All the wrong choices. (Ch5 – Hot chocolate and home truths)

They stepped out together into the warmth that was the café. The smell of coffee and cake filled the air. He looked over at the blond and felt the nerves return. For a second, Malfoy’s face looked open and vulnerable, unlike any expression Harry had ever seen before. As their eyes met, he looked startled for a moment as though he had forgotten that they were there together. Harry smiled shyly feeling the need to smooth the way between them. He wasn’t sure what had made him be so forward. He realised that he was still holding the green jacket, and held it out to the other wizard. It was Malfoys turn to smile. He took the blazer and folded it carefully as he placed it in his bag.

“So what time is the viewing?” Harry asked, “Do we have time for a coffee first?” Draco smiled but shook his head.

“It’s in about ten minutes but the next one isn’t until later, we could always come back?” He asked sounding hopeful.

“Sounds like a plan, That is if you want me to tag along?” Harry said testing the water.

“Well I can’t get rid of you now,” Draco said sarcastically as he teased with a smile. Harry felt his heart thud at the sight. “Come on, or we’ll be late” Draco walked to the door and held it open for Harry. Harry pushed through and waited for Draco to follow.

“So what kind of place are you looking for?” Harry asked. He wanted to know what had happened to

Malfoy Manor, he would ask later if the conversation allowed.

“Just somewhere small and closer to the ministry, nothing too special” Draco smiled deprecatingly.

“You looking for a self-contained flat or house shares?” Harry asked as they strolled through the chilled street. All the windows were still steamed up

“At first I’ll look at self-contained and see how desperate I become,” He smiled again “There probably aren’t many people lining up to share a house with an ex-death eater.” He laughed.

“I never thought of that” Harry said.

“I managed to forget for a little while, but being back has brought back a lot of memories,” He said sadly

“Ron said you’d been all over the place, How come you left?” Harry asked enjoying the new openness between them.

“After Mother died there didn’t really seem to be any reason for me to stay. So I decided to go off and see the world” He smiled

“And escape here?” Harry asked “It must have been a nightmare, I can imagine, I’m so sorry about your Mother” Draco smiled appreciatively. After a moment Malfoy chuckled.

“You can imagine? The chosen one?” Malfoy laughed and looked down the street to where they were going.

“Do you not remember the hard time you and Rita Skeeter gave me in fourth year? Since Voldemorts death, there have been exposé’s where my many “lovers” have come forward to spill the beans about their nights of passion or lack of. There have been reporters hounding me for my autobiography. Even my friends are pestered for every minute detail about my life.” He sighed “Life under a microscope is not easy or fun” Malfoy seemed to look at him with a strange appearance.

“You really don’t enjoy the attention?” Malfoy asked. “Not even a little bit?”

“Let’s just say, I keep a healthy stock of Polyjuice potion at home” Harry winked and he thought he saw him blush.

They walked in silence for a while before Harry opened his mouth again. “Why don’t you live in Malfoy Manor?” The other man was silent for a long time, so long that Harry didn’t think he was going to answer.

Suddenly, the blond stopped in front of a shabby old house where the first floor jutted proud overhead. The beams were a dark brown, matching the small windows. The roof was higgledy-piggledy looking ready to collapse at a moment’s notice. Harry said nothing as he had become accustomed to things not being as they first appear. Malfoy tried the door and with some force, it shuddered open.

“Come on up,” Came a voice from above. The blond ascended the rickety staircase while Harry hung back examining the entrance way. He could hear the woman talking upstairs. It sounded formal enough as he slowly climbed the stairs. A fine layer of dust covered the dank entrance. Harry had a bad feeling about the place. As he climbed the stairs he could hear the voices more clearly. The change in tone made Harry pause.

“I’m sorry Mr Malfoy but this place has been let”

“It hadn’t been a moment ago,” He said quietly.

“Things move very quickly in the property market, Mr Malfoy” The way the agent seemed to spit his name made it quite clear that the reason the flat was now unavailable was due to her dislike of him.

“Alright. Do you have any other properties available that I could view?” He asked calmly and politely. Harry

listened and struggled to imagine this Malfoy and the Malfoy from his school days being the same one

“I’m afraid that all of the properties at Fitrei & Griggs are currently unavailable at this time,” She said coldly.

“Fitrei and Griggs!” Harry exclaimed as he chimed in from the stairs as he entered, causing the witch to jump. “That was the name darling, I can’t believe I forgot,” Harry said dramatically. Malfoy looked confused as he stared at Harry. The witch with her thick-framed spectacles and blue rinsed-hair looked like she had swallowed a fly as she tried to recover. Harry could see the recognition flit across her eyes as she studied his face.

“What?” Malfoy replied finally.

“That property agency being investigated by the ministry, Pixie infestations in most of their properties”

Harry scrunched his nose up at the walls as though expecting to be attacked by the little beasts at any second. He dramatically looked around as he came and stood beside Malfoy, wrapping his arm around the other man’s waist. It was Malfoy’s turn to look wide-eyed at him for a second before he understood, his head nodding minutely in realisation. He draped his arm over Harry’s shoulder and he could feel the uncertainty in the gesture. Harry felt a surge of excitement as Malfoy pulled him closer.

“Mr Potter-” The witch spluttered “I didn’t-” Harry felt like laughing at the poor witch in front of him. “I never knew-” She waved her hand in Malfoys general direction and went deathly pale. She took a deep breath and seemed to steady herself. “I didn’t realise that Mr Malfoy here was a friend of yours” She gave Harry a stern look as she glanced back to Malfoy. “I believe that there are in fact a few other properties available for viewing and I can assure you we do thorough pest control inspections before every house is put up onto the market” She tilted her nose into the air as she tried to regain her superiority on the situation.

“What do you think honey?” Asked Harry as he looked up into Malfoys gleaming grey eyes. He had to fight down his heart as he continued “Did you want to view any other properties associated with Fitrei and Griggs?” Harry watched as a small smile played upon Malfoys lips, if it had been anyone else, he would have missed it entirely.

“I think we should give Madam Vesper the benefit of the doubt love, Especially with the instability of the market at the moment” Malfoy sent a pointed glance to the witch and she seemed to baulk slightly.

“Would you like to continue viewing this property?” She asked coldly,

“I don’t think that will be necessary. If you could owl me with any other properties that become available within my set parameters, I would greatly appreciate it, thank you” Draco nodded his head and the witch nodded back sternly.

“Don’t worry honey, we’ll get a flat” Harry said loud enough for the witch to hear. Draco flashed a small smile as they broke apart. “Thank you, Madam Vesper, we look forward to hearing from you” He nodded his head as they both headed towards the stairs again.

Once outside they both laughed. Harry stopped first as he took a deep breath.

“Now I bet you three galleons that tomorrow there will be a report in the daily prophet about how I have cheated on my wife, with a death eater no less.” Harry sighed sadly, keeping his smile pinned to his face.

“You’re crazy Potter!” Malfoy smiled.

“Yeah, life would be boring otherwise.” He smiled as he studied the other man’s face, appreciating the pale pink wash that had appeared under his skin. “So what time is your next appointment? It that with Fitrei and Griggs too?”

Malfoy shook his head as he pushed his gel-free hair out of his face. “The next property is with Listers, at eight,” He said simply.

“So what did you want to do between now and then?” Harry asked. “Did you want that coffee?” Harry watched as Malfoy smiled again. He nodded.

They walked back to the café in respective quiet and Harry wondered whether he had spoiled the uneasy peace between them. They stepped into the café and out of the cold, to the wonderful smell of cake and coffee. They ordered and found a table near the back out of view, giving the illusion of privacy. They sat in silence for a little longer until Malfoy finally spoke.

“Why did you do that?” He looked up at Harry and once again Harry caught his heart in his chest at the sight of the storm grey eyes.

“What?” Harry replied.

“The ‘darling’ and ‘honey’ stuff?” Draco tilted his head

“Why did you give me your jacket?” Harry responded with a shrug as he sipped his tea, the liquid close to burning his mouth. He watched Malfoy as he felt the hot liquid glide down his throat. A blush appeared on his face before disappearing again. They both looked at each other with a smirk.

“You looked cold,” Malfoy said, “What was your excuse?” Harry smiled wider as he pushed the hair out of his eyes.

“The witch was being prejudiced against you. By being my boyfriend she can’t be prejudiced against you without being prejudiced against me. I was saving you and fighting injustice and evil. If you hadn’t noticed, it’s kinda my thing” They both laughed

“You do have a bit of a hero complex” Malfoy replied. They both nodded. “I am wondering one thing though, Why spend your time with me? Are you trying to save me from the world? Why aren’t you in a rush to get home to Ginny?” Harry sat up straighter, not expecting that question quite this early on. He hadn’t been prepared for the question and didn’t know quite what to say for the best “Sorry, was that too personal? forget I asked” Harry looked at him and noticed he kept his eyes down as he tried to retreat into the corner of the booth.

“It is very personal. I only tell my friends stuff like that” Harry watched the blond’s shoulders seemed to droop just a fraction. As he watched the other man he thought he was reading all the signs right. He took a deep breath, knowing that he was probably going to regret the decision he was about to make.

“Ginny and I are divorcing,” He said waiting for the questions. Malfoy looked up briefly in shock “Divorcing? I thought she was supposed to be your ‘happily ever after’ What happened? Is she at home at the moment?” He asked in a rush. Harry nodded sadly as he took another sip of his tea.

They paused for a moment as a waitress brought over the cakes they had ordered. Once she had left they had begun to eat. Harry watched as Malfoy buried his fork into the chocolate cheesecake. His face was thoughtful, and Harry knew there were more questions brewing.

“You finalised it on Saturday?” He asked suddenly. Harry felt his mouth slack with shock.

“How did you know?” He asked and noticed Malfoy smiling again.

“The only way I would ever have been able to sneak up on you was if your mind were a million miles away” They both laughed quietly as they ate. “So what happened?”

Harry took a deep breath as he stared into his teacup. He wondered what he could say. He opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again.

“It’s a long story and not common knowledge, the short version is we grew apart and realised that we weren’t the people we wanted anymore” Malfoy nodded solemnly as they both fell into a pause.

“By the way, to answer your earlier question, I can’t live in the manor for much longer, there are too many ghosts, I want somewhere filled with light.” It was Harry’s turn to nod.

“Speaking of light, you said you were travelling, tell me more, Where else did you go? What did you see?” asked Harry as he crossed his

arms on the table. The treacle tart, now nothing but discarded crumbs on the plate. He leant forward with interest as he watched Malfoy eat. He felt his cheeks redden and he watched how gracefully and slowly he slid the fork from between his lips, making sure all the chocolate was removed. As Malfoy looked up he looked away, feeling the warmth fill his face. Malfoy smiled too as he pushed away his plate.

“I went a few places, Scandinavia, Africa, Romania, even visited North America and found a Wumpus cat.” He smiled as he reminisced about his adventures. Harry rested his head on his hand as he watched Malfoy.

“That sounds amazing” He sighed. “You’ve done so much since school”

“What about you? What have you been up to?” Harry cringed as he rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. This question was always a source of embarrassment.

“Embarrassingly, not a great deal. I joined the Auror training program, but it wasn’t what I expected and I didn’t last very long. I just couldn’t do it anymore. After everything we went through at school, I was so fed up with fighting. Ginny and I married, and I now work in admin at St Mungo’s and you know the rest. Really very boring and dull” Malfoy nodded. “It sounds awful but I actually like it sometimes, not having anything life-threatening hanging over my head. I can be, for the most part, be a normal person with a normal life.”

“͞What would you do if you could do anything?” The blond asked.

“I honestly don’t know, I was thinking of getting into teaching but not sure I’d be able to pass the exams now, We are getting on a bit͟ now” Harry laughed and Malfoy smiled again.

“I think you would be a good defence teacher Potter” Malfoy laughed. “Professor Potter, defence against the dark arts, has a certain ring to it.” They both laughed at the thought.

“Come on now, if we’re telling each other about ourselves and our deepest and darkest secrets, let us get rid of the last names.” Harry smiled as he offered his right hand. ͞”Hi, I’m Harry” Malfoy looked at the hand and Harry could see the hesitation. Harry kept the hand there as he waited. Slowly Malfoys hands rose and clasped his. Harry could feel the rough and calloused hand in his and knew that these were hands that had worked for a living. It was warm and clammy as they shook hands.

“͞Hello, I’m Draco” He smiled as he rolled his eyes.

͞”Now isn’t that better, Draco?” asked Harry with a grin. Draco smiled and Harry answered with a grin of his own as they both reluctantly released their hands.

“͞Telling deepest and darkest secrets to your enemy huh?” Draco smiled. “Maybe not your cleverest idea” Draco smiled. Harry laughed

“I’m not sure you can really call us enemies anymore,” He said with a chuckle as Draco smiled.

“I suppose not”

“Did you want another cup?” Harry asked as he went to stand.

“I’ll have a hot chocolate if they make it?” Draco asked hopefully. Harry nodded as he left to get to the counter. He ordered them some more drinks and returned back. Draco smiled at him as he placed the foamy chocolate drink in front of him and sat back down.

“Can I ask something personal?” Harry asked carefully as he stirred his tea. Draco looked up with a raised eyebrow.

“I’m not going to like this question, am I?” He asked with a smile.

“I’ll be gentle” Harry laughed as he blushed. Draco’s smile got wider as he nodded.

“I’m not promising I’ll answer though,” He said as he held his cup up to his mouth resting on his elbows.

“Is it true what Ron told me about you and Charlie?” Draco closed his eyes as he took a sip from his mug before answering.

“I guess it depends on what he told you, doesn’t it?” Harry laughed and nodded.

“I suppose it does” He took a sip of his own tea. “Ron said that they, the Weasley’s, thought you and Charlie had been an item.” Draco snorted at that. Harry looked at him curiously “So it’s not true?”

“It’s not strictly true, no” He replied cryptically.

“Oh,” Harry said unable to hide the disappointment in his voice.

“We’re just really good friends now. We’ve worked together for so long.” Harry listened feeling his disappointment burn a hole in him. “There was one night though,” Draco admitted reluctantly and Harry felt his heart leap. “Poachers had been in the sanctuary and had stolen away with a clutch of Romanian Longhorn eggs, We spent about 3 days tracking them sleeping very little trying to catch up. We finally caught them and got eggs back to the mother. The whole team was so happy that we cracked out the ale and fire whiskey. We both drank too much and he came on to me. One night together does not equal being a couple” He said sadly “As soon as we both woke up the following morning we agreed it had been a mistake and we’ve never spoken of it again.” Harry was unsure how he felt by the story. He wasn’t sure whether it told him what he wanted to know or not.

“I didn’t even know Charlie was gay.” Said Harry, Draco laughed

“I don’t think he did either͟, some people don’t realise straight away”

“And you?” Harry asked. “If that’s not too personal?”

“I’ve always known I was, I just didn’t advertise the fact.” Draco looked down again avoiding his eyes.

“But what about Pansy? Weren’t you two a couple in school?” Harry asked. Draco nodded and sighed

“She wanted us to be, and I wanted to make my best friend happy. What I didn’t realise was I was actually making us both miserable!”

“How so?” Harry asked gently.

“Well she wanted all the things that girlfriends want, love, attention, physical attention and everything that goes with it, and rightly so” Draco sighed again avoiding Harry’s eyes “and I knew that I just wanted someone else” Draco swirled his hot chocolate in his cup.

“Sounds heart-breaking and lonely,” Harry said sadly.

“It was at times, but we had so many other things going on that I was able to distract myself.” Draco smiled a little smile and looked up. Harry pondered this for a while as he sipped his tea. So Draco was gay and always had been. How had he not seen it before? “I’m surprised you’ve not asked who it was yet” Draco smiled again, the bridge of his nose crinkling in embarrassment.

“I didn’t think you would want to tell me,” Harry said shrugging “Seems a bit too personal”

“And asking me whether I’m gay isn’t?” Draco laughed.

“Well no, If you’re gay it only narrows it down to half the population, no one bloke in specific” Harry smiled.

“True” Draco replied. “Although it probably isn’t as embarrassing as admitting to a one-night stand” He laughed.

Harry watched the man across from him and wondered what he was doing. He was enjoying the conversation and the frequent thrills and feelings he was experiencing. He didn’t know how to put it into words but as he watched the blond talk he felt at ease for the first time in a long time. He ran his fingers through his hair and he took a deep breath. As he watched the man stretch and lounge on the table he felt excitement rush through his veins. He didn’t remember ever feeling quite like this when he and Ginny had become a couple. He saw Draco freeze, his smile turning into a grimace as he began to stand. Harry looked around to see a dark-haired witch walking towards them.

“Pansy” Draco nodded “How are you?”

Accio Next Chapter

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