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“Potter!” Malfoy hisses it behind me, but it’s easy to ignore.

We’ve settled into a fairly predictable routine in the last five years of our partnership. I’m the one who takes the important risks and he’s the scaredy-cat. Of course, he’d describe (and has, at every available opportunity) himself as cautious and me, reckless. Still, we have one of the highest success rates in the MLE.

When we were first paired together, neither of us thought would go well. We actually managed to team up courteously enough to talk to Robards and request transfers to different partners, but had no luck. Our scores were embarrassingly complementary; Robards actually used the term ‘yin and yang,’ much to my fury and Malfoy’s disgust.

And it hasn’t been a picnic, either. Complementary scores or not, he really is too careful for my liking. We brandished our wands at each other seven times that first year and finally broke into a fist fight. Ironically enough, that’s what leveled out our relationship. Fighting with Malfoy always brought with it the ring of familiarity—an unsettling comfort that finally allowed me to relax around him. To see myself in the mirror after that, cheekbone bloody and swollen, lower lip split and puffy, only demonstrated to me that Malfoy could be counted on to give as good as he got. And I, in turn, got to break his nose and crack his jawbone. Repayment for the train in sixth year.

So yes, Malfoy’s twice as wary as he needs to be most times. But I’ve learned that he’s also fiercely funny when he wants to be and almost Hermione-levels of brilliant. He doesn’t mind a beer or two after a long case closes, and on one memorable occasion, I even saw him eating Chinese food directly out of the take-out containers, half drunk and dropping food with his chopsticks every time he made a sweeping gesture. That night, he didn’t even clean up before falling asleep on my couch.

That might have been when I fell in love with him.

It’s not like I could help it. Or change it, for that matter. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve just never been much good at talking myself out of doing stupid things that will end up killing me.

He’s snarky and arrogant and clever and amusing; it drives me spare when his white-blond hair falls into his eyes or he licks that expressive mouth or starts pontificating on some random subject that hasn’t been relevant since before his grandparents were in nappies. I pretty much want him all the time, which would probably make for some serious tension between the two of us if he suspected or if I did something unwise. But he doesn’t and I won’t, and we’re sort of (I hesitate to use the word) mates now. More importantly, we’re a team. Miraculously enough, it all works.

“Potter!” he says again, completely irate.

I’m actually a little surprised that he still thinks he can talk me out of doing stuff like this.

I give him a distracted glance; his grey eyes are narrowed dangerously, but he still follows me through the dense growth of shrubs that surround the house as I look for an entry-point. The front door is warded too heavily to bother with—it would probably blast us back on our arses for even approaching it if we haven’t been added to the wards of the house. Ah. There’s a disillusionment spell covering a back door, and not very well done, either; the wall ripples slightly, and the paint color seems to flicker from white to cream.

It takes me a few minutes to break down the wards over the door, much weaker than the front but still sharp, and then I cast a quick spell to check for traps and curses. It’s clean, so I reach out and give him a tiny grin when the doorknob turns under my hand, just like that. Malfoy looks exasperated, but at least he’s still here.

“They’re going to be coming back soon,” he warns on a breath.

“Right,” I murmur as we pass through the dingy kitchen to the living room. “But you heard them; they’re Apparating away almost as soon as they get back.”

“There are a dozen of them, Potter,” he huffs, close on my heels as I wind deeper into the house. “We should wait and see if we can track their Apparition and follow them. There could be more cursed items than the knife, you know.”

“If there are, they might be here,” I point out. “They’ve been using this house off and on for the last month. I just want to check.”

I hesitate once I get to the foyer. Living room or staircase? There’s a fine layer of dust on all of the surfaces that indicates that the lower level isn’t often used, and my confidence is starting to waver a bit. I wish I’d taken more of Zabini’s friendly little draught before we’d left for the stake-out this morning.

I breathe deep, looking around as Malfoy waits beside me in silence.

Staircase.

We head up slowly. Malfoy keeps checking stairs for traps; it’s a common practice, he mutters (as if I don’t know), to curse areas or items within a home so that unwelcome guests suffer some form of retribution for trespassing. But the stairs turn out to be safe, and the landing, too.

The first two bedrooms we peek into are uninteresting. The whole thing is probably a pointless exercise, I know, but someone has been bloodletting from children with that blasted knife to drain their magic, and I want it off the streets before it can do anymore damage.

The last bedroom, though, holds some potential: there’s a large wardrobe in the corner with a handle that shimmers an unnatural, inky black, and there are two ornately carved boxes sitting on a high, polished table. Malfoy smirks in an expression that most people would consider insulting, but that I’ve come to learn is as good as approval.

Without consulting, we both head to the boxes. His wand is already stretched toward them; they glow faintly blue, indicating ward traps, and he quirks one eyebrow at the challenge. He pretends he doesn’t like this sort of thing, but if there’s anything likely to get Malfoy into the thick of things, it’s being told he shouldn’t be there—even if he’s being told by an inanimate object.

I point my own wand as he begins making complicated twists above the one in front of him, muttering under his breath. I focus on the one on the opposite side, making sure to mutter too—it pisses Malfoy off when I use wordless spells. He accuses me of being a show-off, but really, he’s just irritated that he hasn’t mastered them yet. There’s a time and place for pissing him off, though—a time and place where it’s fun—and this isn’t one of them.

The blue shimmer surrounding his box fades first, followed quickly by mine, and they snick open of their own accord. Malfoy and I exchange glances, the kind that speak of a deep, repressed excitement as we each reach to lift the lids.

And there it is.  My box holds the knife we’ve been seeking for months. Four children turned to squibs and one outright killed from blood loss. It’s quite a beautiful weapon, really, and if not for what it’s been used for, I might even appreciate it; its handle is intricately carved with ancient lettering and its sliver blade glimmers in the shaft of sunlight coming through the window. Malfoy breathes beside me, a quiet inhalation through his nose, and I glance over. His box contains the stone bowl used to the collect the blood. It’s even stained brown in the center, and gives off the scent of iron.

“Quickly,” I say, and Malfoy nods; he bites his lip. He pulls an evidence bag from his pocket and I levitate the bowl and the knife inside. He pulls the drawstring shut, then Shrinks it and puts it back in his pocket.

“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” he whispers, slanting me an irritated glance. But I know him too well now; he’s feeling just as triumphant as I am.

“What about the wardrobe?” I start working on the handle with my wand and Malfoy doesn’t respond; his lower lip disappears between his teeth. He looks tempted as he watches me work; small gold sparks shoot out of it, making the handle glow red before fading to black again, and the doors click open. I start for it, but he places a cautionary hand on my arm.

“No time,” he says, sounding regretful. I purse my mouth, but he’s right. Anyway, we got what we came for.

We head for the door, but a noise from downstairs makes us falter at the threshold. Malfoy’s face flattens out; he shoots me a narrow look, as people begin talking, their voices growing louder with every step. We back into the room again.

“Out the window?” I suggest softly.

He shakes his head. “They’re warded; it would take us too long.”

My eyes stray to the open boxes on the table. “Fuck.”

Malfoy’s quicksilver gaze follows mine, and then he does something odd: he slips out of both of his shoes.

“What are you…?”

Shaking his head, he quickly Transfigures each of his shoes into one of the items now stashed safely in his evidence bag, then levitates them back into the boxes, where his wand closes shuts them back up, silent as a mausoleum.

He’s so fucking brilliant I can’t stand it, sometimes.

As soon as the locks on the boxes close, I cast my wand with a quick Glamour that will cause them to glow blue if they’re touched. It won’t fool anyone under close inspection, but it’ll work if they don’t plan to use the items tonight. As a quick afterthought, I cast a tracking spell at them as well. Malfoy gives me a clipped nod, eyes moving fast.

“Get your Cloak,” he breathes, as footsteps sound on the stairs.

Fuck.

“I lent it to Ron yesterday.”

Malfoy’s eyes grow huge and furious in his face. “You bloody—” he starts, then falls silent. He grabs the sleeve of my robes and drags me a few paces over to the wardrobe, opening it and climbing inside. I hesitate for a single moment—I fucking hate shit like this—before coming in after him. He makes a small noise. “Just don’t let go of the—”

But the voices are about to come in the room now, and he can’t say any more as I let the handle click shut. We freeze, wedged against the jumpers and coats, as the disembodied voices enter.

“Stratton?” says the first.

“He doesn’t turn seven until next month,” another replies. “Needs to be done at the new moon.”

Two days. That’s two days from now. Malfoy taps my wrist with two fingers, and I know he’s gotten it, too.

“Plimpton?” the first suggests. A third voice snorts. “Plimpton’s family isn’t as powerful. She’ll do in a pinch, but what about Wellby?”

“Wellby,” yet another voice agrees. “Long, mostly pureblood line. He’s eight now, I think, already showing some pretty strong latent magic. His father is supposed to be going to some Ministry thing tomorrow, if I’m not mistaken. We could grab him then.”

I’m vibrating with fury at the way they laugh together, at their casual disregard for children. I want to fucking kick our way out of the wardrobe and Crucio the lot of them. But Malfoy’s fingers have spread out, gentle, like a bracelet of warning around my wrist, and I force myself to take a deep, quiet breath before letting it out. There are at least four in the room with us, I remind myself. And probably more downstairs. And they’ve been feeding themselves with the magic of children, so who knows where their power levels are at.

Frankly, I don’t care. I could very likely take down at least these four before anyone else cottoned on—before I got seriously injured—but Malfoy’s hand is like a solid, sure link to the real world that reminds me that I can’t risk it. Can’t risk him.

“Got the boxes?” Voice One enquires.

“Yeah,” who-the-fuck-knows grunts in return.

“Let’s get the hell out of here, then.” Voice One gets louder, calling out. “Leaving now!”

There are several loud cracks of Apparition, one after the other—a few of which come from downstairs—and then everything falls silent.

It stays silent for quite a while.

Malfoy and I remain crouched, wands out, for what must be an hour. Despite the running we do daily, my thighs are starting to kill me at the strange position, and Malfoy is starting to shift on a more frequent basis, too.

“I think they’re gone,” I finally murmur.

“Maybe not all of them,” Malfoy huffs back. But the fact that he’s spoken at all is proof that he agrees.

Slowly, I straighten as much as I can, working out the kinks. I try the handle, unsurprised when it doesn’t open; there was obviously something charmed about the handle.

“It’s locked, isn’t it?” Malfoy mutters acidly. “I told you not to let go of the handle.”

I shrug it off. He just gets like this whenever we’re painted into a corner. Or locked into a magic wardrobe, apparently. It’s nothing personal. He can be surprisingly kind.

“You absolute twat,” he adds.

Nevermind. Sometimes he’s just a dick.

It’s black as pitch in here, completely unnerving. I try casting at the latch. I try Lumos about a dozen times, to no avail; our surroundings are obviously spelled to ward off unauthorized magic. Still, I can’t stop trying. His voice grows bored.

“It’s fine, Potter. Robards knows where we are. We’re supposed to report back in an hour; they’ll send people for us. We’ve got our pins.”

We wear our pins on our collars; they transmit our location down to the square foot, and aren’t able to be muffled by magic. Fortunately.

I swallow and nod, though he can’t see me, and keep casting, wordlessly this time. I fucking hate it when it’s dark like this and I never once thought to bring my Calming Draught with me.

I don’t use it that often when I’m working. I mean, maybe a bit more frequently than I used to. Mainly, I combine it with a sip of Dreamless Sleep to help me at night. It’s not a thing or anything; I just sometimes need to take it after a hard day. Or when the day is looking like it might be hard.

It’s not like I ever actually meant to start using potions. It was just sort of… serendipitous, running into Zabini like that.

Malfoy uses him regularly as an informant. Zabini’s pretty clever, as well—though it pains me to admit, most Slytherins are—and opened up shop on Knockturn Alley about six months back. He’s the sort of ne’er-do-well type that always manages to do well. He does pretty much everything—small, petty stuff that’s easy to overlook like dealing in prostitution and potions just illegal enough to arrest him if we wanted to. But he knows pretty much everything about the surrounding shops, and that first time, I’d only been going to him for information.

He was quite sweet about it, actually. Noticed I how twitchy I was. Offered his modified version of Calming Draught for free. It worked instantly; after four nights of no sleep, I’d been feeling a bit on edge. The potion woke me up while simultaneously settling me down. After that I approached him again for the Dreamless Sleep, just for when it gets bad which, okay, happens pretty often. It’s just—

I carry the war with me.

And my cupboard, too.

And there’s nothing wrong with a little help sometimes, as Zabini likes to say.

So now I have a few that I combine; cheering potions and calming potions and sleeping potions. Zabini tells me when he makes something new that might work for me; he’s been talking about one called Bliss recently. I have no plans to try it, of course.

The dark is really disturbing, almost disturbing enough to take my mind off the roiling in my stomach as I think of how good one of Zabini’s potions would feel right now. There’s a fine tremor in my hands.

Suddenly, Malfoy stands up. He knocks his head on the ceiling and swears a little, which is a welcome distraction. But then his hands start searching over the doors.

“What are you doing?”

He makes a non-committal noise. “Just wondering why the wardrobe is charmed in the first place.”

Good point.

I join him in the search, our hands brushing over the walls that keep us in, the ceiling. He taps at several places with his wand as I start to search in the pockets of the coats. On the third, my hand strays across something bumpy, oddly-shaped, cold like metal. I pull it out and it warms in my hand.

“Malfoy.”

“What?”

I reach out in his direction and find his hand. “Got this.”

There’s a soft, rustling sound as he learns its shape and then, “Ah!” He’s pleased. “There’s a crack in the back of the wardrobe. Let me see if—” There’s more rustling. “It’s a key!” He sounds delighted.

There’s a clacking noise, like gears creaking into place, and then the whole panel behind the clothing disappears. My breath catches as a welcoming light pours through, still dim, but anything helps at this point. “You’d better not be leading us into Narnia, Malfoy.”

“Don’t be daft; we sealed up all of the entrances to Narnia in the fourteenth century,” he says. Even with his faint, mocking smile, I can’t tell if he’s kidding or not.

Oh, well. I’ll ask Hermione, later.

Malfoy squeezes through the clothing first, and I follow into a small hallway. There are flickering lights, like those from candles that are nowhere to be seen, and they cast strange shadows over the sharp angles of Malfoy’s face, his high cheekbones and implacable mouth. The hall has a much higher ceiling, but is so narrow that we barely fit side-by-side; our shoulders brush as we stand there contemplating the mass pile of gold at the end of it.

“I don’t get it,” Malfoy breathes. “Why not just keep it in Gringotts? They don’t care where you get your gold from. They don’t report deposits.”

“No, but we can track where deposits have been coming from with warrants,” I remind him. “And whose vault it was previously in.” Then it clicks, and I groan. “They haven’t been absorbing the magic; they’ve been selling it. Goddamn.”

The look Malfoy gives me is both surprised and vaguely admiring. I don’t know whether to feel pleased at the latter or insulted by the former, but then he says, “Nicely done, Potter,” and my choice is made for me. I smile.

“Come on.” I nudge him with my elbow. “We should check to see if there are any more items in it.”

He’s silent for a moment, evaluating, then follows as I move past him toward the gold. But there’s a powerful shield in front of it, several feet out; I’ve only taken a few steps before I’m stopped in my tracks, and all of the lights blank out again.

Fuck,” I swear, with feeling. It feels even darker in here than the wardrobe did.

Malfoy sounds amused. “Scared, Potter?”

I don’t laugh, but I want to. Of course I’m scared. I’m always bloody scared. It never stops me from getting the job done, but I feel like I walk around with rocks in my stomach every day, and I resent his tone. “Yes,” I clip out.

His amusement changes to surprise. “Yes? It’s a simple buffering charm to hide items from prying eyes.”

“Right, but can we undo it?” It’s a pointless question, but I really want to know.

“Not—in here. But it’s only dark. I’m not feeling the buzz of any other sort of magic,” he says doubtfully. There’s a pause, and then his hand finds my forearm. He sounds curious. “Are you really scared? Of the dark.”

I feel stupid, but his touch keeps me grounded, like it did before. “I don’t like cramped, dark places.” The words come out with difficulty.

“Why?”

I snort. “You don’t read the papers?”

There’s a long silence as he processes this. A couple of years back, they did some features on my Muggle upbringing. Petunia and Vernon wouldn’t talk about it (although the reporters got some very scandalous quotes about what an ungrateful, sour child I’d been), but Dudley had given a full interview. The irony was that he’d been trying to be nice. I think he was attempting to mend fences with me or something. But it didn’t help matters when he casually referenced my cupboard several times, or the way his parents would lock me in it at night. Actually, the nonchalant manner with which he mentioned it just made things worse. I was harassed by owls for months afterward—reporters seeking verification for my “abuse.”

Malfoy’s hand grows tighter for a second, then relaxes. “I don’t give them much credence.”

“Sometimes they get things right.”

It’s all I can say before my throat closes up. I’m never leaving the house without one of my potions again. Never.

“We go into dark places all the time,” he says after a moment, confused. “That furniture safe last week. The potions lab a few months ago—”

“We don’t usually get stuck there,” I cut in. My cheeks are hot with embarrassment, although I feel like it’s significant to our partnership, somehow, that I’m telling him these things at all. Even Ron and Hermione don’t know that I still have an issue about it. “I can do what I need to do.”

I don’t know if I’m trying to convince him or myself.

“All right,” he says abruptly, voice clipped, startling me. I twitch under his hand. “What can I do?”

Malfoy, ever practical.

Nothing, I want to tell him, I need my potions. Mercifully, I manage to keep the words in. “Just—talk, I guess. Talk to me. Anything.” I don’t like the sound of my own voice; it’s ragged, tense.

“I don’t light fires at the Manor,” he offers.

“You want to light the Manor on fire?” I don’t know why, but this distracts me enough that I grin. “It’s not like I haven’t thought about it once or twice, myself.”

“Not to the Manor, you dolt,” he says, annoyed. “I don’t—well, I don’t light them. I use warming charms instead. If Mother has one going when I visit, I don’t go into that room. I don’t like being around fire.”

Slowly, this sinks in. “But last year, that factory—”

“I can do what I need to do,” he echoes wryly, and it wrings a laugh from me.

“The Battle?” I ask, although I already know. Fiendfyre features in my nightmares, too. “Yes.”

“But you fly.”

“Doesn’t hold the same connotations, I guess,” he mumbles, hand sliding away from my arm.

“Don’t,” I say before I can stop myself. I need to—it’s too dark—my heart is pounding wildly. “Please.”

His hand finds me again, grazing over my stomach, then up across my chest until it gets to my shoulder, where he works his way down back to my forearm.

“Oh,” I blurt. I can still feel the lingering press of his fingers over my muscles, through my robes. It’s like he’s still touching me there. His hand slides down further, to my wrist where my robes gape open, then under the fabric, slipping back up over my skin.

“You feel feverish.”

I’m sure I don’t. I feel quite cold, actually, except for where Malfoy’s hand is on me, gentle, like it’s cradling a wounded bird. It blankets my senses, drowning my fear, allowing me to focus.

“I’m fine.”

Malfoy and I don’t touch often. A handclasp here to help him out of some rubble, a clap on the back there after a case is resolved. That time he fell asleep on my shoulder, and I let him stay like that for an hour before easing him down onto my couch. He kicks me in the shin occasionally because he’s a brat. I elbow him in the ribs. Like that.

But that’s nothing like this.

This is warmth spreading through my insides like spilled ink across parchment. I’m suddenly aware of Malfoy’s proximity. I can smell the bergamot in his soap under the more beachy scent of his aftershave. I didn’t even know what bergamot was until I asked why he smelled that way; he special-orders his soap from France. Probably his aftershave, too. It’s good. He smells good. It’s all… good.

“Potter?” he enquires quietly, breaking into my thoughts. I realize I’m breathing a bit harder than I should be. I’m trying to ignore my cock, which is trying just as hard to make itself known. “Are you quite all right?”

“I’m fine,” I rasp out again. I can’t think when he’s so close, and I’m trapped in a cupboard and I don’t have anything to calm me down.

His fingers find the pulse point in my wrist. “Your heart is racing. Listen, there are techniques where you can—”

I twist my wrist in his grip in one fluid motion so that I’m the one holding on to him. Everything feels twisted around me, inside me. My stomach is in knots, my lungs too small for my body, my cock too trapped in my trousers. I want my potions with a deep longing, but this—this is what I shouldn’t want, what I can’t want, and so of course now it’s the only thing I can think of. Malfoy’s bones are both delicate and sturdy under my hand; they grind together in my grip and I give Malfoy’s wrist a sharp tug.

He stumbles into me. “What the fuck, P—”

And then I kiss him.

His mouth freezes against mine, half-open with the objection I’ve cut off, so I slide my tongue inside, swiping it against his own, intent on finding a reaction. He makes a bleating sound of astonishment into my mouth and I swallow it and then, somehow, he’s kissing me back. His lips soften, widen, moist and sweet, and I copy him, deepening the kiss. He slants his head back and I follow it, seeking his heat. His teeth nip at my bottom lip and then he sucks it into his mouth, laving it with his tongue and I shudder, closing my arms around his waist because it feels so damn good, and the tightness in my chest is different now, it’s better. It’s anticipatory instead of afraid.

We snog like teenagers, lips and teeth and tongues and I don’t know why I ever thought it would be a bad idea to do this because it’s a great idea. Malfoy is making little needy sounds and his thighs open so he can start riding against my leg, his erection a heavy press through our clothing, and it’s the best idea ever.

He wrenches his mouth away from mine, gasping. “What the fuck are we doing?”

I gulp in a few lungfuls of air, too, as I move my knee between his legs. He responds without thinking, rolling his hips again, dragging his cock against my thigh.

“I want you,” I say baldly, clutching him closer. My cock is pressed against his hip.

“Because we’re trapped in here,” he says flatly, sounding angry, but breathless too. His hands haven’t stopped moving up and down my arms, stroking my biceps.

“No,” I admit. It comes out a little shaky. “I just—do.”

“Harry,” he says.

He’s used my first name before, several times. Mostly when drunk or making fun of me to other people like I’m not standing right there. But it’s never sounded like that before. It comes out throaty, questioning; soft and rich like velvet. It sounds like sex.

I take a stumbling step forward until he’s pressed against the wall behind him, my leg still between his thighs. My fingers work quick, undoing his robes as I bury my face in the crook of his neck. “Do you want me, too?”

“I—oh—maybe,” he allows, arching his neck to give me better access. “But only because we’re trapped in here.”

I string sucking kisses along his neck, that perfect, pale neck I’ve got memorized by now. He tastes fantastic, like soap and salt and I want to keep licking him, tasting him, except that his hands are now divesting me of my robes and my hands are working at the clasp of his belt, and there’s just not enough room so I have to pull away slightly.

He shoves my robes off my shoulders and I quickly yank out of them, whipping my t-shirt off as I do and then I’m on him again, pressed flush to his body. Malfoy never wears shirts under his robes—you’re not supposed to, he lectures me—so we’re skin against skin now, and his trousers are sagging open and I get to reach down and tug them lower. They fall, sliding off, and there’s some awkward shifting, our mouths finding each other in the darkness, while he kicks them off, shucking his pants off as he goes.

Oh, sweet Merlin.

I’m dying to see him right now; I’ve fantasised about this with nightly wanks for at least the last year. Is his body hair nearly white, too? What color is his cock when it’s hard? What do his knees look like? His feet? Anything, everything; I want to know it.

But, god, he feels so good.

Though I can’t see it, my hands seek out his cock, knuckles brushing over it before I circle it with a loose grip. It’s nice and thick, and feels long, too. Malfoy’s fingers plunge into my trousers, tugging them down, and they pool around my knees but I can’t be bothered to do anything about it because both of Malfoy’s hands are on my balls, cupping them with one and circling the skin at the top of the sac with the other. He shifts his palm a few times, rolling them around and I rut against him, seeking friction for my cock. It’s throbbing for attention, but Malfoy just laughs, low in his throat, and moves his hand again.

Fuck him. He wants to play? I can play.

I squeeze the base of his prick with a tight ring of fingers and draw my other hand down, down, pulling, until I reach the head. He’s already leaking and so I pinch his slit, coaxing more moisture from the tip, and rub it around with my thumb. He groans, tries to arch into it, but my fingers at his root keep him in place.

“You shit,” he hisses, so I kiss him again. I take my time with it, my hand moving over him as he gets harder, somehow, in my grip. I tease his foreskin back with light fingers, then play with the underside of his erection. He lets me kiss him as I do it but it feels grudging, like he’s holding out on me or something, so I move my face to his neck again, which appears to be sensitive. He can’t stifle a choked noise when I find a spot just under his earlobe with my teeth.

“Touch my cock, Draco,” I breathe into his ear, and he twitches a little. His hands tighten on my balls. “I want to feel your hands on my cock, feel those long fingers.” I thrust lightly against his groin in entreaty; the hair around his prick feels curling and springy and I’m half-tempted to let go of him just so I can go to town on myself.

But then his hands release me and he gropes upward toward my cock and my forehead thunks into his. I ignore his pointed little “ow!” because his hands—

My mind goes blank as his hand curls around me so tight and then he’s twisting it slowly downward and maybe it should hurt, what he’s doing, and maybe it does but I’m too far gone to care. With some effort, I make my hand move faster over his cock, and nothing is as good as this. Not potions or dinner at the Burrow or even a good night’s sleep with no dreams. Just Malfoy and his hand and his cock and his mouth and I need to suck him but I can’t let go of him and I don’t want him to let go of me.

I slip my free hand past his balls and his legs widen, slipping on the floor beneath us a bit. “Socks,” he explains briefly, and I remember distantly that some dark wizard is carrying around his Transfigured shoes with intent to do harm with them. I smirk a little against his mouth and it’s like he knows what I’m thinking, in that way of longtime partners, because his mouth curves up against mine and he huffs a little laugh.

It’s the laugh that does me in, really. He sounds just so—happy. Uncomplicated. Dirty. So many things. All semblance of control flees and I thrust into his hand, my fingers sliding between his arse cheeks and searching for his hole.

“I need—fuck—we don’t have any—”

“Do you literally carry nothing useful on you anymore?” he mutters in frustration, then twists away from me, knocking his head into my waist as he crouches and searches in the dark for something. He comes back up a few seconds later and slaps a tube of something into my hand. 

“Soluble hand cream,” he says flatly. “It’ll do.”

I thumb the cap off and squeeze the little tube, squirting plenty over my fingers. Malfoy sags against the wall a bit, waiting, and is there when I press forward again, our cocks trapped against each other. He doesn’t move but to widen his thighs as I reach down, searching, then slick up his hole with a greasy fingertip. The wrinkled bit of flesh moves against my touch, clenching and unclenching, and I knock my head into his again. My glasses fall who-knows-where; it’s okay because I’m blind anyway, except for all of my other senses which are as alive as they’ve ever been.

Malfoy keens softly, his hands coming up to grip my shoulders as my finger breaches him. His hips are canting toward me. He props one leg up on the wall behind me and I lose my breath as my finger slips inside; he’s furnace-hot, virginally tight.

“I’m going to make you so wet for it, Malfoy,” I whisper.

Oh, fuck…”

“I want you so loose it’ll slide in like butter.”

“Harry,” he wheezes. His arsehole grips my finger as I push it in, then clings to it as I try to pull out, muscles greedy around the single digit. I push in again and search for the little spot that will have him crying out, but his hips are pumping too fast, are too encouraging, and so I press another finger against his rim and slide it in alongside the first.

“My cock is bigger than this,” I warn when he makes that low sound again. I screw my fingers back inside him deeply, dragging them back, and again and again. The obscene slurping sound echoes quietly through the hallway as I vary the speed, swiveling my fingers slowly and scissoring them as I pull back, then closing them in his channel as I shove them back inside.

“Thank Merlin,” he groans with feeling, and my brain shorts out. I rotate my fingers out, then add a third, and I’m not wrong; his arse is so slippery now, getting so loose, that he barely resists the added intrusion. Just rocks his pelvis a bit as I finger fuck him against the wall. His cock bounces against the inside of my forearm; it’s leaking again. Then Malfoy slumps, his spine going soft, as I find his prostate and smooth my fingertips over it in a beckoning gesture. He bucks his hips, filthy and wanton, and I’m so fucking done, I swear.

I slide my fingers out of his passage and wipe them on the wall behind him. “I’m going to fuck you now.”

“Yes, yes,” he says, sounding a little mad.

I slather my cock with the cream; it turns slippery as soon as it touches my skin, like oily water. I wonder what’s in it briefly, but it doesn’t really matter at this point. I angle myself between Malfoy’s legs; his foot is still propping him up against the wall and as I pin him in place with my chest, he lifts the other one to wrap around my waist, sliding a little. I can feel the muscles in his thigh shake, so I loop one forearm under it to steady him while the other guides my aching cock to his hole.

“I’m going to stuff you so full of cock, Draco, you'll be limping for days,” I say, feeling as crazy as the noises he’s making. I’ve never talked this way before—I don’t do this kind of thing. The few lovers I’ve had have praised my gentleness, my selflessness in bed. I like going slow; I like taking all night. But I’m shaking too, trembling everywhere, and his hole is fluttering against the tip of my prick. I rub it against him for a second.

“Just—put it in me, put it in, yes, do it,” he babbles incoherently, voice cracking.

“You want it?” I ask lowly because I’m insane with lust, but I also want to hear that he wants it as badly as I do, wants it as dirty as I do, wants it as much as I do.

“Harry,” he says on a moan that does funny things to my heart. “Just shut your stupid mouth and fuck me already.”

I fit my cock to his loosened rim and press. Even after the prep, he’s still tight, but I slide in easily, an inch then two, fighting my instincts to rush. His arse squeezes around my cock as I pull back and then push in, going deeper each time, short little thrusts until I’m in him down to the root. His arse cheeks flex a little and I groan at the sensation. His cock is trapped between our stomachs, slick with pre-come.

I hold still because I literally can’t move for a second if I don’t want to come right away. I’ve never had as much control as I should around him, but I don’t want that lack of control to translate into finishing within the first thirty seconds of penetration.

He wiggles his bottom and I grip his thigh harder.  “Well?” he demands, sounding exasperated. I lean my face in closer to kiss him; mostly to shut him up, but also for something to do that will get my mind off the wet, vise-like clutch of his arse around my cock. I miss on the first kiss, catching the corner of his mouth, but find his lips with the on the second. He opens them against mine immediately, as though he’s been wanting to kiss me too, and his tongue finds mine, flicking at it teasingly and I want to just—

I roll my hips slowly, cock sliding in and out. He makes an approving noise; our kiss loses momentum, but our mouths are still touching. We just sort of breathe into each other as I pump my hips, to push deeper inside as if that’s even possible. But the leg hooked around my waist tightens, like I’ve done something good, so I do it again. My trainers squeak on the polished wood beneath me as I search for better traction, which isn’t easy with my trousers still around my knees, but it doesn’t stop me from picking up speed. I bend slightly, coming in and up on a hard stroke and Malfoy gives a little yelp, his mouth popping open wide against mine, his breath hot against my lips.

That’s it, then. I start snapping my hips quickly, battering my cock into his prostate and Malfoy writhes against the wall, his back sliding against it, up and down as I get rougher and rougher. But his moans aren’t complaints, they aren’t reprimands or any of the other things I hear from him on a daily basis. Malfoy fucking likes this, likes being fucked like an animal, which is so, so good because I feel like one; in fact, saliva floods my mouth so hard I think I could drool if I let myself.

Malfoy has no leverage, but he wriggles his arse on every single one of my upstrokes. His arms cling tight around my shoulders; his cock rubs between us. I want to touch him, want to wank him until he comes, but there’s no room and I feel like I can’t stop and then it doesn’t matter because he’s coming anyway. His cock pulses, and then there’s a wash of wet shooting against my skin, warm and slippery. His arse tightens and I’m so close, but I hold back until he’s done, until he shudders and falls limp in my arms. Then I start driving into him with force, fucking him fast and hard. Pleasure coils in my balls and belly; shocks jolt down my spine to gather at its base. My shaft throbs, tingling, and then my body stiffens and I plunge deep into him one last time as I come, holding myself in place as Malfoy squeezes his arse again and I empty myself into him.

I feel like I’m on the verge of passing out. I lean heavily against him for a few moments, and then he carefully unhooks his leg from my waist, sliding it down slowly until his foot reaches the floor. His other foot joins it, and I slip out of him.

We are silent as we gather and restore our clothing. In the aftermath of my climax, I feel confused, blurry. Like I’ve done something wrong. But he didn’t say no, not once. His come is still tacky and drying on my stomach as I put on my t-shirt; mine is dripping out of his arse.

It takes me a minute to find my glasses, hunting on the floor in the dark, fingers outstretched until I feel the brush of them. I pick them up and slide them into place, feeling more like myself.

“So,” I say, trying to make it light. There’s a whisper of a sound.

“No. Not-not right now. We shouldn’t talk about it,” Malfoy says. He sounds a little distant, which is disconcerting.

“But—we will talk about it, right?” I sound too tentative. I hate sounding tentative. Especially around Malfoy—god, Draco. Do you call someone by their last name if you’ve fucked them against a wall in an enchanted wardrobe? Whatever.

There’s a long pause.

“We’ll talk about it,” he finally says. His voice is—well, not warmer, but not as cool. “Come to mine tomorrow. One o’clock. They’ll be here, soon.”

We lapse into silence again, but the dark isn’t bothering me so much anymore. My shoulders are a bit high with tension, but the rest of me feels great and I can hear Malfoy breathe next to me, steady and slow, and it turns out he’s not wrong: a team of Aurors shows up ten minutes later.

***

Usually we go out drinking when we close a case. Not always, but it’s been a more regular thing in the last couple of years or so. But after we’re done writing up reports and handing over evidence and getting Malfoy another pair of shoes from our joint office, he simply gives me a little smile and Disapparates. Another team has managed to track the boxes, so the follow-up isn’t for us to do. Plus, I get reprimanded a little, but I’d been expecting that.

I head home feeling pretty good. Malfoy and I fucked. That sentence doesn’t even feel like something I should be allowed to think, let alone be true. But it is; I got to kiss him and be inside him and make him come and it was the hottest sex I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s always better when you love someone. Maybe it’s just that it’s Malfoy.

There are rules against this sort of thing, of course. Fraternization between partners isn’t just frowned upon; it’s strictly forbidden. At the very least, one of us will have to transfer. I wonder if it should be me, since I’m the one who started it. I do like being an Auror, but it feels like—a lot, at times. Like I’m just doing this thing I’m supposed to do. Sometimes I wonder if I ever had a chance to figure out what I liked.

Kreacher makes me a quiet dinner at home. I feel the itch of anticipation as I eat, and then I head upstairs for a quick shower. After I brush my teeth, my hand strays to my medicine cabinet. I still.

I don’t really need the Calming draught this evening. I feel pretty calm. And I haven’t had the Cheering potion all day. I slowly pull out the vial of Dreamless Sleep and look at it. It hasn’t happened in a long time, but what if I had good dreams tonight? I’d sort of like to replay what happened in my head if it came to that.

I start to put it back, then hesitate. There’s that itch under my skin again, and I really don’t want another nightmare; I don’t want to look awful when I see Malfoy tomorrow. I uncap the vial and take a small sip, a lot less than usual. It’ll probably do.

***

I feel unaccountably nervous as I knock on Malfoy’s door. I wish I’d taken the calming potion, or even the cheering one, but I don’t really want to go into this with emotions that aren’t mine. And Malfoy makes me plenty cheerful on his own.

I’ve made sure to show up five minutes early—he hates it when people are late—and stand there waiting. I can’t hear any noises coming from inside the flat. After a few minutes, I knock again, and finally footsteps approach.

Malfoy opens the door. He looks good, all proper and done-up, and I want to kiss him. I hold up the bag of Thai food I’ve brought as an offering, instead, and follow him inside. He leads me to his living room. It’s only the second time he’s ever invited me over, so I look around curiously. Everything is tastefully furnished, comfortable, but that high-end sort of comfort that costs thousands of Galleons to make look homey and effortless.

“Hey. I didn’t know if you’d eaten, and—”

“I have, actually.”

“Oh.” Suddenly awkward, I place the bag on his coffee table. “You can put a cooling charm on that, then, and reheat it later.”

“Potter.” I suddenly don’t want to look at him. I take a seat on his low-slung sofa, and he sits down in a side chair opposite me. He clears his throat. “Harry. Listen. We could get in a lot of trouble for what happened.”

I hadn’t even realized I’ve been hunching my shoulders until they sag. “Oh.” I laugh a little, relief flaring through me. “I know. I’ve thought about that.”

Malfoy slants me a suspicious look.

“No, really,” I insist. “It’s not like we have to tell people what happened yesterday.”

Something in his face relaxes and he leans back. He gives a self-deprecating little chuckle. “What was that?” he wonders out loud.

I grin. “Fantastic. I’d even venture to say… magic.”

He groans at the joke, but there’s a small crease at the corner of his mouth. “It was a mistake.”

He says it lightly, but it still stings. I swallow and force another smile. “You think so?”

“We’re partners, Harry. Damn good ones.”

“I know. I wouldn’t trade you,” I acknowledge. I take a deep breath, planning on running the idea of transferring or resigning past him. “But I was thinking—”

“And neither of us is in the place where emotional attachments would be welcome. My life is—well, you know. Complicated. And we’re friends, and getting entangled like that would be a bad idea, you know?”

“I do,” I say automatically, then close my mouth with a click. My heart is sinking, but I run his words over in my mind again. Malfoy doesn’t seem upset so much about the sex as the idea that I want something more. Feeling him out, I carefully continue, “But getting entangled in other ways could be… workable. Occasionally. Don’t you think?”

He eyes me speculatively and drapes one leg over the other. His fingers drum against the upholstery of his chair. “And you’d be amenable to something like that?” He asks it as though it’s beyond credulity, that I, of all people, could be okay with casual sex.

I shrug and look at him steadily.

I don’t want casual sex. I’d even give up the dirty sex from yesterday if it meant Malfoy would consider something more. But the shrewd expression over his sharp features tells me he won’t. Worse, he’s never even thought about it.

I wish I’d taken my potions. My heart feels like a hummingbird in a cage.

“All right,” he says slowly, smoothly. “We could try something like that. Scratch the itch for one another, so to speak. If it wouldn’t get in the way of our work or our—friendship. And you couldn’t even tell Weasley about it,” he warns.

“Because I’d want to brag about sleeping with you,” I scoff, and he smiles quickly, white teeth flashing, his suspicions eased.

“Well, then. Harry?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m feeling rather itchy.”

Fuck the potions. “Where’s your bedroom?” I ask lowly, standing.

He stands fluidly, and arches an eyebrow at me. “Just so you know, I’m topping this time,” he says simply, and walks out of the room.

My legs feel weak suddenly, but I follow him. Of course I do.

***

The intersection of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys is dark. I hesitate on the precipice of it before heading down the narrow street.

I didn’t even mean to come shopping tonight; I was just looking for something to get out and do to distract myself from the fact that Malfoy has a date. Getting new robes fitted and spending a few minutes talking to George didn’t seem the worst idea, and it certainly took my mind off things.

But not enough, I guess.

I pick my way up the cobblestone as the street gets narrower and higher and unerringly make my way toward Blaise’s shop. It’s dim, and filled with all sorts of dark things, but I walk up straight to the counter where he sits with a smile like he’s been waiting for me.

“Evening, Potter. What can I interest you in today?”

“I’d—I need a bit more of my potions,” I tell him. I don’t tell him that I’m running low because I tried pouring them out the other day.

His face is bland; as bland as a man as chiseled as Zabini can get. He reaches under the counter and pulls out three vials. “And will this be all?”

I start to nod, then falter. “Why? What do you have?”

His bland smile grows; his dark eyes take on a twinkling quality that relaxes me. “Well, there’s Bliss, which I told you about—”

“No,” I tell him firmly. “I’m not into the hard stuff, you know that.”

He looks amused. “I’d hardly call it hard stuff,” he says, mocking, but shrugs a little anyway. “But I’ve something gentler, too. An in-between. For confidence, a bit like my cheering potion, only you’ll be more… authoritative. In case you’re ever in a rough situation, which I know—in your line of work—can happen. And there’s another. Also mild. The opposite of Dreamless Sleep. Conjures beautiful dreams.”

He sets them both on the counter. The confidence potion is green, shimmering, bubbling. The dream potion is silver, frothy, mesmerizing. I haven’t had a good dream in a really long time.

“The—the confidence potion,” I say through dry lips. I dig into my pocket and hand him a few extra Galleons.

He holds up the vial of silver liquid. “Are you sure?”

I stare at it, hungry. With effort, I look away, curling my hand around the green potion to pocket with the others. “I’m sure.”

“All right. See you soon, Potter.”

“Later, Zabini.” I walk out into the dark of the night, looking around.

I want to go back in there and grab the other potion; I want to know what my good dreams would look like. I know he deals in hallucinogens, things way worse than a harmless dream potion would be. It probably wouldn’t be so bad.

Still, I resolutely keep walking. I don’t need it. I don’t.

And if I ever do, I know where he works.