that made Harry want to break out his cookware just so he could learn how to prepare them.
When he glanced back at Draco, there was a tiny, secret smile on his face.
"Are you sure they'll seat us?" asked Harry, fidgeting again with his robes. Draco had picked out a set that Harry wasn't too fond of, close-fitting silk in a creamy gold colour that always made him feel far too flashy.
Draco snorted. "Are you Harry Potter or not?" he said, moving in to straighten what Harry kept tugging askew. "Of course they'll seat us."
Harry flushed. "I don't really like using my name like that, I mean..."
"We'll also suitably bribe the maitre d'," assured Draco, stepping in even closer. "Side-along?"
Having already admitted he'd never been there, Harry had no choice but to acquiesce. "Show-off," he teased, trying to figure out where to put his hands.
"Always," said Draco, grabbing Harry close and Apparating them out before Harry had a chance to protest.
Anguiano's, thankfully, had a private foyer for Portkeys and Apparitions, and Harry had a moment to compose himself from the experience of being squashed in and out of existence, only to find himself a careless breath away from kissing Malfoy. Draco.
Harry stepped back, licking his lips, and tried not to think about what it might be like to explore the joys of kissing Draco, right there on the inlaid parquet floor.
Draco cleared his throat, then turned and smiled at the maitre d' who approached, every sign of refusal in his posture until he took in their identities. "I don't suppose you could squeeze us in?" asked Draco smoothly, reaching out to shake his hand and pass a pair of golden Galleons along with it.
They vanished just as smoothly, and the little man smiled back. "For you? Always."
Harry added his own shy grin to the mix. "Thank you. I know you must be booked up; it's very kind of you to find us a spot."
He tried not to feel guilty about how gratifying it was to see the little man do a double-take at that, but then his smile grew more genuine, and they were being led to a table that didn't seem bad at all.
"You're brilliant," said Draco, once they were seated. "And the best part is, I know it's not an act, and you've no idea how well you did."
Harry laughed. "Well, I know a little, but it wasn't an act. It was hard to miss the way his eyes nearly bugged out when I thanked him."
Draco laughed along with him, and then helped Harry order, which seemed to charm the waiter as much as Harry had the maitre d'.
"I think we should do this more often," said Harry when the waiter left, his eyes sparkling with mischief. "Clearly, we entertain the staff."
Draco's answering smile was warmer than it had any right to be, and it sent a frisson of something through Harry, want and longing and a dash of pure lust. "I'd love to become regulars with you," said Harry, hoping it sounded like flirting and not stupidity.
From Draco's rather stunned blink, apparently it did.
"That sounds wonderful," said Draco, grinning like he couldn't help himself.
Harry grinned right back.
After the success of lunch and dinner, Harry was feeling buoyed enough to make the next move -- he owled Draco the next day. He wrote a conversational note about how much he was enjoying his new paintings and managed to squeeze in just at the end a hopefully offhand question about having tea next, or possibly breakfast, just to round out the meals. Then he signed it and sent Hedwig off before he could change his mind about that last, and spent the rest of the day being useless and wondering if Draco thought he was a right idiot.
Fortunately for Harry's sanity, when Hedwig returned it wasn't with a Howler but a small package, containing a Portkey to Malfoy Manor, along with an invitation to take tea in the garden tomorrow afternoon with Draco.
Harry fondled the metal of the antique iron key and grinned like a loon.
The next day he spent a long time staring at his closet, not quite secure enough in his gayness to try everything on, but he did touch a lot of shoulders and sleeves and contemplate it. After his bath it still seemed hopeless, so he closed his eyes and reached in, pulling out the first robe he found, which turned out to be made of clinging green velvet with gold trim that he'd thought would look good with his eyes -- at least, until he realised no one would look at his eyes while he was wearing it.
Blushing, he put it on anyway, and then changed his pants to something more close-fitting and less obvious under the robes.
He found boots that matched well enough, then gathered up his usual pocket things, the guesting-gift he'd bought, and the key. Catching a glimpse of himself in the hall mirror, he was just starting to regret his wardrobe choice when the Portkey activated, and he found himself in a sunny entryway that was nothing at all like Harry remembered.
"We've been renovating, you know, after everything," said a familiar voice, and Harry started, eyes finding Draco where he'd been standing all along, off to one side by a table laden with fresh-cut flowers. "Too many people have bad memories of the manor, including us, so we redecorated completely. Father's been handling it, mostly, while Mother works in her gardens and I work on the family name."
Harry blushed, but didn't bother to deny what he'd been thinking. Instead he stepped forward and offered Draco the key, its magic used up. "It's very welcoming," he said, smiling and looking around the room. "I love the light."
The smile that broke out over Draco's face was even more brilliant than the sunshine.
"That was Mother's idea, the skylight," said Draco, taking the key and then pointing up. The foyer's ceiling rose high above to culminate in a gorgeous rosette-shaped window, clear panes letting the sun stream down and making the room seem much larger than it was. "We only take Portkey guests now, and family can Apparate in and out with a charm," said Draco, which explained why a quick turn around the room revealed no doors at all, just a single archway leading deeper into the house.
"No front door at all?" asked Harry, intrigued.
Draco chuckled. "Oh, no, that's not it, come see," he said, leading Harry over to a window.
Harry looked out, then laughed -- they were a storey up, with the grand entryway Harry remembered below them. "I'll take this over that any day," said Harry with a grin, turning only to find himself so close to Draco that it stole his breath away.
The moment stretched out until it was unceremoniously broken by an elderly house-elf, who hobbled in and began to dust without so much as a glance at the two men in their frozen tableau.
Draco's cheeks turned delicately pink and he stepped back, gesturing for Harry to precede him.
Harry walked into the hall and then paused, since he had no idea where to go from here. "Would you like the tour first, or tea?" asked Draco, an impish grin replacing the blush on his cheeks. He paused just long enough for Harry to wonder what was up and said, "Nice robes, by the way."
It was Harry's turn to flush and squirm. "Erm, thanks," he said, laughing and rubbing the back of his neck. "Maybe the tea first? Or, the garden tour, then tea, then the house?"
Draco's grin widened and grew less mischievous and more hopeful. "If you think you'll want to put up with me that long, sure."
Harry bumped his shoulder. "Don't be silly, I'm the one who'll be tracking all over your floors and, I dunno, accidentally picking the super-rare flowers or something," he said with a laugh. "You'll be looking for ways to get rid of me."
"Oh, I doubt that," said another voice, this one just barely familiar. "Our Draco hasn't stopped talking about you since the opening."
"Mrs. Malfoy," said Harry, turning and offering her a gentle handshake. "You're looking well."
She laughed, and Harry was glad it lacked the sharp, cruel edge he'd expected from years past. "I'm looking old, but I've decided to age gracefully rather than fight it like some witches." Her blonde hair did seem more silvery than before, but it only gave her a timeless air and he had a feeling she knew it.
"Well, you still seem in the bloom of youth to me," said Harry, falling into the public persona he'd been forced to learn after one too many social gaffes. "Gardening must agree with you."
"You've learned some charm," she said approvingly. Then she turned to Draco and said, "I'm off, it's the Witches of Slytherin tea today," she said, giving him air kisses to each cheek. "Don't ravish him on the roses, dear, I just got them blooming the way I like."
"Don't worry, mother, Harry wouldn't settle for anything so mundane as a flower bed," said Draco dryly. "Will you be late?"
"I think Willimina Worthington is going to try to drag us all to Paris for shopping and dinner, so probably, you know how everything is on the continent," she said, stepping past them toward the Apparition foyer. "Your father's still in Italy, so you've the run of the house."
"We'll try not to scandalise the portraits," said Harry with false innocence.
She laughed again, then waved before vanishing with a crack.
"Sorry about that, she's..."
"She's a mother," said Harry, sounding just a touch more wistful than he'd meant to. "I'm told they're all trouble."
Draco chuckled and nudged him. "Come on, let's go look at flowers and scandalise the house-elves instead."
Harry laughed and blushed, and tried not to get his hopes up.
The garden was every bit as beautiful as Draco had promised. Winding paths took them all through the grounds, fragrant flowers blooming everywhere amongst vibrant green foliage. Mrs. Malfoy had arranged the plants in themes, grouping them so that one section seemed playful while the next was enchantingly exotic. The house-elves had set up tea beneath a profusion of roses of all sorts, from the mundane to the magical, and it smelled heavenly.
"One would almost think you're trying to woo me, choosing this for our tea," said Harry, walking all around the romantic clearing, admiring the colourful array.
When he turned back, Draco was blushing. "And if I was?" he said lightly, pulling out a chair for Harry.
Harry gathered his courage and stepped close to Draco, their hands just touching on the back of the chair. "Then I'd do this," he said softly, and leaned in.
Draco met him halfway, lips soft and warm and slightly moist from being licked just before they met Harry's. Harry couldn't resist flicking his tongue out to taste, to feel the gentle texture, and he let out a soft sound of need as Draco's mouth opened just a little and his tongue came out to meet Harry's. It stopped being about taste, then, and at some point Harry's hands moved of their own accord, one curling around Draco's slender waist to pull him close and the other slipping into the baby-fine blond hair.
When they broke apart, Harry was very sure of two things: he was really very gay, and Draco was a brilliant kisser.
Harry was grinning at Draco's flushed face and mussed hair, and he licked his own lips just to watch as Draco's pink tongue flicked out in an echo of the gesture. "Good?"
Draco grinned back. "Really good," he said, pressing a soft, chaste kiss to Harry's lips before stepping back. "We should talk while we eat."
Harry sighed and nodded, though a part of him wanted nothing more than to explore the idea of kissing Draco Malfoy some more, and see what came of it right there on the round pebbles of the walkway, or perhaps the lush grasses and rich earth they'd passed a few minutes before.
"Talking's good, too," agreed Harry, sitting in the chair Draco had pulled out for him and dredging up the proper manners that Hermione had finally managed to drill into him. Harry spread his napkin over his lap and let Draco pour, as the host, though Harry defiantly added four sugars to his tea along with a splash of milk.
"Sweet," said Draco, making a little face. He added one sugar to his own tea and no milk at all, as if to demonstrate.
Harry chuckled. "Hermione is forever teasing me about my sweet tooth, too."
Draco's gaze grew just a little hotter as he said, "I hope she's not also kissing you."
Harry made a face. "Do you want to spoil my appetite?"
Draco's laugh was low and amused. "Heaven forbid," he said, taking a sip of his tea.
"So, um," said Harry, his gaze on the small sandwiches and cakes he was serving himself and, really, anywhere but Draco, "you said you wanted us to talk?"
Draco ran his fingers through his hair, straightening what Harry had mussed, and when he was done he had a wry, warm smile on his face. "I do, yes."
Harry waited, then let out a chuckle when it seemed that was going to be Draco's entire answer. "Going to give me a hint about what, or shall I pick a topic?"
Draco laughed, blushing. "Sorry, sorry, I was just trying to gather my thoughts. I suppose mostly I wanted to know... Well, I wanted to come to an agreement, whether this is just a bit of fun for you, or something more serious."
Harry cocked his head. "I guess I ought to be coy and ask what your intentions are first, but I've always been arse at that sort of thing, so I might as well say that I'd been hoping it was serious. I mean, for you as well."
Draco's face lit up and was worth every stomach-butterfly spoiling Harry's appetite to see that smile blossom on Draco's sharp features. "Good," Draco said, and his voice held the sort of excitement normally reserved for kids who've been told they can have a puppy.
Harry understood just how Draco felt.
"So, how does this go, then? I've never... Well, you must have guessed, I don't exactly get around." Harry felt that was as much of an admission as he really needed to make, and Draco seemed to get the hint.
"Never?" asked Draco, eyebrows rising. "I suppose I ought to woo you properly then, expensive gifts and extravagant evenings out," he said, eyes sparkling with mischief.
"Haven't you already? Although I suppose I did pay for the gifts myself, and the dinner as well, so you're falling down on the job there," said Harry, enjoying this banter far more than he'd ever enjoyed trading insults in their youth.
"I did provide this romantic repast, however," said Draco, waving his hand to take in the elegant food and magnificent setting.
Harry grinned and bit into the side of a heart-shaped tea sandwich, which proved to contain a curried chicken salad that was quite delicious. "I suppose you have. Well, then, the wooing has begun admirably." Harry paused for another bite of the sandwich, washing it down with a sip of tea before asking, "So, how do you want this to go?"
Draco gave him a rather hotter look than he'd allowed Harry to see previously. "There's how I want it to go, and how I think it should go... If I had my way, we'd skip tea and go straight up to my bed."
Harry blushed despite himself. "Well, yes, that might be a bit too soon," he said, though in truth a part of him was quite eager to give it a go. "So, how do you think it should go?"
Draco looked amused, but fortunately for Harry he let the subject of beds and what might be done in them drop. "I thought I might ask you out on a proper date," he said instead, a smile teasing around his mobile mouth. "Dinner in Paris, perhaps with a show? Or we could spend the afternoon in the Louvre, if that's not too boring for you."
"That's not boring at all!" said Harry with a laugh. "I've heard people spend days just going through the whole museum." He wouldn't explain that he'd heard it from Hermione, who kept threatening to drag Harry out to Paris for a week of shopping and culture, but he had a feeling Draco guessed at least part of it.
"Well, once I'm in a position to whisk you off for a weekend, we'll have to plan a few of them. I spent a lot of my youth in France, mother loves it there," said Draco. He chuckled and added something in French that made Harry's libido perk up just from the sensual sound of it, though for all Harry knew it was something about finding the loo.
"Erm, yeah, sure," replied Harry, shrugging. "I'm sure you realise by now that I don't know any French at all, though, and I'll probably embarrass you terribly."
"It's all right," said Draco with a laugh. "The French think all of us English blokes are horrid already."
Harry laughed with him, and the discussion moved on to art and culture, talking about the things Harry had tried and liked or disliked, and Draco offering suggestions of dates they could go on.
"So," asked Harry after a while, "how many of these dates is proper before I'm allowed to stop holding out and let you lure me into that bed of yours?"
Draco actually blushed a little, then he shrugged. "It's not like it's a courtship, but most people do wait a date or two, especially if it's their first relationship."
Harry got a bit pink himself. "I wouldn't want you to think of me as easy," teased Harry, though he knew it was partially true. "I suppose I can manage to hold out for a few more dates."
"Not too many, I hope," said Draco, just plaintive enough to make them both laugh. Draco caught up Harry's hand and kissed the back, and somehow Harry found himself moving around the table and pulling Draco up for another of those heady, addictive kisses.
"Not too many," Harry whispered when they broke apart, moving back to his seat.
Draco grinned, rather like a cat that knew it would get the canary soon enough. At least he didn't have whiskers to lick.
The next day, Harry made a few special errands, and then owled Draco to invite him out to dinner on what he privately thought of as their first official date. Before this, they could have pretended professional interest or mere friendship, but now there was no mistaking the tone of the invitation for anything else.
He'd rewritten it enough times to be sure, anyway.
Harry nearly fainted with relief when Draco wrote back to accept, and then when the time came he was glad of his preparations.
New clothes were the first thing, from proper fashionable robes to silk pants. He'd even bought new socks. He set up a bottle of really good -- or at least really expensive -- cognac with two little glasses near the fireplace, and rearranged the furniture to make it more cosy. A box of Honeyduke's best chocolates went on the table with the liquor, along with a charm to make sure that nothing was damaged by the warmth from the fire.
He had already changed the sheets and done half a dozen cleaning and freshening charms on the linens, and his cleaning service had been in the day before so the kitchen and bathroom were spotless. After fidgeting with the drape of his robes in the mirror for the fifteenth time, Harry decided it was better to be early than stay where he was any longer. One last check on everything, including turning down the bed invitingly and then turning it back up so as not to seem easy, and he Apparated to the restaurant.
"Hi," said Harry, smiling nervously at the maitre d'. "I, erm, I've got a reservation but I'm a little early."
"Mr. Potter, yes, would you care to wait in the bar?" The maitre d's tone suggested that a drink might calm Harry down, if anything could.
Harry laughed. "Yeah, sure. Erm, if my party arrives, that is, Draco Malfoy, if he gets here, can you send him to find me?"
"Of course," came the reply, in a tone suggesting he was foolish to even ask. "The bar is to my left, through there."
Harry chuckled, but followed the man's rather insistent gesture and made his way into the dimly-lit bar. Witches and wizards sat at the edges of little pools of light, posing attractively and making Harry feel positively frumpy in comparison. He made his way up to the bar itself and took an unoccupied stool, angling so he could see the door without really watching it.
"What can I get for you, sir?" asked the bartender, a small woman in impeccable robes.
"Something soothing," said Harry with a chuckle. "Erm, do I pay now or..."
A gesture, and bottles and glasses and other bar implements began doing a mysterious dance around her, constructing Harry's drink as they talked. "If you're eating here tonight, we can transfer your bar tab to the table," she said. "Hot date?"
Harry grinned and blushed. "Yeah, we're having dinner here at eight."
"Early," she said, but she looked sympathetic as much as amused. "Well, this should help." A mug of something steaming floated gently down to the bar in front of him, a napkin sliding under it at the last moment. "Don't worry, I didn't make it too strong."
"Thank you," said Harry quite sincerely, blowing on it gently before taking a sip. It proved to be some sort of winter fruit drink, sweet and spiced with just a hint of alcoholic kick. "Oh, this is good!" He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a Galleon, then furrowed his brow and added another.
"Oh, did you want to pay now?" she asked, sounding surprised.
Harry flushed and grinned sheepishly. "I didn't know how much the drink was. Is that too big a tip?"
She chuckled and shook her head. "It's a bit too big, yes," she admitted. "I'm Romilly, by the way."
"Harry," he replied, though he could tell she already knew. "Keep it anyway, for luck."
"Yours or mine?" she teased, though it didn't stop her from making the coins disappear.
"Mine," said a voice, and Harry turned to find Draco sliding onto the stool next to him. "I'll have a green dragon, please."
"Coming right up," she said, and the bottles did their dance again.
"Hoping to get lucky?" teased Harry, glancing at the clock and pleased to see it was still a quarter to the hour. "You're early."
"You're earlier," said Draco, nodding to Harry's drink. "What're you having?"
"Er, I'm not sure. Romilly made it, it's quite good." Harry offered the mug to Draco. "She thinks it'll soothe my anxieties."
Draco took a sip and made an appreciative noise. "She's got excellent taste, then," he said, accepting the smoking green concoction she handed him. "But I knew that," he said, pulling out a Galleon and slipping it to her. "For luck."
"For luck," she agreed, making that coin, too, vanish. "First date?"
"Sort of," said Harry, grinning now.
Draco was about to interject something, but just then a waiter came to lead them to their table. Harry snagged his drink and waved goodbye to the bartender, then let himself be led, with Draco and his smoking drink trailing behind.
They were seated by a window with a beautiful view of London, the lights twinkling like stars down below them. "It's so high up," said Harry wonderingly, getting a surprised look from the waiter that was quickly stifled.
"I will be your server for this evening, I am Michel. Can I bring you anything else to drink?"
There was already water on the table, so Harry and Draco both refused. "But we'll get wine with dinner," assured Harry.
"Very well, I will return to get your order in a few minutes, then," replied Michel, taking his leave.
"So, what's good here?" asked Harry, blushing when Draco's toes brushed against his foot.
"Besides you, you mean?" teased Draco, opening the menu. "Oh, they've got caviar, have you ever had it?"
"Nope," said Harry. "Isn't it weird?"
Draco chuckled. "You might like it, let's get some. I can even treat, if it's too much."
Harry checked out the prices and shrugged. "I was expecting tonight to be pricey, it's okay. But perhaps not the thousand-galleon wine with it."
"No thousand-galleon wine," assured Draco. "Their menu's all a la carte, so if you want salad or side dishes or anything, you have to order it separately."
Harry took a sip of his drink, trying not to feel weird about that, then looked at the soup and salad options. "Maybe some French onion soup? And ooh, the steak sounds really good."
"You do seem like a man who likes his meat," teased Draco, toes caressing Harry's foot again.
Harry shrugged. "Meat and two veg," he shot back, deciding to get potatoes with the steak, and maybe some spinach.
"Sounds delicious," purred Draco.
Michel returned and looked expectant. "Oh, erm, we'll have the caviar to start with," said Harry. "Have you decided about dinner, Draco?"
Draco ordered a salad, some sort of French-sounding main dish and a side of squash with apples, and then Harry ordered his own dinner.
"Which wine would you recommend?" asked Draco, closing his menu and looking expectant.
Michel flipped open the wine menu and pointed out some wine to Draco, and they degenerated into a discussion that left Harry completely baffled and not quite sure it wasn't mostly in French anyway. Harry took the opportunity to finish most of his drink, instead.
"An excellent choice," said Michel after a few minutes, taking all three menus and vanishing.
"No thousand-Galleon wine, I promise," said Draco with a smile. He took a sip of his green concoction, and mist wreathed his face for a moment. "I didn't think you really wanted to deal with the choices."
Harry blushed, then shrugged. "Not really," he admitted. "So what's that thing taste like, anyway?"
Draco passed him the cup and Harry sipped it, feeling a little silly but finding the drink wasn't at all what he expected from the color. Rather than sticky sweet and minty or apple, it was sharply herbal with an undertone of honey. "Oh, that's interesting!"
"It's got a bit of bite to it," said Draco, accepting the glass back. "Keeps me on my toes."
"Plus it's got your name," said Harry impishly.
Michel returned then with a beautifully arranged plate. The caviar was nestled in a spell-cushioned depression in a block of ice shaped like a fish, with the toast points piled up on the plate below and curved to look like waves. "Enjoy," he said simply, giving Harry a cheeky wink before he left.
"They certainly do have a flare for things here," said Harry, feeling the country cousin all over again. "How do you eat it?"
"Let me show you," said Draco. He took the silver spoon and put some of the black stuff onto a toast wave, then offered it to Harry. "It's salty, but I hope you'll like it." Something in his voice was shy, the same as it had been when showing Harry the gallery, as though he really wanted Harry to like something he liked very much indeed.
Harry resolved to give it a fair chance, even if it looked, well, slimy. "I hope so, too," he reassured Draco, then leaned forward and bit off the end of the toast. He sat back and chewed, getting a rich, salty ocean flavor that burst on his tongue every time he popped one of the little eggs with his teeth. "It's kind of fun," he said, smiling. "I bet you've been eating this stuff since you were a kid."
Draco shrugged, but a delighted smile crept onto his features. "Mum didn't let me try it until she deemed my palate sophisticated enough, but it's been one of my favourite foods ever since." He fed Harry the rest of the toast he'd been holding and then made up a treat for himself, eating it with relish.
"Thanks for trusting me to give it a fair chance," said Harry, nibbling on a second one. "I like that I get to try new things with you, but you don't get annoying about it."
"I just want to share the things I like with you," said Draco.
"Exactly," said Harry. "You're not out to give me new cultural experiences, you just want me to like the stuff you like. Like caviar." He ate another bite demonstratively.
"Well, there are some other things I like even better that I'm hoping you'll take to," Draco flirted shamelessly.
Harry blushed, but he didn't stop grinning, either.
Harry felt drunk on more than wine by the time the meal ended, finding Draco's admiration to be a very heady thing indeed. He barely even looked at the bill when Michel brought it, only glancing long enough to add a very nice tip and sign it off to his vault.
"Care to join me back at my flat?" asked Harry, trying to ignore a sudden rush of shyness. "I bought a bottle of cognac for us to try."
"How could I resist?" teased Draco, standing and offering Harry his arm in front of everyone, confirming to all the gossips that it was, in fact, a date.
"How indeed?" said Harry with a grin he was sure everyone in the room could read. "Apparate or Floo?"
"Apparition's faster," said Draco, leading Harry out to the foyer. "You first?"
"Me first," said Harry. He pulled out his wand, stole a quick kiss, then Apparated back to his living room before anyone could react, even Draco.
Draco followed a few moments later with a smile on his face and another kiss for Harry. "I think they might have applauded, if you'd waited long enough," said Draco, clearly amused.
Harry shrugged. "It seemed the quickest way to out myself and lay my claim to you all at once," he said, trying to sound nonchalant despite his racing thoughts. He was suddenly reminded that he hadn't even come out to Mrs. Weasley -- who was nearly a mother to him in many ways -- let alone anyone else.
"Claiming me, hm?" said Draco, looking intrigued. "Does this mean you're going to keep me instead of trying me out and throwing me back?"
"That depends," teased Harry, "just how big of a fish are you?" He led Draco over to the fire, opening the cognac before sitting next to Draco on the love seat.
Draco grinned and kissed him, putting Harry's hand on his thigh. "You'll find out," he said, voice husky.
Harry blushed, but didn't deny his intentions or move his hand. Instead he leaned in for another kiss, drinks forgotten in favour of Draco's lush mouth. "Will I find out now?" he asked, letting his hand creep up and in, heart in his throat and feeling fifteen again.
"I'd rather have you than cognac," said Draco, kissing him hungrily and shifting his hips so Harry's hand slipped right into his lap, bumping up against the hot length hiding there.
"Good," said Harry, not caring if Draco took it as a comment on his size or the planned activity for the evening. "Bed?"
"Bed," agreed Draco, helping Harry up and even pausing to re-cap the bottle. "Are you sure?" asked Draco, looking back up.
Harry blushed, but nodded. "I'm sure enough," he said. Though in truth he didn't know what all he'd be ready to do once they got into the bed, he knew he wanted Draco there with him.
They were both quiet, pausing for kisses now and then as they negotiated the short hallway to Harry's bedroom. "I even washed the sheets," teased Harry, nerves jangling as the moment of truth got closer. Fortunately for him, his nerves weren't the part in control tonight, so both he and Draco were likely to get what they wanted.
Draco laughed and kissed Harry soundly. "I'd've slept on them either way," he said, "but thank you."
They were quiet a moment longer, and then Draco seemed to come to some sort of decision, because he pressed Harry down onto the bed and kissed him soundly. "We won't do anything you don't want, Harry," he promised, standing back up long enough to get his shoes and socks off.
"I... Thank you," said Harry, feeling something inside him relax as he watched Draco in the dim moonlight. "I knew that, but it still helps."
Draco grinned and then began to divest Harry of his shoes and socks as well. "I know at least you don't sleep with these on."
"I don't sleep with these on, either," said Harry, plucking at his robes, "but you first?"
"Me first," agreed Draco, stepping back so Harry could get a good view as he slipped his robes off, letting them pool around his feet and leaving him in nothing but a deliciously form-fitting pair of grey boxer briefs.
Harry swallowed, taking in the lean, long body and impressive-looking package, but he wasn't about to stop now. "My turn," he said, wriggling out of his robes and tossing them over the edge of the bed. He'd chosen silk boxers, and his cock tented them upward, the wet head making a dark spot on the burgundy fabric.
It was Draco's turn to look stunned, and Harry let him get a long look before giving in to his own shyness -- and the chill night air -- and scrambling under the blankets. "Come on, it's too hard to kiss you way over there," said Harry, lifting the covers invitingly.
Draco didn't need to be asked twice, slipping into the bed with more grace than Harry had shown and snuggling right up, tangling his long legs with Harry's shorter ones. "I'm always happy to bring myself within kissing range," he said, putting word to deed before adding, "Any part of me you want to kiss."
Harry chose his lips for now, relaxing into Draco's embrace and letting himself enjoy the sensations. Draco's mouth was warm and mobile, lips strong and just starting to become kiss-bruised. Their tongues slipped and slid over one another, and Draco made a low sound when Harry nipped at his lower lip. That noise gave Harry the courage he needed to explore further, kissing along Draco's jaw, mouth sliding along the smooth-shaven skin, tongue following the intriguing tang of salt and cologne as it slipped behind Draco's ear.
"God, you're going to be the death of me," said Draco, and his hands slipped down Harry's body and around his waist, pulling their groins into distractingly close contact.
"I hope not," said Harry, nipping at the outer shell of his ear. "I'd hate to have to explain that one to the media."
Draco laughed though it was half groan as Harry bit down gently on his throat, just to feel the pulse flutter against his tongue and teeth. "Harry, please," said Draco.
Harry laughed. "You say that like you think I know what I'm doing," he replied, coming up for another kiss.
Draco rested his forehead against Harry's and took a moment to catch his breath. "I don't want to push," he admitted, "but I haven't necked like this since school."
Harry gave Draco a warm, sweet kiss. "I'm not going to kick you out of bed unsatisfied," he said, making a decision on the spot. "Look, why don't we get naked and, you know, do hand and mouth stuff? It's just the, y'know, other thing I'm not sure about."
Draco's answering kiss was practically hot enough to scorch Harry's pants. "Hands, mouths, and nothing up anyone's arse," said Draco, making it sound deliciously dirty. "I'm definitely okay with that."
He followed up by stripping out of his pants and tossing them over the side, and Harry felt obliged to follow suit. This time when Draco pulled their hips together, Harry gasped as his cock nestled up against Draco's, the hard length even hotter than he'd imagined. It felt so right, to rub himself against Draco's cock, for the wet heads to kiss and bump, that Harry let go of the last tiny bit of doubt he'd been holding. This was what he was meant to want, to have: a man in his bed and in his arms.
"Really good," Harry whispered, then tilted his face up for more kisses.
"Really, really good," said Draco huskily, the words almost a caress themselves as they puffed against Harry's mouth. They were followed by Draco's lips, first a butterfly-soft brush, and then a more insistent press that echoed the movement of Draco's hands. Fingertips brushed up Harry's length, then Draco's hand wrapped around them both, the friction making Harry moan into the kiss.
Draco rolled them over so he was on top, between Harry's spread legs in a position that gave Harry all kinds of ideas. "You're so sexy like this," said Draco, sitting up enough to look down at Harry, "splayed on the bed all flushed and wanton."
Harry didn't know what to say to that, so he pulled Draco down for another kiss, closing his eyes to recall the image of Draco's face above him, Draco's gaze both heated and admiring. He slipped one hand into Draco's hair and let the other drift down to help pull them along, fingers tangling with Draco's around their cocks. The air filled with sweet moans and Harry lost track of whose voice made which noise, until suddenly everything went white-gold with static and he was coming.
"Um. Wow," said Harry, staring up at Draco's face when he came back to himself.
Draco grinned. "You're lovely like that," he said, hips still rocking, though more slowly now.
Harry shifted his hips so they were just stroking Draco now and tightened his grip. "Let me see you," he said, leaning up to nip at Draco's throat.
Draco rewarded him with a groan, throwing his head back and renewing his thrusts, just a few more strokes before he, too, found his release.
"Gorgeous," said Harry, grinning triumphantly.
Draco kissed him again, then collapsed off to one side. "Brilliant," he said with a grin.
Harry stroked a hand down Draco's back, turning onto his side and bravely letting his hand rest on Draco's arse. "Pretty brilliant," he agreed, giving Draco's bum a proprietary squeeze before adding, "but I think we can do better."
"Oh you do, do you?" said Draco, amused. He pulled Harry back into his embrace for a hungry kiss, fingers finding and pinching one nipple and garnering a little cry of surprised pleasure for his troubles. "I can see you're going to be quite demanding."
"I, oh, I demand you do that again," said Harry breathlessly. He hadn't really had time to go soft and here he was hard again, his body wanting more now that it had been given a little taste.
Draco obliged him, using both hands now to pinch and tug, making Harry writhe beneath him. "You're going to be worth keeping happy," said Draco, voice husky with renewed desire. He slid down the bed so he could suck on Harry's sensitive nipples, even nipping lightly with his teeth.
Harry couldn't do more than wriggle and make embarrassing noises, it all felt so good. Then Draco's mouth travelled down lower, first lapping at the mixed seed spilled over Harry's belly before licking at Harry's cock. He took the length into his mouth, and Harry's brain had no more room for anything except how good it felt, hot and wet and perfect. If he hadn't just come he might not have lasted more than a few sucks, but he managed to hold back, hands threading in Draco's hair and hips rocking along with Draco's bobbing mouth.
Draco's fingers cradled and rolled Harry's balls, but it wasn't until he flicked his tongue right into the slit of Harry's cock that it was all too much. "Draco, I, oh!" said Harry, utterly failing to warn his new lover before emptying himself into Draco's mouth.
Draco swallowed it all and came up for kisses, grinning and smug. "Delicious," he said, and Harry was surprised to find he agreed, enjoying the bitter, salty flavour on Draco's lips.
"My turn?" asked Harry shyly, wanting to try but worried he wouldn't be half so good as Draco's experienced touches.
"Please," said Draco, enough of a hint of desperation under the desire to make Harry chuckle.
"Well, if you say it so sweetly, how could I refuse?" said Harry, stealing another kiss and then rolling them over so it was Draco on his back this time, spread out beneath Harry like a feast.
Harry wasted no time before diving in, either, tasting a lick of this and a nip of that, working his way haphazardly down toward his real goal. Draco's skin was salty and smooth, with just a little curl of blond hairs around each nipple, and a trail down below his belly button that was almost entirely obscured by his greedy cock. Harry gave the head a kiss in promise to revisit it, then dove lower, curious enough to want to taste the crisp curls and crepe-thin skin of Draco's balls.
Draco rewarded him with moans and legs spread even wider. "God, you're a natural," he gasped, when Harry sucked first one and then the other bollock into his mouth. They felt so fragile to Harry, thinking of his own, and he could only imagine the pleasure it would give to have them so gently suckled.
Harry didn't let himself linger, though, the prize of Draco's cock too tempting to resist for long. He sucked and pulled his head back, letting Draco's sac slide free with an obscene slurp before licking his way back up the length of Draco's cock. Harry loved the way Draco tasted and smelled, masculine but clean, and just a hint of intriguing bitterness at the tip where fluid was already welling up.
"Just t-take what you can," said Draco, stuttering when Harry slipped his tongue into the slit to get another taste.
"I'll be careful," teased Harry, nipping ever so gently at the crown and following it with a kiss.
He got a grip on the base, already slick with saliva, and then bent his head and sucked a few inches of cock into his mouth. It felt thicker in his mouth, but it was a welcome thickness that a part of him already wondered about feeling elsewhere, and he let that thought draw his head down further, until his lips met the curve of his own hand. He paused to just feel the way it filled his mouth, then started sucking, using his tongue to caress the shaft while his head bobbed up and down, hand following with firm strokes.
Harry closed his eyes and his world narrowed to the slide of cock between his lips, along his tongue and through his fingers; the sounds of Draco's breath interrupted by sweet moans and gasps; the flavours of spit and sweat and precome, the latter growing stronger with every stroke. He wasn't sure how long it took before Draco's moans got louder and more frantic, Draco's balls drew up and his cock swelled before spilling bitter-salty come into Harry's mouth.
Harry swallowed it as best he could, wiping the rest off his chin with the back of his hand before coming up for a kiss, hand still loosely curled around Draco's softening cock. "You taste good," said Harry, feeling shy and self-conscious.
Draco grinned goofily, eyes glowing with affection and satiation. "You're brilliant, Harry," he said, pulling Harry in for a few more sweet kisses before he sighed. "I don't suppose you've got anything to clean up with?"
Harry laughed, and somehow that mundane request banished the rest of his fears. They both made trips to the loo to clean up and get properly ready for bed, and this time when Harry curled into Draco's arms he found it very comfortable indeed.
They exchanged lazy, mint-scented kisses in the darkness until Draco that broke the silence. "You'll really let me keep you?" he asked, sounding as uncertain as Harry had felt earlier.
Harry hugged him tight and pressed another kiss to Draco's already-bruised lips. "As long as you want me," he replied.
"Always, then," said Draco, and Harry thought he heard a smile in the words as he drifted off to sleep.
Title: A Sense of Perspective