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“That do-gooding, elf-kissing, wand-stealing, troll-loving, hissing son of a Mudb…”

I disregard the rest. He’s always been spoiled and impudent, but Lucius ought to know better than to finish his sentence. The intensity of this particular strop will not excuse it. Portraits may not have wands, but this setting gives me some recourse. I pick a sliver from the jar labeled “Erumpent Horn” and drop it into the nearest cauldron.

The ability to make him jump has not yet ceased to amuse me, even if the smoke doesn’t billow into the room, even if the sound is dulled by my frame. The older portraits say that after a century or two everything becomes as tedious as the bucolic oil landscapes in the fourth floor corridors. It seems all the more reason to enjoy the simple pleasures while they persist.

Which is not to suggest that finally taming Lucius Malfoy is a particularly simple pleasure.

Death has come with many delights. No more afternoons spent dodging explosions. No more evenings marking the barely legible drivel that passes for coursework. No more bowing before madmen intent on destroying each other. Only the brightest students and bravest potioneers seek to interrupt me here, in the blessedly detailed painting of a potions lab that hangs in the N.E.W.T.-level Potions room. I am free to tell the truth, at last, and revel in doing so as frequently and vigorously as possible. If not for the display about to unfold before me, that might have been death’s greatest pleasure.

But then, there is Lucius Malfoy’s arse.

By the time he regains composure I’ve crossed my arms and adopted the sort of sneer that used to set first years to cowering. To my delight, it has nearly the same effect on him these days. Whatever boldness he had died with Voldemort.

“Severus.” He nods. Tries to stay the course. Head held high, back straight. Too straight. I know him; this has always been his tell. Besides which, if he’s left the absurdity upstairs to find me here, we both know it’s not to tout his successes.

“Lucius.”

He tightens his lips, refusing to say anything more.

“Enjoying the party, were you?”

He clenches his fists. Forces them to relax. Repeat. Repeat.

“Shall I take that as a no?”

His robes are high-necked and austere. A flush is beginning to sneak above the collar.

When I was alive, he quite enjoyed being on the other side of these games. Wielding his influence – his charisma, our attraction to one another – like a wand. Sometimes glorious, sometimes dangerous, always powerful. Always on the verge of uncontrollable.

Now I am dead and he is broken. Quite a pair we make.

He grits his teeth and shakes his head, confirming. No, he has not enjoyed the party. No, he is not eager to celebrate the completion of Hogwarts’ rebuilding. No, he has not enjoyed being reduced to a sideshow spectacle. No, he has not enjoyed biting his tongue and swallowing his impotent rage. No, he does not know what to do with his powerlessness.

“Is that why you’ve come looking for me, then? To enjoy yourself?”

This was the case for so many years. I have not entirely forgiven him the second time. It was Manchester, a stakeout in the frigid winter of ’79. He would not share his cloak until I spread my arse for him. My resentment wasn’t for a lack of enjoyment but for the method, his insistence on total control. Every movement, every murmur – he wanted to own it all. We replayed that night, one way or another, for decades. In exchange for my obedience, he would warm me, provide some respite from the darkness. At the first sign of resistance he would turn me out to the cold, threaten to see me sent to my death.

Such threats mean little to the dead.

The war he houses plays over his features.

He wants to say yes. That he seeks pleasure. That he wants, for a moment, to lay down the mantle of the deposed patriarch. To cede the dangerous, futile hope that his authority will one day be restored. But he can no longer use me and call it magnanimity, pretend that it is desire for me and power for him. If he will not submit to his own urges, well. He cannot Stupefy a portrait, cannot chase me through the frames.

He wants to say no, that he does not need this, does not want this. But he does, and Lucius Malfoy’s aversion to veracity is only exceeded by the desire to have everything he wants.

He attempts a compromise. He scoffs. It is a non-answer. Something I am no longer compelled to accept.

“Words, Lucius. Use them.”

His mouth is at war with itself. It will neither smile nor frown. At last, he lets out a sotto voce, “Yes.”

“Yes, what?”

He scowls.

“Is there something you wish to say?”

He does a reasonable imitation of my cauldron post-Erumpent, though its oils have almost returned to placidity and he is just beginning to steam.

“That…that…that…ungrateful little swine!”

His rants tend to lack clarity. “Which?”

“Potter! Of course. Who else? We saved him. He would’ve been sacrificed to the Dark Lord twice over without our intervention! And how does he repay our family? Platitudes, false niceties, insincere ramblings, while the rest of the room cuts us openly.”

“Mmm.”

“We are Malfoys. We paid for the event, the materials, the better part of the rebuilding effort. But of course Potter shows up at the last minute with his special talent –” spittle begins to gather at the corners of his mouth, a complement to his pacing “– and steals the limelight. As if he would have lived to do it without our intervention! As if he – as if any of those plebian idiots – would have ever found the secrets of the Chamber had we not led them to it!”

“Mmm.”

“The traditions, the reputation, the accumulated resources of one of the finest wizarding families to ever tread this pile of stones are diverted to the ends of those who would seek to demean us! To destroy our name!” He pulls a newspaper from his robes. “Where is our thanks? The papers extol Potter’s virtues. Potter headlines the gala! Potter saves the day! Potter rebuilds Hogwarts singlehandedly! As though we didn’t send our elves to help. That’s many more hands than Potter has supplied! And yet! Yet!”

“Mmm.”

He descends into sputtering and murmuring. “Mudblood,” and “evil,” and “traitors.” To listen to Lucius Malfoy’s angriest ramblings, you’d never know a war had come and gone.

He slams the Prophet down on the bench closest to me.

“Have you read the paper you’re so thoroughly abusing?”

“Of cou—” he stops mid-syllable when he takes in the headline: “POTTER AND MALFOY TO HEADLINE HRC GALA.”

He doesn’t take his eyes from the page. Draco takes up half the broadsheet, examining robes in Twilfitt and Tattings. I can’t see his face in the photograph. No matter. I’ve seen Draco in his favourite parlour twice in the last fortnight: buggering Potter last week and wrapping nervously shaky fingers around a double Scotch earlier this evening. I don’t need to see the picture to know Draco’s rather infatuated with Potter.

I hope it’s fleeting, purely physical. The elder Malfoy is a surprising testament to the durability of physical attraction, but the younger has tried to buck his father’s example in any number of respects. Perhaps this will be another. Surely, a quick end to their affair would be less disastrous than a Malfoy attempting a relationship with the Heir of Gryffindor. I wouldn’t wish it on Draco, this waiting, always in the wings. The decades-long struggle to be enough.

But the Malfoy Men share so many things. Their build, their clipped vowels, their spiky, precise handwriting. A love of the more physical pleasures. An aversion to the harsher realities. An unquenchable desire for adulation.

“Lucius.”

He grunts, eyes fixed on the image of his son, happy and famous and fêted.

“You miss it.”

He ignores me, still. Fortunately for us both, I don’t need this point confirmed.

“Lucius.”

He looks up, at last.

“Lock the door.”

There is always a moment. He wants to resist. To be capable of resistance. It is written in the tightening of his shoulders, the twist of his mouth.

He casts a quiet Colloportus, then turns back to face me

“Come here.”

He stalls a moment before walking towards my portrait. He comes to a stop in front of the nearest workbench, a scant few feet from my frame.

It will never be close enough. The limits of portraiture are all too familiar. He almost ruined a painted Rococo parlour in the early days, trailing his lubricated fingers over my eternally clothed body in desperation as we learned that portraits cannot undress. It’s almost enough to make one envy those vapid, cherubic nudes.

He crosses his arms. Proud, silent, not openly antagonistic. On Lucius Malfoy, this is a position of submission.

It is, nevertheless, insufficient for my purposes.

“Take off your cloak.”

His shoulders stiffen. He wants so badly to obey. He wants so badly to be too proud to obey.

He raises his fingers to the closure at his throat. The clasp clicks as it disengages. It falls off one shoulder before he grabs it, draping it carefully over the nearest stool.

“Waistcoat.”

He stares into the middle distance, unwilling to acknowledge his own trembling fingers as he brings them to the buttons.

“Yes,” I soothe. Or try to. Only for him. We both know it is not my forte. “Now your shirt.”

The fabric snags as he pulls it from his waistband and I am almost moved by the momentary flash of distress that crosses his face. Rather, I am moved and almost show it, though sentimentality is not what he needs from me.

“Your vest.”

He inhales when I give the order. He is determined to hold in his stomach, as though I haven’t known him for decades, as though I am not already familiar with the beginning of a paunch, the lines of loose skin that mark his once-firm musculature. He is a handsome older man, but time makes fools of them all, the living, and Lucius Malfoy was an extraordinary younger man.

The remnants of his youthful glory are still apparent. His shoulders are strong, his back straight, his hips square to the floor. But they are remnants all the same, and fewer in number than they once were. His eyes are dull, his hair more white than blond. His chest trembles in some amalgam of cold and anticipation.

The next piece is critical. It is always the beginning of his undoing. “Shoes.”

He looks up at me, shocked. Perhaps he thought that here, in a classroom, at Hogwarts, under the feet of today’s wizarding elite, that I would not make him do this, that I would let him remain shod, ready to run. It is all the more reason to insist on his nudity.

He never moves so awkwardly as when taking off his shoes or putting them on. I am not certain he had ever done it himself before the end of the second war. He lifts a foot, then puts it down again. Frowns. He drops to a knee and loosens his laces, then lifts his trouser leg to roll a sock down his calf. He hooks his thumbs inside the heel of his shoe and pulls, lifting his bare foot free. Switches knees and repeats.

He winces when he sets both feet on the flagstones to stand. Everything is cold at this level of the castle, under the lakes and away from the kitchens. The stones give off the sort of deep chill that seeps through the cheap, thin-soled shoes I resorted to in life, but these small physical discomforts are still something of a surprise for Lucius Malfoy. It is almost enough to arouse protest. Almost.

Instead, he swallows and shifts, awaiting instruction. He clasps his hands in front of him, then behind him, revealing the outline of a swelling erection.

He obeys when I tell him to untie his hair. It falls loose around his neck, slipping over one shoulder when he turns to set the length of black silk over his shirt.

“Turn around.”

He almost sags in relief at the command.

This position is well rehearsed. It is usually the back of a settee or the edge of a desk, but a potions bench will suffice. He turns and grips the edge of the dark stone. It is better for the both of us. He is relieved to hide himself from me. I am, perhaps, more taken by the site of his naked back than is strictly advisable.

“Bend over.”

There is a moment’s pause while, I imagine, he considers. I wonder if he had harboured momentary illusions of saving his pride. If the idea had begun to appeal. Then he drops his forearms to the surface of the bench, burying his head in the crook of his elbow

I wish I could run a hand over the expanse of his skin. One would never expect Lucius Malfoy to be, in any sense, soft. And yet. At least he is still a feast for the eye: long and lean, shoulder blades rolling as he shifts his weight. Waiting.

“Remove your trousers. Do not stand.”

One hand disappears below his torso. His waistband loosens. He moves his hips slowly, shaking them free of the fabric. He catches them before they can pool around his ankles and steps out of one leg and then the other before adding them to his pile of discarded clothing.

“I shall see for myself in a moment, Lucius, but I would prefer to hear it from you directly. Do these games of ours still make you hard?”

He avoids a response. His long, pale legs clench with the effort of staying still.

“Do you enjoy taking orders from your former servant?”

His shoulders fill as he draws a long breath. I can hear his exhale, so tenuously controlled.

“Or is it the possibility that I might visit one of the portraits upstairs? Inform the Prophet reporters of your whereabouts?” I laugh, thin and low, a sound intended to set the fine hairs along his arms on end. “One Alohamora could return you to the front page. Is that what you want?”

His shoulders tremble. He wants so badly to shake his head, but he knows I will never accept a wordless answer and he cannot afford to say the words. To admit that fame and glory are beyond him now.

“Or is it having your arse on display?”

His buttocks tighten under his pants.

“Knowing that you must do as you’re told? That we will stop entirely at the first sign of disobedience?”

His breath is faster, shallower. He rocks back and forth almost imperceptibly, barely rolling his hips. I pause. Watch him.

“Remove your underwear.”

He knows better than to stand. He discards them more carelessly than he did his trousers. More hastily. He resumes the position. I am pleased to note that his legs are spread ever so slightly further apart.

He is almost uniformly pale, save the red swell of his bollocks and the shadow of his cleft. I may not be able to touch it, to taste it, to fuck myself into it, but I’ll be twice-damned if I won’t enjoy the view.

“Spread your legs. Further.”

He complies. Giving voice to his desires may yet challenge him, but he is all too eager to fulfil them.

His bollocks swing back and forth when he shifts his hips, spreading his feet to more than shoulder’s width apart. My initial question is answered. He’s hard as stone.

“You’ve a pretty arse, you know.”

He shifts back so his arse is high and tight. Can’t help preening like one of his deranged peacocks.

“Yes, that’s right. Show me.”

It seems a wonder, at times, that this routine of ours makes him so truly, willingly docile. That it has secured the sort of unquestioning obedience that Voldemort could not. Threats controlled his behaviour, of course, but it is, perhaps perversely, only the most devoted attention that could make him this eager to comply.

“More.”

He reaches back, grabbing one buttock with each hand and spreading them apart to reveal a smattering of honey blond hair around his hole.

His tight, empty hole.

My displeasure creeps into my voice. “You have failed to keep yourself prepared, haven’t you?”

He stays completely still, holding his breath as though I will not notice his trespass.

“Lucius.”

He nods his head, almost indiscernibly.

“Even when given one simple task, you cannot be relied upon to execute it properly.”

He shakes his head no, this time more clearly.

“You intrude on my peaceful death with your lascivious desires, yet cannot even be bothered to follow the simplest of instructions without my oversight.

“Or is that you’re still eager to please those shiftless layabouts who call themselves a wizarding elite? Too concerned that your face might betray the presence of some pleasurable device?”

There’s nothing to rush through a portrait’s bloodless veins. Still I begin to feel the echo of heat.

“You are as lazy, as spineless, as spoiled, as ever you were. How it must gall you that I have no hands to stroke you, no mouth with which to suck your cock.”

His shoulders strain. He wants to turn around. To argue. Or perhaps to correct me; he has done so before, full of reassurances and entreaties when I threaten to leave. Words like “please” and “don’t go” sound so disingenuous through those pale, proud lips that it is almost impossible to believe in their sincerity.

Which does not mean that they are not, at times, pleasant to hear.

But I cannot let him believe I am moved by such appeals. It would ruin the one thing I can give him in my current form. The one thing he needs most, and is too proud to ask for. Too proud to seek from anyone who does not already know it.

He has already begun to squirm, to loosen his grip. A firm hand is of far more use to him than anything else I might offer. Even if it is only a figure of speech.

“Do not remove your hands. I wish to see the proof of your disobedience.”

He takes a single long, deep breath, nods, and steadies his hands, arsehole still on display.

“If you cannot be trusted to attend to your needs without immediate instruction I see no alternative but to direct you myself. Will you obey every command you are given?”

This more familiar terrain is met with one single, certain nod.

“Place your forearms on the bench.”

He exhales and obeys, his muscles sliding beautifully over his shoulder blades.

I take a moment to survey the scene. He’s completely nude before me, his biceps beginning to strain from the effort of keeping himself still against the force of his anticipation. Or his desire. Or his fear. He is not as young as he once was, nor as beautiful, but he is more mine for that.

“Had you done as you were told, you would have had considerable choice with regard to the implements to be used. As it stands, you have foregone that right.”

His buttocks clench.

“Do you disagree?”

He shakes his head.

“Relax your arse.”

He tries to obey, a thin whine emanating from his throat when he is unable to do as asked.

“Is something so simple beyond you, Lucius? Do you require assistance in this, too?”

He nods, rocking back as though to present himself to me.

“Use your hands, then.”

He spreads himself without delay. The fine gold hair appears again, followed by the dark skin around his arsehole.

“Now, look at the tools before you.”

“You are to start with one test tube, standard size.”

He whips his head around, shocked. I raise an eyebrow. Any objections die on his lips. He reaches for the glassware with a trembling hand.

“You may fortify and lubricate it before you proceed, if you wish.”

His shoulders sag gratefully. He retrieves his wand, casts, sets it down.

Then he rests the rounded glass against his hole. His rim spasms around it. He steadies himself with two deep breaths.

It takes a moment for the glass to push through the first ring of muscle. His breath is shallow, his hole shuddering around the tube. I will never feel that particular heat, never feel him tighten around me. But I can watch.

With a rough exhale, he pushes down, drives the first inch into himself.

Once past the first barrier, the transparent material slides more easily into his body. He groans, begins to rotate the tube, canting his hips to meet each motion, revealing the dark shadow of his rectum through the glass.

A strangled moan announces that he has found his prostate without the aid of a fingertip’s manoeuvrability.

“Stop.”

He gasps, tries to hide it. It can’t be blood or semen, but something in me still stirs at the sound.

I rush to redirect the feeling, speaking with as much cool restraint as is possible. “Do you have permission to pleasure yourself?”

“No.” His voice is rough. I am pleased to hear him nevertheless; it usually takes longer to move him to speech. Perhaps this evening’s event was particularly taxing.

“We are here for your pleasure only insofar as it pleases me. Do not forget it.”

He nods, though I haven’t asked any question.

“Would you like to continue?”

“Yes.” His voice is strangled, hoarse. I grip the edge of my potions bench.

“I want to watch you penetrate yourself, not squirm about like an adolescent merman. Straight in and out again. Any divergence from this path and we shall stop. Am I understood?”

“Yes.” He nods, underscoring his response.

“You may proceed.”

He rolls his hips as he withdraws the glass, but corrects this error before I have the chance to intervene. His thrusts become more fluid as the muscles of his rectum relax, as his whimpers are replaced by gruff mutterings.

I will miss this when he is gone. Lucius Malfoy’s pride is, without question, too strong to allow himself to be painted with anything but arrogance or contempt. He will never consent to being immortalised in these states of undress. The thought that there are only decades of this left to us…

It’s of no matter. I have him, here, in front of me, fucking himself with standard issue first year potions equipment. His breathing is heavier, filling the room with a delectable series of low exhalations, though they are not as audible as I’d like.

“You’re very quiet tonight.”

His moaning grows louder.

“Stop.”

The whine that follows is sincere. He does not remove his hand from the glass.

“You believe I can’t tell performance from pleasure? That I am so easily fooled?”

“No.” It’s barely a whisper.

I do not respond.

He takes a breath and, with shaky voice, replies again. “No.”

“Correct. Do not try this with me, Lucius. I know you far too well.”

He reddens. His embarrassment is more disconcerting than having him stripped and spread in my old classroom.

“The purpose of that observation was not to induce you to artificiality, but to encourage you towards improved sensation. I trust you will agree that this is a desirable end?”

“Yes.”

“Very well then. Resume your activities. Pleasure yourself. Do not misrepresent your reactions. It is essential that you give an accurate indication of your experience.”

He waits for further instruction.

“Proceed.”

Once he starts again, he wastes little time. He rotates the glass just so, and I hear low gasps that suggest real enjoyment.

He angles his hips, rolling them so that he meets his prostate with each thrust. His bollocks are high and tight, his resistance to the intrusion entirely replaced by eagerness.

This view is no longer sufficient.

“Stop. Remove the phial.”

He is confused, perhaps rightly so, but complies regardless.

“Turn around. Seat yourself on the workbench. Spread your legs. Both feet on the tabletop.”

His cock is hard. Swollen and flushed, the head glistening with the first promise of orgasm. I know the bitterness of that liquid, the sweetness of his reaction when I taste it.

Tasted it.

“I see you have been enjoying our activities.”

He glances to his prick and looks up at me as though the answer is too obvious to merit a proper response. Never mind that it is; I want to hear it from him.

“Am I incorrect?”

He shakes his head. “No.”

“Do you want to touch yourself?”

The war between pride and pleasure lasts but a moment. “Yes.”

“Why?”

This is his least favourite line of questioning. He knows that I will not accept the obvious. ‘Because I’m hard,’ ‘because I want to,’ ‘because you want it, too’ – no. None of that.

He scowls.

I wait.

“I want to come.”

“That much is obvious. I want to know why. What’s made you so hard this evening?”

“You know.”

“I have my suspicions. I would prefer to hear it from you.”

One hand rests on his thigh. It’s inching downwards now, so that if he extends his fingers he will brush against his bollocks.

“And if you touch yourself without permission, it shall be the only time you touch yourself in my presence this month.”

A bluff, but it works.

He jerks his hand away. “You…inspire arousal.”

“Is that so? I’m not even touching you.”

“Your instructions.”

“Which instructions?”

He scowls at me, pressing his lips together in a gesture of defiance that dissolves when he notices that my gaze is not focused on his face.

“‘Bend over and fuck yourself’ was…effective,” he mutters.

“Do you like that? Being exposed for me? Touching yourself at my direction?”

He grits his teeth. “Yes.”

“Be more specific.”

His fingertips dig into his thigh. “Yes, I like touching myself at your direction.”

“Surely all those years of education can produce a more eloquent response.”

“Fine,” he spits. “I enjoy pleasuring myself for your benefit. It makes me hard to know you’re watching.”

“You enjoy being at my mercy?”

“Yes.”

“Knowing that you aren’t to come without permission?”

He nods, and bites out an answer. “Yes.”

“Knowing that you aren’t to so much as move without direction? My direction?”

“Yes.” He is starting to fume, and anger is not my object. It is a different sort of fire I seek. For him. From him.

“Continue, then.”

He startles at that. Relaxes, as he takes in the words. “Continue?”

“Touch yourself for me.”

He looks at me for a long moment, searching for hidden meanings. He finds none. There are none to find.

He is tentative at first, as he takes himself in hand. A few exploratory strokes, long and light. He lets his cock drop back against his stomach between them. He looks to me again, and I nod my assent.

His fingers circle his prick. His grip is still light, but his strokes are in earnest.

It’s mere moments before he’s groaning again, stroking and rocking, his legs spread so that I have a clear view of the beads that drip down the underside of his cock. He lets his head fall back, showcasing the smooth, pale planes of his chest, displaying the vibrations of his throaty moans.

And there it is, the feeling I have been waiting for. I may have neither blood nor breath, but something remains. Something that only this mad bastard can elicit. The echo of human lust. The heat, the loosening, the tightness in a painted chest. The haze that seems to fall before my vision, clouding my perception of everything that is not Lucius.

His arse lifts off the table as he gains momentum. His hole no longer visible; it is a situation I wish to remedy as soon as it becomes apparent.

“Stop.”

He is startled, stupid with want. It takes another few strokes for him to understand, for his hand to fall to his thigh.

He works his jaw, mutely, and waits.

“As you may recall, there are several potion-making tools on the bench behind you. In addition to glassware and cauldrons, these include a mortar and pestle. Remove the pestle.”

He does so, eyeing it with curiosity.

“Lubricate it. You may not touch yourself again until you are making use of it.”

He wets his lips before making an objection so perfunctory as to serve primarily as a clarification. “You want me to –?”

I draw out the words. Annunciate. Let there be no cause for confusion. “Fuck yourself with the pestle.”

He attempts a look of disdain, but I recognise his excitement for what it is. This is a challenge for him, and one he will enjoy.

He leans back on an elbow and cants his hips, exposing himself entirely. After a familiar incantation the pestle is shiny with wetness, and he presses it against his arsehole. His toes grip the edge of the bench as he pushes the blunt end of the stone instrument against himself.

He winces as the width of the pestle makes itself known. His eyes close, he takes a breath, his forearm tenses and he tries again, groaning as he pushes the thick, cold marble past his entrance.

The tight ring of muscle grips the tool, pulling it into him as he tightens around it. His first strained gasps turn to pleasurable moans.

The colour of the marble is a shock against the deep, flushed pink of his hole, as it disappears through the grasping, straining ring of muscle and emerges again.

The stark contrast is lost as his deliberate motions become a blur, as the pestle slides into him so deeply that only a sliver of the handle remains visible.

“Touch yourself. Touch yourself as well.”

It’s not until his eyes meet mine that I notice how raspy my own voice has become. It is not until he surveys my portrait that I realise I am pressed to the canvas. I must be taking up the whole frame, giving myself away with the strength of my attention, with my hazy, lusty command to, “Do it for me. Stroke yourself.”

The glimmer of a smile dances at the corner of his mouth and for an instant, I hate us both.

It won’t last. It never does.

He tries to school his face towards impassivity, but the old combination of delight and power is too at home on those features to be concealed entirely. He leans forward to draw a single digit up the underside of his prick. “Like this?”

I count backwards from 10 as he lifts his fingertip away from his cock, making sure a strand of pre-ejaculate catches the light. When I speak, my voice is almost calm. “I can leave, you know.”

“But you won’t. Not now.”

I scowl.

He wraps one fist around his cock, the other around the pestle, and smirks at me before resuming his steady pace.

I can tell it won’t be long. He’s arching into his own touch so beautifully. My direction may be superfluous now, but it’s the closest I come to touching him. The closest I ever will again. “Harder.”

He obeys without objection. His muscles strain from the effort of holding himself up as he fucks into his arse and drives into the loose circle of his fingers.

I am even less able to hold back once he begins to buck his hips. “Yes,” I rasp, cursing the shakiness of my own voice, “good.”

“Mmm?”

“Good,” I repeat. “Beautiful.” It’s barely more than a whisper. “So beautiful.”

“Like this?” He shifts his hips to give me a clearer view of the marble disappearing into his arsehole, of the glistening red skin around it.

“Yes.” My world has narrowed entirely to this man. The entire Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers could barge in and I would not be deterred from seeing this through to its end. “Yes. So…” I struggle for words. “Stunning. Sensual, so…”

He half-laughs, half-gasps, and tucks his knees back to show me, to have me watch him fuck himself harder.

I hum with pleasure at the sight. “You…no one else like...”

“No one,” he repeats, his voice gruff, the words punctuated with rough grunts.

“Never.”

“Say it.”

“No one like you, never. So strong, so…”

I trail off. He has shut his eyes. His breath is shallower, his muscles trembling as his hand flies over his cock, as his arse clenches around the pestle. I know this look, will remember this face longer than I’ll remember my own.

Then he is coming, his head thrown back, legs taut, chest arched, both hands slowing as he jerks and spills over his fingers, as he uses it to lubricate a last, gentle set of strokes.

He frees the pestle with a last shaky moan and relaxes his trembling legs, displaying the length of his pale form, the rise and fall of his chest as he catches his breath, the length of his cock as it begins to soften.

He does not speak, doesn’t look anywhere in particular, his gaze set on the middle distance as he inhales and exhales, as he recovers himself.

I am wholly intent on the sight of him until he disrupts my reverie with the sound of my name.

I respond too quickly, and with more of a query than I’d like. “Lucius?”

“Tha –” he swallows. Steadies himself. “That was…enjoyable.” He looks to me. He wants me to know what he means, to excuse him from saying it. Perhaps it is a weakness, but I do.

“You’re welcome.” The absence of a scowl is his only confirmation that I have guessed correctly.

We stay there a moment before it starts in his toes, that restless twitchiness that means the end of our time is nigh. He slides to the floor. His posture is relaxed now, his spine straight but not rigid. The tension that was written across his body upon arrival has left him now.

“Will you be returning to this evening’s soiree?” My voice is calm, remarkably devoid of any bitterness.

“I expect so.”

“You ought to dress yourself, then.”

“Is that a command?”

I catch his eye, but do not respond. The corners of his mouth turn up. He reaches for his pants. A cleaning spell follows, and the rest of his clothes, and if there is any deference to what we have shared it is only that his shoes rest side by side on the floor until he is ready to slide his cloak around his shoulders.

He coughs once, pointedly, as he stands from lacing his shoes. “Shall I give Narcissa your best?”

“Yes, do.” Amenable though we are to one another, as encouraging as she is of this arrangement, there’s ice in my voice. “Potter, too.”

The spectre of anger threatens to cross his features before he leans back against the bench. “I suppose it would be politic.”

“Indeed.”

He pauses; his voice softens. “Will you be staying here tonight? I shall take the Floo back to Paris at the end of this evening’s events.”

“You know perfectly well that I travel only as I see fit.”

“Of course.” A pause. “I shall have my nightcap in the formal parlour.”

I pause as well. “Duly noted.”

He steps towards my frame and half-raises a hand. He rests it on the filigree for one second, for two. Shakes his head. Drops it again. Steps back.

With a decisive nod, he turns, walking past the scattered tools, past the Prophet cover that had so enraged him. There is a Finite and the creak of a hinge as he opens the door, then pulls it shut behind him.