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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2021 1:11 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Something changed in Potter after Draco had asked about his time at Hogwarts.
Naturally, Draco knew, just like the rest of the wizarding world, that Potter had been treating terribly while he had been living with muggles, but he had never truly understood the extent until he saw just how blissful Potter looked while talking about his time at Hogwarts. It was almost like seeing the teenage version of Potter once more, but now with a better of understanding of what was to come and what was behind him.
It felt intimate to know these things about Potter, almost as if it wasn’t for him to know, yet Potter was telling him everything so freely. It almost felt like they were friends and not what the hell ever was actually going on with them.
“Yeah?” He asked, not out of surprise, knowing that Potter had always been close with the Weasleys, but mostly to prompt Potter to speak more. There was something special about the way his face lit up and how at peace he sounded when he described it all. “How come you ended up at Grimmauld?”

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2021 4:26 pm 

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While it hadn't been what Malfoy had asked about, there was no explaining why Harry lived at Grimmauld without the story of his divorce. It wasn't an uncomfortable subject, but Harry found he had never had to explain it to someone who hadn't been there when it happened. Given the opportunity to retell the story more favourable, Harry hesitated, not sure he wanted to.
"When we got married we still had to wait for Ginny to finish school before we could look at houses, and then I guess it was always a bit more hers than ours."
Harry didn't know how to say that nothing had ever felt as much as home as Hogwarts had, at least not without making it sound like his marriage had been doomed from the start; which, looking back, it pobably had been.
He tipped his head slightly from side to side, pensively.
"I don't know," he admitted, though he had his ideas. The house was his, and though Harry had fond enough memories of the time he had spent there. Sirius had hated it, and Harry had suffered on his behalf, but the immense sense of pride Harry had felt getting to be part of the Order still lingered in the house.
"Then we divorced and Grimmauld was already there."
That was the other truth. Once they had decided to separate Harry had moved out within the week. How little they had fought had almost been pitiful; Harry had easily accepted it.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2021 4:39 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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While every single part of Potter’s explanation made perfect sense to Draco, it was still not even close to the answer that he had thought he would get. The fact that Potter was so willing to share so much of himself, further giving into the illusion that they could possibly be friends. In fact, Draco knew that Potter was likely just bored and just enjoyed Draco finally engaging him in conversation, but it felt nice and Draco wanted to encourage it.
“Life really has its way like that,” he stated, unsure what he was trying to say, but definitely not wanting to talk about how he had ended up back in the manor after the war. It wasn’t the place he wanted to be and he longed to get out.
“Then again, who on earth thinks that it is a smart idea to get married at 18?” Draco couldn’t stop himself from asking, regretting the question the second it had left his lips, unsure if that was where their relationship was yet.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2021 5:57 pm 

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The follow up question caught Harry off guard; judging by the way Malfoy’s expression wavered, it seemed like it had surprised him, too. It was well past midnight and the pace of their conversation finally felt like it was genuine, however tentatively that might be; the tone was still a give and take of trial and error.
Harry’s cheek left his hand, and, with a delay, the corner of his smile upturned, humoured.
"Well, I was 19, so I don’t know either," he grinned, unfairly displacing the blame onto Ginny who had only been 18 and some odd weeks by the time they married in January. In reality, Harry didn’t mind the criticism; maybe he would have, a lifetime ago where he was certain he was in a happy, stable marriage. Now he had nothing to show for that could disprove Malfoy’s point.
"We didn’t think we’d make it to 18, at all," he mused, relaxed in the face of his own mortality. He didn’t ask, but he expected Malfoy to share the sentiment.
Harry had once again slumped back against the backrest, and his smile had softened by the creeping exhaustion. He wondered if Malfoy had known about the wedding in real time, or if he had quickly done the math. "In comparison, getting married was easy."


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 1:31 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The genuine answer to what had mostly been a rhetorical question took Draco a little aback. Of course he was pleased too learn more about Potter, finding that getting a better understanding of him helped him shed the image he used to hold of the saviour of the wizarding world.
“Yeah, that makes sense,” Draco stated in a soft voice, not wanting it to sound too much like he was shaming for Potter that he coildn’t really argue against. He too had made decisions most the war just because he was simply surprised that he was still alive, especially after her learnt that he wouldn’t be going to Azkaban after all. It had felt to inevitable that the fact that he wasn’t going had left him with almost a sense of loss, not that he had wanted to go, but because he didn’t know what to do then.
“I guess that that is what happens when you give kids, who has only ever survived, the ability to actually live,” he reasoned, not sure if it made much sense, but he had found that Potter seemed to understand him better than most.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 2:58 am 

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Harry hummed at that, both an agreement and an acknowledgement. Sleep had muddled his voice, and he stretched, bending both arms over the top edge of the backrest, hands clasped together somewhere behind his head.
Harry had always thought Malfoy to be clever, especially academically, and it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise that critical, reflective thinking was applicable over several subjects. He watched him interest.
"Well put," Harry said with an easy smile. He desperately wanted to ask if Malfoy had come to that reflection himself, if he had been in therapy after the war, if somebody else had said that to him. How it had felt to turn twenty, a year after the death of Voldemort, when he realized he’d survived. Malfoy hadn’t shared, and Harry didn’t know which questions were appropriate to ask. None, probably.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 3:05 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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When Potter yawned it finally dawned on Draco just how long they had been talking and just how late the hour had gotten while they had done so. It was weird to consider that the time could just disappear like that for them, something that Draco hadn’t had since his school days, but it just kept adding up to how he kept finding that he genuinely enjoyed Potter’s company.
“It’s late,” he stated, having no idea what time it actually was, but he absolutely knew that it had to be very late. They both had a lot more work to do in the morning and while they had no schedule for the work they were doing, they had both gotten into the routine and rising early and getting to work immediately.
Potter probably because he was used to it, Draco because he knew that he wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway.
“Let’s call it a night, yeah?” He suggested, feeling certain that Potter wasn’t going to be opposed to that.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 3:50 am 

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The familiarity of the scene was almost uncanny, yet Malfoy was a new actor in that specific play. It muddled the lines, ebbing over with the gentle intimacy of spending their last few moments awake together. While that wasn’t what Malfoy was saying, Harry found himself reliving times others had spoken the same words to him, in times where that hadn’t meant going to bed alone.
It left a soft smile on Harry’s lips, incredibly pleased by the way their evening had unfolded, regardless.
The agreement visible in his actions, Harry stood up. It immediately displaced the exhaustion to a knot between his shoulders, though he didn’t attempt to stretch to dissipate it.
Instead, in a moment of tired gratitude, Harry reached his hand over Malfoy’s desk, informally offering it for the other to shake.
"It’s been good catching up," he said with a smile, not deaf to the way that phrasing tilted the meaning. While they had talked plenty, this was distinctly different, for the first time feeling like they would part having learned anything new – not about the case but one another.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 12:26 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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Draco had stood up together with Potter, feeling the exhaustion seeping into his bones once he did. He hadn’t realised just how tired he has gotten until he had stood up, finding the idea of walking all the way to his room to be an almost impossible feat.
When Potter offered his hand to shake, Draco found himself bemused, a smile playing softly on his lips as he accepted the gesture and shook Potter’s hand. Even if it was a small gesture, it felt monumental in their relationship, as if this was a true turning point for them.
“It has,” he admitted, surprised by how much he had actually enjoyed properly getting to know Potter as a person and not as an icon. All in all, Potter was good company and Draco tried not to overthink just how intimate it all felt.
“Thank you.”

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 1:54 pm 

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Harry had gone to bed optimistic. The case seemed to remain at a stalemate, something that wasn’t unusual for Harry’s line of work, but being quarantined to the Manor had Harry feeling particularly in limbo. Despite their recurring evenings sharing a bottle of wine, this had been the first evening Harry had regained a sense of normalcy.
It hadn’t been much to soothe the fact that Harry had been pulled out of his life for closing in on three weeks, but it had been such a refreshing change of pace to share a laugh with Malfoy. He felt it in the way his optics of Malfoy had changed, the different things he had noted when they parted for the night.
Harry had laid in bed relishing the fact that he had made Malfoy laugh, feeling it to be a great personal achievement after a lifetime of tension.
He had been on the brink of sleep, reliving that entire interaction when he all but bolted awake at the sudden recollection that Malfoy had called Viktor Krum his type.

_____

Due to his interrupted, delayed sleep, Harry woke up an hour past his usual call time. On top of that, not yet ready to face the day, Harry had dragged getting dressed, hoping to join Malfoy in the study rather than for breakfast in the kitchen.
Harry regretted nothing from the passing evening, finding it to be the most enjoyable evening he had yet to spend at the Manor. It had humanized their relation, and Harry genuinely expected that conversation in isolation to be enough to shift the entire way the two of them interacted. But the knowledge that Malfoy was not only good company, nice on the eye but possibly into men was truly a horrifying set of revelations to have made in quick succession.
Harry was less certain about how that last part might affect their interactions going forward.
He arrived at the study a bit to ten. Force of habit, Harry thrummed a nondescript note to the door to the study before opening it.
"Morning," Harry greeted, unsurprised to find Malfoy working at his desk.
The way Harry’s smile tilted making him appear sheepish, aware of the fact that he had, by their usual standards, slept in. It felt like they had gone out for a pint too many on a workday, feeling like Malfoy would know exactly what had offset hiss rhythm.
Unable not to lean into the joke, Harry offered a boyish, "Sorry - had a late night."


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 5:39 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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While Draco had slept peacefully as ever, he had still continued to be rocked by revelations from their conversation, feeling like it had unlocked something in their relationship, but Draco was unsure what exactly that something was.
He had never considered the ramifications in letting Potter into his home like this before, finding that it had been a far more intimate affair than he ever thought that it would be.
Potter turned out to be very good company, someone who was nice to talk to and someone who Draco enjoyed to work with. It was weird to think that their relationship had developed like that, but Draco didn’t want to question it too much, mostly just enjoying being in for the ride.
When he heard the customary rap on the door, he knew that Potter was finally awake. Much to his chagrin, Draco had actually missed Potter at breakfast, having grown so accustomed to their routine that even that small variation had made him upset. However, he also couldn’t deny that it was nice to see Potter actually enter his study, clearly not scared entirely away from their talk the night before.
“Morning,” he said with a soft smile as he looked up, two long strands of hair falling out of his bun to frame his face.
“It’s alright, missed you at breakfast though,” he stated as he pushed a strand of hair behind his ear.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2021 5:57 pm 

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Harry didn’t know when a smile had become a permanent fixture on Malfoy’s features, but it was a lovely sight. All the same shade of light, the curve of his lips brought a tone of pink to his face. It made the corners of Harry's mouth twitch, his own smile widening.
The notion that Malfoy had missed him at breakfast caught Harry off guard, making his heart flip. Personal qualms and elevated heartrate aside, that sentiment was a testament to progress, having barely been able to sit across from one another that first morning.
He stepped further into the room, coming to a stop ahead of Malfoy’s desk. His hands were lazily in the pockets of his trousers, primarily in an attempt to steady himself; within his right pocket, however, he was picking at his thumb. Eyes lowered to the tabletop Harry was trying to make sense of what Malfoy was working on.
“I’ll be there tomorrow,” Harry promised absentmindedly; his eyes flickered up to Malfoy as he spoke, a smile to his lip. By now, it was merely stating the obvious, but the promise was genuine regardless.
When Harry continued, he did so with a nod towards Malfoy’s work. Despite the hour, Harry felt like it was too freshly the morning for him to be ready to give into today’s work. “What’re you up to?”


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 1:33 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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The promise, no matter how banal, that Potter would be at breakfast with him tomorrow made Draco’s heart flip in his chest, unsure why that meant so much to him. He knew that Potter usually ate breakfast with him, and just because today had been a little different, didn’t mean that Potter was suddenly going to change up their entire routine.
The question about work was a lot easier for Draco to wrap his head around, making it easier for him to focus on the million papers he had spread out on the desk in front of him. He had started out with a great sense of order in the documents, but by now Draco’s work station looked lot more chaotic, clearly the victim of him having had to frantically find something several times.
“Going through your journals still,” he stated with a shrug.
He had rarely met anyone who would have as long of a medical record as Potter and though it made sense, some of the entries had made Draco feel sick to his stomach with how close and how severe they had been. The fact that Potter was standing in front of him seemed like somewhat of a miracle.
“Trying to make sense of it all.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 2:10 am 

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Harry seemed humoured by the phrasing, interest piqued not as much by Malfoy had said but by what it was as of late. The way his smile grew with some delay made it apparent that Harry suspected that Malfoy was once again going on about his temperature but was too sheepish to admit it.
Acknowledging the reply only with a shift of his eyebrows, Harry took a step to the side of Malfoy's desk, wanting to confirm that suspicion without having to circle back to such a exhausted topic. While the slight sidestep didn't entirely correct the scewed view of the writing, it was at the very least no longer upside down.
Tipping his head, Harry was surprised to find that he couldn't make sense of Malfoy's handwritten notes even when facing somewhat right side up.
It took him aback, his smile faltering for a moment as it dawned upon him that it was neither the angle nor the legibility of Malfoy's script.
"Well, I can see why that might be hard," Harry replied, his voice airy with a laughed surprise.
Taking his hands out of his pockets, Harry reached over to straighten out the nearest piece of scribbled parchment so that it better faced him, fingertips barely brushing against the paper. However invasive the act might have been, Harry felt reassured in doing so due to the simple fact that he couldn't read them, even if he applied himself.
"What're you writing these in?" he asked, half assuming them to be in code; it didn't stop his gaze from skimming across the page.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 3:56 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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It took a moment for Draco to realise exactly what it was that Potter was asking him.
His mother had insisted that Draco learn French from a very young age, having always found it more civilised for her child to speak more than English. This meant that Draco almost spoke French as well as he spoke English, something that he had used to his advantage during the war, when he had started thinking in French rather than English, as to keep the Dark Lord out of his head. A simple bit effective remedy.
“French,” he stated, trying not to think too much of how close Potter was suddenly standing to him, convincing himself that it was no more than mere friendship that suddenly made Potter so comfortable in standing close to him.
“I’m fluent,” he added even if it was probably a given, seeing as his notes were tightly written with notes in flowing French. Despite their progress in their relationship, Draco still felt like he had to justify himself to Potter, almost as if Potter was still trying to pick him apart at any chance that he got.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:52 am 

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"Oh, yeah?" Harry quirked, eyes immediately drawn back up at Malfoy. There was no note of doubt in the question, only a sense of surprised admiration.
Harry's eyes flickered between Malfoy's, though he wasn't looking for any signs that Malfoy might be pulling his leg; clearly not, for when Harry's eyes returned to the paper, he could easily recognize the French floruishes of the language.
Trailining a finger beneat a sentence, Harry realized how unfamiliar a foreign language could look in script rather than in print. Malfoy's notes were neat and impecably cursive.
"How posh," Harry commented, as he straightened his posture, fingers leaving the tabletop. When his eyes found Malfoy, the glint in his eye promised it was only a tease. "That's brilliant. Do you prefer French?"
The question was accompanied by a nod in the general direction of the notes. Harry didn't think there was any probability that Malfoy was fearful of anybody peering over his shoulders, having on good authority that Malfoy had probably worked alone for the entirety of the past decade.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 9:59 am 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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For a brief moment Draco felt convinced that Potter was judging him. It was only when Draco met Potter’s eye, the playful glint that was apparent did not cause Draco’s heart to do a small somersault in his chest, that he knew that Potter was simply teasing him.
Friendship was a new thing in their relationship and Draco was having a hard time properly navigating it, but he tried to believe in the best of Potter. After all, they had both moved a lot in relation to one another more willing to meet the other in the middle and see where the other person was coming from.
It was new and a little frightening.
“I guess so,” he stated, feeling unsure how to properly answer the question. However, he figured that it was best to just be honest with Potter, share openly from himself in the hopes that their relation was genuine and not just a twisted case of Stockholm syndrome.
“I think in French,” he added unhelpfully, knowing that that likely was going to confuse Potter even more.
“I’m a good occlumens but no better than the Dark Lord is a legilimens. However, the Dark Lord doesn’t speak French,” he explained, feeling certain that Potter was going to find him barking mad, but it had worked for him while he shared a home with the Dark Lord.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 12:34 pm 

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There was absolutely nothing that could have prepared for that specific string of words, and it showed transparently in the way his expression wavered, half expecting expecting Malfoy to be telling a tale. The simple, matter-of-factly reasoning to why Malfoy, a decade a fter the war, still conducted himself in French was inadvertedly but incomparably the best constructed punchline Harry had ever heard. He laughed accordingly, surprised and loudly.
Harry had to step away, turning into the room as he steadied himself, but his smile remained, bright and boyish.
"You're spectacular," Harry said with a laugh, the words escaping him with genuine admiration as his gaze once again found Draco.
The brilliant cleverness of such a practical workaround was astonishing to Harry, who had also spent an endless amout of anogizing practice trying to keep Voldemort out if his own head - and inevitably failing miserably. The admiration had settled itself as a warm pool in his stomach and widened his smile, looking at Malfoy as if his gaze itself would reveal another foolishly brave anecdote. Harry didn't doubt that there were more of them, and he could positively not wait to hear them all.
"Absolutely mad, but spectacularly so."


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 1:58 pm 

This body is a vessel for my mayhem and as long as I can perform bafoonery it doesn’t matter if this stomach is flat or not

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There was absolutely nothing that could have prepared Draco for how Potter was going to react to his explanation. He knew that it sounded insane and that he had absolutely no way of knowing if it would even work, but somehow it had served as a perfect remedy to that particular problem to him. However, having Potter call him spectacular for it sent a chill down his spine, unsure what exactly to read into that.
It didn’t matter that he followed it up with calling Draco mad, because he was looking at him with such a look of genuine admiration that Draco felt like he was about to combust. It didn’t feel like a huge thing to him, conducting all of his thoughts in French, but hearing Potter talk about it made it seem way bigger than himself. It made his head spin and he had a hard time returning back into his own body.
“Oh,” he stated, feeling like he had to say something, but he had absolutely no idea how one were to answer to something like that. It was far beyond any praise that Draco had ever received before.
“Merci?” He tried, glancing down at his notes, because he was scared that his face would heat up if he were to look at Potter.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2021 3:31 pm 

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The corners of Harry's mouth twitched, the French merci completely derailed any coherent train of thought; for a moment, his mind was pure static.
It was such a little, non important detail to learn, finding that it changed nothing tangible to Harry, and yet it felt like detrimental knowledge.
"And it worked," Harry said when his thoughts became tangible. His voice was halfway a question, mind reeling with the possible applications of such an approach to Occlumency.
There was a toothy smile growing on his lips, suddenly having made sense of a long forgotten question. His ryes inadvertedly darted off to one side, through the wall towards where Harry had mapped out the mantle room to be. "It must have, you lied to them."
Harry's eyes returned to Malfoy as he spoke, bright and impressed by the nerve and composure Malfoy had had that evening. He wasn't even sure Malfoy remembered it as vividly as Harry did.


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