Title – The One That Got Away
Author – croatoan6000
Rating – PG-13
Genre – One-shot
Pairing – H/D
Words – 5,646
Warnings – language
Summary – Draco wanders into a Muggle theatre one night, and is astonished to find his old school nemesis, Harry Potter, taking the lead role in Hamlet. It is the start of a dynamic and inspiring creative relationship between the two men, but Draco never suspects that it could be so much more.
Prompts – Harry acting in a Muggle play, Draco as an artist, volatile, creative relationship.
Disclaimer – I don’t own the boys, they belong to Ms Rowling. Done for fun, not profit!
Draco didn’t know what it was that made him walk into that little Muggle theatre. Perhaps it was the result of just not wanting to go home with the taste of yet another bad date on his tongue. One more fucking disappointment. Going to the theatre would distract him, take his mind off things before going home. Then maybe he’d be able to sleep tonight. Maybe he wouldn’t spend hours obsessing over his inability to get his life together, or the fact that he had absolutely no inspiration for that bloody photography project he’d committed himself to.
The theatre was small and in need of renovation. There were countless places like it all around London, Draco knew. Sad relics of the music halls. He hadn’t even known what the evening’s performance was to be until he had asked at the box office if there were any tickets left. It pleased him to find out – he’d never seen a production of Hamlet before. It probably wouldn’t be up to much, but it would pass a couple of hours admirably enough.
The theatre was reasonably full, which surprised Draco. He found his seat at the back, trying not to pay any attention to the people around him. He didn’t want to be drawn into any conversations. It wasn’t long before the lights were dimmed. As the first act began, Draco felt himself drift off a little. The men playing the soldiers were pretty wooden. Still, it was nice to sit there in the dark and not have to think…
The scene shifted to the court. He couldn’t imagine that this Gertrude would have driven Claudius to murder. Oh well, he was willing to suspend his disbelief for a… something made Draco sit up, a strange sense of uneasiness running through him. There was something about the guy playing Hamlet. He reminded Draco of someone, but he couldn’t quite figure out whom. It made him feel all strange and jittery, which he hated. Whoever this guy was, he was a good actor. Draco could believe that he really was Hamlet; it drew him in and made him feel as if he was watching something real, in spite of the shortcomings of the other performers. Hamlet was coming to life right in front of him. It was almost uncanny. By the interval, Draco still couldn’t figure out what made the actor playing Hamlet so uncomfortably familiar. He ordered a whiskey at the bar, wincing slightly as the alcohol burned down his throat.
It was then that the revelation struck him, so suddenly that he almost choked. The young man playing Hamlet looked exactly like Harry Potter. But that was impossible. The last Draco had heard, Potter had left for South America. Besides, there was no way he’d be acting in a play in a Muggle theatre – the idea was ridiculous. Draco’s heart was beating uncomfortably fast, which pissed him off. He had thought that he was rid of Potter, that he would never have to think about him again. That he would never have to think of what he owed to him. He hadn’t thought of Potter in the longest time, and…
The bell rang, calling the audience back to their seats for the second half of the performance. Draco downed the rest of his drink and returned to the theatre, feeling slightly light-headed. He almost didn’t want to stay, and yet he knew it would be impossible for him to leave now. He had to see this remarkable actor again. He had to make sure.
Merlin, he really did look exactly like Potter. Having acknowledged this, Draco was slightly incredulous that he hadn’t realised it before, but then that could only be attributed to the young man’s talent. Draco could see real agony in his eyes as the actor relived the Dane’s agonies. It felt as though a fist was clenching in Draco’s chest, and he found himself being caught up in the play’s crisis and tragedy. It was… it was Harry Potter, but it wasn’t. It was Hamlet the Dane. Hamlet the Dane looked exactly, like Harry Potter. The play ended in ridiculous carnage, yet Draco didn’t find it ridiculous. As the lights were raised again, he felt that his face was wet; he hadn’t realised that he’d been crying.
Swallowing his emotions, Draco stepped back out into the night, pulling up the collar of his jacket against the cold. He didn’t even have to think about it. He automatically made his way round to the back of the theatre, and positioned himself in the shadows opposite the stage door. He still wasn’t sure, and if he didn’t put his mind at rest he’d never be able to forget it. Draco felt shaken; it was strange, because he hadn’t felt anything much in the longest time. Perhaps, after all, that was why his photography had lost its divine spark. Perhaps that was why that last exhibition hadn’t been a success.
Draco felt a rush of adrenaline every time the stage doors opened, but each time he shrank back, disappointed. A few stage hands, complaining about the weather. The actress who played Ophelia, accompanied by an older man, their cigarettes singing holes in the darkness. The actor cast as Claudius, still wearing his stage makeup, his breath steaming blue in the cold air. So where was Draco’s Hamlet? He was beginning to think it had all been in his imagination. Perhaps he had dreamed that the actor looked like Harry Potter; perhaps he had already left, and Draco hadn’t realised. His feet were starting to go numb with the cold, and he knew it was ridiculous to stay like this, but he couldn’t make himself leave.
And then, at last, he appeared. Draco’s Hamlet. Except… except it really was Harry Potter – he even had the same glasses that Harry used to wear! Draco felt as if something was stuck in his throat. He watched desperately as the other man began to walk away from him down the alley-way, oblivious to Draco’s presence. “Potter!” he choked out. He’d done it now.
The actor spun around in alarm; it was as if he had been struck. Draco stepped out of the shadows and approached him cautiously, noticing how Harry looked as though he wanted to run away. “Malfoy?” he said incredulously. “What… what are you doing here?”
“I came to see the play. Didn’t expect you to be in it, though.”
Harry flushed pink. “What do you want?”
“I… I don’t really know. I suppose I just wanted to make sure that it really was you.”
“Well, now you have. Goodbye.” Harry turned to walk away.
“Wait! I’m not… I just wanted to… How did you do that?”
Harry looked at him warily. “Do what?”
“That. In there. You know, actually become another person? It was… you were really good. How the hell did you do it? Oh, for Merlin’s sake, Potter, stop looking at me like that. I’m serious – I thought you were really good. This isn’t some kind of trick.”
“I’m sorry,” Harry replied dryly, “I just didn’t expect to be randomly interrogated by an old school enemy when I left work this evening. Malfoy, what are you doing here?”
Draco wasn’t entirely sure what to tell him. “I don’t know,” he said stupidly. “I just wanted to… I had to know. You made me feel… Oh, for fucks sake, could you stop being so defensive?”
“Sorry,” Harry said, his voice rich with sarcasm.
“Come for a drink with me.”
“Look, just come for a couple of beers. It’s better than staring each other down in the street like a couple of lemons. Come on, what have you got to lose?”
Harry grimaced. “What are the chances of you leaving me alone if I don’t?”
“Oh… all right then. One beer.”
“What are you doing here? I mean, you’re Harry Potter. You’ve just saved the magical world from untold evils. You were all set for a glittering future as a famous Auror, beloved of everyone. You could have had it all – fame, fortune, a nice, safe little family life… and then you disappeared.”
Harry smiled grimly. “I really don’t feel the need to justify my actions to you.” He took another slug of his beer, glanced up at Draco, and sighed resignedly. “You know, I never got why you were so jealous of me at school.”
“I wasn’t jealous!” Draco replied, stung.
Harry gave him a look that told him he didn’t buy that for a second. “You think I wouldn’t have given every Galleon of my inheritance to have been overlooked once in a while? I fought Voldemort every step of the way because it was what I had to do. In my mind, there was no choice. But… but after it was over, I just wanted to disappear. I wanted to have a normal, uneventful life, but I wasn’t allowed. I was still expected to be… something I wasn’t. And so I decided to make myself disappear. I went to Brazil for a while, just to… get away, I suppose. I went to an acting class while I was there. It wasn’t something I’d ever thought about before, but I realised that I loved it. I got to be somebody else. I could get into someone else’s skin, and live their life for a little while. It felt good. It helped me figure out who I was. I came back to England about a year ago, and I’ve been lying low ever since, staying away from the wizarding world. Only a couple of people know that I’m here. And now I suppose I’ll have to add you to the list.” Harry didn’t look terribly happy about this.
Draco, on the other hand, was beginning to formulate an idea. “I tell you what,” he said. “I’ll keep your secret. I won’t tell anyone about your new life.”
“What’s the catch?” Harry said heavily.
Draco suddenly felt nervous. He had never thought that he would ever ask anything of Potter, and more to the point, he didn’t think that Potter would comply. “I… I want you to work for me.”
“I… I’m a photographer,” Draco explained. “I’m a photographer, and I’d really like you to be in my next project.” Harry was still looking at him incredulously, and Draco realised that further explanation would be needed if he was going to get his own way. “Look, you must have realised what’s happened to my family since the war. We’re in total disgrace. My parents have moved to Italy, we’ve lost most of our fortune, and I’m bloody lucky that the Ministry allowed me to keep the manor, which is falling apart about my ears, by the way. I couldn’t get work in the wizarding world – no one would hire me. And then I…” Draco blushed slightly. “I discovered photography. Muggle photography, that is.” He noted Harry’s look of surprise. “Yeah, I know, I never thought I’d have anything to do with Muggle stuff either. It was just… I don’t know. Wizard photos are so… trivial. They’re just a means of remembering something – there’s no art to it. And that’s fine if all you want is a memento. But then I came across this photographer called Man Ray, and… and it was just amazing. It was art, you know? It made me realise that Muggle photography could capture an instant of time, create an image of… Anyway, I started to experiment. My father wasn’t exactly happy about it, but then I don’t think he’s in any kind of position to dictate what I do any more. I’ve had a couple of small exhibitions, and I’m supposed to be doing another one in a couple of months, but… but until tonight I was completely uninspired. It was getting a bit worrying actually – my sponsor was threatening to drop me. And then I… I saw you acting tonight. And I saw how you became someone else. I didn’t even recognise you at first. I… I want to photograph you – not as you, but as lots of different characters. One man playing many. All you’d have to do is turn up a couple of times a week. I…” Draco winced. “Please?”
A slow smile spread across Harry’s face. “You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk that much in one go.”
“Shut up.” Draco had been perfectly aware that he had been gabbling. He wasn’t used to feeling so nervous.
Harry sighed. “Oh, what the hell. I’ll probably come to regret this, but what can I say, you’ve intrigued me.”
Draco laughed weakly, not quite believing what had just happened. “I… well, great. That’s great. We have a deal, then. Why don’t you drop by on Wednesday? I should have had time to set up by then.”
Draco realised he was lucky. However, as he sat there across from a slightly reticent Harry Potter, finishing off his beer, he thought that all he had let himself in for was an interesting working experience. He should have known better.
Harry arrived a little early on Wednesday. He seemed different, more as Draco remembered him being. He lacked the self-assurance he had had the other night. He gave Draco a tight smile. “Hello, Malfoy.”
“Potter; come in. I’ve got everything all set up.”
“Look, I… What is it exactly that you want me to do?”
“I told you – I want you to pose for me. I thought today would be a good day for John the Baptist.”
“John the Baptist?”
Draco glanced at Harry, taking in the expression of uncertainty on his face. “What, would you rather be Salome? Because it could be arranged.” He led the way through the darkened corridors of Malfoy Manor, deprived of its former glory. For the first time in well over a year he noticed the faded rectangles on the wallpaper where valuable paintings had been removed, and the threadbare patches on the carpet. He wondered what Harry must think. Did he feel triumphant to see the Malfoys so reduced, or worse, did he feel pity? “This is my studio,” Draco said, opening the door to a large, high-ceilinged room. He had not prepared much in the way of a set – he had wanted to portray the Prophet in his stark prison cell. “There’s a room back there where you can change,” he said to Harry, switching on a spotlight to illuminate the corner of the room he wanted to use. He was unaccountably nervous. There was something about being with Harry that had always left him disconcerted, and although he was better at concealing it now that he was an adult, it still discomforted him.
Harry seemed to feel it too. His brow was furrowed as he looked at Draco, and he bit onto his lower lip, wrapping his arms around himself almost protectively. “What… what exactly do you want me to do here?”
Draco breathed in deeply through his nose. He had been terribly unprofessional; he had let his nerves get in the way. “Merlin, I’m sorry,” he said. “I should’ve… Look, let me explain what I’m going for. It’s… it’s sort of been in the back of my mind for a while now, but it hadn’t really formulated into anything concrete until… until you. I want to photograph great icons from the past. I want to have them in front of me, and capture them. It had always seemed too much before; I didn’t think I had the means to make it work. But then it occurred to me when I saw you – why not have the same model pose for all of these icons? Why not show how one man can portray many? I never would have thought it was possible until I saw you act the other night. Will you help me?”
Harry looked at him searchingly for a moment. “Yes. Yes, I will. Merlin, I never thought I’d be—”
“Tell me about it. Here, put these on.” He handed Harry some loose robes. “You think you can handle this?”
For the first time, Harry grinned. “Definitely.”
“Okay, that’s good. Now turn a little towards the light. Right, now lean back a bit in the chair… Perfect.” Draco really didn’t need to direct his model much – it was only a matter of positioning him. He loved this; he loved being able to just stand there and shoot with his camera, trying to capture every moment. It had never happened before, and it was thrilling. Harry was being Mozart today. He had expressed some reservations about the wig initially, but Draco had talked him around. It had looked stupid when he was just Harry, but as Mozart it looked perfect on him. Somehow, he managed to embody the genius’s vulnerability as well as his confidence in his wonderful talent.
“Perfect,” Draco breathed. “Yes, that’s… that’s just perfect…”
“So do I get to see any of these photos?” Harry asked about a week later, sipping the cup of coffee Draco had brought him. He had been portraying Oscar Wilde that day. Draco wasn’t sure that even with his considerable talents, Harry would be convincing, but once again he was proved wrong. It was slightly unnerving.
“Do you want to?” Draco replied, feigning an interest in his fingernails.
“Well… yeah, of course. I mean, this has been very interesting, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge, but… well, I guess I want to see what you see.”
Draco smiled. “You’ll see when everyone else does – at the opening of the exhibition.”
Harry sighed. “Malfoy… can I ask you something? Why is it that you never look at me except through the lens of your camera?”
Draco shifted uncomfortably. “What the hell are you talking about, Potter?”
“”I’m talking about how you never look directly at me. I mean, it’s all right when I’m in character, or when there’s a camera between us, but… well, you can’t even meet my eye now, can you?”
“I’m not going to do it just to prove a point,” Draco said, a little snippily. “I’m perfectly capable of looking at you. I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal – do you want me to stare at you all the time?”
“See, now you’re just being defensive. I’m curious, that’s all. Because… because if you’re still worried about what happened at school—”
“Of course not!”
“Because that’s all in the past, Malfoy. We’re grown men now, and we can forget everything that—”
“I know we can! Look, I don’t know why you’re… I think maybe we should call it a day.” Draco forced himself to look up at the other man, wanting, in spite of everything he said, to prove a point. “We’re not friends, you know. Just because we’re working together, and seem to have found some kind of… inspiration in each other’s work, that doesn’t mean that we’re… that we have to talk about stuff.”
Harry grimaced, looking a little stung, and Draco felt a brief spasm of regret. “I know,” the Gryffindor said. “I know we’re not friends. Forget it. I’ll… I’ll see you on Friday.”
Draco couldn’t believe a whole month had gone by since he had first seen Harry in the theatre. The time had flown by, probably because he had never worked so hard in his life. The dungeons of the manor – which had been transformed into Draco’s darkroom – were covered with images of Harry. But it wasn’t Harry he was looking at, Draco would tell himself firmly. It was… it was John the Baptist, and Saint Sebastian, and Lord Byron. It had nothing to do with Harry really – he was just the medium for Draco’s art. And no, of course he wasn’t friends with the other man. It was a professional arrangement. There was no need for conversations or familiarities; at least Harry had remembered that since their talk a few weeks ago. His manner was now nothing but businesslike. Except… except Draco didn’t know why Harry made him feel so lonely. He didn’t know why Harry made him care that his life was… well, pretty empty, really. It wasn’t as if Harry was doing so well for himself, so why should he make Draco feel inadequate? It made no sense. And it made no sense how Draco kept imagining these long, drawn-out conversations between the two of them, knowing perfectly well that the conversations were never going to happen. The whole thing was ridiculous. It had been an interesting project, but Draco would be glad when it would all be over and he wouldn’t have to deal with having Harry Potter in his life any more. Except…
“Where the hell did you manage to get hold of an old motorbike?” Harry asked incredulously.
“Oh… you’d be surprised what people leave lying around,” Draco answered evasively.
“Draco, you didn’t steal it!”
Oh, don’t be such a prefect. I didn’t steal, I just… you know… borrowed. Without asking. I’ll put it back! Merlin knows I don’t want to be hurtling around the countryside on that smelly old death-trap.”
Harry laughed softly. “Hey, is my hair right yet?”
Draco glanced up. “No, you’ll need more wax. James Dean never would have gone out with hair sticking up at the back. Here… come here.”
Draco reached out and ran his fingers through Harry’s hair, gently teasing it into the right style. Harry’s hair was a lot nicer than he’d realised – it was thick and soft, and Draco enjoyed stroking it. He suddenly realised that Harry was looking right at him with those piercing green eyes of his, and Draco’s heart gave an unfamiliar jolt. He hastily withdrew his hand, and cleared his throat. “There, that’s better. You’ll do. Now, put on the leather jacket, and stand by the bike. Think about who James Dean was, think about his attitude, think about—”
“I know, Malfoy,” Harry replied, amusement in his voice. “This is what I do, remember?”
“So this is to be our last session,” Harry said. “Hey, are you sure this wig doesn’t look stupid?”
“You’re being Kurt Cobain today. You can’t get away with everything, even with your considerable talents. It looks good. And yes,” he added, feeling a little regret as he did so. “Yes, this will be our last session. My exhibition opens on Friday week. I… it’d be nice to see you there.”
Harry smiled, but didn’t answer. He never spoke during their shoots; Draco could direct him and position him, and he would comply, never breaking out of his assigned character. But this time, when Draco said it was over, the uneasiness in Harry’s eyes didn’t vanish. The angst-ridden rock star didn’t completely leave him. “May I ask you something?” he said.
“Well... it’s just that I’ve noticed a pattern in these iconic figures you’ve had me portray. They all… well, they all died young. Or comparatively young. They all died for… for something they stood for. Sort of martyrs. Why is that?”
Draco was surprised. “I hadn’t really thought,” he confessed. “I mean, it wasn’t intentional.”
“Did you plan out who you wanted to portray in these photos before you hired me?”
“Not exactly, no. I’d had vague ideas, but I’d never really settled on anything. I suppose you just inspired me.” He laughed, a little uncomfortably.
“Why would I inspire you in that way?” Harry said, removing his blond wig. There was something almost interrogative about his voice that made Draco feel a little nervous.
“I don’t know! It’s just that those were the people who immediately sprang to mind. There was no real cognitive process involved. You just… I suppose there was something about you that made me think of self-sacrifice.” He took note of the look on Harry’s face. “I take it I’ve struck a nerve.”
“You think I’m a martyr? You think I asked for all of this? For this life?”
“No, I don’t think you asked for it. But it was most definitely your decision to let it just dictate your life like this! I mean… yeah, fair enough, you’ve decided to become an actor, which is great. But this whole business of denying your past, and hiding yourself away from the wizarding world… it just seems like you’re feeling sorry for yourself, that’s all. It’s like you’re making it harder than it should be. Like you’re turning yourself into the victim to avoid being the hero. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you love being part of the wizarding world? Wasn’t it like finding the acceptance that you never had? Everyone said that you were miserable when you had to live with the Muggles as a kid. And now you’re just giving up on all that acceptance and belonging, just because people are grateful to you for getting rid of Voldemort?”
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand,” Harry said coldly.
“Oh no,” Draco said sarcastically, “how could I possibly understand? How could I know what it’s like to have your life torn apart by the war? How could I know how it feels to be haunted by the memories of Voldemort? No, you, the great Harry Potter, are the only person who has suffered over the years.”
“I never said that! Look, I’m not just some self-pitying… And besides, what the hell have you been doing these past few years if it’s not hiding away from the world? You… you hide behind your camera and your art! Do you even have any friends, Draco? Did you ever?”
This time, the nerve that had been struck was Draco’s. “I think it would be best if you left now,” he said. “You won’t have to come here again, don’t worry.”
Harry looked at him, almost sadly. “I didn’t mean… but you’re probably right. Yes. I… I should go.” He picked up his jacket and headed for the door of the studio. “I’ll show myself out. I… thank you.”
When Draco turned around, Harry was gone.
Draco had to exercise all the self-control he had not to down his champagne in one. His nerves were stretched paper thin as he surveyed the gallery, examining people’s faces, trying to make out what they thought of his work.
“You’ve really outdone yourself this time, young man!” Draco’s sponsor clapped him on the shoulder, startling him. “I confess, I didn’t think you had it in you. Where on earth did you come up with such an idea? The styling is remarkable. Incidentally, who was your model? I didn’t think so at first, but… but it’s the same boy each time, isn’t it? I wonder how many of these people have guessed.”
“He’s… he’s an old school friend of mine. We met by chance, and he agreed to help with my project. It’s really down to him that I… I couldn’t have done it without him.”
“Is he here tonight? I’d love to meet this intriguing muse of yours.”
“No, I’m afraid not. He… he had other arrangements he couldn’t get out of.” Draco made his excuses, and wandered over to the buffet table, absent-mindedly thanking the people who congratulated him on the way. The fact that Harry hadn’t turned up made him miserable, though he wasn’t really surprised. He found that he missed the other man. They had hardly spoken during their brief comradeship, but what they had said had been more honest and meaningful than any other conversation that Draco had ever had. It had been so strange and unexpected to discover it there, and he suspected that he would never have that kind of relationship again. But he didn’t blame Harry for not coming. He completely understood that Harry… that Harry… that Harry had just walked in through the door. Draco’s stomach performed a very athletic somersault. He hadn’t looked at Harry – the real Harry – properly before, in spite of how minutely he had examined the photos he’d taken. It was a little startling, therefore, to realise that Harry was quite possibly the most beautiful human being Draco had ever seen.
Harry approached cautiously, a shy smile on his lips. “Hey. Good turn-out – everyone seems very impressed.”
Draco swallowed. “Ah… yes… thanks. I was worried you wouldn’t come.”
“Oh come on, I had to see what all that hard work was for! You didn’t really think I’d be able to stay away, did you?”
“I hoped that you wouldn’t.” Draco wished that he could convey to Harry how grateful he was that he’d come, how it made him feel less lonely, how he felt he could cope with the evening now, but he didn’t know the words. He had never needed to tell anyone that kind of thing before.
“I’m going to have a look around,” Harry said. “The photos look amazing – your use of light is… well, they look really good. Thank you for getting me involved.”
“You’re… you’re welcome,” Draco replied. He watched Harry move off through the crowd. Harry had come. He had come to Draco’s exhibition, and that meant more than all these other wealthy patrons of the arts spending their money on Draco’s photos. Harry was here. Perhaps they could work together in the future. Draco had never been so inspired as he was when he was with Harry, and Harry had said that he’d loved the challenge of working with Draco. Perhaps this could be a regular thing.
It was then that Draco caught sight of Harry standing in front of the Oscar Wilde photo, talking to a pretty brunette in a red dress. She was talking to him animatedly, and he seemed to be drinking in every word. It made something inside Draco’s chest hurt. Bloody Harry, getting drawn in by such a bloody obvious ploy as a provocative dress. That girl wasn’t right for him. She would never know Harry well enough to really make him happy. But then… but then neither did Draco. Not really. Or even if he did, Harry would never realise it. That wasn’t what Harry wanted from him.
Draco suddenly realised that he didn’t want to be there any more. He wanted to go home to his manor where it was dark and quiet and safe. Harry would never be his. All those photos Draco had taken – those images that everyone loved so much – they belonged to him. He had created them, and they would be with him always. But the real Harry… never. And the real Harry, stripped of all the facades and characters and pretences, was what Draco wanted. He knew that now, just as he knew that he would never have his wish granted.
It was cold outside, but that made Draco feel better. It was better to be lonely by yourself in the cold and the dark, than inside amongst a crowd of chattering people. He walked quickly, hoping that he would be able to somehow stamp out his feelings. When he had found a secluded spot, he Apparated home.
Draco had only been home for about fifteen minutes when he heard the great bell above the front door ring. Damn it! He’d planned on getting into his pyjamas and eating ice cream, and generally feeling sorry for himself. His first impulse was to ignore it – it was probably his sponsor, wondering why he’d left early. Except… his sponsor didn’t know where he lived. And besides, no Muggle could get through the wards put up around the manor. In fact, he hadn’t had an actual visitor in years, except for Harry. Except for Harry.
Draco ran to the door.
“You left,” Harry said, a mist of rain in his hair.
“Astutely observed,” Draco said shakily.
“May I come in?”
“Why did you disappear like that?”
“I… I was tired.”
“Was it about that girl?”
Draco felt himself go red. “No!” he blustered.
“Because we were just talking. Her husband was interested in buying the Sebastian picture, and she was asking about the shoot, that was all.”
“Why would I care about you talking to a girl? You can talk to whoever you want! I don’t care! I mean, it’s not like I’m a part of your life, is it? It’s not like you have to ask my permission. In fact, you don’t even have to see me again now, so… so that’s just fine.”
“Don’t. Look, I understand, okay? It’s just me being stupid. And of course it didn’t mean anything to you, and I’ve been such a bastard to you, and you could never… I could never be… Damn it!” Draco turned away from the other man, acutely embarrassed. It had never occurred to him that all this time he had avoided looking at Harry for fear of his own feelings, Harry had been carefully observing him. And he had seen right through Draco’s act.
“Draco…” A hand was placed on his shoulder. “Draco, would you look at me?”
Half reluctantly, Draco obeyed. He looked into Harry’s eyes, and saw himself reflected there. He hadn’t realised that Harry had moved so close.
Harry’s hand moved up from Draco’s shoulder, and he lightly traced his fingers over the contours of the blond’s face. “Draco… you really are an idiot sometimes, you know that?”
Draco nodded dumbly.
“You know, working with you was the first time I—”
“So then you—”
Draco had thought, after the war tore his world apart, that finding something he cared about, something that made him feel strong and alive and worthy, would make things better, and compensate for his youth. He had thought he had found that thing in his photography. He realised, as his lips finally met Harry’s, how far off he had been.