His eyes focused on Pansy, Blaise and Theodore, all scattered about his living room and looking up at him expectantly. Despite their own lucrative upbringings, they weren't bothered in the least by the decor. At least not outwardly.
"You shouldn't be alone on Valentine's Day,” Blaise put in after a moment of silence, reaching for Pansy's hand as if he had just realized how lucky he was that she was there.
"And it's not like you'll be a fifth wheel," Theo added, leaning forward. "It'll be like the good old days, you and me, bachelors on the prowl- Ow!" He was silenced by a swift kick to the shin from Blaise.
Bachelor. Draco couldn't remember the last time he had been a bachelor. He didn't want to think of himself like that. What did it make him, then? A widower? They had never actually gotten around to talking about…
He shut his eyes to the thought and to his friends. "Guys, I just can't," he said finally. "I really... It's the first one... I need to be alone."
He felt arms wrap him in a hug and he recognized Pansy's shampoo. He hugged her tightly back, appreciating the pats on the shoulder from the boys. As they broke apart, Pansy pinned him with sympathetic eyes. Pity eyes. He was so tired of pity. "You're coming over for Easter. No getting out of it."
"Alright, then," he replied, smiling as much as he dared to assuage her. A few moments later, he was alone, his three friends off to the Apparition point and him still here in his flat. Their flat.
It was time to clean out the closet. He had been putting it off for months. Five months, to be more exact. He didn't want to throw anything out, but the counselors at work kept telling him that it would help him let go and move on. It all sounded like bullocks to him, but it was one of the reasons he had insisted on staying home tonight, nevermind trying to act like a twenty-something actually thirty-something happy single on Valentine's Day.
When the door opened, the scent hit him, almost sending him straight into an emotional fit. He kept his clothes in the dresser to avoid opening the door because inside, all he could smell was him. He loved it as much as it ripped at his heart.
The first thing he saw was the big, bulky magic camera the Ministry had issued him when he had first been promoted to Field Evidence Liaison to the Wizengamot. He remembered laughing at Colin Creevey lugging around a similar one when he started Hogwarts years and years ago.
"Mulgroe and Potter!" barked the gnarled looking old wizard sitting behind the raised desk. Draco couldn't help but smirk as his messy-haired rival jumped up from his chair with his new partner, a more seasoned Auror. Liaisons were being paired with law enforcement wizards. It was the job of the liaison to work with their assigned witches and wizards to gather evidence and build cases to present to the Wizengamot during trials. The old man squinted through his dusty spectacles at the parchment in front of him. "You're with Malfoy. Sunder and Weasley!"
Harry's gaze fell on the smirking blonde man as he sauntered over, a large camera clutched in his hands. "You've got to be kidding me," he said, disgusted. Mulgroe cast the young man a curious look, extending his hand to their new liaison.
Draco could only continue to grin as he shook the older man's hand, eyes never leaving his former school mate. "Come on, Potter. The war is over. I've turned over a new leaf. I promise, you're going to love me." The cold glare only fueled him. "Happy Valentine's Day."
Draco smiled at the memory as he held the camera which hadn't been used in years. At the time, the comment had been made just to make his rival uncomfortable by showing off his own ease at the situation. He had wanted to get under Harry Potter's skin. The last thing he had expected was for it to turn into a prediction of the future.
No, no, this wasn't the camera he wanted! He tossed it carelessly onto the bed, not caring if it broke. Magic could fix broken things, but not everything that broke could be fixed with magic. He dove into the closet, no longer afraid because he was on a mission. Where was that tiny thing?
A tiny green box landed on Draco's desk as he sat back with his feet up. The impact of the landing made it flash brightly. Draco peered at it with a frown.
"I want you to start using this when you're in the field," Harry told him as he slung his cloak over the back of his chair at the desk across from Draco's.
Draco poked at it with his wand. "What is it?" he asked.
"It's a camera- stop that!" he scolded, swatting Draco's wand away. "It's a muggle camera. Don't poke it with your wand, you might break it."
"What do I need with a muggle camera?" he demanded, going to poke it again, but quickly pocketing his wand after a scathing glare.
"It's smaller, easier to carry, and it doesn't produce moving pictures." Harry moved to Draco's side of the desks, picking up the camera and crouching next to Draco's chair as if showing a child a new toy. "See, here, there's a little screen you can look at to take the shots rather than looking through the viewer. No winding. No waiting, really. And it all saves to a chip that can hold thousands and thousands of pictures rather than a short roll that has to be changed. Look, right here-"
Harry shifted closer and Draco caught the musky scent of his shampoo mixing with a light cologne. He pressed a few buttons on the camera, pulling up an image that was not of the desks before them. Harry's breath tickled Draco's ear.
"You can separate the photos into different folders and title them. It's going to completely revolutionize this aspect of your evidence collecting."
Draco frowned and reached for the camera, his fingers brushing against Harry's. "But... I don't understand... How does it work?"
Harry showed him how to turn it on and off, where the batteries went, explained what batteries were and showed him which button to push to take a picture and which one made it flash and which one zoomed in automatically. He showed him how to create and label folders and how to save a picture inside a specific folder.
"And with pictures that don't move," Harry was saying, "we can get a better look at the scene without people or animals in the way." He stood up, moving to head back to his desk. "Think you can handle it?"
"Who do you think I am?" Draco sneered, already prepping the camera. "Hey, Potter!" Harry turned to look at him and Draco snapped a picture. Momentarily blinded, Harry, put his hand up, blinking. "Here we go... Label folder... 'Potter's Picture Parade.'"
"What are you doing?" the Auror demanded.
"Practicing," he replied.
"That's for work. I'll take it away if you're misusing it!" Harry warned.
"I'm not misusing it! You showed me what to do. Point and click!" Draco snapped another picture, the frame freezing on an irate looking man. "What a beaut! You know, I could probably sell these to the Prophet."
"Potter at work. Potter at the bar." He smirked. "Potter on the potty?"
Harry lunged. "Give it here!"
Draco pushed off from his desk, wheeling his chair out of the other man's reach. "It was a gift! No backsies!"
"How old are you?!"
"Happy Valentine's Day, Potter!"
At the back of the closet, surrounded by the cloaks and robes and muggle attire that he used to wear, Draco sat next to a box filled with different colored cameras. They had gotten so many over the years- newer models, more storage, more features. Harry used to go out and get them, but after a few cameras, Draco had become an expert on them, knowing what he wanted and going to get them himself even if it meant being among muggles.
There was only one green one, though. Green with the silver buttons. By the light of his wand, he carefully sorted through the cameras until he uncovered it. He held the power button down until the screen glowed to life, the initial start up warning him that there was only a third of the battery life left. They had since graduated to rechargeable cameras.
His wand went out as he rested against the wall, scrolling through the various files stored in the small device. One was labelled 'Rookwood.' Augustus Rookwood, the man who had murdered Fred Weasley. Despite being stunned during the battle of Hogwarts, he managed to recover and escape before anyone could properly restrain him. It had haunted both Harry and Ron for years and Harry had worked tirelessly on the case when it had come upon their desks. He hadn't even told Ron.
"Filthy blood traitor," Rookwood growled, making Draco's blood run cold. "Wait 'til your father hears about this."
With a flick of his wand, Harry silenced the death eater, glaring at him. "The only thing his father is going to hear about is how well he does his job," he said firmly.
Draco felt a flush to his face as his grey eyes met Harry's green ones. For a moment, he felt a wave of affection for the man he grew up despising. "Compliments, Potter?" he said, trying to deflect and nearly faltering.
Harry shrugged. "Happy Valentine's Day."
If Draco had to pinpoint the moment in time where he knew that he didn't hate Harry Potter anymore, that would be it. After that, they felt more like equals. Like friends. He opened the Potter's Picture Parade folder. He had taken pictures of everything back then. Their first case with the new camera, their first press conference, the first time Harry invited him out for a pint with himself and Weasley. It was that same evening, actually.
As he scrolled through the frozen images, he could see the change in Harry. At first he was cold and angry, annoyed in the pictures. After a while, he was indifferent and then bashful. Soon after, he was laughing and smiling. He paused on their first picture together.
"No plans with Ginny tonight?" Draco asked. "It's Valentine's Day. You usually go all out, or at least, for the last five years I've been working with you, you have."
Harry didn't respond at first, taking a long drink from his beer. "Well, you should ask Jason Kowalski what they're doing tonight."
Draco swallowed. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"I try to keep work and home separate," the auror replied shortly.
A few shots later and Draco was practically sharing Harry's stool, arm around his shoulders. "You. Are Harry Freaking Potter," he said slowly.
Harry frowned. "My... Middle name is- is James. I think."
"Harry Freaking James Potter," Draco amended. "And you can get anyone in here in your bed. You don't need Ginny. You don't need anybody. You can have everybody!" Something clattered to the floor and Draco leaned down to pick up his camera. "Oh! Picture! Come on, let's have a picture! I've never taken one with you- all the kids are doing it! it's call a selfer!"
"Draco, you're drunk," Harry slurred.
"And you're adorable." He leaned back against the auror, his chest firm and solid, and held the camera up before them. "Say..."
The camera flashed, but Draco wasn't ready with a smile. Instead, the camera captured a look of shock and reddened cheeks as Harry's lips pressed against the side of his face.
He licked his lips, turning slightly to see Harry better. "What...?"
"You said I could get anyone in here," Harry replied, unabashed. He leaned forward, this time softly kissing Draco's lips. "Happy Valentine's Day."
Somewhere in this flat, this picture was printed and framed to commemorate the beginning of a long and loving relationship. Draco ran a fingertip along the side of Harry's face in the picture.
"Happy anniversary," he said quietly. "Can you believe it's been ten years? We were going to buy a house this year... We were going... To look into... Adoption..." He was suddenly so overcome with grief, he could hardly speak to his own ghosts. Tears quickly spilled down his cheeks. "I told you not to go! I begged you! I had a bad feeling, I told you I did! Your stupid pride, your sense of duty, and what did it get you! When we were in school, I wished all the pain and suffering I could on you! There were times I wished you were dead, and now what? Now you're dead! But I'm the one suffering!"
Suddenly, a battery symbol appeared over the picture, warning that the device was about to power down.
"No!" he cried, scrambling to his feet. He pushed aside the cloaks and robes, fighting his way out of the closet and into the open air. He ran to the kitchen, opening drawers frantically, looking for batteries, but there were none to be found. They only needed them for the cameras and they had rechargeable cameras now. Draco growled in angry frustration, picking up the camera again. The screen flashed several times before going dark. He pulled out his wand.
"Reparo! Reparo, reparo, reparo!"
The camera remained dark.
Draco sank to the floor, cradling the camera in his hands, staring at the blackened screen.
"What am I supposed to do now, Harry?" he asked. "Where's my happy valentine?"