Draco slipped his hand into his pocket and closed his fist around the bottle cap, running the pad of his thumb over the ridged edge. It was foolish and sentimental and utterly unlike him, but Draco thought that he’d keep it as a reminder of the night he decided he was serious about Harry Potter.
It’s six years after the Battle of Hogwarts and Draco Malfoy is working as an Auror. But the stigma of his Dark Mark still lingers as he is only trusted with the most menial, low-level Magical Law Enforcement Patrol cases: missing teapots, kittens in trees, and the like. However, when the fourth of Draco’s Auror partners turns up dead, infamous Auror Harry Potter goes undercover as his partner to investigate the suspicious series of deaths.
Structured as a classic “enemies to friends to lovers” romance, the plot follows the unlikely duo as they come to terms with each other and their (many) flaws. For Draco, it’s learning to deal with Harry’s annoying habit of leaving his clothes, shoes, and entire life strewn about their shared office. For Harry, it’s dismantling the protective wards Draco has cast around himself. Slowly, they begin to trust each other and realize they make a good team.
The characters are wonderfully fleshed out: Draco and Harry are familiar, but they’ve done some growing up since the war. Harry is more easygoing since his angst-ridden Hogwarts days and it seems his snappy sense of humour has flourished with the removal of Voldemort’s Horcrux. Draco, too, remains the brooding, stuck-up sod we loved to hate in Half-Blood Prince, but he seems to have developed a meticulous affinity for keeping every button fastened, every hair flattened in place, and every file folder cross-referenced with coloured tabs. Of course, this makes it all the more satisfying in the rare occasions when Draco’s highly-regulated appearance is deliciously disheveled. And doesn’t Harry know just the way to ruffle his perfectly preened feathers.
The most endearing aspect of Draco, however, is how much he loves and takes pride in his job as an Auror, despite being yanked in several different directions. On one end, his father is pulling him to quit so he can marry and carry on the Malfoy lineage. On the other, Head-Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt is pushing him out of the Ministry as quickly as he can, for he believes Malfoy is murdering his Auror partners one-by-one, an accusation that falls upon Harry to disprove. But Malfoy is steadfast about remaining an Auror, a job that gives value to his guilt-ridden existence as a remorseful Death Eater. He combs through stacks of tedious paperwork Shacklebolt dumps on him, spends hours patiently modifying Muggles’ memories after magic-related massacres, and even ventures into abandoned Death Eater safehouses to dismantle dangerous Dark Magic traps.
This latter assignment provides the most compelling scenes of the story, whenever Draco is summoned to strip these terrifying trap-laden safehouses of their spells. Imminent danger screams from the page with every step Draco takes over cursed floorboards and trick stairs that threaten to unleash Bonegrinder Curses or Breath-Boiling Hexes (which slowly liquefies each breath you take into your lungs). Two heart-pounding scenes in particular find Draco and Harry in dire straights inside these deathtraps, where quick-thinking and puzzle-solving transform into storytelling at its best.
The dialog is snappy, emotional, and outrageously funny and the head-hopping between Draco and Harry is seamless, providing just enough of each perspective without feeling like repetition. A vivid writing style eloquently captures the heightened emotional stakes that can come with the slightest of fingertip brushes, strands of hair gone rogue, or almost-kisses. Readers keen for the pair to just “get together already” may find their patience tested, for there are a few scenes in the novel’s middle third that veer slightly off-track to tie up loose ends with an original male character. The payoff, though, is well worth it.
All Our Secrets Laid Bare is Drarry fic at its best, with vivid and emotionally resonant scenes that stay with you long after its thrilling conclusion. And just when you put it down, you’ll want to pick it right back up again.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Concept & Creativity: 5/5
Plot Structure: 4/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Grammar & Punctuation: 5/5
Tidbits: Draco with glasses and cable-knit jumpers, Harry’s unruly thick curls, Indian takeaway, and magical tattoos.
Over the six years Draco Malfoy has been an Auror, four of his partners have turned up dead. Harry Potter is assigned as his newest partner to investigate just what is going on.