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The More Things Change

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Beta: [info]alaana_fair *kisses feet*
Notes: For the beautiful and beloved [info]dysonrules for her birthday. Yes…the one that was in May. It's been a long year, damn it! But I told you there would be wet boys, darling, and here they are! It's EWE and assumes that Bill Weasley returned to work at Gringotts after the war.


Harry tore at his Quidditch gloves as he stormed towards the Falmouth Falcons’ dressing rooms. His stride barely slowed as he slammed the doors open and swept into the steam-shrouded room.

“Where is he, Pratchett?” he hissed at the half-dressed Gringotts’ Keeper, startling the wiry little accountant.

The Gringotts’ Beater, a man named Grath who most certainly had a giant somewhere in the family tree, casually stepped between them, but Harry was too enraged to stand down.

“Get lost, did you, Potter?” Grath grunted. “The Ministry team is usin’ the away dressin’ rooms this year.”

Harry glared and fingered the tip of his wand, which was stowed in a harness strapped to his right thigh. The action brought a menacing frown to Grath’s already furrowed features.

Just as Harry's fingers tightened, Bill Weasley emerged from the steam of the showers, an amused expression on his face, his hands held out in a placating gesture.

“C’mon, now, Harry.” He grinned. “It’s just a friendly game. Surely you two can lay down arms once a year, can’t you?”

The look on Harry’s face must have answered the question, because Bill stopped smiling and dropped his hands to tighten the towel around his waist.

“Then again, perhaps not,” Bill muttered, inclining his head in the direction of the showers and moving subtly out of Harry’s path. Harry watched as the men and women who had been gleefully attempting to knock him from his broom for the last three hours now scrambled to gather their clothes and get out of his way.

Had Harry been thinking clearly, he might have considered the irony in Bill protecting Malfoy. But he was not thinking clearly.

As he stomped past, he dimly heard Bill repeating himself. “It’s just a friendly game, Harry.” And then the mist of the showers swallowed him up, and the outer changing room faded away.

Already overheated from the intense game and his furious charge to the dressing rooms, Harry swayed as the muggy, thick heat of the showers enveloped him. His glasses fogged over, blurring his vision, and his lungs heaved in the attempt to draw in the fiery, wet air. For a moment, he forgot his purpose. A blurry movement and a flash of white-blond hair snapped him abruptly back to his mission.

“Malfoy!” he barked, his voice hoarse in the tropical air.

Malfoy pulled his face out of the stream of water and blinked.

“Potter?” Malfoy's face twisted, but his defiant expression was undermined somewhat by the boyish manner in which he cupped his private parts and ducked behind the transparent curtain of water flowing from the shower head. His attempt at modesty irked Harry all the more. Now that he had adjusted to the heat, it fuelled his temper like kindling.

“Malfoy,” he repeated in a low, menacing voice. Harry walked forward, straight through the spray of the shower and pinned Malfoy to the tiled wall behind him. “What the fuck was that out there?”

Harry had a few seconds to enjoy the disconcerted look on Malfoy’s face before it was replaced with the nastiest sneer in his arsenal.

“Let go of me, Potter,” he spat, narrowing his eyes. “What the fuck was what? We played Quidditch. You caught the Snitch. How you’ve turned that into a personal affront is beyond me.”

Harry shoved at him again, still seething.

“You deliberately let it go. I saw you. You could have caught the Snitch and you let it get away.”

Malfoy stared at him, a look of utmost loathing on his face.

“That’s what this is about? You don’t feel your win was heroic enough? You’re here to charge that I let you win?” Malfoy’s hands suddenly flew up and struck Harry hard in the chest, shoving him back under the showerhead. “Trust me, Potter. I did not, nor will I ever, intentionally throw a game to you.” Malfoy’s voice had risen to a shout by the end of his speech.

Harry suddenly became aware of his drenched Quidditch leathers, which felt as if they weighed a tonne and were clinging to him in a number of uncomfortable ways. The reality of his soaked uniform dampened his rage and allowed him to notice several other things. Such as the fact that Malfoy was naked. And wet. And erect.

Malfoy’s annoying drawl cut through his mental processes a few moments later.

“Enjoying the view, Potter?”

Harry’s eyes snapped up to Malfoy’s face, which now sported a nasty smirk. Irritation and spite welled up again before Harry could even consider controlling it.

“So this is what gets you off, huh, Malfoy? Being shoved around in the changing room showers? Come to think of it, I believe I heard something to that effect last year. Something to do with a liaison from the Bulgarian Ministry, as I recall.”

It was a low blow, and Harry almost felt guilty about it. Repeating anything Rita Skeeter reported left a nasty taste in his mouth. The dark red colour that rose on Malfoy’s cheekbones was damn near worth corrupting his values for, though.

“Fuck. Off. Potter,” Malfoy ground out through gritted teeth. “In case you didn’t notice, I was having a shower—by myself. Doing what men often do when they have a shower to themselves. You’re the one who charged in here and molested me and stared at my prick. If we’re talking about who gets off on it—” Malfoy broke off abruptly and grabbed Harry between the legs.

At which point Harry noticed another thing he hadn’t noticed before. They stood staring one another down, chests heaving with anger, Harry’s erection twitching in Malfoy’s ferocious grip.

“Have you two battled out whatever it is, or do we need to—” Bill’s voice broke off as he stepped in to the showers and took in the scene. Harry’s mind painted the picture for him: Malfoy, naked and hard, gripping Harry by his bits, the shower raining down on both of them. Harry gave Bill a terrified glance, snatched his wand from his thigh, and Apparated.

******

Harry was still sitting hunched at his kitchen table, dripping on the floor, when Bill stepped through the Floo twenty minutes later. He raised his head miserably, nodded to Bill, and returned his attention to the bottle of Firewhisky in his fist.

Bill sighed loudly and pried the bottle from Harry’s ice-cold fingers, taking a long pull from the bottle as he settled himself into a chair.

“Well,” he started with a nervous chuckle, “Malfoy certainly had a few choice words to get of his chest about you.” He paused to take another long gulp. “I gathered enough to know it wasn’t what it looked like.”

Harry raised his head and looked forlornly at Bill, reaching to retrieve the Firewhisky.

“I’m not sure what the fuck that was,” he mumbled. “I just got so angry, Bill.”

“Because he didn’t catch the Snitch?” Bill asked.

Harry shrugged, passing the bottle back.

“As the opposing Seeker, I’m not certain why that would be such a problem for you, Harry.” Bill was speaking gently, but he had raised a mocking eyebrow.

Harry shifted in his seat, causing his wet Quidditch leathers to squeak against the wood. He twisted the corner of his robe, watching absently as water dripped through his fingers and landed with a plop in the puddle at his feet.

“It’s the principle, I suppose. What’s the point of playing if the other Seeker isn’t even trying?”

Bill nodded. “Okay, it’s not any big secret that you’re a competitive bastard.” Harry scowled, but Bill continued unfazed. “But, have you ever considered that perhaps Malfoy is playing his best? Surely, you’ve noticed he’s a bit of a born loser.”

Harry snorted, but Bill’s face remained completely serious.

“Malfoy?” Harry asked incredulously. “Draco Malfoy? He of the billion Galleon fortune, twenty-generation pure-blood pedigree, and a different designer robe for every day of the year? Did you just say born loser?”

“Think about it, Harry,” Bill said, pointing the bottle at him. “Malfoy is wealthy, smart, good-looking. So why is he working as an entry-level translator at Gringotts?”

“Because the goblins are the only ones who would take him after the war?” Harry responded, yanking the bottle away from Bill.

“Maybe in the first couple of years, that was true,” Bill nodded. “But he’s more than proven himself since then. He would have been eligible for any number of promotions in the last few years. He hasn’t applied for a single one.”

“It’s not like he needs the money. Maybe he likes being a translator,” Harry shrugged.

“Think back to school, Harry,” Bill continued. “How many times did he beat you to the Snitch? All those nasty tasks he was supposed to do for his father and Voldemort? He managed exactly one of them.”

Harry’s eyes shot to the faded scars on Bill’s face.

“It was a pretty fucking big success,” Harry said quietly.

“Yeah, and he’s regretted that little triumph for every minute of his life since,” Bill said. “Malfoy’s spent a lot of time failing to live up to expectations, Harry. The one time he did, he wasn’t actually meant to succeed, and doing so was the worst thing that ever happened to him.”

“It turned out badly for a lot of us,” Harry said, taking a long, burning gulp of Firewhisky.

“Yes.” Bill nodded. “I’m simply pointing out that Malfoy may not feel entirely comfortable with striving for the victory. It hasn’t served him well.”

“Seems like you’ve given this a lot of thought,” said Harry, eyeing Bill curiously.

“I see Malfoy every day, Harry. I see his face when he looks at mine,” said Bill. “It’s hard not to think about it.”

“Alright. But why are you telling me all of this? Why don’t you tell him?”

“Because,” said Bill, taking back the bottle and draining the last of the drink, “he’s not the one who's still locked in a school-age rivalry. Ask yourself why his failures bother you so much.” He dropped the empty bottle on the table with a thunk and shoved out of his seat. “Dry off and get some sleep, Harry.”

Harry waited until he heard the whoosh of the Floo before he unclasped his sodden cloak and leveraged himself from the chair.

******

“I want a rematch.”

Malfoy’s eyes flicked up from the pile of documents he was meticulously translating from Gobbledegook to French.

“Potter. Whatever it is that you want, unless it pertains to the translation of financial documents into one of these three languages,” he tapped a small sign which read Translator: Français-Anglais-Gobbledegook, “you’ve come to the wrong place. You see, I work here. I’m not at liberty to engage in either fisticuffs or heavy petting at the present time.”

Harry felt colour rise in his cheeks, but held Malfoy’s steady gaze.

“A rematch,” he said again. “I want a rematch of the game.”

Malfoy heaved a laboured sigh. “And you’ll have one—in eleven months and twenty-three days. It’s quite easy to calculate. The word annual indicates an event which takes place at roughly the same time each year. Subtracting the eight days that have passed since the previous event, that leaves you with only 357 days to wait. It will have gone by before you know it, Potter.” Malfoy returned to his pile of parchments with a dismissive air.

“This weekend,” Harry said, undeterred.

“I’m aware that the universe often aligns itself especially for you, Potter. However, I find it difficult to believe that even the Chosen One will be able to book the Falcons’ pitch this weekend. They have a match with the Tornadoes.”

“Not at Falmouth—at Hogwarts. I’ve already spoken to Minerva, and she says we can use the pitch on Saturday afternoon. The students don’t return for another month.”

Minerva?” sneered Malfoy.

“Headmistress McGonagall,” Harry clarified.

“I bloody well know who she is,” Malfoy snapped.

“Right, of course,” said Harry, fiddling with the cuff of his sleeve. “Well, she’s said we can use the facilities.”

“And you assume that fourteen people are going to take another day out of their busy lives to travel to Scotland so that you can prove your superior Seeker skills to your absolute satisfaction?” Malfoy looked as if it was causing him physical pain to keep his voice calm. “You really are unbelievably arrogant, Potter.”

“No,” said Harry, maintaining his civil tone. “Just you. I’m challenging you to a Seekers game. One-on-one. You, me, and a Snitch.”

Malfoy's smile looked as if he might crack a tooth on it.

“Get out of my office, Potter. Now.”

******

“I need this document translated into English.”

When Malfoy refused to look up, Harry dropped the parchment on top of the stack Malfoy was currently working on.

“It’s an emergency. I’ve got to sign it and transfer the funds today,” he persisted. “I’ve already paid the fee for expedited translation service.”

The corner of Malfoy’s left eye twitched slightly, but he reached for Harry’s document without verbal complaint. The twitch increased slightly as his eyes scanned the document.

“This is a rental agreement for the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch, Potter.”

Harry nodded enthusiastically.

“Since when does Hogwarts issue contracts in French?” Malfoy asked, bending the edges of the parchment in his tense grip.

“It seems there was a clerical error,” Harry answered, unable to stifle a grin. “The new accounts manager is French. She saw your name and assumed you were, as well.”

“I see,” Malfoy gritted out. He made an officious show of clearing away the piles of papers on his desk and placing the contract at the centre. “As you’ve already paid the fee, I will have this completed within the hour and transfer of funds will occur at the close of business. I should point out, however, that you are wasting your Galleons, Potter. I have no intention of humouring you on this matter. You’ll be flying around that pitch alone.”

“Why?” Harry asked. “I know you love to play. I’m offering you a free Quidditch pitch to play on for an entire day. All I want is a rematch.”

“All you want is to prove your superiority, Potter, and it’s my opinion that you’ve had quite enough ego stroking in your lifetime. Seek validation elsewhere. I’m busy this weekend.”

“Doing what?”

Draco’s eye twitched dramatically. “Excuse me?”

“You’re busy this weekend doing what, exactly?”

“That isn’t the least bit your business, Potter.” Malfoy gripped his quill and blew out an angry puff of breath. “However, it’s quite clear that the boundaries observed by polite society don’t apply to you. So, in the interest of ending this conversation once and for all—I have a date. Have a nice time playing with yourself.”

******

“You don’t have a date.”

Malfoy’s shoulders hunched noticeably, but he did not look up from the sheaf of parchments he was scribbling on. He simply continued to work as if he had not heard Harry’s statement.

“I checked around,” Harry ploughed on. “You haven’t been seen on a date in over a year. You spend every Saturday afternoon at Shelford’s Tearooms with your mother; you have a standing reservation and it hasn’t been altered.”

Malfoy fixed Harry with a malevolent gaze, but said nothing.

“You’re still on the Watch List, Malfoy. The contents of your file are available to all law enforcement officials.” Harry shifted under the weight of Malfoy’s glare. He felt a pang of guilt, even though Malfoy was the one who had lied. “It’s public record, Malfoy.”

“I’m aware of my lack of rights to privacy, Potter. I do, however, have the right to choose to luncheon with my mother rather than spend my afternoon with a self-righteous, nosy git.”

Harry soldiered on, ignoring the insult. “We can play after. It’s still light until well past eight.”

“You aren’t going to cease until you get your way, are you?” Malfoy sneered. “Same old Potter. ‘If at first you don’t get what you want, just keep hammering away until you do’, is that right?”

“It’s worked well for me so far,” Harry shrugged.

“Fine. If it will keep you away from my office for the next—" Malfoy consulted his calendar “—355 days, I’ll do it. Five o’clock sharp. Do not make me wait even one second, Potter.”

Surprised at his sudden victory, Harry let out a relieved little laugh. “Great. Would you like to meet in Hogsmeade and walk in together?”

Malfoy simply stared at him without expression for several long moments.

“Or, we could just meet on the pitch, then,” Harry mumbled, his delight fading away.

***

Harry excused himself from tea with McGonagall at half past four and made his way down to the Quidditch pitch. The weather was absolutely perfect, if a bit on the warm side. Long, finger-like clouds stretched across the blue sky providing protection from the glare of the late afternoon sun. A shifting breeze created the sort of eddies a Snitch could take advantage of, ensuring an exciting chase.

Harry dropped his bag on the ground and stared up at the goal posts, letting the inevitable nostalgia wash over him. He had been back to Hogwarts many times in the past five years, but this would be his first time back on the pitch since his last practice in sixth year. Since just before he had nearly killed Malfoy and spent the final match of the year in detention. Harry’s mind was assaulted with images: pallid skin, torn robes, splattered blood. He remembered the look of fury and horror on Snape’s face when he recognized the spell work. Then, Harry recalled his annoyance at missing the game and flushed with shame.

Harry jumped noticeably when Malfoy cleared his throat just behind him.

“Are we going to stand here and stare all evening, Potter,” he asked snidely, “or are we going to get this exercise in self-congratulations over with?”

Harry’s mortification grew ten-fold at the sight of Malfoy. His mind searched over the scene in the shower at Falmouth. Had he seen scars? He couldn’t remember.

“Malfoy—” Harry stopped, unsure how to approach the subject. In the end, he elected brute honesty. “I don’t think I’ve ever properly apologized to you. For sixth year in the bathroom, I mean. I know I’ve said I didn’t know what it would do, but that isn’t the same as saying I really wish I hadn’t done it to you. And I do—really wish I hadn’t, I mean.” He trailed away at the end, noticing that Malfoy had gone rigid and was nearly as pale as he been on the night in question.

After a moment of weighty silence, Malfoy drew a deep breath and shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous, Potter,” he said, in an uncharacteristically flippant voice. “We were at war, and in war, the victors never apologise.” He gave an odd, high-pitched laugh and looked up and around the pitch. “Get on your fucking broomstick, Potter. We came here to fly.”

They each took several warm up circuits around the pitch, getting a feel for the conditions and the now unfamiliar boundaries of the observation towers. Without all the protective gear necessary to protect against Bludgers they were both significantly faster. At one point, Harry felt a rush of nerves as they entered a turn on the far side of the pitch at a pace he wasn’t sure they could hold. He laughed aloud as they swung past the Ravenclaw support tower, missing it by inches and separated from one another by even less. From the corner of his eye, he saw a small grin form on Malfoy’s face.

Once they had cleared the tower, Harry pulled sharply to the left to put space between them, and then began practising double-back manoeuvres. Malfoy matched him turn-for-turn, occasionally seeming to read his intent and beat him into the recovery.

Harry gripped his broom tightly and pulled into an inverted dive, corkscrewing out of it just twenty feet above the ground. He was shocked to find Malfoy at his shoulder, apparently having executed the move in tandem with him. There was no question that Malfoy was technically as good or better a flyer. Harry’s heart was racing as he tore in and out of the support beams of the towers, unsuccessfully attempting to shake Malfoy off his tail.

As they shot up the face of the Professors’ observation tower, Malfoy called out in a breathless, hoarse voice.

“This is invigorating, Potter, but I thought you wanted to catch a Snitch!”

“Actually,” Harry shouted back, jostling Malfoy with his elbow, “I want you to catch a Snitch!”

Malfoy’s eyes narrowed and his slight smile evaporated. “Fuck you, Potter. Just release the ball.”

Harry shrugged and changed his grip on his broom, slowing and spiralling down towards the ground. Malfoy did not follow him, but remained hovering in the air over the stands. Harry returned to his gear bag and hunted for his dragon hide gloves. He made a show of pulling one on, making certain that Malfoy saw him use it to pluck the Snitch out of the zippered front compartment.

With the struggling Snitch in hand, he returned to the centre ring of the pitch and looked up at Malfoy.

“Ready?” he called. He got only a burning glare in response. Harry took one last long look around the pitch, admiring the almost bronze glow of the goal hoops in the low light, and released the Snitch. It hovered for a moment, testing its wings, and then zipped upward on a passing breeze. Harry tore off his glove, mounted his broom, and shot upwards towards Malfoy who was avidly tracking the glinting ball.

The look of excitement on Malfoy’s face cooled when Harry pulled in to his line of sight, causing him to lose focus on the ball.

“Let it get lost, Malfoy,” Harry said, feeling a little guilty for temporarily spoiling Malfoy’s fun.

“I know the rules, Potter,” he replied with obvious annoyance, but his eyes flitted over Harry’s shoulder anyway.

Harry nodded, knowing those few seconds were all the Snitch would need to hide itself, and flew away.

For nearly twenty minutes, they flew at opposite ends of the pitch, each searching for a glint of gold. Several times, Malfoy moved suddenly, as if he had caught sight of something, only to return immediately to his cautious, watchful circling. Harry had not yet seen the Snitch at all, and he began to worry that the wards might not be operating properly on the pitch.

In a fit of boredom—and because he was missing the excitement of sparring with Malfoy—Harry dropped into an impromptu Wronski Feint, watching with satisfaction as Malfoy automatically followed him into the dive. Halfway to the ground, Harry saw it. The Golden Snitch was turning lazy figure eights directly ahead of them, about ten feet off the ground. At the speed they were moving, pulling out of the dive in time was questionable, at best.

He glanced at Malfoy and saw him lean forward and release his broom with his right hand. That was the decision made, then. They were doing this. Harry leaned forward as well, stretching out along his broom and extending the muscles of his back and arm. His fingertips tingled as he pushed them out as far as he could, trying to get just that little bit closer than Malfoy.

As they hurtled toward the Snitch, Harry held his breath, tensing everything in preparation for recovery from the dive. He glanced nervously at Malfoy, trying to gauge which of them had the edge. Just as he looked, Malfoy made a needless adjustment to his broom hand. Harry stared, incredulous, as the motion caused Malfoy to drop back from what had undoubtedly been the advantage. So stunned was he at this ridiculous mistake, that he was caught by surprise when the Golden Snitch slammed into his outstretched palm. He had only a second to calculate what that meant in terms of his position and yank desperately at his broomstick before he ploughed with brutal force into the ground.

* * *

Harry came back to consciousness with a start. His heart was still racing and his breath sounded unusually loud, but he felt a surprising lack of pain. Malfoy was crouched over him, looking genuinely concerned.

“Fuck, are you insane, Potter?” he said loudly, as if Harry might have gone deaf in the impact. “Never mind, no need to answer that. Are you injured?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Harry said, attempting to sit himself up. His shoulder was sore and his head was a bit fuzzy, but overall he seemed to have come away unscathed. “Why did you pull back like that, Malfoy?”

Malfoy’s concern seemed to evaporate at this. “Are you going to start that again? I should think your current condition would be answer enough. Most people aren’t willing to die for the Snitch, Potter.” He sprang to his feet and stomped towards his abandoned broom, shouting over his shoulder as he went. “Accuse me of throwing this game, Potter. I dare you.”

Harry shoved to his feet, swaying for a moment before he was able to give chase. He caught Malfoy’s arm as he spun to retrieve his gear bag, yanking him hard. “You pulled back before you had to. You gave it away, again.”

Malfoy’s mouth pressed into a flat, hard line and his eyes blazed with fury. Harry felt a sudden jolt in the pit of his stomach that put him in mind of the incident in the shower two weeks previous. He released Malfoy’s arm quickly, shifting away before Malfoy could sense his arousal.

“ ‘Arry! I ‘ave zee contract!” Harry cringed guiltily at the sound of the singsong voice. A beautiful young woman with blond hair was hurrying across the pitch, waving a piece of parchment over her head.

“Allo, ‘Arry.” Fleur smiled. “Bonsoir, Monsieur Malfoy.”

Malfoy shot Harry an arch look. “Bonsoir, Madame Weasley. You’re looking well.” He smiled and bent to kiss her hand. “I don’t think I’ve seen you since the Christmas party.”

Harry flushed and glanced at Fleur, who was smiling coyly. Of course, Malfoy would know she was Bill’s wife. Unable to think of anything witty to say, Harry let out a loud, uncomfortable laugh and ran his hand through his hair.

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “I take it you are the new accounts manager at Hogwarts?” he inquired of Fleur.

“Oui. I usually work from zee cottage,” Fleur replied, oblivious to Harry’s pleading look. “I made a special trip today.” She looked quite pleased with herself.

“How thoughtful,” Malfoy said politely to Fleur, levelling a hard look at Harry.

“I ‘ave zee new contract ‘ere,” Fleur said again, passing the parchment to Harry and flashing another blazing smile at Malfoy. “Perhaps I shall see you again—‘ow do you say?—” she frowned and snapped her fingers, an overly theatrical expression of confusion on her face,“—à la semaine prochaine.” Fleur sent a little wink at Harry and turned on her heel, walking back in the direction of the castle.

“Why might she think I’d see her again next week, Potter?” Malfoy asked, his voice once again low and dangerous.

“I, uh, had hoped that we might want to do this again sometime,” Harry said, looking down at the contract. “I asked her to extend the rental until term starts again.” Harry grabbed Malfoy’s arm anew. “Say you’ll come. This wasn’t—” Harry stopped, his stomach lurching again. “I want a proper match. This wasn’t what I intended.”

Malfoy bent down for his gear bag, twisting his arm out of Harry’s hand as he rose. He gave Harry a long, inscrutable look before turning and walking toward the gates.

“Come,” Harry called after him in what he hoped was a commanding voice, but even he could hear the silent please at the end of it.

* * *

The following Saturday, Harry wandered down to the pitch at several minutes past five, dragging his gear as if it weighed a tonne. He wasn’t really expecting Malfoy to come, but he had the pitch reserved and it seemed a waste not to use it.

He dropped his bag and squatted next to it to inspect his broom. As he suspected, there were several broken and twisted twigs in need of service. He plopped down on the grass and began hunting in his bag for his tail clippers.

“You’re late, Potter.”

Harry jumped and sliced his finger on the blade of the clippers he had just located.

“Ouch, fuck. You scared me, Malfoy.” He stuck the bleeding finger in his mouth, glaring at Malfoy.

“What in Merlin’s name are you doing?” Malfoy asked, looking horrified.

“I cut my finger.”

“Yes, but what is it doing in your mouth?”

“It stops the bleeding,” Harry mumbled around the digit.

Episkey stops the bleeding, you idiot,” Malfoy snapped, pulling Harry’s hand away from his mouth and performing the charm with obvious irritation. “So, this is the pride of the Auror department,” he muttered as he worked. “I shudder to think what the rest of them must be like.”

Harry laughed despite himself. “Don’t worry, Malfoy. That’s just the publicity hype. I’m not even remotely the pride of the department.”

Malfoy released his hand and studied him for a moment. “You must have a very good publicist, then,” he said with an almost-smile.

“The best the Ministry could buy.” Harry grinned. “Come on, let’s fly.”

Harry took the Snitch out straight away, not bothering to suggest a warm up. He got no complaints from Malfoy, who was avidly watching the little golden ball even before it unfurled its wings. He let it go and turned to Malfoy.

“Thanks for fixing my finger,” he said, drawing Malfoy’s attention from the Snitch for a moment. “You know how even the smallest thing can affect your game.” Harry added a wry smile to this, hoping Malfoy would take it for a joke.

Thankfully, Malfoy snorted. “I’ll not have you complaining that the game was thrown off by a little nick, Potter. You seem to have difficulty accepting the outcome of games as it is.”

They both pushed off into the air, each automatically taking to opposite ends of the pitch and beginning to fly in grids, each searching his end of the stadium. Malfoy saw it first, a fleck of gold hovering behind the goal hoops on Harry’s side. Harry had been searching the area near the base of the stands and didn’t notice at first when Malfoy came barrelling across the midline and into his territory.

By the time he had swung around and joined the chase, Malfoy had a decided advantage of nearly a metre on him. The Snitch sensed them and dropped suddenly, darting around the goalpost.

On instinct, they split apart, Malfoy swerving to left and Harry to the right. On the far side of the goal, they both dived after the Snitch, which was clinging to the back of the goal post beneath them. It veered to left, again favouring Malfoy. Harry’s elbow knocked Malfoy’s knee as he drew up on him, earning Harry a nasty backward-thrown glance.

Harry levelled himself to his broom, squeezing every bit of speed out of it that he could, urging it forward with every cell of his body. His hand slid alongside Malfoy’s and they both strained their fingers out towards the frantically zigzagging ball. They were making turns as one now, pressed together from ankle to wrist, correcting to follow the Snitch without thought.

The ball tried to feint to the left, but neither of them fell for it, reaching together to the right as it turned back. Harry’s hand clenched automatically, hooking Malfoy’s thumb as it closed. He felt the Snitch struggle against his palm as his fingers linked with Malfoy’s.

The Snitch was pressed between their hands, wriggling in vain for escape.

* * *

The interior of the Three Broomsticks was smoky and overly warm after their brisk walk from Hogwarts to the pub. The walk had been animated and almost friendly after the excitement of the game, and Harry had been pleasantly surprised when Malfoy agreed to stop in for a drink. Now that they were seated, however, Harry felt a little out of sorts.

For his part, Malfoy was watching Madam Rosmerta with a miserable expression of guilt. When she arrived at the table with the two tankards of mead and bottle of Old Ogden’s Harry had ordered, she took a deep breath and spoke.

“How are you, Harry?” she asked, pausing before pointedly adding, “Mr. Malfoy?”

Malfoy lifted his eyes to meet hers. She gave him a slight nod, which he returned before looking down again. Harry smiled gratefully, knowing how difficult welcoming Malfoy back into her pub must be. She gave him a pointed look before turning back to the bar to hush an obviously inebriated wizard who had just discovered that his glass had run dry.

Harry watched Malfoy fiddle with his beer mat and searched for something to say. Finally, he settled on lifting his glass and clinking it against Malfoy’s.

“To the wildest Snitch capture in history,” he said, in an overly zealous voice. Malfoy straightened himself up and took hold of his glass.

“No question,” he said, just as loudly. “Absolutely mad. I wonder how many times that’s happened?”

A few people glanced around at the loud clunk of Malfoy knocking his glass against Harry’s.

Harry shook his head. “It’s really rare. I don’t think there are any mentions of simultaneous catches in Quidditch Through the Ages. I suppose we’d have to test the Snitch, to be sure it’s a true draw.”

“We both know it was, Potter,” Malfoy said, knocking back a shot of Firewhisky and chasing it with half his mead.

“Yeah,” Harry grinned. “I could feel it. The Snitch was confused. You felt it, too?”

Malfoy nodded, leaning back in his chair. “It felt like it was rattling back and forth between our hands. The poor thing didn’t know what to do.”

“For a moment there it was like we were one Seeker.” Harry laughed, taking a shot of his own. Malfoy didn’t join in his laughter, however. Instead, he sat up and scrutinized Harry intently.

“What is this about, Potter?” he asked. “Why the sudden fixation on my Quidditch game?”

Harry eyed him warily. “Because I want you to beat me.”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “So this is about what happened in the showers, is it? Well, I’m afraid not really into that sort of thing, Potter. A bit of light spanking is my limit.”

Midway through a swig of mead, Harry coughed and spluttered. “What? No. No, that’s definitely not what I meant.” He was humiliated to hear his voice rise to a near squeak. “I only wanted to…to…”

Malfoy’s lip twitched slightly.

“Oh, fuck you, Malfoy, you bastard,” he said, rubbing his hand over his eyes. “You’re not funny.”

“Perhaps not, but you are hilarious,” said Malfoy with a smug grin. “You should see your face.”

“Do I look like I’m about to hex you back to London?”

“A bit. But in an extremely amusing way.” Malfoy took a sip of mead and arranged his face into a mockingly serious expression. “I’ll not say another word. Please tell me what you were going to say.” His lip gave another twinge.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Forget it. It was just something Bill said.”

Malfoy stiffened and began toying with the edge of his glass. “About me?”

“Yes. Well, no. About both of us, really. He seems to think that I’ve got a problem with you.”

“Outlandish,” Malfoy muttered. “I can’t imagine where he got such a foolish notion.”

“Shut it. I think he reckons that I’m jealous of you.” Harry flushed and turned his attention to his glass.

“Well, of course,” Malfoy said in a voice now dripping with sarcasm. “Who would want to be the exalted saviour of the universe when they could be a disgraced social pariah with a criminal record and entry-level job.”

“Bill says you’ve deliberately avoided promotion,” Harry pressed.

“What I’ve avoided, Potter,” Malfoy said evenly, “is the inevitable disappointment that follows repeated rejection and scorn.”

“Is that why you give up the Snitch?” Harry leaned in aggressively. “So you don’t have to feel the disappointment if you really try to catch it and still miss? Because that’s bollocks, Malfoy.”

“This is bollocks,” Malfoy said, tossing back another shot. “I’ve accepted that fact that you’re a lucky bastard, who always wins. You should accept it, too, Potter. And before you get a big head, let me remind you that I said lucky, not better.”

Malfoy lurched to his feet, swaying as he dug in his pocket for a couple of Galleons and dropped them on the table. “Delightful as always, Potter,” he sneered, turning and stomping out the door.

Harry jumped up and threw several Galleons on the table as well, following fast on Malfoy’s heels. He caught him at the corner and grabbed his arm, yanking so hard that Malfoy had to grab the side of the building to stay upright.

“Let’s talk about lucky, Malfoy,” he shouted, startling several owls perched on the windowsills above into taking flight. “You’re bloody rich. You have parents, fucked up as they may be.” Malfoy snarled and yanked at his arm, but Harry held tight. “You got top marks in school without even trying. You could have been anything you wanted to be.” He shook Malfoy roughly. “You’ve got those eyes and that hair. People take one look at you and they want to do things for you. You’ve had every opportunity and you don’t fucking take it.”

Harry stopped, suddenly aware that he had said more than he meant to. Malfoy’s aforementioned eyes narrowed dangerously.

“So, my failure to live up to potential has your knickers in a twist, does it?” Malfoy’s voice was as low as Harry’s had been loud. “Why do I find that hard to believe?” Malfoy wrapped his fist in Harry’s shirt, twisting the fabric around his hand and wrenching hard. Harry found himself spun around and pressed between the brick and Malfoy’s lean frame.

“What are you doing?” Harry gasped, trying to shift his hips away from the other man.

“You know what I think, Potter?” Malfoy leaned in, his voice dropping to a whisper. “I think Weasley is on to something. I believe there is something you covet. I just don’t think it’s my unrealized Quidditch skills or career prospects.” His mouth hovered just over Harry’s, every word sending puffs of breath across Harry’s lips.

Harry swayed forward, letting his lips graze Malfoy’s so lightly he could claim it was an accident. The lurch in his stomach came back with a vengeance. He let his eyes drift closed, leaning in just a hair more.

He let out an uncontrollable moan as Malfoy’s free hand once again closed around his undeniable erection and squeezed.

“I think this is what this is about,” Malfoy spoke against his lips.

There was a loud crack, and Harry was grinding his body into thin air. His eyes flew open. Malfoy was gone.

* * *

Harry wanked himself raw that night, and again for the next six nights running. By the time the following Saturday arrived, he had himself convinced he could face Malfoy without incident, if only because he didn’t think he had another erection in him.

As he walked down to the pitch, a few raindrops splattered on his glasses, drawing his attention to the darkening sky. Well, that was that problem solved. He doubted very much that Malfoy would show in a downpour. Harry felt a stab of disappointment that he would not have the opportunity to deliver his carefully prepared speech regarding the events of the previous week, but it was mingled with an equal dose of relief.

After poring over the details of the two times Malfoy had held Harry’s dick in his hand, he had concluded that the best way to put an end to it would be to admit that he was attracted to Malfoy. It was obvious that the other man was trying to wind him up, and Harry was sure that if he accepted his advances it would ruin Malfoy’s fun and send him running for the hills. None of which made him any more eager to do it. There were plenty of ways for Malfoy to hurt him besides toying with his libido. Harry was just hoping that Malfoy still hated the press even more than he hated Harry.

The rain picked up in both volume and tempo as Harry stepped out on to the already sodden pitch. He briefly considered packing it in, but he had been looking forward to flying all week. Only the knowledge that he’d be able to fly all of this out of his system had kept him sane during the last seven days. He shoved his gear bag under the protective cover of the observation stand, released the Snitch and mounted his broom.

He made a few passes of the pitch, letting the warm summer rain soak him completely. When he was so wet that he no longer noticed the rain, he began to hunt the Snitch. Occasionally, a ray of sunshine would peek through the clouds and glint off the falling rain in such a way that Harry would lunge for a phantom Snitch before realising it was a trick of the light. He was just pulling out of one such misguided dive when Malfoy cut him off, nearly causing him to lose his grip on his rain-slicked broom.

“It’s not very sporting to start without your opponent, Potter,” he shouted, pulling sharply to the left to avoid colliding with Harry, who was still trying to get his broom under control.

Harry eyed him curiously. Malfoy didn’t seem angry or taunting or superior. None of the things he expected to encounter in the aftermath of their last meeting. If anything, he seemed sort of giddy. Harry didn’t like it one bit. It was an unsettling way for Malfoy to be.

“Nice day for it,” Malfoy shouted, grinning and executing a spinning turn with his hand outstretched, as if to catch the falling rain. He gave Harry’s soaked form an openly lecherous look and sped off downfield, practising showy tricks all the way.

Harry stared after him, feeling even more out of sorts than before. His instincts told him that Malfoy was messing him about. His body, however, defied all logic and began to re-enact the scene outside the pub all over again.

Harry shifted uncomfortably on his broomstick, trying to will his erection away, but unable to tear his eyes away from the source. Malfoy was wearing a thin, grey, Muggle tracksuit that, when wet, served as excellent camouflage in the stormy afternoon light. When he moved quickly, it was almost as effective as a Disillusionment Charm—only his hair gave away his position.

Despite the handicap inherent in being riveted to Malfoy, Harry spotted the Snitch after only about ten minutes. He frowned at the little ball, which seemed to be engaging in a game of shadowing Malfoy. It flitted about behind his shoulder, mimicking his every move, occasionally flirting with the edges of his peripheral vision, but never exposing itself.

Harry’s irritation ratcheted up as Malfoy continued showing off, totally oblivious to the hovering Snitch. He charged forward full-tilt, intent on snatching the obnoxious ball right out from behind Malfoy’s ear.

Malfoy’s eyes widened almost comically when he noticed Harry flying straight at him, arm outstretched, with no clear intent of slowing down. As his eyes darted around for an escape route, he spotted the Snitch and made a wild, flailing grab for it. Harry gritted his teeth in increased annoyance as Malfoy missed the ball by a wide margin. The ball danced away, but Harry continued on his course, no longer targeting the Snitch. He slammed into Malfoy, grabbing his shirt and yanking him bodily from his broom.

The sudden added weight caused Harry’s broom to tilt wildly and plummet towards the pitch. A panicked Malfoy grabbed for the broom’s handle, pulling them into a spiralling dive. Unable to pull up with all of Malfoy’s weight hanging from the front of the broom, Harry began grasping for his wand, trying desperately to free it from its harness. With moments to spare, he yanked it free, just managing to shove the broom from between them and cast a hasty Cushioning Charm on Malfoy before they hit the ground.

Harry felt all the wind go out of him as he collided full force with Malfoy. The charm had reduced the impact significantly, but Malfoy was also gasping for breath as if it had all been knocked from him.

Harry tried to push himself up, but his hands and feet merely slid in the mud and he found himself ineffectively writhing around on top of Malfoy—who looked suddenly furious.

Good. This was something Harry could understand.

Malfoy scraped his muddy hair away from his eyes and shoved Harry roughly off to the side. While Harry attempted to get to his feet, Malfoy scrambled through the mud and threw a wild punch, which glanced without much force off the side of Harry’s jaw. Harry grabbed his arm and twisted, forcing Malfoy to drop to his knees in the mud. He took advantage of the position to drive his head into Harry’s knee and knock his feet out from under him

This time, without the shock of falling from the sky, Harry was ready. He threw his body weight forward, pinning Malfoy’s thrashing arms and legs as best he could on the slippery surface of the pitch.

Harry leaned into Malfoy’s face, baring his teeth in fury. “That was pathetic,” he hissed. “A first-year on a school broom could have caught that Snitch. You were right. This has been a complete waste of Galleons.” Even through the heavy downpour, Harry was dimly aware that he was actually spitting as he spoke.

Malfoy stopped struggling and gave him a look of pure, undiluted scorn. “How do you figure? I’d say you got exactly what you were after. You won—repeatedly. You should be feeling quite superior now. And by all appearances, you are.”

“Fuck. You. Malfoy.” Harry was pushing against Malfoy’s limbs as if he could shove him into the ground and be done with him. “You could be so good. Why don't you ever—" Harry clenched his teeth together for control. "That is not what I wanted.”

“So, it’s the other thing, is it?” Malfoy arched his hips up, grinding himself against Harry’s now rigid cock.

“No,” Harry spat. He drove his hips back into Malfoy’s, pushing with such force that they both slid several metres through the mud. “But it’s going to have to do.”

Harry grabbed a fistful of Malfoy’s hair and yanked his head up, bending down at the same time and shoving his tongue into Malfoy’s gasping mouth. Malfoy twisted and struggled even as he drove his own tongue into Harry’s mouth with equal force. Harry’s mouth filled with the taste of mud, grass, rainwater and sweaty flesh. His whole body went as rigid as his cock, every muscle taut with pleasure and rage.

He ground furiously into Malfoy, twisting at the hank of hair in his fist and pressing his tongue harder and further into Malfoy’s gritty, delicious mouth. In response, Malfoy took hold of Harry’s hair as well, yanking his head back and latching his mouth on to his throat. Harry moaned loudly as Malfoy sucked hard along the taut tendons in his neck and dug his fingers into his scalp.

Malfoy’s other hand had worked its way free and was now gripping Harry’s arse, dragging the rough, wet material of his jeans across his balls in an almost painful manner. Harry jerked out of Malfoy’s grasp, cursing as several hairs were torn from his head. He straddled Malfoy, grinding against his crotch for good measure, and yanked his t-shirt over his head. He watched with satisfaction as Malfoy’s surveyed his chest. There was no teasing now. Malfoy looked hungry for him, literally licking his lips as he reached out to run his fingertips across Harry’s nipples, leaving muddy streaks across his torso.

Harry deliberately slowed down, flexing the muscles across his arms and chest as he reached for the zipper on Malfoy’s jacket. He began rocking back and forth, dragging his aching cock along Malfoy’s as he lowered the zip, revealing a pale, heaving chest. He let his fingers brush Malfoy’s sternum and stomach very lightly all the way down, slowing his movements even more when he encountered the light trail of hair below his navel.

Harry ran his gaze back up Malfoy’s body just as slowly, enjoying the way each muscle seemed to tense as he studied it. When his eyes reached Malfoy’s lips, they parted slightly in invitation. Harry accepted, running his hands roughly up the skin he had just touched so gently, shoving Malfoy’s jacket open, and diving forward to meet his mouth.

Both of Malfoy’s legs came up and wrapped themselves around Harry’s hips, just as his tongue met Harry’s. They both moaned into the other’s mouth as their bodies aligned from chest to groin. Harry felt a rush of sensation so powerful he jerked away from Malfoy’s mouth, certain he was about to go off in his jeans.

“Wait,” he barked, heaving in air and staring down at Malfoy’s mud streaked face with what he was sure was as stunned an expression as Malfoy was wearing. “Just wait a minute.”

Malfoy’s expression transformed itself into a more recognisable sneer. “What? Am I doing this wrong, too, Potter?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “You’re doing it too well.”

Malfoy’s expression shifted again, this time to a rude smirk. “I see. Afraid you're going to come in your trousers, Potter?” He ground up against Harry again, grinning maliciously.

“Yes,” Harry snapped, stilling Malfoy’s hips with his hands and leaning in to lick up the side of his neck. He let out a loud, needy breath against Malfoy’s ear and whispered in the most wicked tone he could manage, “But I don’t want to. I want to come in you.”

Malfoy stopped struggling against his restraining grip. In fact, he stopped moving altogether. Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on the sensation of the rain falling on his bare back. Fuck. He’d forgotten about last week for a moment. Malfoy was going to grab his wand any second and Apparate again, leaving Harry clutching a patch of sodden turf.

Sure enough, Malfoy began to wriggle beneath him. The hand that had been kneading his arse released him and snaked between them, groping, no doubt, for Malfoy’s wand. Harry began to push himself up, wondering if it was possible to pretend that he had been kidding.

Malfoy’s hand didn’t go to his wand, though. It went to the buttons on Harry’s jeans. Harry stared, confused, while Malfoy yanked at the fasteners, muttering obscenities when they refused to budge. Finally, he realised that Malfoy was not only not leaving, but trying to remove Harry's wet and uncooperative trousers.

“Let me,” he whispered, covering Malfoy’s hand with his own. “Wet denim is a nightmare to get off.” Malfoy mumbled something about fucking Muggle kit, but allowed Harry to take over, moving his own hands to run up the back of Harry’s thighs.

Harry yanked viciously at the tight fabric while struggling to maintain his balance by digging his toes into the muddy grass. After what seemed like an eternity, he had merely managed to get them down to mid-thigh, and Malfoy was beginning to look annoyed.

"Fuck it," Harry muttered. "I really just need this."

He reached back and removed Malfoy's hand from his thigh, pulling it between them. With a pointed look, he shoved his own hand down Malfoy's trousers and wrapped it around his cock. Malfoy raised an eyebrow subtly before following suit, slipping his cool wet hand into Harry's now muddy and sodden pants.

Harry locked eyes with Malfoy as they each began to stroke the other. There was an odd, unfamiliar expression in his eyes. There was definitely anger, maybe a little uncertainty, a hint of derision, but there was something else that Harry hadn't seen in a long time.

There was fire. Malfoy wanted something.

Harry ground down against him, pressing his knuckles against Malfoy's through the sodden fabrics between them. He felt Malfoy's grip flex through both his fingers and his cock.

"Ah, fuck," he ground out through his teeth. "You're going to make me come so hard. Are you going to come? Do it, Malfoy. Come on."

Malfoy gasped, but his gaze stayed steady and intent. "Go on, Potter. Let me see it. Let me see how much you want this."

"So much. Fuck—" Malfoy tightened his grip and Harry lost it. He came with such force that for a brief moment it actually hurt before the whitewash of pleasure took over. He managed one last hard twist of his hand, and had the satisfaction of feeling Malfoy seize and come violently in his hand before he lost all touch with his surroundings and surrendered totally to Malfoy's touch.

For several minutes, Harry just let the rain hit his face and back and struggled to find an even breathing pattern again. It was quite a while before he realized that the persistent buzzing sound he was hearing wasn't just blood pumping violently past his ears.

He cracked open an eye to the sight of the Snitch hovering just to left, bouncing excitedly, as though it had just been enjoying the show. Drained as he was, his Seeker's instincts kicked in and his hand shot out for the nearest wing.

But rather than close around the irritating Snitch, his fingers found Malfoy's hand, which had seized the ball a moment before him.

Malfoy tilted his chin up as Harry turned to look down at him.

"Happy now, Potter?"

Harry stared at him for a few seconds, watching as raindrops dripped from his own face down onto Malfoy's. Finally he gave a small nod.

"Yeah. This is more like it."