Authors notes: I want to thank my BETAs Koorime and ChibiBecca. I would also like to appologise if people start craving cookies oo; Oh, and this Fic is set in Bath, Wiltshire, my hometown, so sorry if it sounds like a travel brochure at times ^^
Harry sat back against the wall, bringing his knees up to his chest – wincing as he did so – scanning Hermione’s neatly written letter. It was just after midnight and he was reading by the muted light of his bedside lamp.
He had first heard the tapping on the window at the stroke of midnight and still groggy with sleep, had thought it part of his terror filled nightmare, but it had continued insistently until he had opened his eyes.
Shocked at the sight of the owl sitting impatiently on the small window box, he had limped over to the window as quietly as possible and opened it.
The owl hadn’t stayed, only swooped in, dropped the rolled parchment and then flown straight back out into the crisp night air again with a mournful hooting that caused Harry to look agitatedly about, listening for any movement within the hotel. When satisfied he had rubbed his sleep filled eyes and opened the letter with such fervour that it had almost ripped in his sluggish grip.
Now he was clutching it in trembling hands.
Not only had he forgotten his birthday, but he had forgotten the significance of it, for gotten that seventeen was the age of legality. He was now allowed to practice magic outside school, so long as he stayed within the law and prevented any muggles from noticing or becoming suspicious.
His heart began to beat very fast as the realisation swept over him.
Leaning forward, Harry fished his wand out of the drawer on his bedside table, then he leant back again, looking at it, almost examining it. He could use it now, if he wanted to.
Shit. Oh shit.
If only Uncle Vernon had waited just one more day before confronting him. Just one more.
Harry closed his eyes and leant his head back against the wall, remembering what had taken place only hours before. If only –
He shook his head, sadly, and placed both the wand and Hermione’s letter in the drawer. After a moment’s reflection he curled back up under the duvet, clutching his aching side.
“He THREW you into a wall!?”
Harry, clutching his side again in pain, nodded, keeping his eyes firmly locked on the ground near Draco’s feet.
They had met up only moments before in a small square with a balding patch of grass and enormous tree wrapped in old Christmas lights in the centre. At first he had tried to hide the fact that he was in quite a considerable amount of pain, but overnight it had worsened slightly, he’d woken up with breathing difficulties that Draco had instantly picked up on. With an eyebrow raised and lips pursed, the blonde had forced an explanation out of him.
“Yes. I landed on the bedside table. It’s not too bad, I’m just-”
Draco interrupted him, “You’re ‘just’ nothing! That man, if such we can call it, ought to be thrown into Azkaban and left to rot! I can’t believe Dumbledore makes you spend your summers under his ‘care’!”
Harry was a little taken back at the outburst, this was the kind of thing he expected Ron to shout – hearing it from Draco Malfoy was a change in pace that he hadn’t been prepared for in the least.
“The next time I see that muggle Bastard I am going to hex him into oblivion! He won’t bloody know what hit him! Now come on.”
With that – and way before Harry could even think to react – he found himself being gently but firmly propelled through the back streets, past happy looking tourists, French, German, American and Japanese, and harassed looking locals, until they were standing outside Arcadia.
Harry shot Draco a questioning look, but the other boy propelled him through the ever open doorway without comment.
Henry was standing behind the counter again, wearing a different set of robes this time, flicking through a muggle spell book, an odd smile on his face that disappeared the instant he looked up and saw the boys.
For a moment Harry tried to remember what colour Henry’s were the last time he’d seen the man, but the thought left his mind when he saw the shocked expression on his face. Harry smiled grimly as they passed, clutching his side once more, following Draco to the wizarding section of the store.
A short time later both the boys were standing in front of the medi-magic section, Draco muttering to himself in pissed off tones as he sorted through the myriad concoctions on the shelves before them.
Harry didn’t comment as Draco began placing things in his free arm, just watched as the blonde picked out painkillers, healing salve, Skelereparo and Soothement. He glanced at the prices and frowned, for a moment forgetting his pain, “Draco, I can’t afford all this – I’ll just get the pain killers ok?”
He made to start putting them back but suddenly felt the blonde’s hand on his wrist; He looked up and saw Draco’s cheeks were flushed slightly.
“Firstly – I’ll get them, you need all of it. Secondly – I really meant what I said about your Uncle, and thirdly – I’m taking you out tonight. You need to do something fun this summer and I can’t see it happening at the Weasley’s nor your Uncle’s place. Now – let’s go pay for this lot.”
“How do you feel?”
They were sitting on a bench outside the Abbey, watching the tourists passing by in varying groups. Draco silently watched Harry as he rubbed his side. A few minutes before the bespectacled boy had gulped down the required amount of Skelereparo potion with a disgusted look on his face.
The potion itself was akin to Skelegrow, a potion Harry said he had had to take in second year after Lockheart had removed his broken bones for him; apparently they tasted almost identical, though Skelereparo worked quicker.
Harry had also spread some healing salve over his fading black eye, at Draco’s insistence, and it was now completely gone, vanished without trace, he had promised would do the same for the bruising on his side when he returned to the hotel and could actually get a moment alone to check the bruising and reach it all without missing spots.
“A bit better. My ribs just tickle at the moment – bruises hurt a little though.”
Draco nodded as Harry fell silent again, staring at the passing crowds, only half attentive to the shouts of children and harassed parents. He sat back, still looking at the melancholy raven haired boy, somewhat relieved that he was alright.
His anger at what Harry’s uncle had done was simmering away inside him, waiting for release, his earlier threat to hex the man still fresh in his mind, though much worse fates than a hexing came unbidden to his mind as he sat in contemplative silence.
The very thought of Vernon Dursley made him see red, and all images of retribution came to him red tinted. Ordinarily he hated, truly loathed, any mention of domestic violence and often felt perpetrators should be thrown into Azkaban. Now that Harry had told him of his uncle’s actions the night before, he felt true rage and wanted to be the first to get his hands on the man.
He shifted his gaze to Harry’s face as he felt the other boy stir next to him.
He blinked, folded his hands in his lap, “What for?”
Harry shrugged ever so slightly, “For trying to cheer me up. And everything else.”
Draco kept his eyes on Harry’s face and suddenly felt something pass between them, felt something neither had yet noticed make itself known. He opened his mouth to say something.
There was sudden movement in the crowds around them, muggles looked up, pointed, a few squealed either in delight or fear none could tell. The few wizarding folk in the crowd screamed in true terror and either ran or disapperated, causing new movement and shocked reactions from the muggles.
Both boys turned and looked to where the muggles pointed, surprised by the reaction of the few witches and wizards around them.
The Dark Mark was hanging in ugly vista above the Abbey.
There was chaos almost immediately, witches and wizards from the ministry began apparating around the crowd, herding back anyone who had seen the Mark and fled, until every single muggle who had witnessed it’s sudden appearance was safely ensconced within a protective magical field, stopping them from fleeing once more.
Auror’s apparated their way into the Abbey itself and found nothing more untoward than an elderly muggle priest floating near the high ceiling, unconscious, but otherwise unharmed. The parishioners that had been in the Abbey when the attack took place, (there were about ten people) were all found unconscious at the head of the large room.
Harry and Draco watched from a smart distance as the muggles were herded up and the Ministry officials made ready to set up a memory charm en mass.
Harry blinked when he caught sight of one of the Auror’s.
A young woman, not really much older than Draco and himself, was walking towards them, what caught his eye was her sky blue hair and sparklingly pink eyes.
He could almost feel Draco’s eyebrow rise at the sound of her preferred name.
“Hey, Harry!” Tonks walked a little faster, a grin on her face that slowly faded as if she suddenly remembered the severity of the current situation. She stuck her hand out in greeting when she finally reached them, shaking Harry’s hand vigorously and then gripping Draco’s as she inquired after an introduction.
“Draco’s a – friend – from school.”
Draco was immensely courteous; showing his breeding without hesitation or embarrassment as he properly introduced himself with a slight bow that took Harry and Tonks both by surprise.
“Charmed,” Tonks said, obviously flattered, “Anyway, I can’t stop long, but I saw you up here and couldn’t resist. Messy business really, bloody DM appearing in the middle of a muggle city at this time.” She shook her head, apparently very annoyed at the timing of such an occurrence, “But the Muggle Relations guys are sorting things out as we speak, memory charming the lot of them. Of course, we needn’t do anything much with those that were inside, they were all out cold when we found them.”
Harry’s own eyebrows rose, “Was anyone hurt?”
“Nah, found the priest near the ceiling though. Only thing that’s got us stumped is that no one was killed.”
From the look on Draco’s face Harry reckoned he wasn’t used to such an open manner when it concerned the doings of Death Eaters. Before either boy could say anything more, Tonks continued, “Now, Harry, the reason I broke from the group when I saw you was that I thought after a week up here on your own, you might like me to convey some messages?”
Harry blinked, thought a moment and, “Uh, yeah – tell Hermione thanks and that I’ve already got one for him, and Professor Dumbledore,” he paused, swallowed and tried again, “Tell Professor Dumbledore, Uncle Vernon,”
Tonks interrupted him, her sky blue eyebrows disappearing into her fringe, “Um, Yeah, we know about that. Suffice to say Dumbledore’s been keeping an eye on you, and he’s rather incensed by what happened last night.”
She suddenly turned to Draco, “Actually, now it comes to it, he wanted me to tell you ‘thank you’, for helping Harry earlier.”
Draco, who had been leaning against the wall, his arms folded, apparently listening to the conversation with deep interest, straightened, mild shock evident on his face.
“Yupp. He said there’d be a boy with Harry if I saw him, and that he wanted me to pass on his thanks. Didn’t know it would be the Malfoy boy though.” She smiled, “Thanks from me as well.”
She turned back to Harry and clasped his hand again before casting a look back at the crowd of muggles and Ministry officials. “Sorry, Harry, but I gotta go. I’ll tell Hermione what you said, and see you in a week or so.”
With that she turned and paced quickly back to the other Auror’s. Within minutes the muggles were all back to normal as if nothing had happened, and the wizarding folk had disapparated.
There was absolutely no sign, now, that the Dark Mark had been floating above the Abbey at all, and certainly no muggles would remember its sudden appearance. The crowd returned to its prior occupation, screaming children and harassed parents making their way through the square.
Harry looked over at Draco and found his own expression mirrored in the blonde’s face.
Draco placed a bottle of butterbeer in front of Harry and sat down across from him, taking a sip of his own. “Wonder what the hell the Death Eaters were doing in Bath Abbey?”
They were seated at a table in the far corner of a respectably sized wizarding pub named The Alchemist’s Head. It was a place Draco often visited, as it was the only one of its kind within a manageable distance of his home, plus he felt comfortable being there, sitting in the shadows at the back of the room watching the other customers.
He watched Harry take a sip, a slight frown puckered his forehead into a half dozen small creases – an expression Draco didn’t see on his face very often. “I have my suspicions. But I suppose we’ll never know.”
Draco raised a delicate eyebrow at Harry’s words and took another sip. “Who was the woman with the blue hair?”
He watched as Harry smiled, almost lazily, “Nymphadora Tonks. She prefers Tonks.”
“I don’t blame her. What’s with the hair? And the eyes?” He felt like being blunt at the moment and kept an eye on Harry’s reactions. He cocked an eyebrow again, ever so slightly, when Harry only smiled again.
“She’s a Metamorphmagus. First time I met her she had short spiky violet hair, then turned it bubblegum pink. She has this party trick where she morphs her nose by request. It’s quite funny – if you’re in the right mood.”
“Metamorphmagus? Never thought I’d meet one. She’s an Auror then?”
They talked like this for a couple of hours, passing from topic to topic fluidly, though mostly sticking with the strange happenings at the Abbey.. Draco discovered it was actually fun to just sit and talk with the boy about normal things, even if he wouldn’t tell him how he knew an Auror personally.
Eventually they made their way to the only wizarding club in the city – as Draco had promised they would – still discussing the sudden appearance of the Dark Mark, trying to figure out what the Death Eaters were up to.
The Black Rose was another of Draco’s favourite haunts, again because it was the only place within a manageable distance from home that actually held any interest for him. It was a large place, situated in the catacombs under the city, mirrors and Georgian style decoration could be found around every corner and there were live fairies flying around the ceiling, giving the place a multicoloured but soft lighting.
In various nooks and crannies there were sofas, kissing seats and piles of cushions, poufs or bean bags, often surrounding small tables, sometimes just in corners alone.
The drinks were cheap enough and the music played was a mix of popular wizarding and muggle to accommodate both purebloods and muggle born's, a fact that hadn’t escaped Draco’s attention, though he thought little of it.
When it was nearing closing hour, Draco found he was lost. That hadn’t happened since his first visit and must have been due to his getting drunk. He tried to make his way through the crowds, wondering where Harry had gotten to, completely missing the Daily Prophet reporter that followed him.
Harry had found himself a lonely corner, out of the way of the milling crowds and dancers, there were only a few fairies flitting about the ceiling, so it was relatively dark in his corner.
He sat on the floor with his head resting against the wall, trying to block out the thumping sound of muggle music, wondering where it was he’d last seen Draco. His head was a little muggy, and his thinking was sluggish, so he reckoned he had drunk a bit too much.
Despite that thought he brought the bottle he was holding to his mouth.. It was empty, so he looked at it a moment, bringing the mouth of the bottle to his eye and gazing inside.
“All gone,” he muttered to himself and dropped the bottle carelessly on the floor between his feet. He looked up as a slim shadow passed over the floor, recognising the slim form as it moved to the wall next to him.
“Draco. I think I’m drunk.”
“Me too.” Harry looked up and saw Draco standing, leaning against the wall next to him.
“Let’s go home.”
Harry felt himself hauled up, gently but firmly, by the other boy’s grasp and stood unsteady on his feet. They left together, arms over each others shoulders, trying to help each other walk, completely oblivious to the people watching them or the flash of a camera behind them.
Through the muggy haze that was the alcohol he’d drunk tonight Draco slowly manoeuvred the key into the lock and pushed open his hotel door. He and Harry made their unsteady way into the room, dropping their respective bags without caring where they landed.
Draco tiredly watched as Harry looked blearily around the room, obviously taking in the décor, the size and the amount of furnishings as well as the roaring fire at the end of the room.
“S’better than my room.”
Draco wrinkled his nose slightly as Harry flopped onto his king sized bed, then moved over and made himself comfortable, back to the headboard, looking down at the raven haired boy lying at the foot, staring at the ceiling.
“You got me drunk.” He heard Harry say quietly, a slight slur to the words.
Draco smiled to himself, feeling rather drowsy and more than a little content, the fact that Harry was slowly falling asleep on his bed didn’t register as anything more than, well, right. He liked the idea somehow.
He let himself fall to the bed properly, cradling his head on his arm, and looked over at Harry. He was surprised to find the other boy already looking at him.
Quite without warning, Draco again felt that, something, pass between them, borne on something half remembered from long ago. That sensation that made him want to –
He reached out and gently brushed Harry’s wayward fringe out of his eyes. Now he could see them properly, those piercing green emeralds that had entranced him from the first moment he’d seen them.
Harry smiled at him, his eyes closing briefly. Draco didn’t know how it happened, but they were only inches from one another now, pale blue eyes locked on green, both burning with something neither had yet acknowledged.
Draco felt Harry’s hand on his cheek, gently brushing a stray strand of his hair back behind his ear. He closed his eyes for a second, and when he reopened them, they were closer still.
Before either could react, he closed the distance and brushed his lips over Harry’s.
Yes. That’s what the sensation had been, a quiet longing to do this. For Harry to want to do the same.
He brushed his lips over Harry’s again, and felt the other boy respond, a moment later they kissed, slowly and gently, a little awkwardly. Draco felt the hand on his cheek slip, and a second or so later he was looking into Harry’s sleeping face.
He propped himself up on his elbows and looked down at one of the strangest sights of his life. Harry Potter, asleep, perfectly calm, vulnerable and trusting, on his bed. He smiled to himself as he watched the worry lines disappear from Harry’s face and the long foregone innocence return.
Harry really was a wondrous sight while asleep, every care that could be seen in his young face while awake was erased. Draco gently removed his glasses and placed them on the bedside table, then, switching the lights off, he lay down next to Harry and drifted off into a comfortable sleep.
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