(Also, I seem to have used a title I had already used once before, way back when. Not sure yet what I'll do about that.)
Many Happy Returns by Halrloprillalar
Harry Potter, Harry/Draco, 2300 words, R.
Draco turns thirty.
Canon: HBP compatible but not directly spoilery.
Scenario: Harry to Draco: I promise not to have a headache tonight.
Many thanks to Kest for beta.
Many Happy Returns
"You'll ruin your eyes reading in here." Draco dropped into an easy chair. A match flared and all at once the room seemed very dark.
"I didn't realise." Harry switched on the lamp, but the crabbed notes weren't much easier to decipher than before. He put down the scroll and rubbed his temples. Maybe he needed new glasses.
The smell of cigarette smoke filled the room. Draco hooked a knee over the side of the chair and tapped ash into a tea cup.
"I wish you'd use an ashtray." Harry got up and opened a window.
"What appalling evil are you fighting tonight?" The pool of light stopped just short of Draco and he was grey in the twilight: thinning hair, long white shirt, bare legs, all pale and colourless, a portrait drawn in dust.
"There's evidence that the Falmouth have been throwing games."
"Say it isn't so." Draco tipped his head back and blew smoke at the ceiling. "Quidditch has been fixed for years; everyone knows that."
Harry picked up the scroll again and tried to read the report.
"Good thing they have you lot to call on. The Ministry's finest."
"What was it last week, finding lost cats?" Draco raised the cigarette, but his hand stopped with a jerk before it reached his lips. His forehead pulled into familiar creases and his eyes screwed up briefly. "Must be nine o'clock." He rubbed at his left arm, dropping ash onto the carpet. "At least you know I'm not out fixing Quidditch games."
"Draco..." Harry took a deep breath, ready to rehearse their lines, but Draco didn't say anything more, just leaned back and picked at the seam of the wallpaper where the edges were curling up.
Harry got up and went into the kitchen. He put the scroll down on the table and drew a glass of water. The washing-up was still in the sink and he flicked his wand at it while he drank. He tossed two aspirins back with the last mouthful.
He sat down at the table and read until he found his head sagging on his arms and the scroll crumpled beneath. His back hurt and as he stretched, he heard it crack. His assistant at the Ministry said she knew a warlock who could work miracles with back pain. A small adjustment and he'd feel ten times better. Maybe tomorrow he'd make an appointment.
He went to bed and lay awake until two, while beside him, Draco slept, slowly winding the duvet around his waist.
Draco sat at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading Harry's scroll. Harry put bread on to toast and set out butter and jam.
"Many happy returns of the day," he said. He bent down and kissed Draco.
"I'll ring about tonight." Draco poured out another cup, stirred in sugar and cream, and passed it to Harry. "I'm not sure of the time yet."
"I've asked Hermione and George." The taste of the coffee was almost enough to wake him up by itself. Draco always made it strong. Much better than the tea they got at the Ministry.
"So Henderson is so feeble now he has to tell tales to the Ministry." Draco dropped the scroll. "He never was much of anything."
"That's classified information."
"I'll be sure not to mention it at the agency." Draco set down his cup and tightened his tie. "I'm late," he said. "You can give me my present later on." The door banged as he left the flat. Harry buttered his toast and looked out the window. He could see Draco stop at the corner and light up before he went on to the bus stop. Harry put the dishes in the sink and Apparated to the Ministry.
"Why isn't the Department of Games and Sports dealing with this?" Harry sank into the chair in front of Hermione's desk. "We're Aurors, not referees."
"There has to be an external investigation," Hermione said. "What if they're involved?"
"I've a few people left over; any cats up trees need saving?" Hermione just looked at him and Harry sighed. "Sorry. It's just..."
"I should think you'd be glad there's so little real trouble to deal with." Hermione picked up a quill and turned it over in her fingers. "After all we went through."
"About that," Harry said. He passed his hand through his hair. "About the Mark. It hurts him. Every time. Can't we stop?"
"We've talked about this before. We can't make any exceptions."
"But after what he did. And he can't--"
"I can't, Harry." She dropped the quill onto a stack of parchment. "Anyway, aren't you glad to know where he is at night?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
They sat in silence for a few moments. Harry wondered when Hermione had begun to look so strained. "We're at the Pheasant in Slough tonight. I don't know the time yet."
"Where we live. It's Draco's birthday." She'd forgotten, probably two minutes after he'd told her. "He's thirty today."
Hermione looked stricken. "I'm sorry, I've got a meeting tonight. I'll let George know. If he can find someone to watch the girls."
Harry nodded. He sat for a moment more, then stood. Hermione held out her hand and he took it. "We'll spend some time together soon," she said. "Give Draco our best wishes."
At lunch, Harry went to Diagon Alley and searched five shops before he left and bought Draco an MP3 player at Dixons. Then he sat at his desk and went through the locator reports for the last week: time, place, any magic done. Since most of the subjects were in Azkaban, there wasn't much to read about. Ellie had forgotten to take Draco's sheets out beforehand and he set them aside for Wickham to look over.
His mobile rang. He'd had to get special permission to have it function inside the Ministry and people always stared at him disapprovingly when he used it.
"Seven o'clock," Draco said.
"Shall we have dinner beforehand?"
Static crackled in his ear. "--door," Draco was saying.
"I didn't get that."
"We're pushing to get a project out the door. I may be late home."
"Fine." Harry saw two more scrolls float onto his in-tray. "Cheers."
Someone brought Harry a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. He drank the tea and looked at Draco's name at the top of the report. Then he picked up his mobile and sent Draco a text message. Let's not stay out late.
A minute later: Lost cats giving you a headache?
No cats tonight, Harry tapped out. No headache, I promise.
I had better like my gift.
Harry put away his phone and ate a biscuit. It was soggy and he left the other in the saucer. He picked up the sheets of parchment. Incendio, he thought, and pictured the pages blackening and crumpling. He dropped them onto Wickham's desk and wrote a note to Ellie about making sure it didn't happen again.
The flat was empty when Harry got home. He went looking for paper to wrap Draco's present. They had a cupboard which they were always telling each other to organize, eleven years of odds and ends spilling off the shelves. Harry thought he had seen some paper in there last time he'd opened the door to push in a jumper too good to throw away and too ugly to wear.
It was on the top shelf, right in the back. As he reached in, he knocked over a box and it fell on the floor, spilling half its contents. A bag of sweets so old they had nearly liquefied. Some ragged quills. The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 3. And Draco's wand.
Harry picked it up. It was light in his hand, linden wood and about a foot long. He didn't know what was at the core. "Lumos," he said and it lit. Dust motes fell through the beam and he watched them for a few moments.
He packed the things away and stood to put them back on the shelf. He stumbled and the box shook open again. Something shot out of it and began to fly about the room. A Golden Snitch.
It took Harry half an hour to catch it.
"So you're the boyfriend." Draco's friends were flash and friendly. Harry had met a few of them before. "What do you do?"
"I'm a Chartered Accountant," Harry said. "With a speciality in VAT consultancy." Someone bumped into him from behind and cider slopped over the edge of his glass. He drank the rest down and went to the bar for the next round.
Draco opened presents: geriatric vitamins, denture tablets, a bright blue latex dildo. "It's the first thing to go," someone said and everybody laughed. Harry thought about the Falcons. Moore was keen that they had been under Imperius but Harry thought it was much more likely simple greed. Whose greed, though, they had yet to determine.
Somebody brought more drinks. Draco told a story about a client who used her cat to choose the design direction for her brochure. "We put some catnip on the one we liked best," he said. "She and the cat were both ecstatic." Then he winced and rubbed his arm. "Must be nine o'clock."
Time, place, Harry thought. Any magic done.
"What is it, Draco?" The blue dildo man -- Ken, possibly -- touched the back of Draco's hand.
"War wound," Draco said and looked over at Harry. His eyes gleamed like a cat's in a dark room.
"Let's have a look." Ken pulled at Draco's cuff and Draco let him undo the button and push the sleeve up to his elbow. "Cool tattoo." He turned to Harry. "Do you have a matching one?"
"No," Harry said.
"You should get one. If accountants get tattoos."
"Oh, they're forbidden." Draco lifted his glass. Whatever he was drinking, it was the same bright blue as the dildo. "Unless they have to do with tax codes."
Everybody laughed. Harry got more cider. Nobody asked him about excise tax or VAT audits and he sat there thinking about nothing at all.
They took a taxi home. Harry couldn't remember the last time he had been in a car. It felt unsafe, speeding through the hazy night, someone he didn't know at the wheel.
Draco dropped his gifts on the kitchen table. "I haven't had yours yet." Harry passed it over and Draco unwrapped it. "Thanks." He bussed Harry's cheek. Harry caught Draco's shoulder and kissed him on the mouth. "Clean your teeth first," Draco said and went into the toilet.
When it was his turn, Harry stared into the mirror over the sink. There was something he was looking for but he couldn't remember what. His toothbrush was slow and awkward, the toothpaste cold and unforgiving. He wanted another cider. Or a plate of eggs and sausage. Or Draco.
Draco was sitting in bed, his nightshirt pulling up around his thighs. He flipped through a magazine, flicking the pages with a twist of the wrist Harry found mesmerizing. Draco dropped the magazine on the floor and the sound made Harry blink and wake up.
He turned out the light. Then he climbed on the bed and kissed Draco. After a few moments, Draco put his hand on Harry's arm and they slid nearer, arms and legs winding around each other like a puzzle that will only fit together one way.
Harry could do this with his eyes closed. He stroked Draco's face, his back. Draco hooked his fingers into Harry's waistband. They moved apart for a moment and undressed, then kissed again. The bed tilted, the room spun. Draco reached down and touched Harry.
But nothing happened. It felt good, warm, spinning like the room, but he stayed flaccid. "It's the first thing to go," Harry said.
"You've had too much to drink." Draco pulled away. A cold draught blew on Harry's back.
"It's all right." Harry moved behind Draco and put his arms around his waist. "Let me." He kissed Draco's shoulder. Draco leaned against Harry's chest. Harry felt him sigh.
Harry kissed Draco again and pulled him back so he was sitting between Harry's thighs. He moved one hand into Draco's lap. He slid the other across Draco's chest.
His hand tingled when he touched the scar. The skin was smooth there, stretched tight, cold as ice under Harry's fingers. Draco jerked away. "I'm sorry," Harry said and reached for Draco's shoulder.
"You've had too much to drink," Draco said again and got up. He drew back the curtains and opened the window. Light came in from the street lamp and Harry could see the scar, the handprint on his chest. Even in the dim, it was bright red, as though the skin had been boiled.
Sometimes Harry could go days without remembering.
Draco lit a cigarette and stood there smoking, shadows crossing his face. Harry lay on his stomach, his arm hanging off the side of the bed. "I'm sorry," he said. Draco didn't answer.
Harry woke at three and went to the toilet. When he got back, Draco had thrown the duvet off. He lay on his back, nightshirt twisted around his waist, breathing loudly. Harry pulled the duvet up and covered them both. He touched Draco's cheek and went back to sleep.
The flat was empty in the morning. On the bedside table, Harry found a cup of tea and two aspirins. He got up and took the tea with him into the kitchen. Out the window, he could see Draco stopping at the corner, adjusting the MP3 player before he went on to the bus stop.
Harry swallowed the aspirins and left for work.