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Mister Potter!”

Harry started, dragging his eyes away from the snow swirling down from the ceiling of the Great Hall.

“You will please take your seat,” Headmistress McGonagall snapped as she whisked past carrying the Sorting Hat aloft.

Harry slid into the empty space between Ron and Hermione, both of whom were staring up at the improbable snowstorm raging just metres above their heads.

“The ceiling’s gone barmy,” Ron moaned, wiping the back of his hand across his shining forehead. “It must be 30 degrees; I’m sweating to death, and the bloody ceiling is snowing.”

“I’ve heard about incidents of magical disturbance since the battle,” Hermione answered, still gazing upward with her mouth hanging open. “Apparently Hogwarts absorbed a great deal of errant dark magic during the melee. I suppose the enchantments on the ceiling must have been damaged.” A massive bolt of lightning lit up the room.

“That’s unusual,” she said unnecessarily.

A drop of sweat broke free from the centre of Harry’s shoulder blades and ran down his spine, just as an answering shiver moved upward in response to the very realistic sight of a blizzard swirling overhead.

“Your attention, please!” McGonagall shouted in an uncharacteristically frazzled voice as she placed the Sorting Hat on its customary stool. “While I am aware that the environmental enchantments are behaving in a most fascinating manner, I must redirect your attention to the rather more pressing business of the House Sorting.”

The buzz of voices in the Hall dropped off considerably, but most eyes remained fixed on the tempestuous storm.

The Sorting Hat began a robust rendition of its annual song. Dimly, Harry noticed a distinct told you so bent to this years’ lyrics.

“First years! Line up here, please,” McGonagall called shrilly. She was attempting to herd the terrified eleven-year-olds into an orderly line in front of the Sorting Hat; a task made doubly difficult by the fact that they all had their necks craned back to keep a dubious watch on the ceiling.

“Anders, Violetta!”

Harry’s attention drifted back to the hovering storm. He gave in to temptation and stuck his tongue out, hoping to catch a cool flake of snow. Sadly, the crystals melted in the stifling heat before they could reach him.

Ron tugged at the collar of his robes, huffing loudly. “Why must it be so muggy?”

Hermione rolled her eyes and indicated the ceiling. “Precipitation causes humidity, Ronald. The snow is evaporating.”

“It’s not even real snow, Hermione,” he grumbled. “Why haven’t they cast Cooling Charms?”

“I imagine they would encounter the same problems they’re having with the ceiling. Perhaps even make it worse by adding more atmospheric magic to the mix.”

“Fine. Who do I have to screw to get a cold glass of pumpkin juice in this place?” Ron moaned, fanning himself with his plate.

“Ronald!” Hermione said, smacking him on the arm.

“That would be Kreacher,” Harry deadpanned. “Exactly how thirsty are you?”

“Ugh. You’re a disturbed man, Harry Potter. I think I’m glad you broke up with my sister.”

Hermione smacked Ron again and turned an exaggerated expression of sympathy on Harry. “Have you seen her?”

Harry shook his head. “No. She’ll have started training camp by now. I doubt she’s got much spare time.”

“Our season passes arrived last week,” Ron said, shifting uncomfortably. “There’s one for you, mate. Are you—do you want to come to the opening match?”

“Grist, Trent!” McGonagall practically shrieked, straining to be heard above the rising mutterings of the overheated students and saving Harry from having to answer. A small boy with dark auburn hair climbed nervously onto the stool at the front of the Hall.

“Slytherin!” proclaimed the Sorting Hat after less than two seconds’ deliberation. The murmurings around the Great Hall came to an abrupt stop. Everyone in the room turned to stare at the first student to be Sorted into Slytherin in the aftermath of the war. A brief look of horror crossed the boy’s face before he jumped from the stool, squared his shoulders and, chin held high, headed toward his new housemates.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned to watch him take his place at the table. Even the Slytherins, few as there were left, looked leery of their newest member.

“I see Malfoy’s come dressed for the weather,” Ron snorted derisively.

Harry frowned, his eyes rapidly scanning the table. He hadn’t even noticed Malfoy. When he finally found him, he realised why. Malfoy’s most easily identified feature, his white-blond hair, was practically gone. He looked as if Aunt Petunia had been at him with the clippers.

Ron let out an unreserved guffaw. “The ferret’s shaved his shiny coat.”

Harry said nothing in response. He was too busy taking in the rest of the ensemble. Malfoy had apparently abandoned the dress code entirely; his robes and tie were draped over the bench next to him. A slate-grey, tatty t-shirt hung untucked over the waistband of a pair of ancient jeans, which sported a large rip just below the left front pocket. A patch of pale thigh was just visible through the opening. He was slouched with his back to his table, arms folded and legs splayed, staring insolently out at the crowd.

Harry, who had never once seen Malfoy looking anything but impeccable, goggled. Try as he might, he could not stop himself examining the tear in the jeans several times.

A flash of movement drew Harry’s attention to Malfoy’s chest where an embroidered Hungarian Horntail flexed its wings and fixed Harry with a withering look, blowing a plume of smoke from its flaring nostrils. Harry’s eyes shot to Malfoy’s face to find him watching Harry with an identically fiery expression. Harry jerked in a sharp breath and looked away.

His eyes sought out the Headmistress, who was now appraising Malfoy’s lack of uniform for herself. To his surprise, though she frowned noticeably, she said nothing. She merely gave a minute, disapproving shake of her head and returned her attention to her parchment.

“Halpin, Joshua!”

Harry passed the rest of the Sorting ceremony deliberately not looking in Malfoy’s direction. Only once the feast had been served did Harry chance a look over his shoulder at the sparsely populated Slytherin table.

Malfoy had turned back to the table and was engaged in an animated conversation with Gregory Goyle, the only other eighth-year Slytherin to return to Hogwarts. Harry watched as Malfoy grinned and shoved at Goyle’s shoulder. The camaraderie between them was obvious and…weird. Harry stared in shock as Goyle reached out and cuffed Malfoy around the head and Malfoy responded not with outraged superiority, but with an audible laugh.

“Ceiling’s not the only thing that’s gone barmy.”

“What’s that, mate?” Ron asked through an enormous mouthful of food. Hermione glared and pointedly wiped an errant bit of chicken off of her hand.

Harry shook his head. “Nothing.”

“So, you never answered my question,” Ron said, pointing his drumstick at Harry. “Are you coming to the Harpies’ opener with us?”

Harry sighed. “I dunno, Ron.”

“Ah, c’mon, Harry,” Ron wheedled. “It’ll be brilliant! We’ve got a private box and everything.”

Harry shrugged, his eyes darting over his shoulder for eavesdroppers.

Ron leaned in and lowered his voice. “Now that some time’s gone by, I’ll bet she’s missing you. Maybe if you made the effort to come to the game…”

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, Ron.”

“How do you know if you don’t even give it a try?”

Harry swiped at his sweaty upper lip in annoyance. “She sent me a letter, too. Last week. She’s, um, seeing someone else.”

“What?” Ron’s voice had shot up again, and several people turned to watch their conversation. “Who?”

Harry glared round until the spectators returned their attention to the meal. “The team’s equipment manager. Robert something-or-other.”

Ron looked gobsmacked. “She didn’t say a word in her letter. Since when?”

“I don’t know, Ron,” Harry sighed, fighting down a wave of irritation. “I didn’t ask.”

“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Hermione whispered, seizing his hand and squeezing fiercely.

“It’s really fine,” said Harry, pulling his hand back defensively. “There were a lot of reasons for our split. The contract with the Harpies just made the decision easier.”

Both Ron and Hermione gave him annoyingly sympathetic looks, clearly not believing a word of it.

Harry shifted uncomfortably under their scrutiny. “What do you suppose Malfoy means with that getup?” he asked, hoping for a change of topic.

“I think he means ‘I’m an enormous poof’,” Ron snickered. He got another sharp smack from Hermione. “Ouch!”

“Homophobia isn’t funny, Ronald,” Hermione said, glaring at him.

“Oh, come on. You know I don’t mean it like that. I’ve told you how much I liked Uncle Bilius.”

“Well, that’s a fine way to honour his memory, Ronald,” Hermione gave him such a disappointed look that it even made Harry feel guilty by proximity.

Hermione sniffed and turned her attention to Malfoy. “If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say he’s trying to look as different to his old self as possible. I think he wants everyone to look at him and see that he’s changed.”

Harry watched Ron press his lips together to restrain the quip that was fighting to escape his mouth. He shot Ron a quick grin and turned his attention on Malfoy.

“Well,” he said slowly, watching Malfoy examine the puddings that had just appeared on the table, “he’s got my attention.”

* * *

“Harry,” Hermione called, exasperation clear in her tone. “Hurry up! I refuse to be late again because you’re afraid to go to class.”

“I’m not afraid,” Harry snapped as he caught up to her. “I just don’t enjoy being spoken to like a dim-witted second-year.”

“Professor Slughorn is only trying to ensure that you understand everything you’ll need for your N.E.W.T.s. If you really want to be an Auror, I’d think you’d be grateful that he’s giving you so much extra attention.”

“He wouldn’t be watching my every move if you hadn’t made me tell him about the book,” Harry grumbled.

“You might understand the principles underlying the coursework this year if you hadn’t used the book in the first place,” Hermione retorted. “You need his help, and mine; so shut it.”

Harry trailed sullenly along behind her, scuffing his feet and staring at the floor as they entered the classroom.

“Harry, my boy!” Slughorn boomed. Harry cringed and gave a small nod as he slipped into his seat. “How are you coming along on the Wormwood essay?”

“Just fine, sir,” Harry lied. “I should have it to you by the end of the week.”

He heard Ron and Michael Corner snickering from behind him. Hermione shot him a look of deepest disapproval before she turned her attention to the blackboard.

“It’s a good thing you’ve been working so hard on that,” she hissed, inclining her head to indicate the assignment on the board. Harry shoved his glasses up to the bridge of his nose and squinted at it: The Draught of Living Death. Well, fuck.

Slughorn shared an indulgent, knowing look with Hermione. “Ms. Granger will help you with whatever you may not fully comprehend,” Slughorn said loudly.

At the front of the class, Malfoy sat hunched over his cauldron, his shoulders shuddering with silent laughter. Not for the first time since returning to school, Harry considered the relative merits of abandoning school and taking up a life of leisure. He then thought of the lectures Ginny had endured from Mrs. Weasley and gave up the thought.

He watched with rising irritation as Malfoy leaned in toward Goyle, grinning hugely, and whispered in his ear. Just as he had begun constructing a lovely daydream involving hexing Malfoy with a nasty case of boils, the other boy jumped sharply in his seat and slapped the back of his neck as if stung. Startled, Harry glanced down at his wand hand to check that he hadn’t unconsciously acted out his fantasy. His wand was still lying untouched on the table.

Goyle twisted in his seat, one hand resting protectively on Malfoy’s shoulder. Harry followed his glowering gaze to Zacharias Smith, who sat two rows behind Malfoy and Goyle, smirking openly at the bright red evidence of a Stinging Hex now blossoming on Malfoy’s neck. Goyle narrowed his eyes and Smith’s smile faltered slightly.

Harry’s eyes darted back and forth between Malfoy and his attacker, waiting for the inevitable retaliation. Truth be told, he was excited for a little action. Everyone was being so nice in the wake of the war. It had been far too long since he’d had a proper reason to get his wand out, and an opportunity to hex Smith would just be a bonus. Disappointingly, Malfoy simply shook his head, patting Goyle on the arm, and turned back to his cauldron.

Harry frowned at the nasty grin that spread across Smith’s face. The fact that he was considering defending Malfoy, of all people, paled in comparison to his loathing for the smug-faced Hufflepuff. His hand twitched towards his wand.

“Harry!” snapped Hermione, apparently oblivious to the scene he’d just witnessed. “I swear I will let you fail if you don’t help me with this.”

He turned back to the table to find Hermione busily chopping. “Sorry. Where were we?”

Hermione huffed and shoved a list at him. “Gather these, please.” Harry nodded and rose to collect the potion ingredients, his eyes flicking towards Malfoy in confusion.

* * *

Harry’s spirits lifted somewhat the following day, when Quidditch captains were announced.

“Nice one, Harry. Course, I knew you’d get it. Who else are they going to give it to?” Ron grinned up at him from the floor, where he was sprawled out admiring his replacement prefect’s badge.

Harry shrugged, but grinned despite himself. “When there was nothing in my letter, I thought perhaps they weren’t going to let the eighth-years play.”

“Yeah. Hermione is out of her mind about getting Head Girl. McGonagall told her they waited to make the announcements because they honestly didn’t know who was coming back. I suppose they didn’t have much choice about Malfoy captaining, eh? Hardly enough people in Slytherin to make up a Quidditch team.”

“He is their most experienced player, Ron.” Harry hesitated before continuing. “Did you see those bruises on his arms this morning? It looked like somebody roughed him up a bit.”

“My Galleons are on that prat Smith. I saw Goyle smack his face into a wall in the gents’ yesterday.” Ron chuckled. “Still playing at bodyguard for Malfoy.”

Harry gritted his teeth as he vividly recalled Smith mowing down first years in his desperation to save himself during the final battle.

“Smith’s been talking a lot of crap about taking revenge on the Slytherins,” Ron continued. “And he’s always been a bit of a bully. Do you remember that nasty shot he took at Ginny during the Hufflepuff game in our sixth year? I thought Dean was going to kill him.” Ron flushed and looked away uncomfortably. “Anyway, he’s a right tosser, that one.”

“You say Goyle took him out?”

“Swatted him like a fly. Do you suppose we should remind Goyle that we saved his arse? I really don’t want to be on his bad side, anymore; I think he’s got bigger, if that’s possible.”

* * *

Quidditch trials were not going well.

Many of the experienced players had not returned, and the younger players had missed out on a year of training during the reign of the Carrows. Harry watched with sinking spirits as Ron saved his twentieth attempt on goal without so much as turning his broom.

“Alright! That’s enough, thank you!” he shouted, unable to keep a note of frustration out of his voice. “I’ll need a few minutes to make my decisions. Everyone can shower and meet back here in fifteen minutes.”

Harry sank to the grass and stared despondently at his notes. The only veteran players he had were Demelza Robins and Ron. Sadly, he could not play a team consisting of nothing more than a single Chaser, Keeper, and Seeker; much as he would have liked to.

Demelza still possessed her uncanny ability to avoid a Bludger as if she had eyes in the back of her head, but her performance at the hoops was, if anything, worse. Still, she was practically all he had to be happy about.

It was impossible to gauge how Ron’s skills had held up after a year’s hiatus, since he had hardly been challenged all day. It didn’t matter, anyway; no one else had bothered trying out for the position of Keeper. Harry suspected that Ron was considered a shoo-in for the position, hence the total lack of competitors. And truth be told, after the events of the previous year, he couldn’t imagine picking anyone else over Ron, despite performance.

Dean and Seamus, on the other hand, had been too wretched to pass without serious consideration. He agonised for ten minutes before finally selecting Seamus, not because he’d flown any better, but because he had always felt a little bad about passing him over in their sixth year. His final choice for Chaser was a fourth-year girl named Helena Barrett, whom he’d honestly never taken notice of in his life. She was actually a fair flyer, but he envisioned countless hours of drills on keeping hold of the Quaffle.

He spent only seconds selecting his Beaters. They had all been atrocious, so he simply picked the two largest boys. He had just finished copying down the names of his new team when everyone arrived back on the pitch.

Surprisingly, Harry received no complaints as he read the names from his list. It was as if they all knew how badly they had performed. He immediately scheduled a practice session for the following morning and dismissed the lot of them, watching wearily as his new Beaters each took a shot to the head as they tried to wrestle a Bludger back into its restraints.

* * *

The following morning at breakfast found Harry lost in an unpleasant daydream in which Zacharias Smith was hoisting the Quidditch Cup in the air, while Harry and Malfoy sat miserably in opposite corners, tied for last place with their pathetic teams.

He chewed morosely on his toast, alternating between glaring at Smith and surreptitiously throwing glances at Malfoy.

For some reason, Malfoy seemed in good spirits. Harry watched him engage in an animated discussion with his new Keeper, a scrawny third-year boy that, in Harry’s estimation, could stand to join Helena in some rigorous ball-handling sessions.

Harry had stayed on the pitch the entire previous day, watching with despair as both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw put together formidable teams. It was hard to say about Slytherin, really. There hadn’t been a tryout. Exactly six people had shown up, so Malfoy had flown them around in each position and subsequently assigned them where they performed best, which was not saying much. The only one Harry recognised was Goyle, who was naturally made Beater.

He turned away from Malfoy and focussed his attention on Smith. It galled him no end that Zacharias had even had the nerve to come back to school after his behaviour during the final battle. The fact that he had been made captain again enraged Harry. Of course, none of the professors would have seen his actions in the Room of Requirement. But Harry had. His eyes narrowed and his hand reflexively gripped his wand.

Harry’s daydream resumed and, as Smith hoisted the Cup, the whole hall rose as one and hexed him with Ginny’s classic Bat-Bogey Hex. So engrossed was he in enjoying this vision, that he jumped visibly when Hermione suddenly gasped. His eyes reflexively sought out the temperamental ceiling, but it was merely displaying a delicate, misty rainbow; admittedly odd, given that it was pouring rain outside, but not cause for an outburst. He turned back to the table curiously.

“Oh…my,” Hermione whispered, staring wide-eyed at her copy of the Daily Prophet.

“Wha’?” Ron asked through a mouthful of toast, spraying both of them with crumbs. “What is it?”

“Well, it’s just that you were right last week, Ron. In a manner of speaking. Not, of course, in the way you expressed it.”

Both Harry and Ron gave her puzzled looks.

Hermione returned a stern, warning look of her own, and spread the paper out on the table.

Harry stared dumbly at the massive blinking headline for several moments before what he was reading sunk in.



Malfoy Scion Disinherited; Breaks Decade-Long Betrothal!


The grainy photo below the headline showed Malfoy glancing nervously over his shoulder before slipping through the doors of a posh Hyde Park hotel. Harry squinted to read the smaller print captioning the photo.

Further investigation uncovers homosexual trysts and wild partying in Muggle London. (See page 4 for Rita Skeeter’s shocking exposé)

“Told you so,” Ron sang quietly. “Not that there’s anything wrong with it,” he quickly added, as Hermione brusquely turned the pages, glaring daggers.

Harry continued to rapidly skim the article, his eyes widening as he picked out the highlights of the story.


…A close personal friend of the family confided in us that the former heir to the largest fortune in Wizarding Great Britain has been trading favours for room and board since losing access to his ancestral home and family accounts…

…Our source inside Gringotts confirms that Draco Malfoy has been stricken from the records of all Malfoy holdings…

…A certain French dignitary has quietly left the country amid accusations of improper use of delegation funds…

A sharp increase in the volume of chatter in the Hall snapped Harry out of his shocked stupor. He glanced around to see nearly everyone in the room hunched excitedly over shared copies of The Prophet.

He turned slowly towards the Slytherin table, slightly ashamed of looking at Malfoy, even though nearly everyone in the Hall was now furtively doing so. Heat rose in his face when he found Malfoy staring directly back at him, arms folded defiantly over his chest. He was wearing the grey t-shirt again and the dragon appeared to be in a rage, blowing a great stream of fire from behind Malfoy’s left hand.

Harry tilted his head at the newspaper in Hermione’s tightly clutched hands, raising his eyebrows in question. For a moment, Malfoy looked furious. Then, so slightly that Harry could have missed it by blinking, he shook his head and turned his back on the room.

* * *

The furore over the article had grown to a fever pitch by the time his team met for practice later in the morning.

“Enough!” Harry bellowed over the excited exchange of rumours. “We’ve a lot of work to do if we don’t want to be humiliated next month. And, Demelza…I find it extremely difficult to believe that Malfoy has appeared in Muggle pornography. Unless you’ve seen the film for yourself, I suggest you consider the source. Smith is a prat.”

Demelza scowled, but dutifully collected the Quaffle and began drilling with Helena and Seamus. Harry winced as her first pass shot right between the two of them and struck one of his Beaters on the back of the head.

The two-hour practice session dragged on tortuously for Harry. He began to lose hope of even tying for last place. Time and time again, the Quaffle eluded his Chasers while never once presenting the slightest challenge to Ron. The Beaters were faring slightly better, if one didn’t consider the fact that most of their direct hits were on one another.

When he realised he was in serious danger of losing his voice from shouting instructions, he descended to the pitch to retrieve the Golden Snitch and do a bit of practice himself.

It was liberating to give up watching his struggling team and just fly. Harry threw himself into the chase with glee, following the Snitch through hairpin turns and breathtaking vertical climbs. He laughed delightedly as he dropped into a recklessly low Wronski Feint, pulling out just in time to scrape his knee roughly across the grass. He grinned at Ron as he whizzed past the far goal hoop with inches to spare, hot on the tail of the zigzagging golden ball.

The Snitch made a beeline for the Ravenclaw spectator tower and Harry flattened himself to his broom, determined to catch the ball before it could lose itself beneath the scaffolding. His eyes locked on his target and he stretched his arm out, relishing the familiar burn across his shoulders. With less than a few metres to spare, his fingers made contact and he snagged the tip of a fluttering wing between his thumb and forefinger. With a triumphant whoop, he pulled his broom to a halt and grinned down at his prize.

Harry whirled around, nearly slipping from his broom at the sharp sound of clapping from the seats to his left. He squinted against the sun, trying to make out the spectator.

“Beautiful catch, Potter,” Malfoy drawled. “We may have a battle for last place after all.”

Malfoy was sprawled out, with his legs spread open and propped up on the seatbacks in front of him. He had those ancient jeans on, and the rip was riding dangerously high. Harry wasn’t quite aware that he was staring at it until Malfoy’s snide voice snapped him out of it.

“Perhaps I should go into the blue movie trade. I can see I’d have a least one avid viewer lined up.”

Harry wrinkled his nose. “Not even if you appeared with the entire Holyhead Harpies side, Malfoy.”

“No? What if it were the Falcons, instead? Would that be more to your taste, Potter?”

“You’re hilarious,” Harry gritted out through clenched teeth. “What are you doing here?”

Malfoy draped his arms out across the seats and shifted lower, causing the hole in his jeans to ride higher still.

“Just sizing up the competition, Potter. As captains do.” He glanced towards the castle and his expression turned bitter. “Besides which, I needed a bit of fresh air. There isn’t enough oxygen in the castle for all those windbags today.”

“Is it true?” Harry blurted, unable to contain his curiosity.

“Which bit? That I’m an internationally acclaimed rent boy, or that I’ve got the Dark Mark tattooed on my left arse cheek?” Malfoy asked with a dark grin.

“That your father disowned you.”

The grin vanished. Malfoy picked at the frayed edge of his ripped jeans for a moment, before fixing Harry with a steady gaze. “Every word.”

“Because…” Harry trailed off, realising the impropriety of what he was about to ask.

“Yes, Potter,” Malfoy said, a strange half-smile forming on his lips. “Because.”

* * *

Harry’s hand halted in mid-stroke and his eyes flew open in shock. It was one thing to experiment with fictional males during his evening wank fantasies. It was quite another to construct imaginary porn flicks featuring Draco Malfoy.

He tried to reason that it was a perfectly normal reaction to Malfoy’s insinuations that morning, but it rang false, even in his own head. He talked about sex with everyone. Well, everyone except Hermione, who insisted on using medical terminology that seemed designed to utterly extinguish any possible arousal. He had engaged in hundreds of dirty conversations, far tawdrier than a simple joke about making porn. Not once had any of his friends materialised in his wank material.

Of course, Malfoy wasn’t a friend.

So, accepting that, it was fair to say that he might find the idea a little interesting. Not, of course, with the Falmouth Falcons. The very notion of any of those Neanderthals engaged in sexual relations was an automatic willy wilter. Puddlemere United, on the other hand…

Harry’s fingers tightened.

* * *

“For the tenth time, Harry,” Hermione sighed. “You cannot combine Asphodel with anything else from the Liliaceae family. The results could be catastrophic.”

Harry frowned at his parchment. “What? Where?”

“Scilla seeds,” Hermione said, poking his essay with her quill.

“Oh. I meant Trillium seeds,” Harry muttered, crossing out the incorrect line and beginning to replace it.

“Also from the Liliaceae family.” Hermione closed her book and tucked it in her bag. “I’m deadly serious, Harry,” she said as she rose to her feet. “The N.E.W.T.s will not be like the O.W.L.s. You aren’t going to be able to squeak by on natural talent. You’ve got to learn the properties of the standard potion ingredients, and I can’t do that for you.”

Harry watched with a mingled sense of dismay and relief as Hermione gathered her quill and parchments, and stomped off.

He flipped the pages of Advanced Potion Making, his eyes instantly glazing over as he skimmed the endless lists of flowers, herbs, trees, metals, liquids, and magical creatures he was supposed to memorise. Honestly…what possible use could this have in the real world? Was he really going to need to stop in the middle of a duel with a dark wizard to differentiate between forty different varieties of sage?

With a quick look around to ensure that Hermione had indeed left the library, Harry slipped the October issue of The Quidditch Times from the back of his book. It was the annual broom issue, and Harry had been desperate for a few free moments to read about the Lightning Bolt, a prototype model supposedly based on his performance in the Triwizard Tournament, and purported to be able to outstrip a dragon in a head-to-head race.

Before he located the article, however, his eyes landed instead on an advert for the new Firebolt Millennium featuring, of all people, Oliver Wood. Harry’s face flushed hotly as images from several weeks of evening wank sessions filled his mind. He shifted and slumped in his chair as he revisited the fantasy of Malfoy’s sarcastic mouth wrapped wetly around Wood’s;

“Studying hard, Potter?”

Harry jumped, smacking his knee on the underside of the table.

“Ouch! Fuck, Malfoy, you shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.”

“This from the individual who snuck around after me for an entire year.”

“Yes,” Harry snapped, dropping his magazine in his lap. “And I remember how well it worked out when I startled you.”

Malfoy subtly flinched. It was a rotten thing to say, but Harry wasn’t sorry, if for no other reason than that the memory of nearly murdering Malfoy put an abrupt end to his impending erection. Harry stowed the image away for future use in such circumstances.

Apparently not dissuaded by callous comments about his near-death, Malfoy leaned over and inspected the photo of Wood, who was now grinning up from between Harry’s thighs. Harry felt himself blush again as the Oliver Wood in the advert ran his hand suggestively up and down the broom’s handle.

“That’s a very good-looking broom,” Malfoy said.

Harry, who was carefully not looking at him, could practically hear the smirk.

“Yeah? What do you think of the Lightning Bolt?” He flipped the page to the article, certain that his so-called ‘signature broom’ would infuriate Malfoy.

Harry surreptitiously glanced up. As predicted, Malfoy’s nose scrunched up at the very mention of it.

“I think there is no end to the crass exploitation people are willing to stoop to in order to sell a product,” he sniffed. “I suppose it’ll come with a temporary scar charm one can affix to his forehead while he rides it?”

Harry grinned despite himself. “I wouldn’t put it past them. At least they didn’t call it the Saviour.”

Malfoy’s lips twitched. “I’d rather have the Firebolt.” He reached between Harry’s legs and casually flipped the pages back. His voice dropped lower as he leaned over Harry to look at the picture. “Especially if comes with Wood. Wouldn’t you agree, Potter?”

No quantity of gory imagery could prevent Harry’s reaction this time. He grabbed at the magazine for protection, bending its edges in his panicked grip. That voice, and Wood’s face, and the fantasies, and oh, fuck, he knows.

Before his brain could catch up to his mouth, Harry blurted, “I’m sure that costs extra.” He would have clapped his hand over his mouth in horror, but he couldn’t relinquish his death grip on the magazine.

A little puff of amused breath tickled his ear before Malfoy straightened up and stepped away. “Most likely,” he said, smiling in a peculiar, predatory way that made Harry tuck down even further beneath his magazine.

Malfoy adjusted his book bag on his shoulder and turned to go. As he rounded the table, he turned back and pointed at Harry’s abandoned essay. “I believe you’ll find that you want Salvia seeds there. Unless, of course, you plan to kill us all in class today.” He gave Harry another bizarre grin, and left the library.

* * *

With irritating predictability, the first truly fucking frigid day of the year coincided with the Slytherin vs. Gryffindor Quidditch match. Harry blew into his gloves, vainly trying to warm his frozen fingers while he watched his shivering team make a final equipment check.

He made his pre-game speech short, primarily because he couldn’t control his chattering teeth.

“Okay! Let’s not make a complete mockery of ourselves.”

Ron shot him an amused look. “Very inspiring, mate.”

“What can I say? I’m a born leader.” Harry grinned. “Everyone says so.”

The team walked stiffly on to the pitch, flinching at the first contact with the icy air. Harry tried not to think about how it was going to feel when they started flying. On the plus side, he reasoned, the temperature should provide a deterrent to his unfailing Malfoy-triggered erections.

He kicked off to a rather more subdued roar than greeted most season-opening games. The crowd looked positively frozen, hunched down under layers of hats, cloaks, scarves, and blankets. Harry saw a few hands dart out to wave house flags, but they quickly retreated back under cover. Slytherin took to the air to an equally muted combination of cheers and boos.

Confident that his bits couldn’t react even if he wanted them to, Harry took his first good look at Malfoy in two weeks. He’d been avoiding doing so since an unfortunate reaction to the sight of Malfoy with a toffee apple had forced him to excuse himself early from the Halloween Feast.

It might have been the extreme cold, but Harry thought Malfoy looked even paler than usual. He had definitely lost weight; he looked as if a good, stiff breeze could knock him off his broom, which was no small matter on a day like this one.

Goyle seemed to be hovering protectively near him, mirroring every move Malfoy made. Harry watched curiously as Malfoy turned and glared, making a shooing motion with his hand. Goyle backed off a couple of metres, but refused to take the customary Beaters’ starting position. Harry was so engrossed in this silent battle of wills, that he nearly missed the release of the Quaffle, only registering the start of play when Malfoy suddenly pulled his broom up to avoid his Chasers.

Harry rose as well, scanning the pitch for the telltale glint of the Golden Snitch. The shimmering icy grass below was going to make spotting the Snitch a difficult task. Watching Malfoy out of the corner of his eye was going to make it doubly so, but he didn’t seem to be able to help himself.

There was no question that Malfoy was off his game. He was flying carefully, almost uncertainly. As Harry watched him in the turns, he began to suspect that Malfoy might be injured. There was definitely something odd in the way he was holding his broom.

Suddenly, Malfoy dove towards the Slytherin goal posts. Harry spun and pursued, searching frantically for any sign of the ball. He realised Malfoy’s target just as the other boy slowed up: a gold tassel on a Gryffindor banner, fluttering in the icy wind. Harry released the breath he’d been holding and shook the tension out of his hand, vowing to keep his focus on the game from this point forward.

He registered that Goyle had shadowed them down to the end, and could hear Malfoy shouting at him to get back in position as Harry flew away. Harry was forced to reel back towards them almost immediately as Demelza shot by within inches of him, in possession of the Quaffle and bearing down fast on the Slytherin goal.

Harry watched her veer deftly around an opposing Chaser and then, inexplicably, come to dead stop. He was just opening his mouth to ask what the fuck she thought she was doing when it happened.

A Bludger came flying at Demelza at top speed. She watched it, seemingly unconcerned, until it was only metres away. At the last possible second, she ducked, leaving the Bludger on a collision course with Malfoy, who was still obliviously engaged in berating Goyle.

Harry shouted, and Malfoy finally looked up, wide eyes locking on the ball as it closed in on him. And then, with a speed Harry had not known him to possess, Goyle launched himself into the Bludger’s path, taking the shot directly between the eyes. There was a sickening crunching sound when the ball made contact, and Goyle dropped limply from his broom.

* * *

Malfoy looked frayed to his last nerve when he stepped out into the hallway of the hospital wing.

“How is he?” Harry asked.

Malfoy jumped and spun around. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to make sure Goyle was going to be all right. That was a terrible fall.”

Malfoy’s face passed through several conflicted expressions before settling back on exhausted.

“No. He’s not all right. There’s damage to his brain and spinal column beyond what Madam Pomfrey can treat here. He’s going to be transferred to St. Mungo’s later in the day.”

“I’m really sorry, Malfoy.” Harry began to reach a hand out towards Malfoy, who looked as if he might collapse at any moment. He drew it back quickly at Malfoy’s suddenly murderous look.

“What the fuck was your Chaser doing out there, Potter? That was deliberate. Don’t try to tell me it wasn’t.”

Harry winced. “I know it looked that way—”

Malfoy sagged again and began muttering under his breath. “The stupid oaf. I don’t know what he was thinking. I should have—” He broke off, staring blankly down the hall. “There are just the two of us now. We watch out for one another. I shouldn’t have let that happen.”

“It was an accident. You couldn’t have done anything differently.”

“It was not a bloody accident, Potter. Pull your head out of your arse for just a moment. I should have been paying attention.” Malfoy sneered. “Constant vigilance.” He spoke the new Ministry slogan in a sarcastic, nasal mimicry of the Wizarding Wireless spokeswitch.

Harry could imagine Moody mocking the Ministry’s “tribute” to him in a very similar fashion, and he found himself smiling.

“What’s fucking funny, Potter?”

“I’m sorry; it’s only that you reminded me of someone for a moment. Really, Malfoy, if there’s anything I can do to help, I hope you’ll ask.”

Malfoy snorted and looked away, swiping his hand across his face.

“I’m serious. Anything.”

Malfoy shot him a strained smirk and walked away. When he reached the end of the hall, he looked back and managed to produce a passable leer.

“I’ll remember you said that,” he called, and disappeared around the corner.

* * *

It seemed like the entire house was crammed into the common room when Harry returned. Ron and Hermione hurried toward him, wearing equally dour expressions.

“What happened?” Hermione asked immediately.

“Goyle is going to be transferred to St. Mungo’s. His injuries sound pretty serious.”

Hermione elbowed Ron in the ribs. “You’ve got to tell him,” she hissed.

“I’m about to. There’s no need for violence,” Ron complained, rubbing his side.

“Tell me what?” Harry could already tell he wasn’t going to like it, whatever it was.

“Well,” Ron started. “I saw Demelza in the hall after the game. She was with that fuckwit Smith.” He flinched away from Hermione as she glared at his use of language. “Well, he is, Hermione. A right fuckwit.”

Harry nodded. “Agreed. Get to the point.”

“Well, they seem pretty close these days, if you know what I mean.” Ron glanced around nervously and lowered his voice as he continued. “I think they planned that. They were laughing about it. Saying she’d missed the target, but Goyle was the next best thing.”

Harry narrowed his eyes and swept the room for his lead Chaser. “Demelza!” he shouted when he found her leaning against the fireplace. “A word, please. Outside.” He stormed out the portrait hole without looking back to see if she’d followed.

Harry paced the corridor while he waited for Demelza, fury rising at the thought that one of his own team mates might have been conspiring with Zacharias fucking Smith, of all people.

“What happened out there today?” he demanded, the second she stepped through the portrait hole.

Demelza shrugged. “I dodged the Bludger. Goyle didn’t.” Her glib tone infuriated Harry even more.

“Really? Because from where I was sitting, it looked like you were deliberately drawing the ball to Malfoy.”

“Oh, what if I was, Harry? It’s the first rule of Quidditch, right? Take out the Seeker.”

“According to one of the great arseholes of the game, yes,” Harry spat. “Do you have any idea how badly Greg Goyle was injured? He’s going to be transferred to St. Mungo’s, and I overheard Madam Pomfrey saying that he might not be back until after Christmas. Do you know how much damage you have to do in order to put someone in hospital for two months?”

Demelza blanched. “It was just a bit of fun. No one could have guessed he’d throw himself face-first into the Bludger like that. We just wanted to get a shot on Malfoy. He deserves it, Harry.”

“What do you mean we?” Harry demanded. “I don’t remember any team discussions regarding targeting Draco Malfoy.”

Now she looked genuinely nervous. “Well, no… I was just talking with Zach the other day, you know, about all the terrible things Malfoy’s done. We just thought, well, everyone might like to see him brought down a peg or two.” She lifted her chin at the end, as if she felt she had made an unassailable point.

“By Zach,” Harry said, in as even a tone as he could manage, “I presume you mean that complete waste of air, Zacharias Smith. Who, I might add, is not on our fucking team. Is that the person you discussed game tactics with?”

Demelza gave a tiny nod.

“You’re lucky I don’t chuck you off the team right now. If I ever hear so much as a whisper about you planning plays with a member of another house again, you will be gone before you can turn around.”

Harry stormed back through the portrait hole, leaving a stunned Demelza alone in the hallway.

* * *

He was still fuming to Ron and Hermione as they made their way towards Potions the following afternoon.

“Smith? Smith is passing judgement on behaviour during the war? I have half a mind to give an interview about what I saw him doing during the evacuation.”

“He really is awful,” Hermione agreed, nearly dropping her immense stack of books as she struggled to pull Advanced Potions from the bottom of the pile while walking. “I caught him shoving that little first-year Slytherin, Grist, into a broom closet the other day. He’s nothing but a bully.”

“Absolute prat,” Ron nodded. “I don’t know what Demelza sees in him.”

They rounded the corner in the Potions corridor just in time to see the object of their discussion throw a Tripping Jinx at Malfoy, who sprawled painfully on the stone floor.

“You should watch your step, Malfoy,” Smith called nastily. “Funny, I thought poofs were supposed to be graceful. Like girls.”

Malfoy climbed to his knees with a grimace and began collecting his scattered books. To Harry’s great surprise, he made no move to retaliate, or even to speak to Smith. A few of the other occupants of the corridor chuckled nervously.

Malfoy stood, brushed himself off, and turned to make for the classroom, all as if nothing had happened. Harry watched incredulously as Smith raised his wand again, obviously intending to throw a hex at Malfoy’s retreating back.

His own wand was in his hand before he knew what he was doing. He felt a grim satisfaction as he saw Smith’s wand fly across the hall and clatter to the floor, just as Smith’s legs began to wobble and dance wildly and his skin came over covered in bright purple spots. Wait, what?

Harry glanced to his sides and found both Ron and Hermione also brandishing their wands, Hermione frowning and Ron laughing outright.

“Would you look at that,” Ron guffawed. “Synchronised hexing. It should be a sport.”

Smith caught sight of his purple-spotted hand and gave a little whimper just before his legs skittered out from under him and he crashed to the floor in a heap.

“Grace really is relative, isn’t it?” Hermione quipped in an unusually spiteful tone, stepping lightly over Smith’s prone form. “Twenty points from Hufflepuff.”

“Well, now we know Smith’s not a girl. No grace at all,” Ron returned, stepping around Smith’s thrashing legs and following Hermione towards the classroom. “You coming, Harry?”

“In a minute,” Harry called, staring down at Smith’s panicked face.

Harry knelt down close to Smith, simultaneously Summoning the other boy’s wand. He tucked it into Smith’s robe, grinning maliciously when Smith flinched as it poked him sharply in the ribcage.

“Listen carefully, Zacharias,” he whispered. “I know all about you and your wartime heroics. If you don’t want everyone else to know, I suggest you don’t let me catch you hexing people behind their backs. And stay away from my Quidditch players.”

Harry straightened up and stepped over Smith, only stopping when he reached the Potions classroom to cast Finite Incantatem over his shoulder.

When he stepped in to the classroom and took his seat, he found Draco Malfoy staring intently at him.

* * *

“Granger. Potter.”

Harry looked up from his hopelessly cocked-up essay on the volatility of powdered griffin claw to find Malfoy hovering over their table.

In testament to how exasperated Hermione had become with Harry, she looked almost relieved by the interruption. Ron and Corner glanced up, both looking surprised, but went immediately back to work. Harry marvelled for moment at the bizarre concept of Hermione appreciating a distraction while in the library, and vowed to try harder.

“Malfoy,” Hermione responded, after Harry failed to say anything.

Malfoy shifted on the balls of his feet, looking uncharacteristically nervous. He cleared his throat and glanced around suspiciously. Harry raised an eyebrow.

“I have, ah, a proposition for you, Potter.”

Harry raised the other eyebrow.

Malfoy took a deep breath and plunged on. “I couldn’t help but notice that you seem to be struggling a bit in Potions.” Harry shot a look at Hermione, who had just let out a derisive snort. “I’m offering you a trade. I’ve been having some issues with personal safety. It seems I’ve made some enemies over the years and without Greg…” Malfoy trailed off, looking humiliated.

“Are you asking me to be your bodyguard, Malfoy?” Harry impressed himself by not laughing as he said this.

He must not have been entirely successful in hiding his amusement, though, because Malfoy suddenly became snappish. “It’s not as if I’m not offering you anything in return. I’m an excellent tutor, Potter. At the rate you’re going, you’ll be lucky if you’re allowed to sit the N.E.W.T.s at all. And, you, Granger, would be free to faff off to spend a little quality time with the ginger here, or take five more subjects, or whatever it is that you do for pleasure.”

Now Hermione’s brows shot up. “You’re suggesting a deal with all of us? You want all of us to protect you?”

Malfoy cleared his throat again. “This afternoon could have gone very badly for me. I’m aware of,” he paused and straightened up, “and appreciate, what you did.”

“No offence, Malfoy,” Ron cut in, “but I did that because I can’t stand Smith. It didn’t have a thing to do with you.”

Malfoy crumpled a little. “I can help you, Potter,” he said, turning his attention back to Harry. “Not just potions. Anything you want.” His intense stare made Harry shift uncomfortably in his seat.

“On the other hand,” Ron mused, “it would be sort of like being hired to hex Smith. I could get behind that, I think.”

“Hired?” Harry frowned at Ron. “So, studying with me is a job now, is it?”

“Sorry, mate,” Ron grinned, “but you are beginning to seriously cut into our snogging time.”

Hermione elbowed Ron sharply.

“Ouch.”

“Listen, Harry,” Hermione said, turning to face him. “There’s no point pretending that I’ve not been struggling with trying to get you up to speed. Perhaps it isn’t a bad idea to try…” She gave Malfoy an appraising look, “…something different.”

Harry stared at her.

“And I’ll admit,” she continued, “it did feel pretty good to hex that insufferable…fuckwit.” Ron’s burst of laughter almost drowned out Hermione’s last word.

“So,” Harry said, looking around at his friends as if they had gone insane. “We’re going to be what? Malfoy’s Minders? Shall I have some badges made up?”

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary.” Corner snickered. “Since you seem to need to spend every waking hour with your tutor, I imagine you’ll be able to handle Malfoy’s protection on your own, for the most part.”

“Piss off, Corner,” Harry snapped.

He turned his irate gaze on Malfoy. “You had better make this worth it, Malfoy.”

For the first time in the conversation, Malfoy’s smirk came out to play. “Don’t worry, Potter. I’m always worth it.”

* * *

After a brief consultation with Slughorn, Harry had been reassigned to partner with Malfoy, and Hermione to an independent project of her choosing, seeing as she had already proven her proficiency in every potion they were meant to work on through the end of the year.

Harry, never one to shirk his responsibilities, made a point of bumping into Smith on his way to join Malfoy at the front of the class. Just to make sure he took notice of the new alliance, of course.

Malfoy was a surprisingly patient partner, calmly pointing out mistakes before Harry made them, providing quiet guidance, and adding just enough theory with his explanations that Harry’s brain was able to take it in without rebelling.

When they had reached the stage when there was nothing to do but let the cauldron simmer for ten minutes, Harry pushed his chair back and regarded Malfoy.

“You’re good at this,” he said, trying not to sound too surprised.

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Of course I am. How do you think Goyle managed to qualify to take this course? I spent all of June teaching him.”

“Just so you could have your bodyguard in class with you?”

“Believe it or not, I do actually like Gregory. I’ve known him since I was a child and we’ve been through a great deal together. There’s nothing like nearly burning to death together to cement a friendship,” he finished wryly.

“By that logic, you and I should be fast friends,” Harry answered.

“Yes, well…”

“I still don’t understand this, though, Malfoy. I’ve seen you duel. You’re twice the wizard Smith is in a fight. Why don’t you just fight back?”

“Apparently you are the only person in the Wizarding World who didn’t read the article outlining the terms of my probation. Typical.”

“I did read it. You can’t leave the country and you have to report to a Ministry-assigned probation officer monthly until you turn twenty.”

“And?”

“And that’s what I remember.” Harry shrugged.

“And I’m not allowed to cast offensive spells outside of the classroom, Potter. I’ve got a trace on me, very similar to the underage trace. If I cast so much as an unsupervised Stinging Hex, I’ll be back in front of the Wizengamot inside of the hour.”

“Surely you’re allowed to use magic to defend yourself?” Harry asked.

“There are no exceptions,” Malfoy intoned in a voice eerily reminiscent of Dolores Umbridge. He pointed to the cauldron. “Stir. Three times, anti-clockwise.”

“That doesn’t seem fair,” Harry said, but Malfoy did not answer. Harry stirred the potion, careful not to scrape the bottom, as per Malfoy’s earlier instructions. “Okay, what’s next?”

“I’m going to let you try to figure that out,” Malfoy said, reaching for Harry’s book and flipping the pages open. “Oh my, what have we here?” Malfoy had found the photo of Oliver Wood, which Harry and torn from The Quidditch Times and secreted in the pages of his book.

“It’s just a bookmark.” Harry could feel the back of his neck heating up and hoped desperately that it wouldn’t spread to his face.

“Interesting choice of place holder. Tell me…is it the broom or the rider that interests you so?”

“It’s just a bookmark,” Harry repeated lamely.

“You know, Potter,” Malfoy said, leaning in and speaking in a low, taunting voice, “there are nearly as many rumours flying around about what happened between you and your girlfriend as there are about my supposed exploits over the summer. What exactly was the problem between you two?”

“There was no problem,” Harry hissed. “She got an offer from a professional Quidditch team and she took it. Who wouldn’t?” He narrowed his eyes. “And what do you mean ‘supposed exploits?’ I thought you said it was all true.”

“No, I said the reasons they reported for my disownment were true.” Malfoy looked annoyed. “You can’t really have believed I was a courtesan to the French Finance Liaison. The man is my second cousin, for fuck’s sake.”

“I didn’t know what to believe. You didn’t exactly refute any of it, you know.”

“Stir,” Malfoy snapped. “Five times clockwise.”

Harry stirred. After a minute of tense silence, he said, “I’m sorry. About the magic, I mean. That must be difficult.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Malfoy shrugged and forced a grin. “I’d much rather discuss your budding obsession with Oliver Wood. What exactly draws you to him in particular, do you think?”

“I am not—”

Harry didn’t get to finish his sentence, though, because there was a sudden yelp followed by a deafening explosion. He and Malfoy spun in their seats to see Zacharias Smith covered from head to toe in thick smoking potion, his wand clutched in his hand and pointing directly at Malfoy.

“Tsk, tsk,” muttered Slughorn, huffing over to Smith’s table and blocking Harry’s view.

Harry shot a look at Ron, who was bent over, looking hard at work, and grinning into his cauldron.

* * *

The next couple of weeks saw Harry improve greatly across every subject. As he began to relax about Potions, he found that the rest of his classes became almost easy.

The only thing that was really worrying him now, was his near inability to fall asleep without indulging in his nightly wank. Indeed, a wank had been part of his nightly routine for several years now, but he couldn’t seem to get there anymore unless he dug out his picture of Oliver Wood. The picture of Oliver Wood that inevitably led to thoughts of Malfoy. The picture that, if he were honest, he really wanted to go spend some quality time with right now.

“I’m telling you, Malfoy,” Harry groaned, “there is no point continuing. My head is full; nothing else will fit.”

“I refuse to believe it, Potter. Even your brain can hold more than two potions…look here.” Malfoy was pointing at a mind-numbingly complicated variation on the Elixir to Induce Euphoria, which involved adding liquorice to induce uncontrollable laughter. “The problem is, when you take the mint out, you’ve got to find another way to balance the Wormwood. So, what can you think of that complements Wormwood?”

Harry heaved out a sigh and shoved his fringe out of eyes. The words looked fuzzy, like he’d forgotten to clean his glasses. He’d only just polished them, though, so that obviously wasn’t the problem. “I don’t know,” he moaned. “More Shrivelfig?” Malfoy rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, but I’m exhausted and I really don’t know. Can we please take a break?”

Malfoy shoved his chair back and kicked his legs up on the table. “It’s your future, Potter.” He pulled a magazine from his bag and began reading.

Harry dropped his head to the table, closing his eyes in relief. It was so late that even the Ravenclaws had all left; only Harry, Malfoy, and Madam Pince remained in the silent library. His brain literally felt like it was going to explode, it was so crammed with potion ingredients and brewing instructions. He had nearly drifted off with his face pillowed on his book when he heard Malfoy let out a tiny, sharp breath.

Harry peeled one eye open to look at his infuriating tutor. The other eye popped open in shock when he realised that Malfoy was quite blatantly rubbing one off through his jeans.

“What the fuck are you doing, Malfoy?”

Malfoy tossed his magazine on to the table in front of Harry, revealing that it was a copy of Hard Wands, a publication Harry had managed to get his hands on only once before, and which had played no small role in Ginny’s decision to accept the Harpies’ offer.

“I’m taking a break, Potter. Isn’t that what you purported to want to do?”

“Malfoy!” Harry hissed. “You cannot get your bits out in the library.”

“Not going to need to get anything out,” Malfoy breathed, grinning. “Look at that fucking picture. I almost don’t even need to touch myself.”

Unbidden, Harry’s eyes scanned the photo in question. Whatever else Harry might think of Malfoy, the man had outstanding taste in wank material. Mesmerised, Harry stared at the picture. The two wizards were spooned together, the one in back thrusting slowly into the other’s arse, gripping his hair with one hand and his cock with the other.

Harry began sympathetically thrusting against the seam of his trousers in time with the men in the photo. He squeezed his eyes shut, but it was too late. The image was still playing behind his eyelids. He struggled to still his hips before Malfoy caught sight of what he was doing.

He nearly bit through his tongue in shock when he felt a warm hand brush across his trapped erection.

“What do you say we change up the lesson plan?”

“What?” Harry squeaked, to his eternal shame.

“You’ve obviously reached your limit for academic achievement for the day. I thought perhaps you’d prefer a different sort of tutorial. Has anyone ever done this to you?”

“Yes, of course! I’m not—”

“A man? Has a man ever done this to you? I know you’re curious, Potter.”

Harry considered protesting, but it seemed laughable when the evidence was currently hardening in Malfoy’s hand. “What do you think you know?” He meant the question to come out angrily, but it was a bit too breathy to pass for it.

“If I hadn’t had my suspicions before, the way you’re looking at that picture would have been quite enough. Just think of it as a little supplemental education. I want you to feel you’re getting a fair trade.”

Harry frowned. He wasn’t terribly keen on the idea of Malfoy giving him a handjob in exchange for protection. There was definitely something untoward about that. But then, Malfoy’s palm pressed a bit harder and the thought was lost.

“Madam Pince,” he muttered instead.

“Sound asleep,” Malfoy assured him. “Go on. Look at them.”

Harry obeyed, first glancing towards the librarian’s desk to confirm that indeed Madam Pince had nodded off, her head drooping towards her chest. His eyes moved back to the magazine as Malfoy reached forward and turned the page. The next photo in the series was further along in events. Both wizards’ hips were now snapping back and forth almost violently.

“Beats the fuck out of a broomstick advert, doesn’t it?” Malfoy whispered.

Harry watched avidly as the man in front wrapped his fingers around the hand holding his erection, tightening the other man’s grip. He narrowly restrained himself from doing the same to Malfoy’s hand. From the corner of his eye, he could see that Malfoy was stroking himself in tandem with what he was doing to Harry.

Fighting to keep his breathing quiet, Harry risked pressing forward a bit into Malfoy’s hand. He was rewarded with an increase in speed and a tiny moan that put an end to any reservations he might have had. He began grinding into Malfoy’s hand in earnest, seeking to gain more friction. His hips rose up out of the chair, and his nails dug into the armrests.

Harry watched as the men in the photo began to lose their rhythm, as their eyes started to roll back. The first warning of orgasm gripped his balls, and he tore his eyes away, to…well, he didn’t know what. Perhaps to warn Malfoy. But Malfoy wasn’t looking at him, or at the magazine. His eyes were closed, his lower lip was caught between his teeth, there was a light sheen of sweat forming on his brow, and he looked so fucking hot.

The image stunned Harry’s mind and body into a brief moment of stillness before he let out an uncontrollable gasp and came forcefully against the inside of his trousers.

“Oh, thank Merlin,” Malfoy groaned, tightening his grip on himself and taking a few brutal looking pulls before suddenly arching up out of his chair, gasping dryly for air.

For a minute or so, Harry sat gaping at Malfoy, who had not yet opened his eyes or even moved from the position he had collapsed in after he came. When he could take the tension no longer, he cleared his throat.

“What the fuck was that?”

Malfoy’s eyes open lazily, and he shot Harry a mocking grin.

“It’s called a handjob, Potter. I thought you said you’d had one before.”

“Prat,” Harry muttered, turning away in embarrassment. “I meant, why did you do it?”

Malfoy rolled his eyes and stood to gather his things, adjusting his jeans with a grimace. “I told you. I’m a full-service tutor.”

Harry’s stomach clenched. “That wasn’t our arrangement. I would never—”

Malfoy smirked. “Calm down, Potter. I’m not going to tell anyone, so you can wipe that panicked look off your face. You enjoyed it. I enjoyed it. And you got a little education tonight, after all. There is no problem.” He swung his bag on to his shoulder and turned to leave. “It was Asphodel, by the way. You should add a pinch of Asphodel. See you in Potions.”

* * *

All the hours of studying had been for naught. Harry couldn’t have brewed this potion properly if the survival of every wizard on the planet had been at stake.

After the third time he nearly destroyed their project, a scrap of parchment materialised on top of Harry’s textbook.

What the fuck are you doing?

Harry chanced a sidelong glance at Malfoy, the first time he’d looked at him all lesson. He could see that his Potions partner was furious even from the corner of his eye. Malfoy was rage embodied: all white knuckles, perfect posture, and furrowed brow.

Harry gave a little half-hearted shrug and resumed chopping…whatever it was he was chopping. He squinted at the shredded leaves. Oh, of course, some type of fucking sage. He gathered up a pinch of it to drop into the potion.

He jumped when a hand took his forearm in a vice-like grip.

“When I offered to help you, Potter, I did not mean that I was willing to go down with you.”

Harry did look at Malfoy now. “Go down?” he whispered. Shock and arousal flooded his system and, evidently, his face.

Academically,” Malfoy seethed. “Merlin on a wand. I knew you were hard up, but I had no idea that one little pity wank would render you completely mindless. The next time your hand comes anywhere near that cauldron, I’m going to hex it off. Don’t think I won’t.”

Harry jerked his arm away from Malfoy’s pinching fingers, eyes darting around wildly for eavesdroppers.

“I don’t recall asking for your pity,” he hissed. “In fact, from where I was sitting, you were the one looking hard up. Normal people do their jerking off in private, without feeling the need to grab on to the nearest innocent bystander.”

Malfoy’s face hardened. “Innocent? Yes, you just keep telling yourself that, Potter.”

He turned back to the cauldron and gave it a couple of vicious stirs. “And stop mangling the dandelion leaves.”

Harry stared down at his cutting board. “Dandelion?”

* * *

“I can’t believe you missed it, Harry.” Ron was bouncing along beside him, clearly still buzzing from his altercation with Smith. “We caught him knocking that kid, Grist, around. Corner hit him with a wicked Itching Hex. He’s had his hand down his pants for the last four hours.”

Harry forced an interested chuckle.

“Where’ve you been all week, anyway, mate? I feel like I haven’t seen you in days,” Ron prattled on.

Hiding from Malfoy, Harry thought. “Um, studying. I wanted to finish my extra essays so I’m free to go to Hogsmeade on Saturday.”

“You want to watch that, Harry. You’ll be resorted into Ravenclaw, if you’re not careful.” Ron’s laughter faded away as they rounded the corner and started out into the courtyard. “You’ve got to be joking. The arsehole never learns.”

Harry followed Ron’s gaze to the centre of the courtyard and froze mid-step. Zacharias and a small crowd of onlookers had cornered someone at the fountain. While Harry could not properly see the whole scene, he was able to glimpse a glint of short, white-blond hair.

Harry seized his wand and stepped forward, but he was a moment slower than Smith. Harry ran forward in horror as Malfoy suddenly rose into the air, apparently suspended by one ankle. It was only now that he could see that Malfoy had been stripped to nothing but a pair of black briefs and his school tie.

“Where the fuck did Smith learn Levicorpus?” he asked Ron as both of them pushed into the crowd.

“You taught it to him,” huffed Ron, shoving a fifth-year Ravenclaw boy aside. “You taught it to everyone in the DA.”

“Bugger. I’d nearly forgotten the bastard was a member.” Harry broke through the front of the group and jerked Smith around by his arm. “Let him down, Zacharias. Right now.”

“Oh, the bodyguard is here,” Smith laughed. “What’s the matter, Potter? I’d have thought you’d enjoy an opportunity to see your little poof stripped down to his pants. It certainly looks that way in class.” A smattering of nervous giggles erupted from the crowd.

Harry had Smith by the collar and his wand jabbing into the other boy’s windpipe before he’d had the conscious thought to move. “I don’t know what the fuck you’re implying, Smith, but if he isn’t back on the ground in five seconds you’re going to have trouser issues of your own to deal with.”

“Oooh,” Smith crooned. “Have I misinterpreted the object of your affections? While I’m certainly flattered, Potter, I’m afraid I’m strictly a ladies’ man.”

“Let. Him. Down.” Harry ground out through his teeth.

With a nasty smile and a shrug, Zacharias flicked his wand. “Liberacorpus.” Malfoy dropped like a stone into the fountain water, throwing a cold spray of water over the nearest bystanders.

“There you are, Potter, as requested. He’s all nice and wet for you, as well.” Harry’s face heated as another round of titters passed through the crowd. Trying his best to ignore them, he stepped forward to offer Malfoy a hand from the pool.

Malfoy, however, ignored his outstretched fingers. Though sopping wet and undoubtedly freezing, he straightened himself up without assistance, raised his chin defiantly, and somehow projected a perfect facade of sneering superiority.

He stepped gracefully from the fountain and right up into Smith’s face. “It’s funny,” he drawled, looking Smith up and down with distaste. “For all your talk about Potter’s preferences and my own, I notice you’re the only one going around hexing men’s trousers off. Thou dost protest too much, methinks.”

With a haughty sniff, Malfoy brushed past him, the stunned crowd parting quietly to let him pass.

“Yeah? What is that supposed to mean, Malfoy?” Smith called after him.

Ron stepped up to Smith, grinning malevolently. “It’s Muggle for ‘It takes one to know one.’ You do know what that means, don’t you, Smith?”

* * *

“Malfoy!” Harry jogged down the hall, ignoring the shocked students spinning around to watch him chase a half-naked Draco Malfoy through the halls of the castle. “Malfoy, stop!”

Malfoy picked up his pace, darting down a flight of steps and around a corner towards the Slytherin dormitories. By the time Harry skidded around the corner and into the corridor, Malfoy had nearly reached the end of the hall.

“Damn it! Stop!”

Malfoy stopped and his head dropped back on his neck in obvious frustration, but he did not turn around.

“What do you want, Potter? I’m cold, nearly naked, and not a small bit humiliated. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go to my room now.”

Harry caught up, panting, and moved to stand in front of Malfoy.

“I’m sorry, all right? I shouldn’t have left you on your own these past few days. Are you hurt?”

Malfoy swiped at his runny nose. “It remains to be seen if I’ll perish of pneumonia due to being tossed into a fountain in December. But, no, I’m not injured.”

Harry yanked his cloak off and held it out. “Take it. You can’t walk through your common room like that.”

Malfoy sniffed loudly and glared at Harry. “So, you suggest I walk through my common room with a Gryffindor crest on my chest? Thank you, but I think I’ll take the less embarrassing option of passing through in my pants. These were custom-made in Italy; most of my housemates will be so jealous, they probably won’t even notice that I’m not wearing anything over them.”

Harry shoved the cloak at him impatiently. “Stop being such a wanker and take the cloak, Malfoy. You can turn it inside-out.”

Malfoy shoved back roughly. “I don’t want the fucking cloak! Why are you so interested in this anyway? Jealous that other people are going to see me in my knickers, Potter? It’s a bit late for concern on that issue. It’s already been seen by half the school.”

“I’m trying to help you, for fuck’s sake,” Harry shouted. “What is your problem?”

Malfoy grabbed Harry and viciously shoved him into a deep alcove that looked as if it may have once housed a statue or suit of armour.

“You’ve already helped me,” Malfoy hissed, twisting Harry’s jumper in his fists. “You rescued me from the big, bad Hufflepuff. Is it too much to ask that you’ll allow me to walk away from this with a tiny scrap of my dignity?”

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” Harry protested. He winced as Malfoy propelled him back into the hard stone wall.

“Right,” Malfoy snarled. “I think I understand the problem here. It’s my turn to help you.” He glanced down at himself and then back up with a look of mock surprise. “What can I do? No books, no clothes. I suppose we’ll have to settle for a little alternative education again. That’s what you want, isn’t it, Potter?”

“What? No! I’m just trying to give you a bloody cloak, Malfoy.”

“Yes. Just trying to protect me, right? Make no mistake. This is an arrangement between equals, Potter. You do something for me; I do something for you. That was our deal.”

Malfoy ripped the cloak out of Harry’s hand, dropped it to the floor, and sank to his knees at Harry’s feet.

“So, are you ready for your next lesson?”

“What?” Harry asked dumbly.

Malfoy’s hands closed roughly on the fly of his trousers, wrenching the button open and the fly down in one swift motion.

Malfoy narrowed his eyes. “Now you’re being deliberately obtuse.”

“I’m not…this isn’t…” Harry swallowed and tried to calm himself. “This isn’t about getting favours from you. I want to help you. I don’t know what you had to do this summer to get by, but I’m not like that.”

“First part of the lesson, Potter. If you believe that being on the receiving end of a suck job puts you in the position of power, you have been sorely miseducated. Luckily, you have an excellent tutor here to put that to rights.”

Harry sucked in a harsh breath as Malfoy’s icy hand snaked inside his pants and closed on his cock. The other set of chilled fingers were tugging at the waistband of his trousers and sending shivers across his hips and up his spine.

“You don’t have to—” He stopped as his cock surged in Malfoy’s hand. The hypocrisy in trying to pretend he wasn’t interested was laughable even to him.

Malfoy ran his now slightly warmed palm along the side of Harry’s erection, letting his fingers curl over and lightly graze along the top.

“A little respect here, Potter. I know no one else has it for me any more, but you bloody well will.”

Harry looked down at Malfoy, kneeling at his feet and stroking his cock, and could not for the life of him understand what Malfoy was getting at.

“You want me to respect you by shoving my dick in your mouth,” Harry summed up incredulously.

“Ten points to Gryffindor. The Saviour’s not so thick, after all.” Malfoy grinned and gave another languorous pull on Harry, eyeing his cock critically. “Perhaps the wrong figure of speech.”

Harry was saved from formulating a response by the indescribable sensation of a warm, wet mouth closing around the head of his cock. The couple of unenthusiastic licks he had received in the past could not have prepared him for the experience.

He stared in shock at the mouldy opposite wall of the vestibule as Malfoy’s lips tightened and began to slide forward along his length, accompanied by the soft curl of his tongue, undulating along the underside.

As Malfoy drew his mouth back, Harry’s hand took it upon itself to reach for Malfoy’s head, curling into the short strands, but unable to find anything long enough to grip on to.

“Why did you cut your hair?” he asked. He was sorry the instant he asked it, because Malfoy’s mouth pulled away and he was forced to look down.

Or perhaps not so sorry. The sight of Malfoy’s damp lips and flushed cheeks outstripped any fantasy Harry had ever had. He let his fingers trail down the side of Malfoy’s face and across his lips, which pursed slightly as the he brushed across them.

“I thought I’d try something different.” Malfoy eyed him shrewdly. “I suppose it’s too short for you to pretend I’m a girl.”

Harry shook his head. “There is no way I could pretend you’re a girl, Malfoy. I just…it always looked so soft before.”

He received a long, inscrutable gaze for this comment. Eventually Malfoy leaned forward and gave Harry’s cock a firm lick. Harry wrapped his hand around the back of Malfoy’s neck and embedded his fingertips into the short hairs there.

“I’ve been thinking of growing it again,” Malfoy mouthed around the very tip of Harry’s cock, causing Harry to involuntarily push his hips forward in search of more contact.

Malfoy granted his wish, opening his mouth and sliding Harry deep into his mouth again. This time, Harry did not look away. He kept his eyes riveted to the juncture of Malfoy’s soft mouth and his achingly hard cock. With each successive withdrawal everything became shinier, pinker, and sexier: his cock, Malfoy’s lips, the fingers gripping him at his base. He began to unconsciously time his breathing to the rhythmic rise and fall of Malfoy’s narrow shoulders.

Harry could not believe how much time he had wasted imagining Wood on the receiving end of this experience. What had possessed him to think it should be anyone but himself? Harry tightened his grip at Malfoy’s nape and gave an experimental thrust. In response, Malfoy relaxed his mouth slightly and removed his hand from Harry’s cock, wrapping it around his hip instead. Harry felt a slight pressure from the newly placed hand, and took it for an offer.

He thrust forward again, this time more forcefully. The hand on his hip tightened in warning, and he pulled back quickly. The next time he pushed forward, he was careful not to go quite as far, and Malfoy’s mouth tightened in apparent approval.

Once he had worked out the speed and depth at which he was allowed to move, Harry gave himself over to the revelation that was fucking another person’s mouth. A man’s mouth, his brain reminded him. Draco Malfoy’s mouth, to be specific.

While logic might have dictated that this information would put a damper on things, it had the entirely opposite effect. The cold, hard realisation that the pale, pointy-faced git that had endeavoured to ruin his life for the past seven years was, at present, sucking the life out of him through his cock was the last thought to cross Harry’s mind before it stopped working.

He took one last, good look at the shiny, pink, sexiness of it all and threw his head back against the grimy wall, managing only to feebly claw at Malfoy’s neck in warning.

He gritted his teeth together to prevent any noise escaping and forcibly willed his hips to still, lest he damage Malfoy with the violence of his orgasm. He felt both of Malfoy’s hands press into his hips, holding him safely in place, and he let go. A fiery current zipped across the surface of his skin, up his spine, and into his brain, shorting out further conscious thought. He felt as if his whole being was pouring out into Malfoy’s coaxing mouth.

After that, there was only the sound of his breathing for what could have been a minute or an hour for all he knew. Eventually the enveloping sense of softness and warmth withdrew, and was replaced by cold and damp. Harry opened his eyes.

Malfoy was already on his feet, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Welcome back, Potter,” he smirked. Malfoy stooped to pick the cloak up from the floor, dusted it off briskly, and handed it back to Harry.

Harry gripped the cloak tightly in his shaking hand and held it out again. “Are you sure you won’t take it?”

Malfoy gave an exasperated huff and turned to leave.

“Wait,” Harry said, barely finding his voice in time.

Malfoy turned back with a raised eyebrow.

“I—are you going to Hogsmeade on the weekend?”

“I hadn’t thought about it,” Malfoy said with a disinterested shrug.

“Well, I thought perhaps you might need me to walk with you,” Harry said, eyes on the ground. “For safety.”

There was a long pause during which Harry carefully examined his shoelaces.

“I’ll meet you in the Entrance Hall at half-ten,” Malfoy finally said. By the time Harry raised his head to look at him, the other boy had already gone.

* * *

“What are you wearing, Malfoy?”

“I’m going to try to ignore the irony of Harry Potter questioning my ensemble.”

“It’s below freezing out there. Where is your heavy cloak?”

“I don’t feel like wearing a cloak, Potter. This is called a ‘pea coat’. I assure you it’s quite warm.”

“I know what it’s bloody well called. You’re going to freeze without something to cover your legs. What is it with you and those jeans, anyway?”

“I like them, I look good in them, and they’re comfortable. I’ve worn wool trousers and a cloak every day of my life and I’m bored of them. Why am I even bothering to explain this to you? I’ll wear what I like, Potter. Are we going to Hogsmeade or are we going to stand here and discuss my fashion choices for the rest of the day?”

“Fine. After you,” Harry said, with an exaggerated flourish of his arm. As Malfoy walked past, he noticed a new tear forming on the hip of the damned blue jeans. “I hope you’re wearing thermal pants under there.”

Malfoy turned back with a raised eyebrow. “I thought we’d get a little further into the day before the subject of my pants came up.”

Harry felt his face colouring and shoved past Malfoy into the courtyard. “We’ll see if you’re making jokes when your bits are freezing off ten minutes from now.”

They hadn’t covered half the distance to Hogsmeade before Malfoy was hunched up inside his pea coat, looking miserable.

“Warm enough, Malfoy?” Harry asked with a smirk.

“Quite,” Malfoy said with just a hint of chattering teeth.

“Why don’t we go to the Three Broomsticks first, yeah? I could stand a warm Butterbeer.” Amused as he was, Harry couldn’t help feeling a little concerned about the bluish tint the other boy’s lips were taking on.

“If you like.” This time the chattering was unmistakeable.

“Oh, come off it, Malfoy. Admit it; you’re freezing.” Harry stopped in the lane and began pulling off his scarf. “Just take this. I’m warm enough at the moment, and it isn’t much further.”

“I am not prancing around the village in a bloody Gryffindor scarf, Potter.” Malfoy glared.

“Don’t prance, then. Just walk normally.” Harry advanced on his cringing companion and looped the scarf around his neck.

“Isn’t that sweet.” Harry whirled around to find Zacharias Smith approaching, dragging a tittering Demelza behind him. “Potter’s trying to warm up his little girlfriend.”

Only the fact that Malfoy was now visibly shivering stopped Harry jumping Smith and grinding his stupid face into the frozen snow. He merely stepped between them, glaring a promise of retribution until Smith passed.

“What a prat. C’mon, you’re going to wind up in the hospital wing if you stay out here much longer.”

Malfoy continued to stand there, shivering and staring after Zacharias and Demelza with a twisted look on his face.

“I really hate that bastard,” he muttered, clumsily pulling Harry’s scarf around his neck with frozen fingers.

“Yeah, me too. Forget him. Let’s get somewhere warm.” It took great effort, but Harry managed to resist adjusting the scarf for him.

They crunched on through the snow silently and Harry’s loathing of Smith escalated each time he heard his snotty laughter carry back to them on the wind. At one point, he was certain he heard his name again, followed by a shriek of laughter from Demelza. By the time they reached Hogsmeade, he had determined to put her off the team. It wasn’t as if they had any hope of winning the Cup, anyway.

Outside the Three Broomsticks, Malfoy stopped to knock the snow from his boots before entering. Harry continued to stare after Smith and Demelza, tracking their course with narrowed eyes.

“I see Granger’s already got a table,” said Malfoy, peering through the frosted window. “Shall we go in? Potter?”

“No, actually. I have a better idea.” Harry turned on Malfoy. “How would you like to shut that arsewipe up?”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow and waited for Harry to continue.

“Come on. Let’s go get some tea.”

Harry grabbed the sleeve of Malfoy’s jacket and began to propel him down the street.

“Tea?”

“Yes,” said Harry with a maniacal grin. “And perhaps, some cake.”

* * *

Stepping through the door of Madam Puddifoot’s was akin to Apparating directly from the Arctic Circle to the Serengeti. It was just as suffocatingly hot and humid as Harry remembered it. There was a sticky, sweet quality to the air that made his head swim.

Perhaps it was the heady atmosphere, but when Malfoy turned a wide-eyed look of horror on him, Harry felt a surge of something remarkably like amused affection.

“Where would you like to sit?” he asked, placing a hand on Malfoy’s elbow. To his credit, Malfoy flinched so subtly, no one could have noticed it.

“What the fuck are we playing at here?” Malfoy asked under his breath, moving towards an open table at the window.

Harry smiled broadly and made a show of pulling Malfoy’s chair out for him. Without bothering to look around, he knew every single eye in the place was on them, including Smith’s.

“Well,” he said quietly, “think about it. What fun is spreading a rumour if everyone already knows about it? We’re just spoiling the bastard’s game.”

“By going on a date?” Malfoy whispered incredulously from behind his menu.

“Yes.” Harry was feeling positively giddy. “Tea or coffee?”

Malfoy stared at him for several long moments before finally pasting a hugely uncharacteristic smile on his face. “Tea would be lovely. Harry.”

Harry smirked as the teashop became deathly silent. “Would you like to share a custard tart?”

“I’d prefer the Spotted Dick,” Malfoy purred. “If that’s all right with you.”

Harry heard a small, strangled noise coming from the direction of Smith’s table.

“Love it.” He directed this out towards the floor, under the guise of summoning the waitress.

Once he had placed the order, unfortunately, both he and Malfoy seemed at a loss for how to continue the charade. Harry found himself re-reading the menu, while Malfoy fiddled with the cutlery. On impulse, Harry reached out and covered his hand, causing Malfoy to twitch once again.

Malfoy’s fingers were still cool from the walk to town, so Harry curled his own around them, rubbing gently to warm them up. “Are you still cold?”

Malfoy shook his head, staring in apparent shock at their entwined hands.

Harry ran the pad of his thumb across the tips of Malfoy’s fingernails, marvelling at the perfect smoothness of the edges. He found himself a tiny bit reluctant to let go when the tea came.

“You do realise,” Malfoy said conversationally as he stirred his tea, “that this is going to go a lot further than the school. You’re likely to be reading about your torrid affair with the ‘Disgraced Malfoy Heir’ in the paper tomorrow morning.”

Harry nodded, helping himself to the cream. “I’m counting on it. Once it gains that kind of notoriety, no one will be the least bit interested in what Smith has to say on the subject. They’ll be much more keen to hear it from Rita Skeeter.”

“And how is that better, exactly?” Malfoy asked, spooning up a bit of Spotted Dick.

“Because she’ll come to me, and I can handle Rita.” Harry gave Malfoy a smug grin. “She and I have an arrangement, of sorts. Well, she and Hermione, actually, but it works out to the same thing.”

Harry scooped up another bite of pudding and offered it to Malfoy, who opened his mouth haltingly to accept. Harry caught himself staring at his lips as they closed around the spoon, and withdrew it quickly. It took all his self-restraint not to reach forward and wipe away the crumb that clung to the corner of Malfoy’s mouth.

He took a bite for himself, feigning fascination with the china pattern to avoid looking up. “What would you like to do today?”

Malfoy seemed caught off guard by the question. “Oh. Well…I thought perhaps we should go to the apothecary and spend some time looking at the herbs. You need practice with identification if you are to have any hope of improving your Potions marks.”

Right. The Arrangement.

“Of course. Studying,” Harry said grimly.

“Well, I’d say you’ve earned some extra hours with this stunt,” Malfoy said with a terse laugh. “Besides which, I’ll still be tutoring you at the Auror academy if we continue at this rate.”

* * *

After two tedious hours and one minor breakthrough in which Harry managed to correctly identify ginger root, they began the long, cold walk back to the castle.

Harry was fiercely missing his scarf, but he was unwilling to take it back from Malfoy.

“You know what we need?” he called over the wind. “A nice, long soak in the Prefects’ Bath.”

Malfoy shook his head. “I don’t go there, anymore. The Prefects have made it clear that they don’t acknowledge my access as Captain. Smith’s doing, I imagine.”

“What do you mean, ‘don’t acknowledge your access’?”

“I mean, it’s been made clear that should I choose to enter, it’s at my own risk.”

“They’ve threatened you?”

“Not in so many words, but I got the message.” Malfoy toyed with end of Harry’s scarf.

“That’s bollocks, Malfoy. You have as much right as any of the Prefects to use that bath. We’re going. I’ll hex anyone who tries to stop us.”

“Easy there, Potter. We don’t have to go to war. It’s just a bath.”

“No, Malfoy. It’s the bath, and I’m fucking freezing. We’re going.”

Malfoy let out an exasperated sigh, but Harry saw a tiny smile as he ducked his head.

“Fine, fine. Whatever would you do with your time if no one needed a hero, Potter?”

“Shut it, Malfoy. It’s only a bath.”

* * *

Harry let his eyes fall closed. The warm, scented water calmed his nerves and, for a few minutes, he forgot all about the worrisome thoughts he’d been having since the teashop. The combined scents of vanilla and chamomile filled his nostrils, soothing him nearly to the point of drifting off. That is, until a hand suddenly closed on his thigh.

Harry’s eyes shot open and locked on Malfoy’s hovering face. “What—” he began, but stopped when Malfoy gripped his other thigh, as well.

Malfoy leaned in, grinning broadly. Oh, my god, thought Harry, he’s going to kiss me. Instead, Malfoy squeezed his thighs roughly and pushed away.

“I have missed this bath so much.” Malfoy beamed, practically bouncing in the waist-deep water. “Thank you for bringing me.”

“You’re welcome,” said Harry, trying not to feel disappointed that Malfoy had pulled away. “Any time you like.”

Malfoy dove under the water and surfaced several moments later from beneath a large patch of foam at the far end of the pool. For a brief moment, with a cap of bubbles running down the sides of face, he looked like the Malfoy he remembered. Harry burst out laughing.

Malfoy frowned. “What’s so amusing?”

“You.” Harry made a circular motion around his head. “You’ve got bubble hair; you look ridiculous.”

Malfoy ran a self-conscious hand through his soapy hair and fixed Harry with an affronted look before diving back beneath the water.

Next second, Harry felt strong hands grip his ankles and he was yanked off his bench and underwater before he could even consider struggling. He surfaced, spluttering, to find himself nose-to-nose with a very smug-looking Malfoy.

“Now who looks ridic—”

Harry sprang, tackling Malfoy at his midsection and dragging him under the surface. They grappled for freedom, limbs kicking and tangling, neither willing to let the other up without a fight. Several times, one of them broke away long enough to steal a breath of air, only to be hauled back down.

It was as Harry grasped for purchase on a slippery hipbone, that he made contact with Malfoy’s noticeably erect cock. The surprise of it caused a split-second of hesitation, and Malfoy took advantage. Harry found himself twisted around and hauled up out the water, his arms trapped behind him, Malfoy pressing against his back.

Sharp, short breaths heaved in his ear. “Had enough, Potter?” Malfoy huffed in his ear. Harry twisted, trying to wrench his wrists out of Malfoy’s tight grip. Not only did he fail to do so, but he managed to grind his backside into Malfoy’s erection in the process. Both of them fell still instantly.

For a minute or so, all that Harry heard was the dripping of the taps and the panting of Malfoy’s breathing in his ear. But then;

“Potter?” Malfoy sounded as nervous as Harry felt.

“Yeah?”

“Would you like me to teach you something new today? Something I think you’ll enjoy?”

Harry squeezed his eyes shut. He knew he should say no. He knew there was something inherently wrong with this arrangement of theirs. He should shake his head, climb out of the pool, and go back to his bed where he could wank all night until he got it out of his system.

“Okay.” He cringed at how tremulous his voice sounded.

“Good,” Malfoy mumbled into his hair. “You’re going to like this, I promise.”

Harry relaxed as Malfoy released his hands, and then immediately tensed again when fingers slid down his back and into the crack of his arse.

“What—”

“Shh. S’okay,” Malfoy soothed, rubbing his fingers gently over his arsehole. “I’m just making sure you’re clean.”

“Why?” Harry whispered, shaking his head. There was no way he was ready to try real sex with a man. “I can’t…don’t.”

Malfoy removed his hand and pressed a soft kiss to Harry’s shoulder blade. “Not that, calm down. You’re going to love this.”

Harry, shocked by the tender gesture of the kiss, nodded his head and willed himself to relax again.

Malfoy hooked his arm around Harry and lifted him in the water. “Kneel up,” he said propelling Harry onto the bench at the edge of the pool. Harry rose on to his knees, feeling exposed and confused as Malfoy bent him over the edge of the pool.

He looked over his shoulder nervously. Malfoy gave him a wicked smile and pressed another little kiss into the small of his back.

“Do you know what rimming is?”

Harry’s eyes widened in shock. He knew what it was, yes. But, surely, there was no way tidy, refined Draco Malfoy was going to do that?

But, oh, yes he was. A warm, slick tongue trailed from Harry’s tailbone into the crease of his arse. Gentle fingers gripped his cheeks, opening him up. Harry wondered if it were possible for his arse to blush, because it flushed with heat right along with his face.

“Oh, fuck, oh fucking god,” he breathed as Malfoy’s tongue swept over his arsehole and flicked teasingly at the skin just behind his balls. “That’s—fuck!”

“Mmm,” Malfoy hummed, dragging his mouth back again and sucking gently as he went. “Yes, it is, isn’t it? I told you you’d like it.”

Malfoy flattened his tongue and began to rub it back and forth across Harry’s hypersensitive little hole. Harry dropped his face to the cool tile floor and dug his fingernails into the grout for purchase. He arched his hips up and pressed his arse back at Malfoy, well past the ability to feel shame.

“That’s it,” Malfoy encouraged, applying more pressure against Harry’s arsehole. “Open up.”

Harry had a flash of clarity about the intent behind the words before he felt Malfoy’s tongue push gently inside him. He thought for a moment to protest, but it passed when Malfoy removed one hand from his arse and wrapped it around Harry’s straining cock instead. He pushed clumsily forward into the tight fingers, then back again when he missed the sensation of Malfoy’s tongue.

He was making ridiculous little whimpering noises, but he didn’t seem to have any control over his mouth at all. The only word he seemed capable of forming was ‘fuck’, so he threw it in every now and then, just to prove he still had command of language.

It was completely overwhelming, and yet not nearly enough. Even as Malfoy’s tongue pressed in, teasing and wriggling and saturating him, Harry felt an almost desperate desire for something more. It felt incredibly good, but not quite solid enough to get him where he needed so badly to be.

He had no sooner had this thought, than Malfoy’s mouth released him and a firmer pressure took up in its place. What had seemed unthinkable ten minutes ago was now a welcome step in the right direction. He pushed back against the overly polite fingertip, hoping to convey his change of attitude without words. He must have made himself clear, because the finger bore down firmly and entered him.

Harry’s eyes shot open and his arse clenched around the unfamiliar intrusion. He opened his mouth to comment on the odd feeling just as Malfoy pressed in hard with the one hand and palmed the head of his cock with the other. With that, Harry came.

The orgasm was half over before he knew what was happening. He felt Malfoy increase the pressure at both ends as he hung there frozen and rigid, gasping silently in the thick, humid air. Malfoy twisted his finger inside him, and what felt like a second orgasm ripped through him before the first had abated. This time, he managed a choking sort of noise that earned him a reassuring murmuring against the base of his spine. Shivers spread out across his back from the place where Malfoy’s lips brushed his skin.

Harry let himself slip from the edge of the pool back into the comforting heat of the water. He felt another impossible clench in his groin when he met Malfoy’s fierce but glazed eyes. He pushed weakly at Malfoy’s chest.

“Climb up.”

Malfoy looked confused. Harry patted the pool’s edge weakly.

Looking almost suspicious, Malfoy pulled himself up onto the ledge of the bath. Without taking the time to think too much on the task before him, Harry surged forward and took Malfoy’s erection into his mouth.

Whatever he had been expecting, it wasn’t a mouthful of vanilla and chamomile. Of course, Malfoy tasted like the scented water. Harry frowned. After all his worrying about whether he would be disgusted by the taste of cock, it was seriously anti-climactic to taste nothing but bath oils.

He rubbed the flat of his tongue along the slit of Malfoy’s cock, trying to coax a little of his natural flavour out. The tiniest hint of it crept across his tongue, and he tightened his lips around the head, sucking hard in an attempt to draw more to him.

Malfoy’s thighs went rigid beneath Harry’s hands. “Oh, no. Fuck. Harry!”

Suddenly, Harry had more of the taste of Malfoy than he knew what to do with. He expanded his cheeks trying to make room for the seemingly endless volume of come. Swallow, he told himself. You’re supposed to swallow. He squeezed his eyes tighter and pressed his tongue against Malfoy’s surging cock, forcing the back of his throat open. It wasn’t nearly as much as he’d thought, once he managed to start the process. A sense of pride stole over him at the thought that he’d managed to take it all on his first try.

Harry tugged at Malfoy’s thighs, grinning as Malfoy practically melted into his grasp and slid back down into the water with him. On impulse, he pulled Malfoy’s languid body into his lap.

“All right?” he whispered.

Hands trailed across his lower back for a moment before retreating, and then Malfoy pulled away and rose from the pool abruptly. Harry felt as if he’d been slapped.

“Where are you going?”

“I’ve got studying to do and so have you,” Malfoy said over his shoulder.

“Draco—”

Malfoy turned and shot him a reproving look.

“What? You just called me Harry.”

“That’s entirely different. You had my cock in your mouth. It’s only polite.” He accompanied the crude words with a cold, calculated smirk.

Harry’s sense of pride evaporated. “Malfoy,” he said, staring down at the steaming surface of the water. “What is this, really? Why are you doing this?”

Malfoy took so long to answer that Harry finally looked up. Malfoy looked uncharacteristically uncertain.

“Well…it’s what you want, isn’t it?” he asked stiffly, yanking on his trousers.

Harry thought about that for a minute. Finally, he took a deep breath and answered.

“No.”

With a furious glare, Malfoy turned and stomped from the room before Harry could draw breath to elaborate.

* * *

Two weeks later Harry was trying, for the tenth time, to revisit the conversation from the Prefects’ Bath. Malfoy was not having it.

“Add rosemary to that concoction, Potter, and you’ve effectively created a potion that could kill a troll with the fumes, alone. How is it possible that you don’t know such a basic law of volatility?”

Harry decided to try the ‘please help me, wise tutor’ approach again, since the direct route was proving absolutely disastrous.

“I’m having trouble concentrating, Malfoy. Perhaps you can help me. You see, I really like someone, but he refuses to believe I’m serious. What can I do to convince him that I’m not just interested in his vast fucking knowledge of herbs?”

“As I’ve already made perfectly clear, our extracurricular lessons are at an end, Potter. I understand there are excellent dating advice columns in Witch Weekly that you might reference for help with your problem. Now, if you’ve got a question pertinent to the potion at hand, I’ll be glad to assist you.”

Harry sighed and sank back in his chair. Plan B it was, then.

* * *

“Harry, you haven’t packed,” Ron said, his voice muffled by the jumper he was yanking over his head. “There won’t be time after breakfast, you know.”

“Yeah, about that, Ron…” Harry ran a hand through his hair nervously. “I don’t think I’m going to the Burrow this year.”

“What?” Ron poked his head out of the garish yellow jumper. “Why not? Mum’s expecting you. It’s Christmas.”

Harry shifted uncomfortably. “I know. You’ll understand after breakfast.”

“Why? What’s happening at breakfast?”

Harry gave his friend a pleading look. “You did really like your Uncle Bilius, yeah, Ron?”

* * *

“You’re sure about this, mate?” Ron asked through a mouthful of bacon.

“Not much choice, now,” said Harry, watching the morning owls circling down from a starry night sky, carrying issues of the Daily Prophet clutched in their talons. His stomach clenched as he watched a copy drop on the table in front of Malfoy.

Malfoy ignored the paper in favour of meticulously buttering his toast. He then poured himself a glass of Pumpkin Juice, glancing up curiously as the volume of chatter in the Great Hall increased sharply. Harry fought down a wave of nausea as Malfoy observed his fellow students clustering excitedly around their copies of the morning paper and reached for his own.

Hermione’s gasp forced him to look away. “That…bitch! Oh, Harry. You’re not going to believe what Rita’s written this time.”

“Oh…I might,” Harry sighed. He glanced over Hermione’s shoulder and scanned the article. “Yes, that’s actually got it just about right.”

Hermione’s mouth hung open unattractively. “This is the interview you gave her? Why didn’t you tell me, Harry?”

“It was a last minute decision,” Harry said. He glanced over his shoulder towards Malfoy. The other boy was staring at his paper in open horror. “Perhaps not a wise one.”

* * *

Five days and four unanswered owls later, Harry sat morosely in the Gryffindor common room, trying to accept defeat. Malfoy had locked himself away in the dungeons for the holidays. He had appeared at no meals since the fateful final breakfast of term, and refused all attempts at communication that Harry tried. Obsessive checking and re-checking of the Marauder’s Map always found Malfoy in either his dormitory or the Slytherin common room, where he was apparently having his food delivered.

Harry had signed and returned the forms he had requested from Gringotts, sent owls to the Burrow with gifts for each of the Weasleys and Hermione, cleaned out his trunk, polished his broom, and was now attempting half-heartedly to memorise the properties of ground lavender. He had nearly nodded off when a piercing screech filled the common room.

A large, grumpy-looking school owl landed with a thump on the sofa beside Harry and shoved a leg bearing a piece of parchment at him. Harry felt a surge of hope as he tugged at the string. Very few people had stayed behind for the holiday, and even fewer who might send him a letter.


Potter -

With great trepidation, I am writing to inquire as to whether you would like to join me for the Christmas feast. I would prefer not to attend in the Great Hall, but I am loath to spend the evening alone. As it has become clear that you do not intend to cease your incessant pestering, I thought I might kill two owls with one stone. If you choose to attend, the house elves have agreed to set the meal at four in the Slytherin common room. The password is ‘Hellebore’.

- Draco Malfoy

A glance at the clock showed that it was already nearly two. Harry leaped to his feet, scattering his notes and book on the floor. He took the stairs to his dormitory two at a time, racing to shower and dress for the occasion.

* * *

Harry tugged self-consciously at his robes, thinking of Malfoy’s form-fitting jeans and wondering again if he should have dressed less formally for the occasion. He stared at the entrance to Slytherin House and tried to calm himself. It was five minutes to four, so there was no question of going back and changing again.

“Hellebore,” he whispered. The door slid open and Harry, wiping his hands on his robes, entered.

Malfoy was seated primly on the sofa, dressed in dark grey robes, with his hair impeccably combed to frame his face. Harry failed to stop his mouth from dropping open in shock.

“Your hair.”

Malfoy shifted and looked away for a moment. “I decided to grow it back.”

“I didn’t know it was possible to do that intentionally. I did it once by accident when I was very young.” Harry tugged at his robes again in order to occupy his hands.

“It’s difficult magic,” Malfoy said. “Fucking typical that you would chance upon it.”

Several loud cracks announced the arrival of the house elves with their meal. Harry watched quietly as the elves laid out ham, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and an enormous roast turkey. When the elves had gone, he grinned at Malfoy.

“Expecting more guests?”

Malfoy sniffed. “Christmas dinner is an occasion, Potter. One serves a proper meal, regardless of the size of the guest list.”

Harry rolled his eyes and moved to sit at the table. He was surprised to suddenly find Malfoy beside him, pulling out his chair.

When they had settled, Malfoy produced a bottle of wine and poured them each a glass. He took a lingering sip of his wine before setting his glass aside and fixing Harry with a serious look. He reached into his robes and removed a rolled piece of parchment bearing a Gringotts seal, which he pushed across the table.

“I would like further clarification as to what the fuck this is, Potter.”

“It’s exactly what it said in the article, Malfoy. It’s your Black family trust fund.”

“I don’t have a Black family trust fund.”

“Well, obviously, you do.”

“I don’t understand. Why would you do this?”

Harry shrugged. “With the disclosure of the fact that you are independently wealthy, no one is going to believe that you whored yourself out for money. I thought it would be obvious.” He grinned into his wine glass. “I also figured it would rightly piss off Lucius.”

Malfoy snorted. “That it certainly will.” He took a long sip of wine. “While I can understand why that would amuse you, it hardly seems worth giving up your own fortune.”

Harry grinned. “I didn’t. That’s a small portion of what I’ve inherited, Malfoy. I’m not the street urchin you met in Madame Malkin’s anymore.”

Malfoy’s lip twitched. “I’ve noticed.” He reached out and served himself a slice of turkey breast. His voice was quieter when he spoke again. “And the rest of the article? What function did that serve?”

Harry took a slice of ham. He took his time cutting off a bite and chewing it. “I don’t know, yet. That depends on you, I suppose.”

“You thought if you told the world we were dating, I would just go along with your little charade, did you?”

Harry cringed. “It’s not a charade to me, Malfoy. These things that have happened between us…I want them to keep happening. I am dating you. The question is, are you dating me?” He poked at his ham, afraid to look up.

Malfoy huffed. “I suppose you think I invite just anyone to Christmas dinner, do you?”

Harry looked up, allowing a hopeful smile to spread across his face. “I’m passing Potions now. I don’t need a tutor, anymore.”

“There are a few more things I could teach you, Potter.”

Harry laughed. “I’ve no doubt about that.” He straightened up and gazed evenly at Malfoy. “One last lesson, then. After that, I don’t want it to be about our arrangement.”

Malfoy took one last sip of wine and stood from the table. “It was never about the arrangement, Potter.” He turned towards the stairs and Harry heard a very quiet, “Idiot.”

* * *

Malfoy’s room was strangely familiar. It was really just a green and silver version of Harry’s room in the tower: four canopy beds, four trunks, four bedside tables. Malfoy even had the bed on the near left, just as Harry did.

They stood awkwardly next to the bed for a few moments, just staring at each other. At last, Malfoy reached out and took hold of Harry’s robes, tugging him closer. His fingers slid up Harry’s chest and grasped his tie, tugging at the knot.

As Malfoy worked at the knot, Harry found himself staring at his pursed mouth. That was the thing he wanted more than anything, the thing he had found himself wanking to in the late hours of the past several weeks. Harry leaned in, drawn hypnotically towards the pink lips that Malfoy had just licked in frustration over Harry’s poorly knotted tie.

Just as he prepared to close his mouth over Malfoy’s, the other boy looked up and jerked back. “Wha—?”

“People who are dating kiss, don’t they?” Harry whispered, licking his lips as well. He was gratified to see Malfoy’s gaze settle on his own mouth.

“I suppose they do.”

Harry nodded and leaned in again. The first touch was little more than a grazing of lips. His lower lip caught on Malfoy’s and they hung there for a moment, barely touching. Slowly, Harry brought his lips together and pulled the soft flesh into his mouth. Very cautiously, he brushed against it with the tip of his tongue.

Suddenly, he found himself being propelled backwards towards the bed, with Malfoy’s tongue pressing into his mouth and his hands wrapped tightly around his shoulders. He pressed back, wrapping his tongue around the invading one and gripping Malfoy’s hips for balance. They fell onto the bed in a heap, Harry wriggling to get his legs up on the bed and Malfoy pulling at his arms in assistance.

Kissing was good. It was very good. Malfoy had an incredibly wet mouth and everything inside it was slick and smooth and tasted like wine. When Malfoy caught Harry’s upper lip between his own, there was a peculiar prickling sensation along Harry’s bottom lip that shot bolts of electricity directly to his cock.

Malfoy sat up, breathing hard, and yanked at the tie, finally managing to loosen it enough to pull it over Harry’s head. Harry reached for his face to pull him back down for another kiss. He ran his fingers over Malfoy’s jawline.

“You need to shave,” he breathed.

“I forgot,” Malfoy panted. “I don’t normally have to do it very often, but with the hair growth charms…why, is it bothering you?”

Harry shook his head vehemently and surged up for another kiss. He tangled his tongue with Malfoy’s and ran his hands through the now grippable hair at the back of his neck. Any fantasies he may have had about how soft it was were eclipsed by the reality. He smiled against Malfoy’s lips.

He felt hands tugging at his robes and lifted his hips to allow Malfoy to pull them up and over his head. He lay there smiling and panting like an idiot as Malfoy yanked off his own robes and went to work on their trousers. It was only when they were lying flush together again, with nothing but their thin pants between them, that he considered what was about to happen. A shiver of nervous anticipation swept through him.

He jerked as Malfoy’s fingers grazed over his hipbone and slipped into the waistband of his pants. Harry dealt with the sudden nerves the only way he knew how; he shoved his own hand into Malfoy’s briefs and took hold of his cock, brushing his thumb across the head in a mirror of what Malfoy was doing to his own.

“This is going to hurt, isn’t it?” he breathed in Malfoy’s ear, preparing himself mentally for the pain. “The first time hurts, right?”

Malfoy stopped stroking him for a few moments. “It can.” His hand picked up the pace again. “It’s worth it, though.”

Harry thought about the faces of the men in the magazine Malfoy had first wanked him off to. It certainly looked worth it.

“Do it.”

For a second, Malfoy looked as nervous as Harry felt.

“All right. Turn over.”

Harry rolled to his stomach and dropped his head into the pillows. He had been thinking about this moment for months, wondering if he would hate it, worrying he wouldn’t be able to go through with it. He had walked into worse, though, he reminded himself. It couldn’t be as bad as dying.

Malfoy’s hands ran down his back and gripped his arse, spreading him open again, like the night in the bath. Once again, he felt soft lips at the base of his spine and then the gentle press of Malfoy’s tongue between his cheeks. As good as this felt, it was hard to imagine it hurting.

He arched his back up to press into Malfoy’s mouth, groaning loudly when he felt the pressure of both a tongue and a finger against his entrance. This time, when the finger pressed inside, he was prepared for the sensation and found it far less shocking. He reasoned that if he could grow accustomed to that so easily, perhaps the same would be true of the real thing.

“Hang on,” Malfoy whispered against his skin, pulling away and leaving Harry feeling cold and exposed. He turned his head to watch Malfoy rustle through his beside table and produce a small jar of shimmering liquid. He fumbled for his wand and cast a quiet spell that Harry couldn’t quite catch. He must have looked curious because Malfoy laid a hand on his back.

“Just warming it up.”

Harry nodded as if he had, of course, known that.

When Malfoy’s hand returned, it was slick and warm with oil. Almond oil, Harry’s mind helpfully provided. They had used it in Potions just the week before and he recognised the scent.

Harry pressed back against Malfoy’s fingers impatiently. He felt one slide inside him as the others trailed through the sensitive hairs on his balls.

Malfoy’s other hand gripped his hip and pulled him up to his knees.

“Just try to relax and stay calm for the first couple of minutes. It takes that long to get used to it.”

Stay calm? The words were not exactly reassuring, but Harry nodded his agreement. He had made up his mind that he wanted Malfoy, so there was no backing out now. He had to know.

Malfoy’s finger withdrew, and Harry felt the head of his cock brush against him. In all honesty, relaxation was not his first reaction. Malfoy didn’t press into him though. He was simply rubbing his cock along the crack of Harry’s arse, sliding in the slick oil, pressing his chest against Harry’s back. One of his hands came up to trail across Harry’s chest, and pull them closer together.

“Breathe,” Malfoy said in his ear, and then he pushed in.

Stay calm, Harry repeated to himself. It definitely hurt. On the plus side, he had worried himself into such a frenzy about it, that it wasn’t as bad as he’d let himself think it might be. But, it did hurt.

For several seconds, Malfoy did not move. He just gripped Harry against him, breathing loudly against his neck, his oily hand slipping slightly on Harry’s chest.

“All right?” he finally whispered in a strained voice.

“Yeah. You?”

“Oh, fuck, yes,” Malfoy groaned. “Almost too good.”

Malfoy sounded like he was going to lose control at any moment. The desperate sound in his voice acted like a painkiller. Harry wanted to cause that loss of control. He wanted to destroy the lesson plan.

He shifted his hips experimentally, and found that the burning actually lessened somewhat with movement. Malfoy’s arm flexed around his torso. Harry pushed back towards him again, revelling in the choking noise Malfoy tried to hide in the back of his hair.

When Harry began to pull away again, he found himself caught in a tight, if greasy, grip. Malfoy shifted behind him, sliding his hand from Harry’s hip to his cock and tightening the other across his chest.

Without a word, Malfoy began to thrust into Harry with conviction. Harry was suddenly vividly reminded of the men in the magazine. This was what caused people to make those looks of mindless ecstasy. For all that he had enjoyed trying to make Malfoy to lose control, it had nothing on being made to lose it himself.

The pressure inside him was completely overwhelming. His whole nervous system was alight with the warring desires to pull away from the intrusion and to slam himself back against it. Luckily, Malfoy wasn’t leaving him any options. Harry was pinned in place now, just riding out the storm.

Harry’s head was swimming with the force of the sensations. Malfoy was making tight, fierce noises against the nape of his neck, tightening his hand on Harry’s cock.

“Are you going to come, Potter?” he husked against Harry’s shoulder.

“Yes,” Harry gasped, suddenly realising that he was going to, and very soon.

Malfoy stepped the assault up: the depth of his thrusts, the vice of his hand, the open pleasure in his gasps. Harry craned his neck down to look at his cock sliding through Malfoy’s fist. His mouth dropped open and his balls clenched violently at the sight.

“Oh, thank Merlin,” he heard Malfoy growl before a rushing noise took over in his ears and his spine bowed and snapped back as his orgasm rushed through him. The arm around his chest became a crushing pressure and Malfoy made a tortured sound that forced another rush of release to pound through Harry’s veins.

They collapsed together to the sheets, panting and covered in sweat, come and Almond oil. Much better than dying, Harry thought.

When their breathing had slowed and Harry had half-heartedly cleaned them up with the edge of the sheet, Malfoy rolled to his side and grinned at Harry.

“Well, that’s it. I’ve taught you everything I know.”

“That’s it then. No more trades.”

“No more.” Malfoy ran his finger through the sweaty hair at Harry’s groin.

“I should tell you that I hexed Smith with a case of spots on his arse at the end of term breakfast. But that’s the last of it.” Harry grinned.

“That was very thoughtful, Potter.” Malfoy smirked.

“Well, I didn’t have a proper gift and I wanted a way to wish you a Happy Christmas.”

“It’s a lovely gift,” Malfoy purred, drawing Harry forward and kissing him slowly. He still tasted a bit of wine. Harry felt lightheaded as they pulled apart. “Happy Christmas to you, too.”

* * *

The first week of May saw a cold snap to rival the dead of January. Harry sat huddled in the stands, sharing a blanket with Ron and Hermione.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Ron moaned, “but I hope this is a short game. I can’t feel my feet and we’ve only been out here for twenty minutes.”

Harry grinned and passed him the canister of hot cocoa he had packed in his bag. He turned back to the game just in time to see Goyle lob a perfectly aimed Bludger that caught Smith’s broom right at the tip, sending him into a high-speed spiral into the side of the Ravenclaw tower.

Harry jumped to his feet, cheering with the Slytherin fans on the opposite side of the pitch. When he sat back down, he grinned at Hermione’s half-amused, half-disapproving expression.

“What?” he shrugged, taking a swig of hot cocoa. “You know I can’t stand that prat.”