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I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor

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~~**~~

It was nearly ten years ago that Harry had first stepped into Diagon Alley with Hagrid's hulking figure at his side, but he still remembered the great sweeping rush of awe as the bricks had parted for them, revealing the magical world hidden beyond. How he had stared. The strangeness of it all had almost overwhelmed him, yet even as his pulse hammered in his ears, he had felt the thrum of recognition. That this was where he belonged – that these oddly-dressed, rather outlandish-seeming people were his people.

He had much the same reaction on walking into a gay bar for the first time.

Harry wouldn't have given it a second look if he had been walking past on his own. The Three Wise Monkeys, tucked under railway arches in South London, had a neon sign bearing its name over the door, but nothing to prepare Harry for the feeling of once again having fallen down a rabbit hole into Wonderland.

Will and Morrie were nowhere near as imposing as Hagrid, but Harry was just as grateful for the comfort of their presence as they steered him down the stairs, past the doorman and into the dark, throbbing space of the bar.

It was so loud. So confusing. The heat – all of the people. Harry blinked and pulled at the hem of his new t-shirt, which felt far too tight and far too short, and then his eyes adjusted a little to the darkness. The bewildering tangle of arms and legs on the dancefloor became people, dancing in ones and twos and more and all of them blokes.

Blokes, dancing together, their bodies close to one other, not keeping a wary distance as Harry was always careful to do when he was near another man. These men were letting their bodies touch. An arm thrown over a shoulder, a chest bumping a chest, hips brushing against another man's hips – fuck, there was a man grinding his pelvis against another man's backside, actually pulling his dance partner towards him and moving his crotch with clear intent against the curve of the other man's arse.

Harry had never seen anything like it.

He knew he was staring, knew he probably looked as wide-eyed and naïve as he had that first day in Diagon, but he couldn't help it. His cock stirred in his jeans (the bloody jeans were too tight, as well).

Will laughed and clapped him on the back. “Like it, do you, Harry?”

Harry had to wet his lips before he could speak. “Wow. Er, I mean. Wow.”

A tall shirtless man with a feather boa draped around his neck danced past, his flawless black skin reflecting the pink and purple of the strobing lights. Harry's eyes followed the hypnotic motion of his hips until Morrie waved a hand in front of his face. “It always gets a bit crazy on the weekends. Come on, let's drag you away from the lovely sights for a moment and get us all a drink. I'm a bloody awful dancer until I've had a couple of strong ones.”

Harry smoothed his palms across his jeans and let Morrie lead him to the bar area. It had low lighting and seemed to be doing a steady trade.

“Hi, Morrie. Will. Got a new friend?” the young barman asked, pouring two tall iced drinks.

“This is Harry,” Morrie explained. “He works with Will. Harry, this is Sam.”

Sam looked at them from under his fringe of pastel blue streaks. His eyes took Harry in from top to toe before giving his verdict. “Cute.”

“There you go, Harry.” Morrie grinned. “If Sam likes you, you're sorted.”

Sam winked and slid the drinks across to his customer. “Be with you in just a minute, guys.”

Will touched Harry's arm. “What are you having?”

“Just a pint of whatever.”

Will wrinkled his nose. “Really? You don't fancy something more exotic? This isn't Friday night at the Leaky.”

“Never heard of that one.” Sam faced them, ready to take their order. “Is that where you usually drink?”

Will nodded. “An old haunt of ours from student days.”

“You can't have been at school with these two?” Sam asked Harry.

“Not exactly,” Harry told him. “We all went to the same school, but they were in a different year to me. I only got to know Will recently, through work.”

“Harry's almost as much of a baby as you, Sam.” Will said. “Can we have a lager, a vodka and tonic and a Sex on the Beach, please?”

“That's for me, not too much cranberry juice with that,” Morrie added.

Sam smiled. “Yeah, I know what you like, Morrie.”

Sam drew Harry's pint, then leaned forward to pass it to him. “So, don't break my heart, Harry. It is men you're into, yeah?”

Harry lifted his chin. It was still difficult to say it. He'd told Ron and Hermione months ago, of course, and they'd been as supportive as he could have ever hoped for. But even though Harry had known from Will's holiday photos that he had a male partner, it took Harry quite a while to pluck up courage to confide in him, too. Later, over a boozy dinner at Will and Morrie's, it was a massive relief being able to talk it through with them, but that was still only four people who knew...

Harry took a deep breath. “Yep. I'm into men.”

“Glad to hear it,” Sam smiled. “You'll have fun tonight.”

“I hope so.” Harry looked at the dancefloor again and took a pull of his pint. “This is... really new to me.”

Will leaned in. “We thought he could do with a change of scene.”

“We thought he could do with getting laid,” Morrie suggested.

Harry fought the urge to wince as Sam's eyes crinkled with amusement. “Well, you're in the right place for that. Are these two going to introduce you to some people?”

“Maybe later. I'm just… I'm just sort of getting used to things.”

“I'm here all night. If you want to come and chat.” Sam flicked back his colourful fringe as Will passed over some money. “Well, enjoy yourself. These two'll look after you, but just give us a shout if you get any trouble. I'll set Wayne on them.” He nodded at the burly doorman who put Harry in mind of Vincent Crabbe, if Crabbe had ever worn a suit and bow tie.

“Thanks, Sam. I'm not planning to have any trouble.”

Sam moved to serve a large group and Harry leant against the bar and let his eyes wander across the dancefloor again. Merlin. Both the tempo and the volume of the music had picked up, introducing a pounding bass which Harry could feel reverberating up through the soles of his feet.

“We'll get a table.” Will spoke close to Harry's ear, and they found one free in the corner. Harry sat enjoying the cold beer, his leg jigging against his seat with nervous energy. Will and Morrie chatted about people they recognised, pointing out regulars to Harry and sharing anecdotes about them, but he was barely half-listening. His attention remained on the dancefloor.

He knew it was ridiculous to gawp like this, but he was only now beginning to realise how sheltered his life had been. The wizarding world was so bloody backward. Before tonight, he'd met precisely three people who he knew were openly gay – Will, Morrie, and a Muggle woman who worked in the corner shop where Harry sometimes bought bread and milk. But now… he was surrounded by people who were, at the very least, fine with the concept of queerness. Fine with seeing men dancing, touching... even kissing.

He could see a couple more t-shirts being peeled off, revealing firm torsos beneath, glistening with perspiration. Fuck, some of the men in here were seriously fit. There was a guy dancing on his own, slim and lithe, wearing his shirt open to the waist and a pair of the tightest jeans Harry had ever seen. The dancer closed his eyes and raised his arms as the song reached its chorus. Watching him – the way he moved, so bold and free – set something powerful tugging at Harry, deep in his belly. He couldn't quite take it in that this fucking beautiful man was gay, too. That most people in the room were gay. That a lot of them might be here for the same reason as Harry.

We thought he could do with getting laid.

God. He absolutely could. But how‒ what would it be like with a man? He knew what it was like with a woman. OK to start with, and then – when clothes started to come off – unnerving, and then... He screwed up his face just thinking about the humiliation and the old feelings of failure and revulsion. Then, it was no good at all.

But now, sitting here, watching one muscular bloke dancing up close with another, slimmer guy, his knee in between his partner's thigh, hands fisting the material of his shirt... Harry knew that there would be no problems at all, with a man. He knew it as surely as he knew he had magic running in his veins. The only unnerving thing was how badly he wanted it.

“Look at Harry,” he heard Morrie say in amused tones. “He's not listening to a word we say. I told you he'd love it here.”

Harry didn't even care that they were probably laughing at him. He felt lit up from inside. God, he wanted this – wanted it so much he could taste it, a metallic tang of heat and desire and a blissful certainty. The stockier man bent closer to his partner, and then they were – Merlin – they were kissing, their mouths greedy and insatiable. Harry's heart was jumping against his ribs. The slimmer man tugged at the other's arm and led him purposefully deeper into the throng until Harry lost sight of them.

He squinted into the crowd, twitchy with disappointment. There had been something so glorious about it. The naked want on both of their faces, the way they touched each other with the confidence of mutual arousal. Harry hadn't known that two people could touch each other that way – as if they belonged to each other. As if all they cared about was pleasure, only pleasure and need and the voracious, unstoppable hunger that Harry could feel rolling over him in waves.

It was hard to see – the coloured lights pulsed over the mass of bodies, now blue, now green – and there was a smoky haze hanging over them, part cigarette fug, part body heat. But Harry could make out figures at the back of the room, against the far wall, and although he couldn't see much of what was happening, the aching tension in the pit of his stomach tugged at him once again, pulling him to his feet.

“Do you want to dance, Harry?” Morrie asked. “Just let me finish this drink and I'll join you.”

“No, I just… need the loo,” Harry mumbled.

“Don't get lost… Do you want a chaperone?” Will asked, but Harry was already up and away, skirting the edges of the dancefloor, heading for the other side, hungry for what he sensed might be happening there. Someone wearing a checked shirt stepped into Harry's path and held out his hands with a smile, as if inviting him to dance.

“Hey, beautiful,” crooned the man, but he wasn't what Harry was looking for. Harry shook his head and dodged to one side, heading past the little stage with its glittery backdrop and the DJ's decks. He didn't quite know what he was looking for, only that there was something here which was calling him without words.

He continued past the crowds until he reached the back of the room. There was indeed a corridor here leading to the loos, but it was the back wall which Harry was drawn to. It was dotted here and there with moving bodies so that, in the darkness and smoke, parts of the wall looked as though it was undulating.

A flame of excitement had flickered inside Harry from the moment they walked into the bar, and now it roared into life, blazing with fierce delight. Was this what he had been searching for? What he had hardly dared to believe he would find? Here were male bodies pressed up against each other. Men's mouths boldly seeking out other men's mouths, lips on throats, fingers searching out bare skin, hands grasping tight flesh, hips rolling and backs arching and so much heat and want and hedonism that Harry rocked back on his feet with the dizzying force of it.

He couldn't just stand there staring… but he couldn't leave, couldn't walk away, not right now, not yet… He leaned back against a pillar and hoped that he looked like someone just taking a breather from the dancefloor, watching the twinkling lights from the disco ball flit aimlessly across the wall and ceiling. Another man sauntered over, holding a drink, and stood next to Harry, frankly appraising the three or four necking, groping couples.

“Nice view,” the man commented.

Harry glanced anxiously at him, but he was just sipping his drink and watching two boys kiss.

“Er, yeah.” Was it OK, then? To stand and watch like this?

“Enjoy,” the man said, and wandered in the direction of the bar.

Harry relaxed a little. Maybe no-one would mind if he stood a while longer. His eyes roamed over the couples, taking in all the details: a pair of exploring hands, a belt buckle being stealthily undone for better access. Nobody had stripped off, exactly, but under cover of the dim light there were hands dipping into clothing to palm an eager cock, or reaching behind to grip an arse cheek.

Harry was definitely going to rejoin Will and Morrie any minute, but one man – a boy, really – kept drawing Harry's eye again and again. His blond hair was so bright every time it was illuminated by the lights. He wore a flimsy, silvery shirt, sheer enough for Harry to see his nipples as his companion lifted the boy's hands above his head and held his wrists up against the wall. The blond let his head fall back, allowing the other man access to his throat. His face was slack with enjoyment, the delicate bones and sharp jaw reminding Harry a little bit of— but, no, of course not. It was just some Muggle boy.

The blond boy arched his back as the other man began to grind against him, using his hips to work up some friction, holding nothing back. He looked as if he could quite easily come from it, from being kissed and groped up against a wall, and Harry wasn't surprised – he felt like he could come, just from watching it. He wanted nothing more than to be that man, pressing the blond up against the wall. You could see – Harry could see – that you could do anything with that boy, anything at all, and he would love it. You could see it in the smudgy make-up rimming his eyes, in the arch of his back, the roll of his skinny hips, the insolent curl of his lip and the long line of his throat.

The light arced over his forearms, held above his head, so that Harry could see the twisting shapes of a black tattoo there, and for a moment, just a moment, Harry thought it was Malfoy standing there. The ink on the boy's arm reminded him so much of the Dark Mark. The lines had that kind of edge to them, the same sinister feel, but instead of a snake and a skull they showed a vicious-looking black bird, its beak and claws curving cruelly across the boy's narrow arm.

The boy rolled his hips into the man's touch, pressing the bulge of his cock into the man's outstretched palm, his face almost tortured with want. He looked right on the edge. Harry felt a trickle of shame for spying on such an intimate moment, but he couldn't look away, not even for a second. It wasn't like they were anywhere private, was it? The two of them didn't know or care that Harry was standing there, fixed to the spot, his cock uncomfortably hard, trapped there against the seam of these bloody tight jeans. It wasn't like they would even notice if anyone saw them like this, rutting against each other where everybody could see, and―

Then the boy opened his eyes and looked directly at Harry, and, sweet Merlin, it fucking was Malfoy. There was no doubt about it. Harry felt the truth of it like a punch in the gut. Malfoy met Harry's gaze, his eyes widening in surprise for a moment as Harry gaped back at him, and then Harry didn't just see the great wave of bliss which washed over Malfoy's face – he felt it, too. The man still had his hand between Malfoy's legs, squeezing, stroking, and Harry watched helplessly as Malfoy's eyes fluttered shut and his mouth opened in an 'O' of delight.

Fucking hell. Malfoy, standing there, dressed in Muggle clothes that showed off every inch of his angular body, letting another man grope him as if it meant nothing. Letting him do exactly what he wanted to him. It was Draco Malfoy. And Malfoy was coming, having what looked like an pretty fucking intense orgasm pressed against the wall, right there at the edge of the dancefloor. It was... fuck, it was obscene. It was totally obscene, and Harry felt filthy for watching. He didn't understand why he still couldn't look away, even when Malfoy opened his eyes again, clearly still riding the surges of pleasure, and smirked right at Harry as if this was the best thing that had ever happened to him. As if he didn't feel cheap, or shamed, or disgusting at all.

Harry was trembling with something that felt close to anger. Malfoy leaned back against the wall and smiled, his eyes heavy with sated desire, self-satisfaction written all over his face and seemingly delighted that Harry was still looking. The other man let go of his wrists and started to rut against Malfoy in a purposeful manner. Harry felt a hot, jagged spike twisting in his stomach and at last managed to turn away. His legs didn't feel quite steady enough to walk off, but at that moment Will came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder.

“Harry! We wondered if you'd got lost. Or maybe pulled.” Will waggled his eyebrows. “You doing OK?”

Harry's head moved in a mixture of a shake and a nod. “I— I was just...”

“Checking out the action? This is a hell of a shock the first time, yeah? Sort of brilliant, though. Thank god for Muggles and their crazy lives.”

Harry felt numb. He didn't dare glance back at Malfoy and his companion, but his mind supplied appropriate pictures for what was probably happening right now. Will looked at Harry more closely. “Are you sure you're OK?”

“I'm fine.” Harry ran a hand over his face to find his forehead slick with sweat. “Shall we get another drink?”

“Now you're talking.”

 

~~**~~

Downing a large-ish rum and orange calmed the uncomfortable churning in Harry's chest a little, but he couldn't get rid of it altogether. His magic kept flaring out to the tips of his fingers, wanting to get out and do some damage. In fact, forget magic: he felt as if he'd quite like to take someone outside and punch them.

Will and Morrie chatted on about this and that as if nothing was wrong, for which Harry was grateful. But it was no good. The itchy excitement he'd felt at the beginning of the evening had drained away, and a sullen resentment simmered in its stead. Why the fuck did Draco Malfoy have to be here, of all places? Out of all the people in Harry's year, why did Malfoy have to be queer? Harry had thought – he didn't know quite what he'd thought. Perhaps that he might have found a place where he could relax. Where he didn't have to feel ashamed any more – where he wasn't the odd one out. But bloody Draco fucking Malfoy had got there first, tainted the whole place and made Harry feel vile and sleazy. It made him all clenched up in his gut, like he might want to throw up.

He claimed a headache – it had been a long week at work, after all – and, assuring Will and Morrie he'd be fine as soon as he'd caught up on some sleep, he left them to it. He hadn't had too many drinks to Apparate. Or if he had, he hardly cared. All he wanted was to get home. Maybe then he could stop thinking about Malfoy's face furrowed with pleasure as he came, and the way his body had bucked against the other man's hand.

 

~~**~~

Harry hadn't planned it or anything. It was just a spur of the moment thing. He'd had a perfectly nice evening out with Ron and Hermione. They'd gone for a Chinese, during which a story about a delivery of Portable Swamps to Harry's office at the Department of Magical Games and Sports had made Ron laugh so much that he'd sprayed prawn cracker crumbs all over himself. Hermione's world-weary look had made both Harry and Ron laugh even harder. Harry was both pleasantly full and a bit drunk, so he decided to walk home, awash with the sort of hazy comfortable feeling you only got after spending a few hours with your best mates on earth.

He hadn't told them about watching Draco Malfoy getting off in a gay bar. It just never seemed the right moment to bring it up.

And then for no particular reason, Harry suddenly realised that the tube station he was walking past was only a couple of stops from the Three Wise Monkeys. His feet seemed to slow down and then stop of their own accord. He checked his watch. It was just after eleven. Most places would be shutting... but he did just fancy one more drink before bed. Thursday was his day off this week, so he didn't have to be up in the morning. He could just drop in and see if maybe he felt differently about the place. One bad experience wasn't a reason to give up on something, was it?

His feet were taking him down the steps into the Underground before he was aware of making the decision. Sitting on the tube, he felt the same thrum of happy trepidation he had felt last week with Will and Morrie. Harry loved riding the tube – always had done. He loved the anonymity of it. He could be anybody here, anybody at all... or nobody. The carriage was half-full but no-one gave him a second glance – he was just an ordinary bloke in his 20s with messy hair and a faded Joy Division t-shirt.

He glanced up at the tube map and was reminded, not for the first time, of one of Dumbledore's stories. The Headmaster liked to claim he had a scar in the shape of the London Underground map just above his left knee. Harry grinned and shook his head. Dumbledore had been so full of shit sometimes.

One more stop. Harry's fingers drummed against his knees, tapping out the bassline from a song he'd heard at the bar last time. The other thing he loved about the Underground was the endless potential for new experiences. All of those little circles and lines on the map... each one a new place, most of which he'd never been to. Harry wondered, not for the first time, about just staying on the train, maybe changing onto another line at random and finding out what Tooting Broadway was like, or what about Peckham Rye? So many possibilities. But as the train jolted to a halt and the familiar voice warned him to Mind the Gap, he got to his feet and took the stairs two at a time, needing to burn off some of the excess tension making his fingers twitch in his pockets.

The railway arches stood solid and sombre, trains rumbling overhead, carrying people away into the darkness. There was the neon sign of the bar, cheerful and incongruous in the rather gloomy surroundings. As Harry approached, a group of young men, clearly dressed to impress, swung the door open and headed down the stairs. Harry stopped for a minute on the pavement and looked down at himself. He chewed his lip for a moment and then spelled his t-shirt a bit tighter. Just a little bit.

Inside it was humidly warm, his glasses steaming up before he reached the bottom of the stairs. The doorman waved him in and Harry paused on the threshold to wipe his glasses on his shirt, the bass vibrating up through his feet to the pit of his stomach. The lights arced across the room as he settled his glasses back on his nose. There were fewer people than last week, but most of them were on the dancefloor, the energy running high. Harry watched for a moment, wondering what it would be like to just dive into the crowd, to find his own place between the swaying, strutting bodies and become a part of it.

He felt like he was close to the point where he might give it a go. Just one more drink. Sam was at the bar, his fringe streaked with a cheerful lilac colour today. Harry thought of Tonks and blinked at the brief, sharp pang in his chest.

Sam turned to him with a smile. “Harry! You're back. Pint of Stella, yeah?”

Harry's stomach gurgled, reminding him of the pints he'd had already, not to mention the spare ribs, and the rice, and— “Maybe a rum and orange,” he told Sam.

“Large one, yeah?”

“Go on then.”

“You look great, Harry.” Sam looked him up and down as he poured a generous measure into a glass. “Love the outfit. Total Just threw on the first thing I found at the bottom of the wardrobe chic. Very hot.”

Harry gave Sam a hard stare, not sure if he was taking the piss or not. This wasn't an outfit, or, if it was, it was the 'going for a Chinese with Ron and Hermione' outfit. Also, it was the first thing he'd found at the bottom of the wardrobe.

“Here you go.” Sam slid the drink across. “Loving that dirty look, too. Like nobody'd better mess with you tonight. Except they're all going to want to.”

Harry found a crumpled Muggle note in his back pocket and passed it over, fighting a ridiculous urge to blush. He didn't think he'd ever been flirted with before, not by a man. But it was just Sam's job, of course. It probably made people want to spend more at the bar, got them feeling loose and relaxed and in the mood for fun...

Harry took a sip of his drink, enjoying the mellow burn as it slid down his throat and the answering warmth in his belly. Was he in the mood for fun? He wasn't sure. His eyes darted around the room. All of these people... people who didn't know him. Didn't even know who Harry Potter was. He could do what he liked, here, and no-one would bat an eyelid... So why was he scanning the crowd for a blond head?

Harry took another swig. He wasn't sure if it had been a good idea to come here or not. Of course he was checking the crowd to see if Malfoy was here. He didn't want to be taken by surprise again. Didn't want Malfoy to spot Harry before Harry spotted him. Didn't want to look like a fool...

He wandered past the tables at the side of the dancefloor. Maybe he would just sit and relax. Maybe watch the dancing, just for a while, until he finished his drink. He watched a couple of young guys come in, take a look around and then leave, obviously not finding what they were looking for. Harry wondered if he should do the same, and drained his drink faster than he'd intended to. He just needed the loo before he headed home.

For some reason his palms were sweaty as he neared the place he'd seen Malfoy before. He squinted into the shadows, seeing no-one there at first, and then just a couple of strangers enjoying the relative privacy of the back wall. There was no sign of Malfoy. Harry didn't know how he felt about that. He thought he would feel relieved, but instead there was something closer to a stab of disappointment. The two blokes moved against one another, slow and sensuous. One cupped the other's face in his hands and kissed him with a mixture of hunger and tenderness. Seeing them made Harry's head spin, but he felt strange watching and made himself walk on towards the loos instead.

The door banged open and a wave of cool air hit Harry in the face. Someone was standing at the sinks and there was a leap of recognition in Harry's chest; it was Malfoy, looking at himself in the mirror. Malfoy didn't look to see who had come in, but carried on watching his reflection. Harry thought of another time that he had walked in and found Malfoy standing like this in the toilets. He almost welcomed the thought that Malfoy might turn and hex him again. But this time Malfoy wasn't crying; instead, he was staring at himself with a knowing smile. In fact, Malfoy looked as if he loved what he saw, and Harry's first thought was that he couldn't blame him. If Harry looked like Malfoy, he would also spend a lot of time admiring himself, he suspected, and then wrinkled his nose at his own thought. He didn't mean— It wasn't like Harry thought Malfoy was particularly good-looking or anything. It was just that―

Perhaps Harry made some sound, because Malfoy turned around. He looked surprised, but only for a second.

“Potter.”

“Malfoy.”

“I knew you'd be back.” Malfoy tilted one hip and leaned against the sinks in an elegant slouch. His eyes were ringed with make up again, a smoky-grey colour which made his irises look even paler and more silvery. His hair was longer than he had ever worn it at Hogwarts, hanging loose around his face and falling across one eye. His trousers were obscenely tight, his shirt as thin and gauzy as the one he'd worn last week, and he wore a string of beads looped around and around his neck. He looked... he was so lean, and his face was so sharp, it gave him a kind of hungry look. Or maybe that was just the way he made Harry feel. Malfoy looked blatant, that's what it was. Just standing there, looking like he did, so obviously wanting to be looked at.

“I'm just leaving,” Harry said.

“Didn't find what you were looking for?” Malfoy's face was so fucking infuriating. Like he knew something that Harry didn't. Harry wanted to turn and walk out. He wanted to get hold of Malfoy and push him against the sinks, shake him till his teeth rattled. He didn't know exactly what he wanted, but he tried to meet Malfoy's challenging stare evenly and not show how disconcerting the whole thing was. How unnerved he felt, to see Malfoy standing here, looking so dauntless. Looking so queer.

“I was on my way home. I only came in for one drink.”

“Funny place to come… on your own, for a drink.”

“Look, Malfoy, I don't know what you're getting at. I fancied a drink, now I need a piss, and then I'm going home.” Harry moved towards the urinals, hoping Malfoy would take the hint and bugger off.

“I saw you watching me. Last week. When I was with that Muggle.”

Harry turned around again. Malfoy's smile was disgustingly sly. Harry felt his hand twitch towards his wand. He was itching to wipe that expression off Malfoy's face. “No you didn't.” It sounded feeble, like a retort a six-year-old would throw in the playground.

“Oh, come on. You couldn't take your eyes off me.”

“Merlin! What do you expect? You were right out in the open. Everyone could see you.” This wasn't entirely true, but… Harry glowered, remembering how shameless Malfoy had been.

“But not everyone was staring like they'd never seen anything so fascinating in their whole lives.”

Harry tried to keep his voice steady. “I was wondering what the fuck you were doing in a Muggle bar, wearing make-up and a see-through blouse, to be honest, Malfoy.”

Malfoy's eyes widened, then he laughed. “I think we both know exactly what I was doing. I plan to be doing it again quite soon, in fact.” He turned back to the mirror and fiddled with the button on his shirt. “Let's face it. We're all looking for the same thing in this place.”

Speak for yourself, Harry thought. He wanted to tell Malfoy that he didn't know anything about Harry or what he was looking for, but his throat felt tight with anger and he felt like he might lose his temper quite spectacularly if Malfoy didn't piss off out of here right now.

“Well, have fun, Potter.” Malfoy gave himself one last look in the mirror, and smiled. “See you again, no doubt.”

The door swung shut behind Malfoy, and it took Harry a moment to remember what he had come in for. As he turned to the urinals and undid his flies, he wasn't expecting to find that he was half hard.

 

~~**~~

It was just something to daydream about. During the boring bits of work (and there were always more of those than Harry had expected when he took the job) Harry let his mind wander, let himself think about what it would be like if he did meet someone at the bar. Not someone like Malfoy, obviously. Someone else. Someone who was into Harry. Maybe Sam? Harry imagined it: Sam's handsome, open face, his perky mouth… He thought about pushing Sam up against the wall, the way the Muggle had done to Malfoy. He wasn't sure if Sam was the right one for him, but it was an interesting thought, that he could spend the evening there and see what happened if he talked to some other blokes, maybe danced with them. He liked thinking about it. His prick liked it, too, and one very slow day at work Harry thought about it so much that he had to go and wank in the toilets, pulling himself off with fast, efficient strokes while he pictured himself getting friendly with a faceless guy.

Malfoy could go and fuck himself. If Harry wanted to go and meet blokes in a gay bar, that was his business. He was an adult. There wasn't anything wrong with liking men. It didn't make him a sleazy bastard like Malfoy, getting felt up, all cheap and easy.

It would be different when Harry met someone. It would be nothing like that.

Maybe he would go back next weekend.

 

~~**~~

It was about midnight, probably, and Harry liked being here a lot, liked this bar and everyone in it. Malfoy was over in the corner somewhere; Harry had seen him when he came in, sitting with some young blokes who were dressed a little bit like Malfoy, and then, later, with a guy wearing a trilby hat. Malfoy was laughing and flirting and probably getting felt up under the table, but Harry didn't care about Malfoy, anyway. He liked this man who was talking to him. His name was Adam, and he had a leather jacket and a prominent jaw covered with scratchy-looking stubble.

Harry was glad he'd come again without Will and Morrie; it meant he felt free to do whatever he felt like, talk to anybody he liked. Adam had bought Harry a drink and then asked him to dance, but Harry thought he might wait till another night after all to try dancing. It had been a while, and he didn't remember being especially good at it in the first place. Maybe another drink would help.

Adam didn't seem to care. He sat close to Harry and started to run his hands over Harry's back, across the muscles of his shoulders and then underneath his shirt, dragging his fingertips across Harry's waist and smiling, slow and intense. “If you don't want to dance, do you want to come outside instead?”

“What's outside?” Harry furrowed his brow.

Adam laughed. “Oh, I'll show you.”

Harry followed him as he got up from his seat. He felt hazy, but he wasn't that out of it – he realised what this was about. He felt a kind of low, aching arousal, had done since he walked in the door. As they walked past the dancefloor, the smell of warm skin and alcohol and leather and sweat and cologne filled his nostrils, and his prick stirred thick and eager inside his jeans.

Adam strode towards the back of the bar, past the toilets and over to a firedoor which he pushed open while Harry watched him and smiled. There was something Harry liked about him, alright – he had a sort of avid look, as if he needed something from Harry and would go to some lengths to get it. He imagined pinning Adam up against the nearest flat surface, imagined him moaning as Harry palmed his cock, just like Malfoy had done while Harry watched.

But when they stepped out into the alley, away from the glittery lights and smoke, Harry found things didn't feel quite the same any more. The music wasn't resonating through him, right up to his balls; the bass sounded tinny and hollow out there. The alley was wet with drizzle and, rather than the heady scents of leather and sweat, he could smell the remains of someone's half-eaten pizza which lay abandoned on the ground. Adam's hands went to Harry's shoulders, and Harry thought Adam would pull him in for a kiss, but instead he guided Harry quite firmly onto his knees in front of him.

Oh, thought Harry, as Adam unbuckled his belt. A shiver of excitement went through him, more at the thought of it than anything else, but it was edged with unease. I'm going to see his cock. I'm going to suck him off, Harry told himself, trying to stir up desire, but as Adam took out his cock and maneouvred Harry's mouth into position, all Harry felt was a flat numbness.

Harry looked up at Adam, trying to remember what had attracted him in the bar. Out here, his face looked rough and slightly stupid. There was a sour smell and Harry didn't know if it was coming from Adam or the alley. Harry's erection had wilted down to soft disinterest, while Adam's still jutted out, fat and brash, from a spray of coarse curls. The last thing in the world Harry wanted to do was put it anywhere near his mouth.

“You know,” said Harry, trying to smile. “I think I changed my mind.”

Adam's fingers were twisted in Harry's hair. He smiled, too, but Harry wasn't sure if it was friendly. “You don't want to change your mind now.”

Harry wasn't alarmed, but on the other hand, he wasn't totally sure what to do next. Where was his wand? In his jeans. His bloody too-tight jeans.

Adam nudged his cock towards Harry's lips. “Come on. It won't take long.”

“Look, stop that.” Harry pushed Adam away and scrambled to his feet. “I'm sorry, OK, but let's just forget the whole thing and go back inside.”

“Why?” The need on Adam's face seemed irritating, now, rather than appealing. He stroked his cock in his fist as if Harry might find it enticing. “You were keen enough a minute ago.”

“Not any more.” Harry gestured at the door. “I'm going inside.”

“In a minute.” He stood between Harry and the door. “Let me give you some advice. You don't play around like this, not unless you want to piss people off.”

“Fuck off,” said Harry, his voice rising to a shout. He pushed Adam's shoulder, but Adam shoved back, hard, and Harry stumbled on the wet ground and went down, landing awkwardly on one knee.

Adam scowled and reached to zip up his flies. “Bloody time-waster—”

Harry and Adam both flinched as the fire door flew open with a terrific bang. Malfoy stood looking out for a moment, silhouetted against the light, his body tense, and then his wand was in his hand. Harry shrank down as a spray of red light burst around Adam's chest. Adam wore a look of complete surprise, then his knees buckled and he slumped over onto the damp floor of the alley.

Harry got to his feet, his wand drawn, too, but Adam lay motionless, well and truly Stunned. Malfoy stepped out from the doorway and peered down at Adam's unmoving form.

“Fuck.” Harry ran a hand through his hair. Malfoy had used magic quite openly. In front of a Muggle. This was serious. However, Harry found he was breathless and exhilarated. The way Malfoy had just burst out like that and cast, with no time to think―

Malfoy's lip was curling as he poked Adam's head with the toe of his boot. “Better do a Memory Charm, I guess.”

Harry felt shaky with adrenaline. “Yeah.”

Malfoy bent over Adam, his wand arm outstretched. Again, Harry noticed the dangerous-looking bird tattoo inked across his forearm. “Obliviate.”

Adam's eyelids flickered and his face stiffened for a moment, then went slack again. Harry shuddered. It was horrible – to mess with someone's mind like that. But there was no help for it after what Adam had seen.

“Should do the trick.” Malfoy looked up at Harry, his face expressionless. “Shall we leave him like that, with his nasty-looking prick hanging out of his jeans? It might warn other people off him.”

Harry felt a hot wave of discomfort sweep over him at the thought of what Malfoy probably thought he had seen. It made him want to kick something. “You didn't need to bloody Stun him. I was handling it myself.”

“Oh, I see. You like fighting with drunk, horny Muggles, of course. I'll leave you to it next time.”

He turned away, a sneer on his lips, but Harry was still angry. Angry at himself. Angry for Malfoy for witnessing any of this. “Why did you come out here anyway? Were you following me?”

“I heard shouting. Thought whoever was out here might be grateful for some help. My mistake.”

Harry rubbed a hand across his face. This was such a bloody mess.

Malfoy looked at him carefully, frowning, and then understanding flashed across his face. “You didn't want me to see you like that.” He gestured to the grubby floor. “You didn't want me to know that the Chosen One sucks cock in alleyways.”

Harry's face screwed up. “Look, just fuck off, would you?”

“I intend to. But for Merlin's sake, Potter, I can assure you that's nothing I haven't seen before. Just be a bit more picky about who you bring out here in future.”

Malfoy slid his wand carefully back into his jeans. Harry remembered how he had looked, his body silhouetted, taut and lean, in the doorway, energy crackling around him as he drew his magic together for the spell, and for one mad moment Harry thought about what it would be like to be on his knees for Malfoy, instead of some utterly forgettable Muggle.

For god's sake. Harry's head began to thud – the beginnings of a hangover, or perhaps just the aftermath of an adrenaline rush. He looked down at Adam's strong, stocky body, now limp on the floor, and he felt his guts clench. It had not been a great situation to get into, now he thought about it. Maybe it was for the best that Malfoy had chosen that moment to walk past. Harry looked up, wondering if perhaps he ought to thank him after all. But Malfoy was gone.

 

~~**~~

It was almost as if he couldn't keep away. Merlin knew there were other gay bars in London if Harry wanted to experiment. Ones where Draco Malfoy didn't hang around looking the way he did. But something about the place called to him, and just the thought of stepping through the door under the neon light had sweet anticipation flowing through his veins. He remembered the feeling of belonging he'd had when he first walked in, and he yearned to have that certainty again. So when Will said he and Morrie were going on Friday, and asked if Harry would like to join them, he heard himself saying he'd love to before he'd even had time to consider the offer.

The place was busy, with a mix of ages. This time Harry got the drinks while Morrie stopped to chat with some friends and Will bagged a table. Sam was busy with another customer, but gave Harry a little salute as the other barman served him. Harry muttered a silent Steadying Charm as he negotiated the crowds with three pints of beer. He made it safely to where Will was sitting, then nearly slopped his own pint in his lap at the sight of Malfoy sitting nearby. Malfoy was staring at the dancefloor, his face in profile haughty and sharp. Harry swallowed and took a pull of his pint before standing up again. “Just seen someone I need to speak to.”

Malfoy was on his own, looking bored. He wore a collarless white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal the bird tattoo. A waistcoat cinched snugly around his narrow torso, and his habitual skinny jeans clung to his long legs. He wasn't wearing make-up today, but he had painted his short, neat nails in a shade of deep red that looked practically black. Something about it made Harry feel furious, and he had to remind himself what he had come over for.

“Malfoy.”

Malfoy glanced up, then away again, as if Harry wasn't standing there with his hands clenched in his pockets.

“I wanted to say, well. Thank you.”

Malfoy did look at him then, but only briefly, then returned to studying the people dancing.

“For what happened last week. With that guy. I know you were trying to help.”

Malfoy stared straight ahead.

“Sorry I— I was... Well. Thanks, anyway.”

Malfoy's eyes flashed up to Harry's face, and he felt a jolt of something pass between them.

“You're welcome. You need to be a bit more choosy who you hang around with.” Malfoy's eyes wandered slowly up and down Harry. If he didn't know better, he'd have said Malfoy was checking him out. “You can buy me a drink, if you like.”

Harry shifted his weight onto the other foot. “Er. Got some friends waiting.”

Malfoy's eyes flicked over to Will and Morrie. “Yes, I see.”

A dark-haired boy, nearly as slim as Malfoy, slid past Harry and sat down at the table, “Phew,” he said. He fanned himself with his hand, his hair damp with sweat. “It's crazy out there tonight. Who's this, Draco?”

“This? Oh, nobody special.” Malfoy smiled at Harry, a cruel, sharp smile.

“Let's get some more drinks. I feel like getting utterly trashed.” The boy pulled at Malfoy's arm.

“All right. Don't pull, Toby. I'm coming.” Malfoy got to his feet and let Toby lead him away. Just before they disappeared into the crowds, Malfoy turned, and when he saw Harry standing there still watching, a smile pulled at his lips.

Harry's hands were shaking a little bit as he walked back to Morrie and Will. Something in him was burning for a confrontation – in fact, he wished they were still in school so he could go after Malfoy and hex him to the ground, get him on the floor and pin him down and see his face twist with pain and fear and…

It was probably just best all around if he stayed away from Malfoy altogether.

 

~~**~~

Will and Morrie did their best to help Harry have a great time. They introduced him to some fun people, plied him with drinks and even dragged him onto the dancefloor for a while. His dancing didn't seem to have got any better, but no-one seemed to care. Most of the crowd were probably watching Morrie and his flamboyant moves, anyway. Harry was just happy to sway and bob along next to Will, and grin at some of Morrie's more outlandish stylings.

It felt strange, being up there, surrounded by people, very aware of the closeness of other men and the way they casually bumped against one another. Harry's body felt hyper-alert, a simple brush of bare arm from another man sending waves of heat across his skin. He wondered what it would be like to dance here with someone that you liked. Just the two of you. Watching each other and thinking of what might happen later on, after you left the bar.

A friend of Will's who Harry had met earlier joined them. His dancing was graceful and easy, and his smiles seemed aimed at Harry. He was good-looking, and seemed like a nice guy to boot, but Harry felt… wary, after last week. He didn't want to end up out of his depth again. So when the guy – Ranjit – tried to take Harry's hand and playfully pull him closer, Harry stiffened.

“You OK?” Ranjit shouted over the music.

“Yep. Just need another drink.”

“I'll come too.”

“No, I'm fine. Really.”

Ranjit just shrugged and carried on dancing. He saw Morrie catch Will's eye, his eyebrows drawing together as Harry walked away, and felt a flare of irritation. It was nice of them to keep an eye on him, but he could make his own decisions. He didn't have to dance if he didn't want to. And it was up to him who he talked to.

Will slid into the seat next to Harry as he sipped another rum. “All right?”

“Yep. I just didn't feel like dancing any more.”

“I think Ranjit likes you, you know. He's a really sweet guy.”

Harry could feel the tension in his jaw as he tried not to snap out a retort. It was OK for Will. He had Morrie – had met him when the two of them were still at Hogwarts. He'd never had to worry about whether he would ever find anyone he liked, someone he felt that pull towards… “I'm sure he is. Look, Will, you and Morrie don't have to watch over me like this all the time.”

Will looked taken aback.

“I mean, I know you're trying to be kind. But... it feels maybe a bit… oppressive. You know?”

Will frowned. “Right.”

“I don't mean… You've been great.”

“No, I see. I thought… Fine.”

Harry felt a wave of guilt. “Sorry. I'm just, god. I don't know what I'm doing here, Will, you know? I'm still sort of trying to work everything out. And it's hard to do that when I feel like you and Morrie are watching and worrying all of the time.”

Will looked at him, then nodded. “OK.”

Harry ran a hand through his hair. “It's all… it's confusing. But I'm really grateful you showed me this place.”

Will smiled. “Yeah. I understand. We'll try to back off a bit. OK?”

Harry let out a deep breath. “Thanks. And I'll try not to be an arse.”

“Oh I don't know, we like you being a bit of an arse.” Will grinned as he stood up. “I'll leave you to it, then, shall I?”

Harry nodded.

“You know where we are if you want us.” He made to leave, then turned back. “Oh, but Harry? Ranjit really is cute.” He put his hands up as if to ward off Harry's protests. “That's all I'm saying.”

Harry grinned. “Fuck off now, Will.”

“I'm going.”

Harry sat and smiled into his drink. The rum was a little bit rough, but the tang of the orange juice helped it slip down, and then there was that pleasurable heat in your stomach. The music shifted gear to something slower, more sultry. Harry closed his eyes for a few moments, listening to the singer's heartfelt words, feeling the melody curl around his belly, and when he opened them, Malfoy was standing in front of him.

“Fuck.” The word just flew out.

“Well, that's charming.” Malfoy curled his lip.

“You startled me.”

“Can I sit down?”

“Why?” Harry hadn't actually meant to say it, but it seemed like a good question.

“I'm bored. I want to talk to someone.”

Harry thought about saying, I don't want to talk to you, but even in his head it made him sound about six years old, and he wasn't sure it was even true.

“Go on, then.”

There were plenty of free seats on the other side of the table, but instead Malfoy squeezed between Harry and the table to sit down next to him. Harry froze as Malfoy's rangy body pushed past his face, the tight jeans outlining every inch of Malfoy.

“You've had no luck either, then?” Malfoy's face was casually indifferent.

“What? I wasn't―”

“Oh, yes, I forgot. You don't come here looking for cock. That thing outside with the Muggle was all a misunderstanding. You just come to have a quiet drink.” He peered at Harry's glass. “What is that?”

“Rum and orange.”

Malfoy screwed up his nose, but picked up Harry's glass anyway and took a slug. “Ugh.”

“Oi. Do you mind?”

“You can buy me a drink, if you like.” Malfoy rested his chin on his hand and looked at Harry. There was something deliberate about it, something seductive, and Harry felt a strange ache in his chest. Then he felt pissed off with Malfoy for using such cheap tricks.

“You can buy your own drink, if you want one.”

Malfoy laughed. “Yes, that's true. I can buy my own drink. But you can't suck your own cock.”

Jesus Christ. Malfoy was such an arsehole. But the sight of his lips wrapped around the word cock, and the snooty way he said it...

Harry didn't even know what to say. It felt like... it actually felt like Malfoy was propositioning him. In a really aggressive, insulting way. “What do you want, Malfoy?”

“I want a drink. And I'm bored. There's nobody interesting here tonight.” He scanned the dancefloor indifferently. “I've had all of them.”

Harry felt his eyebrows shoot up. “Merlin!”

Malfoy waved a hand. “OK, not all of them.” He squinted in concentration. “Maybe about forty per cent.”

Harry realised Malfoy was quite drunk, too drunk to notice if Harry was staring at him.

Malfoy looked at Harry again. “Are you bored, too?”

Harry shook his head. There was certainly nothing boring about sitting here talking to Malfoy.

“I thought maybe you were bored. That's why I came over.”

“You thought wrong.”

Malfoy leaned forwards. Harry breathed in his cologne, smoky and provocative, and the strong smell of alcohol surrounding him. “Do you want to take me home, Potter?”

“Fuck. No!”

“I bet you do, though.” Malfoy gave a crooked smile. “Everyone does.”

Harry's pulse was buzzing at his temples. “You're full of it.”

“Yeah? So are you. I don't believe you've never thought about it before. What it would be like. Me. And you.” Malfoy's eyelids were half-closed in an exaggerated come-hither look.

Harry knew he should stop Malfoy before he could spout any more of this drunken crap. It was embarrassing for both of them, for god's sake. It was only that what Malfoy was saying threw him off balance for a minute.

“I've thought about it.” Malfoy said, his voice slurring a little. “Fuck, yes.”

“You're really drunk.” Harry looked around, trying not to sound as unnerved as he felt. “Where's your friend gone?”

“Toby? Found someone and took them home. Probably got his legs wrapped round somebody's neck right now.” Malfoy sighed. “Ah, well. If you won't, someone else will.”

Harry pulled a disgusted face, and Malfoy's expression changed to something malicious. “I was only joking, for fuck's sake, Potter. You don't seriously think I'm interested in you?”

Harry's hands clenched into fists in his lap. Christ, Malfoy was impossible. There was something about him that brought Harry right to the edge. “Piss off, Malfoy.”

“Merlin. I mean really, I'm not that desperate.”

“I said, piss off.”

“Yeah. Enjoy your drink, then. Don't accidentally suck any Muggles off out the back, will you?”

Malfoy shoved past Harry again, his arse pressing up against Harry in a way that could have been an accident, but felt deliberate.

Harry poured the rest of his drink down his throat in one long, angry swallow, ignoring the idea that he could taste where Malfoy's lips had touched the rim of the glass.

 

~~**~~

It was a Saturday night. Harry was at the Three Wise Monkeys again. And Malfoy was in the toilets. Looking in the mirror. Again.

A livid red mark was blooming high on one of his cheekbones. Malfoy pressed it gently with a fingertip and winced.

Harry frowned, but carried on walking. He just needed the loo. He was just going to do this quickly, then walk out again.

“Shit.”

Harry could hear Malfoy swearing under his breath. It didn't matter. Malfoy wasn't his problem. Not at all. Harry unzipped his flies and took a leak, pretending Malfoy couldn't hear him and he couldn't hear Malfoy.

“Potter.” Malfoy's voice sounded a little unsteady.

Harry said nothing. He finished pissing and zipped himself up.

Potter.”

Fuck. “What is it?”

“Can you give me a hand?”

Harry glared balefully at the urinal. “With what?” He tried to make it sound as off-putting as possible.

“I'll show you.”

Harry gritted his teeth and turned around. “What is it?”

Malfoy turned his cheek to show Harry the damage. His angular face was swollen, with purple bruising already starting to appear, and now Harry could see his bottom lip was fat and bloody.

“Hell.” Harry ran his hands under the tap. “What happened?”

“Never mind. Help me heal it, would you? I can't do it without a mirror and I don't want anyone to come in and see me with my wand out.”

“I can't do it properly without a wand.”

“No, I mean in here.” Malfoy gestured to the cubicles, but Harry hesitated. What if someone came in? They'd think…

“Can't you just...”

“Please.” Malfoy made as if to pull a face, but that obviously hurt, too. “It stings like fuck.”

Harry took a deep breath and stepped into the narrow space. It took him a moment to get his wand out of his jeans and while he was still trying, Malfoy joined him in the cubicle and locked the door. Harry wriggled and managed to get his wand free. Malfoy was awfully close to him, but then, there was no room to stand further away.

“That was my whole problem,” Malfoy said. “Couldn't get my wand out of my jeans fast enough.”

Harry looked up. “You were in a fight? With Muggles?” He could well believe the thing with the jeans. Malfoy's looked practically sprayed on.

“I wouldn't call it a fight, exactly. Can we just…” Malfoy waved at his face. His lip was oozing dark blood.

“Yeah. Sorry.” Harry got his wand and aimed it first at Malfoy's cheek. “Episkey.”

The angry blotchiness smoothed away. Malfoy touched his face gingerly. He looked very young and serious. There was a furrow in between his eyebrows, and from this close Harry could see the curl of his eyelashes and the smudgy way Malfoy had outlined his eyes.

“Who was it?” Harry asked.

Malfoy's face turned sour. “Two of them followed me and then jumped me under the railway arches.”

“What for?”

“For looking like this.”

“Bloody hell. Have you told anyone?”

“Course not. They won't do it again.” Malfoy smirked. “Well, not tonight, anyway.”

“What did you do to them?”

“Never you mind, Potter. My lip, if you please?” Malfoy tilted his mouth up, and for one crazy moment it reminded Harry of someone angling their face for a kiss.

At that moment the bathroom door banged open and they heard the sound of feet crossing the floor. Harry froze, listening, and they both stood in silence as someone took a rather long, loud piss, washed their hands and left.

Malfoy offered his mouth to Harry again, and Harry found that his wand hand was trembling as he lifted it.

“Careful. I'm trusting you not to fuck my face up, Potter.”

“All right then, hold still.” Harry took Malfoy's chin in his free hand to steady it. Malfoy’s skin was warmer than he'd expected. He looked so cool, like marble, but Harry could feel the heat from his body as they stood, their toes virtually touching. Harry took a deep breath. He could feel the faint scratch of stubble under his fingers. He wasn't sure if he'd ever touched another man's face before; it felt ridiculously intimate. He made sure his hands weren't shaking, then cast. “Episkey.”

Malfoy winced. “Integro's better for a split lip. I usually use Integro for lips, Episkey if it's a nose or somewhere else on the face. Ferulo if something's broken.”

“Oh.” The lip looked fine now, plump and pink. “Does this happen to you a lot or something?”

“More often than you might expect, put it that way.”

Harry realised he was still holding Malfoy's chin. He had an impulse to run his thumb along the line of Malfoy's jaw, to feel the sharpness of it, but instead he pulled his hand away in a hurry.

Malfoy just stared at him, his face unblemished again, the arch of his cheekbone high and fine. He definitely had one of those faces that made you want to look and look. There was a vulnerability about it, Harry thought, under the defiance. It was almost too perfect; the skin too soft, too fragile. He didn't know whether he wanted to cover it up and protect it, or to spoil it in some way. Harry had a distinct urge to reach out and touch Malfoy's face again, and perhaps not so gently this time.

Harry thought he should leave. Thought he should put his wand away. But instead he stood and looked at Malfoy, watching the way his tongue probed gently across his healed lip.

“Why do you look like this?” Harry asked.

Malfoy didn't miss a beat. “Because I like it.” He rested his head against the wall and looked at Harry, his eyes half-closed.

Harry ran his hands through his hair. Malfoy looked perfectly at home there, slouching against the wall of the cubicle, his hips thrust insolently forwards. Harry should really leave now―

“Don't you like it, Potter?”

Harry's mouth was dry. They were so close. He couldn't think of a single word to say.

“Don't you like me looking like this?” Malfoy tilted his head back, exposing his throat. Harry couldn't help staring some more – well, they were talking about how Malfoy looked, after all. He stared at the way Malfoy's loose top hung off one of his shoulders, his collarbone jutting out, and all of that smooth pale skin.

It seemed better not to answer. Seemed better not to look any more, but Harry couldn't stop looking, especially when Malfoy was staring back at him. Harry wondered if Malfoy could tell that Harry was breathing harder than he should be. That a trickle of sweat was forming at his temple. That Harry was aroused, simply from standing here with Malfoy talking in this strange, intimate way.

“Looking like this is who I am.” Malfoy spoke close to a whisper. “And if anyone doesn't like it, then you know what? They can fuck off.”

Malfoy somehow made the simple swearword sound utterly obscene. A great twist of mangled feelings rose inside Harry, anger and frustration and something else, something like a painful kind of hunger. Harry's breath hitched in his throat and he reached out for the bolt on the door. His fingers fumbled, and he had to stifle something in his throat that felt not far from panic. Then the bolt slid across and he was out.

Harry caught sight of himself in the mirror as he walked past. His face was flushed, his hair looked even more of a mess than usual, and there was an expression on his face he wasn't expecting to see. More than anything, he looked guilty.

But Harry hadn't done anything, for god's sake. He'd only tried to help. It wasn't his fault Malfoy had got hurt. That was just senseless violence. Why would anyone attack Malfoy just for what he was wearing, anyway?

An answer came to him: Because they didn't like the way that it made them feel.

But Harry wasn't like that. Malfoy could look however the fuck he wanted, and Harry didn't give a shit.

 

~~**~~

“So, there's this bar I've been going to.”

“Yeah?” Ron leaned over and tore himself another wedge of naan bread.

“The one you mentioned before?” Hermione tilted her head.

“Yep. I like it there.”

“What's the beer like?” Ron took a swig of his own pint.

Harry laughed. “Not brilliant. It's more the atmosphere I go for.”

“This is the gay bar, right?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah.” Harry tried not to wonder whether the people on the next table were listening.

Ron rested his elbows on the table and leaned in. “Is it all, dancing with your shirt off, kind of thing?”

Ron.” Hermione shook her head in warning.

“Well, is it?”

Harry laughed again. “It is a bit, yeah.”

Ron smiled smugly at Hermione. “Thought so.”

“So, have you met anybody there?” Hermione sounded so warm and encouraging.

Harry thought about it. “A few people.” He frowned. “But, er, not anyone… in that way. You know.”

“Well. Give it time.”

“I saw Malfoy there.” Harry realised he had been working up to this.

“Draco Malfoy? Really? When?”

It was rather awkward. He didn't know why he hadn't told them sooner. It just always seemed… complicated. “Well, a few times. He goes there quite a lot, I think.”

“Is he gay, then?” Ron spooned more rice onto his plate.

Harry thought back to Malfoy's claim that he'd slept with forty per cent of the people on the dancefloor. “I'd say so, yep.”

Hermione looked thoughtful. “I'm surprised he'd go to a Muggle place, though.”

Ron waved his fork. “There aren't any wizarding places for that kind of thing, you know that. Load of bigoted old―”

“No. I guess not. Well, you don't have to have anything to do with Malfoy, do you? I mean, I guess you won't want to be getting friendly with him, just because you both go to the same place to drink.”

“Depends if Harry wants a boyfriend who's a wizard or not,” Ron said indistinctly around a mouthful of rice.

“Oh, Ron.” Hermione batted her hand in impatience. “It's not as if Harry's likely to start going out with Malfoy.”

“Do you, though?” Ron asked. “Want a boyfriend who's a wizard?”

Harry shrugged. “I don't really know if I want a boyfriend.”

Ron nodded sagely. “You just want someone you can take your shirt off and dance with.”

Harry kicked him under the table, but he couldn't help grinning. “I can promise you that I keep my shirt on, OK?”

“But you're thinking you might like to take it off. For the right person.”

Ron. How is Harry supposed to tell us things, when you always think that trying to be funny is―”

Ron winked at him. “Yeah, sorry. So, tell us stuff. I'm all ears.”

“Ah, that's it, really. Did you see the Wimbourne Wasps got disqualified in their last match?

“That ref!” Ron gestured wildly with his fork. “Total knobber!”

And with that, the subject was safely dropped.

 

~~**~~

That night, Harry dreamed of saving Malfoy. There were four of them – big, brawny Muggles – and Malfoy had his wand drawn, facing them with a vicious expression on his face, but he was cornered.

Harry swooped in on his broom like he was diving for the Snitch. The Muggles scattered in confusion and Malfoy mounted the broom behind Harry in one deft movement. Malfoy's body was lean and hard, flush against Harry's. His breath was fast and shaky against Harry's neck, just the way it had been when they had sped away from Fiendfyre. Harry angled the broom upwards and reached back to where Malfoy's thigh gripped tight against his own. He could feel the heat of Malfoy's body, radiating against his palm through the snug denim, and he urged the broom on until they were flying crazily fast, higher and higher. He glanced back at Malfoy, to see him glowing with exhilaration, his lips parted, his hair streaming back.

“You like me looking like this, Potter,” Malfoy murmured, his breath damp against Harry's ear, and Harry woke up with a start, his legs sweaty and tangled in the bedclothes, his palm still tingling with warmth.

 

~~**~~

“Malfoy.”

Harry knew that it wasn't a surprise, knew that Malfoy had seen him coming over, yet Malfoy's eyebrows still rose up as if Harry speaking to him was the last thing he'd expected.

“I just wondered if you'd had any more trouble.”

Malfoy's mouth looked almost cruel when he smiled like that. “Might have done.”

“Have you?”

“Maybe I like trouble, Potter. Maybe I come here looking for trouble.”

“I don't mean that. I mean like last week, with those Muggles. Or do you enjoy that, too?”

Malfoy's lip curled. “No. That got a little too rough to be entertaining.”

“I just thought… when you leave. If you want me to come with you.”

Malfoy's eyebrows rose up again.

“Not like that.” Harry frowned. “I mean, to get you home safely. Where do you Apparate from?”

Malfoy took a drink from his glass: something with lots of ice. “That obviously depends on where I've ended up.”

Harry felt embarrassment prickling at his neck.

“There's a little alley a couple of streets away. It's a useful spot – not just for Apparating.” Malfoy waited for this to sink in, and then smirked. “You probably know it well yourself.”

“Look. I was honestly offering to help you out, but if you're going to just take the piss―” Harry turned away.

“Potter. Wait.” Malfoy reached out a hand.

“What?”

“I bought this for Toby, but he's buggered off somewhere.” Malfoy pushed a tall glass of something towards Harry. “You might as well drink it, I can't stand gin.”

Harry looked around. Will and Morrie were somewhere on the dancefloor. They'd not hovered over him at all since Harry's brief outburst, but somehow he wasn't sure if he wanted them seeing this. He slid into the booth, opposite Malfoy, and lifted the glass to his lips. It was cold and tart and he took a long, thirsty pull from it. “Don't you mind?” Harry asked. “That he's gone and left you again?”

“He hasn't left me. He can do whatever he wants. We're just friends, and even if we were more, we wouldn't own each other.” Malfoy sounded as if such an idea left a bad taste in his mouth.

Malfoy drank from his own glass and Harry watched as his Adam's apple bobbed, once, twice. Malfoy was all in black, tight jeans and a top that glittered faintly as it caught the light. His sleeves were rolled up again and the coal-black lines of his tattoo tugged at Harry's eye as Malfoy lifted the glass.

“What is that?” Harry gestured at the bird.

“My raven?” Malfoy glanced down at it.

“Right. I suppose you got it done to… you know. Hide the old one.” The words came out with unexpected bitterness. That was like the old Malfoy, to try to cover up what he'd done.

Malfoy's lip curled into a sneer. “Look again, Potter.” He thrust his arm towards Harry.

Harry took a closer look at the raven with its wings decorating Malfoy's arm, sweeping and dramatic. The inkwork looked very skilled. It didn’t move, so Harry presumed that it was a Muggle tattoo, rather than a wizarding one, but the design still had an energy to it that made it look as if the bird might take off at any moment and fly free from Malfoy's arm.

Malfoy sat watching him. Then Harry saw the bird's head was that of a skull. It had been subtly altered, just a tweak here and a line there, to change it from a human skull into the rather sinister beaked shape of a bird's skull, but once Harry realised what it had once been, he could follow the line down and see the rest of the Dark Mark, too. The body of the snake hung from the raven's bill, presumably now its prey.

Harry gave an involuntary shiver at the fact that the Dark Mark had been there in plain sight all along, right under his nose.

“I haven't hidden anything.” Malfoy ran a finger along his own forearm, tracing the coils of the snake. “It's all there, if you want to look.” He stroked the raven's wing as if smoothing its feathers. “I'm not ashamed of it.”

Harry looked again at the way the Dark Mark was incorporated into the new design. The skull which had once had a look of vacuous evil now took on a knowing expression in its guise as a raven, while the snake's throat was gripped by the bird's talons, its head dangling helplessly beneath. Harry wasn't sure whether he was reading too much into it, but there was something about the raven that looked as if it was taking control – breaking free.

Maybe the tattoo was intriguing rather than creepy. Harry fought back an urge to touch it the way Malfoy was doing, to see if the inked parts of Malfoy's skin felt different to the pale creaminess of his forearm, threaded with blue veins. Instead Harry downed the rest of Toby's abandoned gin. “Why a raven?”

The secretive smile tugged at Malfoy's lips again. “It's my Patronus.”

Harry couldn't hide his surprise.

“Didn't think I could conjure one?” Malfoy's lip curled.

Harry frowned. He didn't mention his first thought, which was that he'd never known a Death Eater other than Snape who'd been able to. “It's not the easiest thing to do.”

Malfoy shrugged one shoulder. “It's not so bad if you practise.” He drained his glass. “Shall we have another?”

Harry felt tipped off-balance by Malfoy's casual revelation. He tried to imagine him engaged in the act of focused, pure happiness that a Patronus required. “Yeah. OK, yeah.”

“Or… we could have a dance.” Malfoy spoke lightly, but there was something intent about his gaze.

Harry glanced at the dancefloor. It was less startling to him, now, to see men draped over other men. To see men moving together, engrossed in one another. But he hadn't exactly got used to it. An older guy, his hair greying but his body still tight, sashayed past with his shirt off. Harry thought of Ron and smiled.

“Maybe not,” he told Malfoy.

“I want to, though. I like this song.”

Harry watched as Malfoy closed his eyes for a moment, absorbed by the music. Malfoy's face was fascinating, all angles, thrown into sharp relief by the silver and blue lights flickering across it.

“I bet you look good on the dancefloor.” Harry certainly hadn't meant to blurt that out. But it was true. There was something about the way Malfoy moved these days. As if he really enjoyed being in his own skin. It drew Harry's eyes, whether he wanted to look or not.

Malfoy smiled, eyes still closed, and Harry felt his breath stutter in his chest. Then Malfoy opened his eyes and reached out a hand to Harry. “Come on, then.”

Harry screwed up his face a little bit. His mouth was dry and he wished he had another drink. The song was pretty fast, and he still didn't really know what he was doing on the dancefloor. Besides, Malfoy looked amused, like maybe he just wanted an excuse to laugh at Harry…

Malfoy's hand was still outstretched, but Harry didn't take it. Instead he shook his head. “You dance. I'll just get the drinks, yeah?”

Harry thought he saw something stormy pass across Malfoy's face as he dropped his hand down, but he only nodded. “All right.”

Malfoy walked towards the crowded dancefloor and stood for a moment, listening, as the music swelled around him. Streaks of blue and purple pulsed across his black-clad figure, hypnotic and eerie, as the music built to a crescendo and then paused. It almost hurt Harry to look at him standing there, his body lean as a whip and the secretive smile back on his face. Then the beat dropped and two hundred dancers began to bounce and weave, a great throbbing mass of them, but Harry was only aware of Malfoy.

Malfoy danced as if entirely for his own satisfaction. As if the music was for him alone. There was nothing flashy about it – in fact, he made everyone else look as if they were trying far too hard. He moved with an effortless grace, lithe and thrilling, and as he lifted his arms, Malfoy's shirt rode up so that Harry could see a triangle of flat stomach and the knife-slash of Malfoy's hipbone. Fuck – Malfoy moved his torso and Harry couldn't understand how a person's spine could do that – could roll like that, slow and smooth and utterly compelling.

Malfoy looked as if he was completely lost in what he was doing, his face practically blissed out, as if dancing was a transcendent experience for him. Harry no longer doubted his ability to cast a Patronus. Under the lights, Malfoy's raven looked even more as though it were about to take flight, the snake a pathetic scrap beneath the broad sweep of its wings. The bass pounded and Harry just stared, lost in the perfect arch of Malfoy's back, the sway of his hips.

Why had Harry ever questioned his attraction to men? Malfoy looked like everything Harry had ever dreamed about. All of the stuff that Malfoy liked to wear – the nail varnish, the beads and thin shirts – somehow just drew attention to the fact that the wiry body underneath was distinctly masculine. And although the way Malfoy moved was graceful, there was nothing feminine about it. There was a rawness to his sensuality, an aggression underpinning everything that he did, and it left Harry dry-mouthed and breathless.

Then someone who'd had several drinks too many staggered past Malfoy, knocking him off balance for a moment. He opened his eyes to find Harry watching – to find Harry completely captivated, in fact – and the smile that stole over Malfoy's face was a slow-burning, breathtaking thing. He found his rhythm again and held Harry's eyes as he moved, and this time it was different. This time it was not just for Malfoy's satisfaction, but for Harry's, too, slow and sensuous and sly.

Harry hadn't known he could feel such shocking jolts of pleasure just from watching the way someone moved. He felt as turned on as he had ever been, his cock cruelly hard. He tried to think of what the fuck he should do – get up? Leave? Fall to the floor in an agony of arousal? But the song was finished long before he could come up with a plan, and Malfoy had stopped dancing, a small satisfied smile on his face.

He walked back towards Harry, twitching his shirt back down where it had ridden up, and stood by the table, one hand on his hip. Everything about him was provocative. “Where's my drink?” Malfoy asked.

“I didn't get it yet.” Harry's legs felt unsteady, as if they might not hold him up if he tried to stand. They both knew why he hadn't gone to the bar, and there seemed no point lying about it. “I was watching you instead.”

Malfoy's voice was low and slightly throaty. “You always did like to watch me.”

The air between them felt heavy and charged. Harry stared at Malfoy's mouth, the edgy thrust of his jaw, and felt like he wanted to do something stupid, something mind-blowing and terrible and―

And then there was a grating voice which cut through the music. “Hey, Draco, where's my gin?”

Toby stood at Malfoy's elbow, his hair gelled up into a messy style that even Harry would have been ashamed to be seen out with.

Malfoy didn't look round. “Potter nicked it.”

“Fucking hell,” Toby whined. “I've just had some guy with onion-breath pawing all over me out the back. I needed that drink.”

“Go and get yourself another,” Malfoy told Toby, but he was still looking at Harry, his eyes smoky.

“Why should I get another, when he's had my gin―”

Malfoy dug in his jeans pocket and pulled out a crumpled Muggle note. “Here. Get us all something. Simon's working the bar tonight. He was asking for you.”

Toby took the tenner, looking visibly perkier. “Oh. OK, then. See you in a bit.”

Harry remembered the time that he and Hermione had taken Ron to a Muggle theme park. On experiencing his first rollercoaster, Ron had yelled at the top of his voice in terror all the way round, then, when the ride was over, promptly demanded to go back on again. This felt sort of similar. Harry knew this thing with Malfoy was going too fast – it was threatening to spin out of control. And this, right here – this was his chance to get off. But instead he wanted to get on again and see what the hell would happen next.

He knew one thing that he didn't want, though.

“Look, I know I've only met the bloke for a second – but I don't think I can sit here right now and make polite conversation with Toby.” Harry ran his hands through his hair.

“Fuck that,” Malfoy agreed. “Come on. Let's go before he gets back.”

Harry shook his head. “You're a shit friend.”

“I told you, Potter. He'd do the same to me; in fact, he has, several times.”

Harry looked around for his jacket, but couldn't remember where he'd left it. “Where are we going?”

Malfoy shrugged. “Somewhere.”

“I have to say goodbye to my friends.”

Malfoy waited, lounging against a wall with a disdainful expression, while Harry hunted for Will. He couldn't find him, but then Morrie wandered past and Harry grabbed him to explain that he was leaving.

Morrie looked over Harry's shoulder. “Have you pulled?” He turned around and waved. “Will! Over here. Harry's pulled!”

Harry grimaced. “It's a friend from school.”

Will joined them. “Off already, Harry?”

“I bumped into someone from school.”

They all turned to look at Malfoy, who rolled his eyes and looked away.

“It's Lucius Malfoy's son, isn't it?” Will asked. “Was he in your year? I left when he was about thirteen or something, but he was a right little shit―”

“I've got to go,” Harry said.

“Oh, yeah. Course. Well, have a good time. See you Monday.”

Morrie slapped Harry on the shoulder and gave him a wink. “Don't do anything I wouldn't do.”

It was chilly outside, their breath rising into the air in plumes, and Harry wished he'd spent more time looking for his jacket. Malfoy didn't seem to have a coat, either, and he looked sideways at Harry's bare arms. “I was going to suggest we walk, but how about the tube instead?”

Harry managed not to gawp, but the idea of Draco Malfoy on the Muggle underground was about the most surprising thing yet. “Sure.”

Malfoy had a travelcard stashed away, but Harry had to root around in his jeans for some change and stab at buttons on one of the clunky old machines. “Where are we going?”

Malfoy shrugged again. Harry was starting to like the way he did it. He raised only one, very pointy, shoulder, and his mouth turned down in a way that could have looked comical on someone else. “I don't know. Just get zones one to four.”

“I don't think I've got enough cash.” Harry checked his back pocket in case there was a fiver in there, but Malfoy stepped forwards and muttered under his breath at the machine. Harry didn't understand until the ticket chugged out of the slot and he saw Malfoy tucking his wand back into his sleeve.

He started laughing. “What the fuck, Malfoy?”

“What?”

“One minute you're such a Muggle. 'Oh, just get zones one to four.'” Harry imitated Malfoy's haughty voice. “And then...” He snorted. “The next minute you're robbing the London Underground ticket machine at wandpoint.”

“Where do you want to go?” Malfoy was looking at the map on the wall.

Harry joined him, letting his eyes wander over the tangle of coloured lines. “Let's go somewhere we've never been before.”

Malfoy looked at him appraisingly. “All right. Pick somewhere.”

Harry traced his finger along one of the lines, until it could go no further. “Walthamstow Central. How do you even say that?”

Wall-tham-stow, I think. I don't know. What's in Walthamstow, anyway?”

“No idea. Have you been there?”

“No, but if you like going places we can't even pronounce, it's perfect.”

There was something highly surreal about sitting next to Malfoy on a tube train speeding away into a tunnel. It was roughly as weird as travelling with Hagrid had been. Harry looked at Malfoy, sitting there on the dingy seat with his glittery shirt and the dazzle of his bright hair. He always looked as if he belonged in a magazine, but the harsh light of the train showed up an old faded bruise on his collarbone, and there were dark shadows under his eyes. He looked like he'd maybe had too many late nights.

“Do you go to the club every night?” Harry asked.

“Not every night.” But the way he said it sounded as though the nights off were a rarity.

“What do you do the rest of the time? Do you work?”

Malfoy shrugged again, and Harry realised that he had been half-hoping he would. “Sometimes. We've got money.”

The train rumbled to a stop and a few more passengers got on.

Harry leaned in and spoke quietly so that only Malfoy could hear him. “So how come you hang out in a Muggle club?”

“Same reason as you, I expect. It's about the only place where they don't clutch their pearls in horror about me being queer.” He looked at Harry with cold eyes. “I had enough of that at home. Before Father died.”

Harry thought of Lucius Malfoy as he had looked at his trial, a twitchy, gaunt figure, and found that didn't know quite what to say. The train travelled on, Malfoy apparently looking out of the window watching the blackness of the tunnels whoosh past.

“So where are you living now?” Harry had read in the Prophet that the Manor had been sold after Lucius was sent to Azkaban.

“Out west.”

Harry pictured a smart flat in Kensington, but he couldn't quite imagine Malfoy fitting in there. Maybe somewhere like Ladbroke Grove? He felt a mounting frustration. He wanted to know – wanted to know lots of things – but Malfoy clearly wasn't interested in discussing any of them.

The train stopped again and three well-built men got on and sat directly opposite them. They each had a can of lager in their hands and wore football t-shirts. One swore loudly and spat on the floor.

Harry looked away, but Malfoy made a disgusted sound. The man who'd sworn leant forward. “Did you say something?” His hands rested in big fists on his knees.

Malfoy screwed his face up. “No, I didn't.”

The man glared at them, taking in Malfoy's nail varnish, the skintight jeans and pointy boots. “Good. Don't talk to me, poof.”

Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and told himself it wasn't worth arguing with them. The men were drunk, and he and Malfoy were just trying to… well, he didn't know what they were trying to do, but they weren't looking for trouble.

Too late, he remembered Malfoy's words. Maybe I like trouble.

Malfoy smiled, a nasty sort of smile with no friendliness in it. “I didn't say anything, but if I had, I probably would have said, 'wanker'.”

Shit. Harry watched the man's face as the words sunk in. If the man made a move, Harry would stand up, and then he could get to his wand, and―

“What the fuck did you call me?”

“I called you a wanker. You called me a poof. I think that makes us even.”

One of the other men crushed his can of beer in his hand and flung it on the floor at Malfoy's feet. It bounced and sloshed flat beer over Malfoy's boots.

Malfoy scowled. Two of the men were getting to their feet, and Harry did too, but Malfoy stayed slouching in his seat, although Harry could see him fiddling with his wand in his sleeve.

“You fucking queer bastards.” The biggest man's face was turning a very unpleasant colour.

The train was slowing to a halt. “Barry. It's our stop.”

“I don't give a shit.”

“Come on. We're meeting Shaun.”

“Not before I teach these gay cunts a lesson.”

“Come on.”

The bigger man leaned over Malfoy, his face ugly with hatred, his boot nudging against Malfoy's toes. “I'll catch up with you later.”

“Bye.” Malfoy's face twisted up as if he smelled something bad, but the men carried on getting off the train and Harry sagged in relief. The biggest man turned to look back, and Malfoy stuck two fingers up, his face wearing one of the finest sneers Harry had ever seen. The doors had only just slid closed, and Harry's hand went to his wand as the man roared with anger and made a concerted attempt to get back on, his fingers scrabbling to prise the doors apart. But it was no use. Malfoy laughed as the train sped away into the tunnel, leaving the Muggles behind.

“Fucking hell!” Harry ran both hands through his hair.

Malfoy rocked back in his seat and cackled.

“Do you want to die, or something? I'm not joking, Malfoy. You're a few twigs short of a broom.”

Malfoy stopped laughing abruptly. He looked deadly serious. “Listen, Potter. I'm not going to just sit there and let a shit like him speak to me like that.”

“But―”

No. I'm not.”

“I'm not saying you should. But you told me yourself you go looking for trouble. Why the hell would you do that?”

Malfoy turned so he was facing Harry. His eyes were burning. “It's better than being scared all the time. It's better than hiding.”

Harry narrowed his eyes. “You trying to say that's what I do? I'm not hiding anything.”

Malfoy scowled. “I'm not talking about you, you tosser. Think about it.”

Harry just stared at him.

“I'm not living my life like that again, OK?” Malfoy poked at the beer can on the floor with his boot. “Nobody is going to get me to keep quiet. Not anymore.” He kicked out viciously and the can rolled off down the carriage.

Malfoy's face was alight with a fierce glow. Harry thought of the time he had seen him through Voldemort's eyes, forced to torture Rowle. Harry didn't think he would ever forget Malfoy's expression of nauseated dread – the look of fear that had made the bile rise in Harry's own throat. Then he remembered Malfoy's face as he danced. The sheer freedom of it. The satisfaction he took in his body and what it could do. And Harry remembered how his own body had responded. He realised he could quite easily get hard again just thinking about it. Just watching the expression on Malfoy's face right now.

Malfoy's mouth twitched, became sly. “The only reason I'll keep quiet these days is so that I can cast wordless jinxes on fucking idiots.”

Harry raised his eyebrows. “Did you…?”

Malfoy nodded. “I did.” He lowered his voice. “Boils.”

“Oh, Merlin. Where?”

“Don't ask.”

Harry gave Malfoy an approving smile. “I wonder if he's noticed yet.”

“I imagine it would be hard not to.”

The train stopped and a knot of people got on. Malfoy leaned back in his seat, looking pleased with himself. His profile was so uncompromising, Harry thought, but there was something soft about his mouth, especially when he smiled that way.

Harry sat back too and glanced at the people sitting near them, but no-one else held his attention. His eyes were drawn back again and again to Malfoy, to the severe line of his jaw, the pout of his bottom lip, the jut of his Adam's apple and the bruise, dirty-blue, lying on the crest of his collarbone.

He wondered how the bruise had got there. Whether it was from fingers, splayed greedily over Malfoy's chest, or the hungry suck of a mouth, or…

Harry tried to focus on something else. Tried to remember which station they'd just passed, and count the number of stops they had left. “I've thought about doing this before.” He gestured at the map. “Just going somewhere random.”

“Yeah. I like new places. New things, all the time.” Malfoy looked at Harry, his eyes flickering with interest, and perhaps a hint of wickedness. “What about you, Potter? Do you like to try new things?”

Harry wanted to answer that he did, very much, but his mouth felt so dry that he didn't trust his voice. Instead, he nodded.

The train rumbled on and on, its lulling motion putting Harry into an almost dreamlike state. He felt hypnotised by Malfoy, and Malfoy was looking back at Harry, following his eyes. Harry stared at Malfoy's throat, wondering what his skin would taste like against Harry's tongue. He knew he was being really obvious, but that knowledge couldn't make him stop. Malfoy didn't speak. He sat perfectly relaxed, his eyes drooping half-shut, like a cat being stroked.

More people got on, a giggly, good-natured crowd on their way home from a boozy night out, and then at the next stop the train started to empty out again.

Malfoy slouched back against the seat, all long, loose limbs, with his legs stretched out in front of him. His eyes ran lazily over Harry's face and down over his body. Harry wasn't sure how he had got to this point. Sitting on a tube train with Draco Malfoy, just looking at one another. This evening, he felt as if he was seeing Malfoy – really seeing him – for the first time. And he didn't know if anything was going to be the same ever again.

The train jolted to a halt again and the couple sitting opposite them got off. Now there was only an old man with a little wheeled shopping trolley down at the end of the carriage. Malfoy leaned in closer on the seat until Harry could feel his thigh pressing against Harry's, warm and resonating with energy. “We've virtually got the place to ourselves,” Malfoy said, his voice low and mocking. “I guess not many people know how great Walthamstow is.”

The train lurched off again. Malfoy let his head fall back, so close to Harry's that he could see the flecks of different colours in Malfoy's eyes, grey and silver and maybe just a hint of gold, and his own face was reflected there in the blackness of Malfoy's pupils. Everything felt rather unreal. He was so used to rushing in, to doing whatever occurred to him, but for once, waiting and watching felt right.

 

Malfoy's mouth looked soft, yielding. Harry could feel the blood pumping around his body, a constant awareness of his own magical power surging through his veins. He only had to lean in and he would know how Malfoy's lips felt. How they tasted. He still hesitated; surely it would be an insane thing to do. But then Malfoy's eyes seemed to flicker a challenge, and every ounce of nerve Harry possessed rose up and urged him forwards.

There was a second after their lips met when Malfoy froze, as if he had never truly expected this, and then he was kissing Harry back. It was slow and questioning at first – Harry didn't know any other way to begin kissing someone – but when he felt Malfoy's mouth opening, and then Malfoy's tongue, sleek as honey, sliding against his, Harry let out a deep groan.

Merlin. He was kissing a man. He was kissing Malfoy. And his first thought was to wonder why, when it felt this good, he hadn't done it a long time ago.

Malfoy's hand came up to the back of Harry's neck, urging Harry closer, and Harry groaned again at the feel of Malfoy's fingers, cool and smooth against his skin. Hot shudders of pleasure rippled through him as he tasted the smoky-sweetness of Malfoy's mouth, again and again, until his head swam with it.

Kissing Malfoy was about the hottest and most frustrating thing he had ever experienced. It was fucking amazing – but it wasn't enough, not nearly enough. It was like being presented with a feast and told that he could taste a tiny little bit of it. And he was hungrier than he'd ever been in his whole life.

Harry wanted to kiss Malfoy hard, to make him breathless with it. He wanted to get his hands in Malfoy's hair and tug. He wanted to grab Malfoy's thigh, to feel the smooth muscle shifting under the rough denim, and he wanted, oh, how he wanted, to put his hands all over Malfoy, to slide his fingers under the hem of Malfoy's shirt to where all that pale skin was. The thought of it made him want to moan. He needed to be far closer to Malfoy – to get him up against a flat surface, in fact – and cover Malfoy's body with his own, to feel every inch of him at once. He needed to know if Malfoy felt the same way Harry did, if he was hard and aching with want the way Harry was.

But they were on a tube train, and it was stopping again, and even though they were at the arse end of nowhere, a couple of people were on the platform and the old man with the trolley was still sitting there. The man looked as if he was falling asleep, but Harry knew that he couldn't really do all the things he wanted to do to Malfoy while they were in this carriage, even if all the other occupants had been deaf and blind.

Harry leaned in again, pouring all of his longing into each slow, maddeningly rousing kiss. Malfoy's hand slipped into Harry's hair, and every nerve on his scalp thrummed with delight. Malfoy's head tilted, deepening the kiss and Harry was thinking about just Apparating the two of them somewhere, anywhere, when the train juddered to a standstill again and an announcement came over the tannoy.

Walthamstow Central. All change, please.

Malfoy pulled back and gave Harry an appraising look. “We're here.”

As they got off, the old man was shuffling towards the bottom of the stairs. Harry took his battered trolley and helped him to the top of the steep flight while Malfoy looked on with an amused smile on his face.

“Ever the Gryffindor. Bet you feel all angelic now.”

“I regretted it about three steps up,” Harry told him. “Something stank to high heaven of fish.”

They left the station and considered the street in front of them. It didn't look especially promising: to the right was a bank of kebab shops and takeaways, on the left a rather bare-looking park. The light turned green at the crossing and Malfoy strode out into the road.

“I'm starving,” he said. “Let's get something to eat.”

They walked past a couple of uninspiring-looking takeaways, and then a half-empty bar blaring out repetitive house music. A small knot of people sat in a doorway, passing a can of something between them, and a man in a rumpled woollen hat stepped out and stood in front of them. “Want any pills?”

Malfoy shook his head.

“No thanks,” Harry told the man and steered Malfoy past. “I thought you might say yes,” he told Malfoy quietly.

“I've already got some.”

“Christ!” Harry ran a hand through his hair.

“Do you want any?”

No.”

“Spoilsport.”

“Behave yourself, Malfoy,” Harry said, in his best I could have joined the Aurors voice.

“Muggle pills are crap, anyway. For god's sake let's find some food.”

It was starting to drizzle. Harry stopped at the next kebab shop. “Here?”

Malfoy peered inside. “Looks horrible.”

“It looks OK.”

“Well, I admit there's probably nothing better around.”

Malfoy looked quite conspicuous in the scruffy little shop. It wasn't just his clothes; his hair was so very blond, and he was so skinny, and even something about the way he held himself made him stand out a mile. Harry hoped they'd get served quickly so they could leave, but Malfoy was looking carefully at the garish illuminated photos above the counter.

“What's that?” He pointed.

“Chicken doner,” Harry read.

“Fuck.” Malfoy grimaced. “It looks like something that's been dug up.”

“Let's just get some chips.” Harry felt in his pocket for change.

Malfoy shrugged, his shirt slipping off his shoulder.

“Large chips, please,” Harry told the woman at the counter, handing over a pound.

She shovelled a generous scoop of chips into a waxed paper bag. “Salt and vinegar?”

Harry looked at Malfoy.

“Yup.”

“Sauce? Ketchup? Barbeque?”

“We'll have everything,” Malfoy said grandly.

The woman looked completely indifferent as she dosed the chips liberally with sauce and handed them over.

“Ta.” Harry passed the chips to Malfoy. “Tuck in.”

Malfoy bit into a hot chip. “Ow.”

“Let's walk.”

The drizzle was the soft, clinging kind. Harry helped himself to a chip. It was greasy and delicious. Malfoy was licking barbeque sauce from one and frowning.

“Well, that's disgusting.”

“You asked for it.”

“New experiences, remember?”

“Just eat the ones from underneath.” Harry took another. “Mm. S'good.”

They walked past the row of takeaways, across another road and then past a big concrete car park.

“So, this is Walthamstow Central,” Malfoy said.

“What do you think?” Harry asked.

“I think I'd have liked it more if you'd have said yes to the pills.” Malfoy gave him a sideways smirk. “Merlin, Potter, you're getting wet.”

Harry looked down at himself. “It's raining.”

“Ever heard of an Impervius Charm?”

It was Harry's turn to shrug. He somehow never thought to use one; it drove Hermione mad, too. His glasses were starting to fog up, and he wiped them on his shirt.

“Look, come here.” Malfoy pulled Harry into a narrow sidestreet that led to an old church. It was lit by one dim streetlight and no-one appeared to be around. “Hold these.” Malfoy dumped the chips in Harry's hands, then took out his wand and gestured at Harry's hair. “Ligneus.”

A warm tingling settled over his scalp. Malfoy repeated the action in a broad arc across Harry's chest and the hairs stood up on Harry's arms at the sensation of Malfoy's magic washing over him. It was oddly thrilling. Malfoy took Harry's glasses from him and cast a third time, then went to put them back on Harry's nose, his hands surprisingly gentle as he pushed the glasses into place. He looked at Harry, then lifted one hand to push back a piece of hair which was hanging into Harry's left eye. The hair fell forward again and Harry stood motionless as Malfoy's smooth fingers brushed his forehead, skimming over his scar. Malfoy swallowed, as if about to speak, and then Harry wasn't sure how it happened, but the bag of chips ended up on the floor, lying in a puddle.

“Bugger.”

“Ah, well. There goes my new experience.” Malfoy's smile was mocking.

Harry was warm all over, and dry, and pleasantly full of chips. It made him feel reckless. “I've got another one for you.”

Malfoy raised an eyebrow, and Harry put his hand on Malfoy's waist, felt the tight sweep of it. Malfoy didn't react, so Harry went ahead and pushed Malfoy's shirt out of the way, to run his fingers over the cool skin of Malfoy's hip. Just that simple thing made him want to tremble. He wanted Malfoy so badly, wanted to do terrible, wonderful things to him, right here in the rain and the dark, but although Malfoy's breath hitched as Harry pushed his shirt up further, he only smirked and said, “Nothing much new about that.”

Fuck. Harry felt a flash of anger. His fingers wanted to clench over Malfoy's hipbone, to leave marks there on the delicate skin. He stepped closer to Malfoy, nudging his body up against Malfoy's and pressing him backwards so that they were near to a wall, slightly sheltered from the path. Then Harry kissed Malfoy again, kissed him deep and determined, just like he had wanted to on the train, and after a moment's surprise, Malfoy was kissing him back with all the ardor Harry could ever have wished for. Malfoy's mouth was warm, his kisses were hungry, and his hands in Harry's hair were insistent.

Kissing Malfoy was like lighting a fuse. Or maybe the fuse had been lit years before, but it was only now that Harry felt the inexorable smoulder of it creeping along every nerve. It felt like there was no way back, no way to ever dampen this blaze of heat and want. It made Harry pant against Malfoy's skin. Malfoy laughed softly and Harry wondered if Malfoy would ever stop being so bloody aggravating.

“Merlin.” Harry pushed Malfoy up against the wall so that his knee was between Malfoy's thighs, so that Malfoy's bony ribs knocked against Harry's chest. “Sometimes you make me want to hurt you.”

Malfoy's fingers clenched around Harry's arm. “Yes, do it.” He hissed the words out. “I want to hurt you, too.”

Harry kissed Malfoy again, and it was part-tongue, part-teeth. Malfoy's nails dug into Harry's biceps, and it hurt, it really hurt, but it felt good as well. So good. Harry poured all of his thwarted desire, all of his pent-up anger into the kiss, and Malfoy returned it, no holds barred. It was like years of frustration slipping away, like sloughing off a loathsome straitjacket. Malfoy rolled his hips so that Harry could feel how hard he was, and it was dizzying and terrifying and flawless.

“That's it,” Malfoy said. “Make me feel it.”

Harry's stubble was scraping against Malfoy's face, his breath coming in short, rapid bursts. His hands were all over Malfoy; he was pushing Malfoy hard against the wall, and the best thing was that Malfoy was letting him. It was rough and messy and just right, it was so fucking right. Malfoy made a hungry sound in his throat, and then his hands were at Harry's belt buckle. Harry's cock ached, impossible to ignore, pressing heavily against his flies to get free. He groaned, long and loud, as Malfoy unzipped him and he felt Malfoy's fingers wrap around his erection.

Harry couldn't believe that this was going to be his first time with a man, here against a wall with Draco Malfoy in a dingy Muggle street in the drizzle, but it was somehow all that he wanted. His fingers were shaking as he fumbled Malfoy's jeans open, and then Malfoy's head fell back against the wall as Harry stroked the smooth, breathtaking weight of his cock. Malfoy thrust into Harry's hand and made noises that had Harry wanting to pin him down and take him, then and there. Instead he kissed Malfoy's throat, the unforgiving line of his jaw, the tender skin just below his ear.

“Mmm. Like this,” said Malfoy, and he shifted his stance to line up their cocks so that he held both of them in one hand. Hot shivers surged through Harry at the sight of it. It looked completely filthy, somehow. He'd never been more aroused in his life. He batted Malfoy's arm away, desperate to know how it felt to wrap his hand around the two of them at once. His own cock leapt in his fist, delighted to be nudging eagerly against Malfoy's, making Harry gasp at the electric sensation of pressure and warmth and the sticky heat smearing over them, torturous and blissful.
He gave an experimental stroke and found that every touch was heightened by the feel of Malfoy's skin against his, Malfoy's smooth-hard-velvety prick rubbing alongside his, Malfoy's responsive sounds and breaths doubling, tripling Harry's own pleasure. Harry found a rhythm as urgent as his own need, and Malfoy made a low, wild sound. Every motion of Harry's hand brought Harry nearer to the edge, a delicious shuddering tension building in his thighs and radiating outwards.

Malfoy pulled Harry nearer so that their chests, their stomachs, were flush together, and kissed him, slow and gloating. “Slow down, Potter,” he murmured into Harry's mouth. “Just… slow down… just a minute.”

Harry pulled his hand out from where Malfoy had trapped it between their bodies. He didn't need to use it. He thought he could come just from the languorous slide of Malfoy's tongue in his mouth. Just from the curve of his arse which Harry now cupped in his two hands, from the press of Malfoy's taut stomach against his prick. Harry thought he could come just from hearing Malfoy sigh like that, from the humid breath ghosting across his ear as Malfoy whispered, “Let's not... not yet. Just another minute.”

Harry's whole body thirsted with the need to come, but he would have done anything Malfoy asked. Anything to keep on being allowed to touch him and to have Malfoy kiss him some more, just like that, as if Malfoy didn't want this to end. He thought Malfoy was pretty close to coming, too, from the way he arched against Harry, and this seemed the most unheard-of thing of all. Harry was already dizzy with gratitude and amazement when Malfoy took a shallow breath and whispered, “Now.”

Harry reached between them and let Malfoy's cock slide up against his again, thick and responsive in his hand, next to Harry's, just as Malfoy had shown him. Then Malfoy's hand wrapped around his, slightly shaky, but holding tight and hot around his fingers, enclosing their two pricks so securely, and Harry knew that he was going to come and nothing in the world was going to stop him. It rose up from his calves, burning like Incendio in a great seething rush. Harry braced his legs and leaned with his other hand flat against the wall and looked down at the astonishing sight of himself coming all over Malfoy's cock.

Malfoy let out a long moan. “Harry. Oh fuck, Harry.” His body trembled, and he threw his arm over Harry's shoulder and hung on tight.

“Yes,” Harry told him. He couldn't say all that he felt. “Yes, do it.” Their joined hands still worked over their cocks, now slippery with Harry's come.

Harry. Yes.” Malfoy made a startled, desperate noise and then his cock jerked in Harry's hand, pulsing more come over the sticky mess of their two entwined fists.

Malfoy was gasping. “Oh fuck, oh fuck,” and he lifted his face to kiss Harry again, greedy kisses as if he could never get enough.

A deep sweetness thrummed through Harry's body. Malfoy's mouth, after sex, was like nothing Harry had ever known, soft and yielding and irresistible. Their kisses slowed until they were lingering, dreamy things. Harry had never imagined that kissing could feel like this. Like a thank you; like a promise. Then Malfoy pulled away and dropped his head down so it was resting on Harry's shoulder. Harry could feel his breath, uneven and fast. His lips nuzzled the place where Harry's neck joined his shoulder. Harry felt him take a deep breath, his nose close to Harry's skin, and release it in a shaky sigh. Then Malfoy was reaching for his wand to clean them both up.

This time, Malfoy's magic felt chilly on Harry's heated skin, and when Malfoy zipped his jeans, Harry did the same. After he'd finished, Harry went to pull Malfoy close again, but Malfoy put a hand on his chest, keeping him at a distance.

Malfoy's face was strangely blank. His breathing was still coming slightly fast, but he held his head steady as he lifted his chin. “So, Potter.”

Harry felt a prickle of anxiety.

“Thanks for the hand job,” Malfoy said.

Harry reached his hand up to touch Malfoy's shoulder, but Malfoy stepped away out of reach.

“And the chips.” Malfoy gave a tight little smile.

“Malfoy.” Harry swallowed. “Draco.”

Malfoy drew himself up to his full height and suddenly he looked like someone you'd want to avoid, standing there in the dingy narrow alley. He looked like someone who could do you harm. “Isn't it time for us both to be going? That's the way it usually goes, isn't it?”

Malfoy didn't wait for an answer. Nor did he look Harry in the eye as he patted his wand in his pocket and turned swiftly on his heel. The crack of Disapparition reverberated through the air, vicious as a whip. Harry expected to feel the familiar surge of anger, but instead a cold trickle of misery ran down the back of his neck and settled somewhere around his heart.

 

~~**~~

Harry didn't try to contact Malfoy – what was the point? He also stayed away from the bar for a while. For as long as he could. Which, apparently, wasn't very long at all. When he half-hurried down the staircase, he felt a churned-up mixture of defiance and shame. It felt like weakness to be there at all.

He barely had a drink in his hand before he saw Malfoy dancing with another man and jealousy skewered him right in the guts.

Malfoy was wearing his hair up in a style Harry hadn't seen before. The length of it was gathered at the back into what Harry guessed you would call a bun, and only a few loose strands fell down around his face. It made his face look sharper than ever and showed off the length of his throat.

Harry couldn't even look at the man. It was as if everything except Malfoy was obscured by the white-hot blur of Harry's own anger and resentment and self-hatred. He knew it wasn't reasonable to feel this way. Malfoy could do what the fuck he liked. Malfoy hadn't promised him anything, not once. But… those kisses. And the way Malfoy had looked as he panted his orgasm out against Harry's shoulder…

Harry clenched his fists under the table at the sight of Malfoy's hands on the man's hips. He knew Malfoy had seen Harry. He could tell from the little sidelong glances that he gave him while he danced. Malfoy probably thought he was being subtle, but Harry knew, and he wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of looking any more. He threw back the rum, not tasting it, just glad of the scratchy warmth in his stomach, and ordered another double. What was he doing here? He would sit and finish this drink and then leave with whatever was left of his self-respect. The second rum went down less easily, the burn prickling uncomfortably all the way down his throat. Harry was just about to go the fuck home when Malfoy said something in the man's ear, and the man nodded, and went off in the direction of the bar.

Malfoy looked around and gave an unconvincing show of having only just spotted Harry. He smoothed his hair back from his face as he walked over to Harry's table, and stopped with one hand on his hip.

“Out of luck tonight, Potter?”

“Don't worry about me.” It must be the rum that made Harry's voice rasp like that. “You seem to be doing fine.”

“Yes, I've had two offers so far. Just deciding which one to take. Or maybe both, what do you think?”

Harry's chest hurt. His whole fucking face hurt. “You do what you like, Malfoy.”

Malfoy looked carefully at him, taking in the scowl that Harry could not disguise. “What's wrong? Jealous?”

Harry knew there was a good reason why punching Malfoy wasn't an option, but he was struggling to remember it.

“Don't worry,” Malfoy smirked. “You can have the one I don't want.”

Harry went to draw his wand before he realised where he was.

Malfoy's eyes widened. “Better put that away before someone sees. What the fuck is wrong? There are about a thousand blokes in here, Potter. I'm sure one of them would get you laid.”

“I didn't come here to get laid.”

“No? Seems like you could do with it. You're a bit fucking tense, aren't you?”

Harry remembered what Malfoy had said. Hurt me. Make me feel it. He thought he would do anything to wipe that smug look off Malfoy's face. To make him feel something of what Harry felt.

“Go on, then. Go and fuck some random bloke. Hope it helps you feel less bored.”

Malfoy's expression turned sour. “No good sounding all prissy about it. We both know that this is how it works.”

“You speak for yourself, Malfoy.”

“Oh come on. I bet you leave with a different bloke every time you come here.”

Harry didn't care what he said any more. “For your information.”

“Yes?”

“On the train. That was the first time I'd even kissed a bloke.”

A shadow of confusion passed over Malfoy's face, but then he gave a short laugh. “You normally just suck them and fuck them?”

“No. That was it. I'd never been with a man before.”

“Potter.” Malfoy's eyes were silvery and shrewd. “There's no point lying about it. I saw you in the alley.”

“That was the only time I tried. You saw how it turned out.”

Malfoy seemed at a complete loss as to how to take this. “You– Are you actually being serious?”

“Absolutely.”

Malfoy looked as though he'd got in the way of a Stunner, apparently lost for words.

Harry was regretting telling him already. “Don't you even think about taking the piss, by the way. I don't care where we are. I'll hex the bony arse off you.”

Malfoy lifted a shaky hand to smooth back his hair. “I'm just having trouble taking this in. The Saviour of the Wizarding World is a virgin?”

“So what if I am? So fucking what, Malfoy?”

“So… what do you come here for, if not to pick up Muggles for a one night stand?”

Harry let his head drop down. “I didn't have a plan. I just came here for... I don't know what I was looking for.” He looked up at Malfoy bitterly. “I don't think I'm the one night stand type, put it that way.”

Malfoy's eyes were fixed on him. “You don't.” Harry noticed he had dark circles under his eyes again.

“I don't know. I was trying to find out.” Another great wave of anger rose up in Harry, and he looked up at Malfoy, the words he had only allowed himself to think late at night spilling out. “I thought we fucking had something. That night.”

Malfoy didn't speak.

Harry clenched his hand into a fist. “I know it was over quickly and I didn't know what I was doing. And I think Walthamstow is probably a total dive, but it was still – there was something there.” His head was pounding. “You felt it too. I know you did.”

Malfoy looked properly shaken. He spoke quickly. “It was just a quick fumble, Potter. It was just getting off.” He attempted a smirk, but it didn't quite work.

“It was more than that and you know it. Why are you scared to admit it?” Maybe Harry would regret this, too, but it felt good. “You told me you didn't want to live your life being scared any more.”

Malfoy looked so angry that Harry thought he might curse him, but he didn't care. He half hoped Malfoy would. Anything would be better than this false indifference.

Then the man who Malfoy had danced with appeared at the table with a couple of glasses. He put them down and slid his arm round Malfoy's waist. “Hey. Got you a drink.” He looked over at Harry. “Hi.”

Harry didn't answer. He just stared at Malfoy, who hadn't yet taken his eyes off Harry.

The man leaned in and put his lips to Malfoy's neck. “What's up? Do you want to come and dance again?”

Malfoy looked blank, then blinked, and his eyes, which had been burning into Harry, looked suddenly flat. “Yeah. Come on.” He picked up the drink and downed it in one swift movement, then led the man back onto the dancefloor without a backward glance.

 

~~**~~

They were at a new Thai place. Hermione had been with some colleagues from work, and had raved afterwards about how fabulous it was. The food was good, Harry could tell that from the array of spicy, colourful and fragrant dishes in front of him, and from Ron's appreciative noises as he filled his plate a second time. But it all tasted the same to Harry, flat and stale. He chased a prawn around his plate with chopsticks, then gave up and reached for his lager instead.

“You have to try this.” Ron waved at what looked like chicken in a vivid red sauce.

“Nah. I'm done.” Harry winced at the coldness of the beer.

Hermione sat close to him on the squashy seat. She reached out a hand to him. “You're very quiet tonight.”

“Just tired. You know. Work.” Harry rubbed a hand over his face.

Ron let out a muted burp. “Scuse me.” He wiped his face with his napkin and pointed to the colourful chicken. “Man, that one's hot. I think it's defeated me.” He got to his feet. “Back in a bit.”

Hermione smiled at Harry, her small hand still resting on his arm. There was a lump in Harry's throat, bleak and uncomfortable. He knew he could tell Ron – knew he would tell Ron, just as soon as he found the words to describe what was happening – but this was easier, for now. He spoke quietly and quickly. “This thing... with Malfoy.”

Hermione raised her eyebrows, but didn't speak.

Harry swallowed. “It's complicated.”

A furrow of concern appeared at the bridge of her nose. She waited, but Harry couldn't say anything else. Hermione put her arms out and then pulled him to her in an enveloping hug. Her hair smelled really good, like flowers and a little bit like the Gryffindor common room. There was an uncomfortable prickling at the back of Harry's eyes, and his throat ached.

“Oh, Harry.” she said. “It was always complicated, with you and Malfoy.”

Harry drew in a long shaky breath, flowers and cinnamon and autumn leaves. He closed his eyes tight and tried not to think of skinny shoulders and the slash of black-inked claws curving over pale skin. Tried not to think at all, but just to hold tight to Hermione.

 

~~**~~

Harry took the tube home, and wished he hadn't. Everyone's faces were piggish and stupid, and their clothes were dull and ugly. A bunch of rowdy lads got on and Harry glared at them, half-hoping that they'd pick a fight with him, just so that he could feel something other than this hopeless muffled despair.

He showered when he got in, cranking up the hot water in an attempt to wash away the bone-deep chill that had crept into his limbs on the walk back from the tube station.

His bed felt like a sanctuary, his customary piles of blankets comforting against his bare skin. But even there he couldn't escape thoughts of Malfoy and how it would be to lie with him, in the dark and quiet, naked and luxurious and with all the time in the world.

 

~~**~~

Harry dreamed of Malfoy, all smirky mouth and wicked fingers, and woke up feeling furious with himself.

How the fuck had this happened? How the fuck had he allowed this to happen?

He cursed Malfoy for the heartless, gutless wanker he was. In fact, everyone in that fucking bar could go to hell, while he was about it. Most of all, Harry cursed himself, for being such a fucking idiot. But it wasn't enough to stop him wrapping a shaking hand around his still-hard prick and pulling himself off in rough, feverish strokes. He thought of Malfoy's mouth, his lips and all the things they could do, and came in hot, frantic bursts all over his own fist.

 

~~**~~

The next day he felt… he wasn't sure. A little better, somehow. Speaking to Hermione had helped – it always did – and then, later on, discussing plans for Christmas with her and Ron. Harry was determined not to let the whole of December be ruined by this crap. By Malfoy, of all people. Harry cooked a massive fry up for breakfast, eggs and sausages and fried potatoes, the savoury smell filling the room, and as he put on his Ministry cloak, ready to leave, he realised he felt comparatively cheerful.

Stepping out of the Floo at work, Will was exiting from the next fireplace but one.

“Morning, Harry. How are you?”

“Not so bad, actually. You?” They walked through the atrium together, the restored fountain tinkling softly as they passed it.

“Yeah, surviving the week.” Will made a face. “You know we've got some tedious meeting this morning? Those old farts from the Snitchmakers' Guild.”

Harry nodded, but Will stopped just before they reached the lifts. “Listen, Morrie wants to try somewhere new this weekend. There's some interesting places in Hackney. Fancy coming along?”

Harry found himself agreeing. Why not? Anywhere Malfoy wasn't going to be sounded like a good idea to him.

“Tomorrow, then,” Will said. “I'll be too wiped out to move off the sofa tonight. We can call for you around eight?”

“Great.”

That evening, Harry showered, then changed into tracksuit bottoms and spent time cooking his favourite spaghetti. The sauce turned out pretty perfect, rich and satisfying, just right to eat on the sofa with a glass of red wine to wash it down. When he was full of pasta, Harry turned off most of the lights, so that just one lamp cast a warm glow around the room, and sprawled comfortably in front of an old film.

He thought about the weekend ahead. Seeing Will and Morrie. Trying somewhere new. He could do this. He wasn't going to give up, just because he had one shitty experience with the one person he should have known better than to mess around with.

The film finished, and Harry lengthened his legs and gave them a thorough stretch. The fire was dying down in the grate, but he didn't feel like going to bed. Not just yet. He reached out a lazy hand for his wand and flicked on the radio.

I got fire for a heart
I'm not scared of the dark
You've never seen it look so easy

The singer's voice was clear and confident, with just an edge of huskiness. There was no real reason for the song to remind him of Malfoy, except that it did.

Harry felt a stab of self-pity and rubbed a hand over his face; he just wished he knew when this would fucking stop. The random reminders like this were the hardest to deal with. When would he stop remembering every little detail, as if everything that had happened had been branded into his brain? When would he stop waking up with the memory of Malfoy's skin against his, the way his stomach had shivered under Harry's touch, the memory of his zip snagging at the flesh of Harry's hand as clear now as it had been a week ago. The flecks of colour in Malfoy's eyes, and how wide and black his pupils had been as he wrapped his hand around Harry's and urged him on.

Nobody can drag me down, sung the radio.

Harry thought of Malfoy on the tube, scornful and unafraid. Of how he had looked when he stood in the doorway with his wand out, ready to take down that bastard in the alley. Like a bloody force of nature.

Nobody, nobody
Nobody can drag me down

Harry got up and turned off the radio abruptly, his breathing unexpectedly loud in the silent room.

He should really go to bed. As he turned to switch off the lamp, the sudden knock at the door nearly made his wand jump out of his hand.

He could see the figure through the frosted pane of glass set into the wood, a tall, narrow silhouette that made Harry's pulse go double-time.

Harry wasn't quite sure how he got the door open when his fingers felt so weird and fumbling, but there was Malfoy, lounging against the doorway. Malfoy didn't speak, but stood there, drinking Harry in.

“Malfoy. What do you want?”

Malfoy eyes shone silver and determined. “I want to come in.”

Fuck. Harry knew he should shut the door in Malfoy's face. He should tell him to piss off. He should turn around, and go to bed, and never, never think of him again, the impossible bloody bastard with his bright, bright hair and his tight, tight jeans, standing there making Harry's heart bang against his ribs.

“What do you want?” Harry repeated, planting his legs stubbornly in the middle of the doorway, so he couldn't step out of the way and let Malfoy in.

“I want to talk to you.”

“Maybe I don't want to talk to you.” There was that whiff of the playground, again. Harry reminded himself that he was not a child. He could talk like an adult any time he wanted to.

Malfoy lowered his voice. There was a husky edge to it, just like the singer on the radio. “I want to ask… what type are you, Potter?”

“What?”

Malfoy's eyes flicked all over Harry’s face. “You said you're not the one night stand type. So what type are you?”

Harry's mouth was dry. “I don't know.”

There was not even a trace of humour on Malfoy's face. He looked as if this was far too serious. “Do you want to find out?”

Harry's hands were in fists, because he was afraid if he didn't keep them clenched down like this at his sides, he might ball them up in Malfoy's shirt and yank Malfoy into the hallway. He might get Malfoy at wandpoint, the narrow end of his holly wand digging into the tender skin of Malfoy's throat. Or he might drop to his knees and groan with desire at Malfoy's feet. He wasn't sure which.

Malfoy's voice dropped to a whisper. “Let me in, Potter.” It sounded raw and rough, as if he hadn't slept for days. Harry had never heard anything so persuasive in his life. “Let me in.”

Harry's traitorous body stood aside, and then Malfoy was in the hall, the whole lanky six foot of him, and as the door slammed, he was pressing Harry up against the wall and kissing him with an irresistible urgency. Harry heard a shameful kind of moan coming from his own lips, right there into Malfoy's mouth, and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. His hands were in Malfoy's hair, clenching and tugging, and Malfoy was making noises too, deep in his throat, and grinding against Harry as if he wanted to climb inside his skin.

“I want you,” Malfoy said, and the words made Harry's cock leap in his boxers. Malfoy rolled his hips, dragging the hard swell of his erection against Harry's.

“You want me until you get bored,” Harry grit the words out.

“Merlin, Potter, didn't you like it last time?” Malfoy's hands moved to Harry's waist and Harry felt the bulge of Malfoy's cock straining at the zip of his jeans. “Haven't you been thinking about me?”

Harry gasped as Malfoy slid his fingers along the sensitive line of Harry's waist, then trailed across Harry's ribs. “Shit, Yes. I've been thinking about you.”

Malfoy dipped his head to the slope of Harry's neck, his tongue tracing a line over Harry's skin. “Then why can't you just enjoy it?”

“I enjoy it all right. Until you go all snooty and treat me like crap. You won't even talk to me. You won't even tell me where you live. Where you work.” But Malfoy was sucking at his throat, his mouth hot and insistent, his erection dragging across Harry's with such sweet intensity that Harry had to let his head drop back against the wall.

“I live at 223 Rainville Road.” Malfoy spoke the words in breathy bursts against the pulse point of Harry's throat. “In Hammersmith. I've had loads of jobs. The best one was probably being a life model at an art college. And do you want to know something else? I can't stop fucking thinking about you.” It sounded like a threat. As if he hated Harry for making him feel this way. “I even dreamt about you and how much I want you.”

“And what about when you want something new?” Harry still felt this was a big mistake, to listen to Malfoy. To even let him into the house. He knew it. But he was starting to forget why, to forget everything but the feel of Malfoy's body covering his, everything but the scrape of Malfoy's stubble against his own unshaven jaw.

“This is new.” Malfoy said. “This is new, isn't it? You and me. I don't think this would get old for a long time. Not for a long, long time.” He hissed the words out, his breath damp against Harry's skin. “I want you on a bed, Potter. I want to get these fucking awful clothes off you.”

They made it to Harry's room somehow, Harry’s feet stumbling over every other stair and Malfoy urging him on impatiently. Harry found himself sitting on the rather lumpy mattress he'd never quite got round to replacing, fumbling with the hem of his t-shirt and watching as Malfoy peeled off his own shirt in one fluid motion.

Harry stared and stared. Malfoy shirtless was a breath-stealing thing: pale, smooth skin covering the jutting ribs and fierce angles. And then, there was this: Malfoy's chest was sliced back and forth with thin white scars. The longest one intersected his – surprisingly dark – left nipple and pulled the edge of it askew.

“Did I do that to you?” Harry asked, unable to take his eyes from the scars.

“Yes.” Malfoy tilted his chin at Harry and held himself very straight, the pitch-black shape of the raven standing out fresh and stunning against his skin.

Harry felt like he should apologise. But he wasn't sorry. He was glad. He was glad he had left his mark on Malfoy, that their lives were snarled up together like this, messy and brutal and never mundane, not for a minute.

Instead he said nothing, simply pulled at his own shirt and got it off over his head and then Malfoy was on him, kissing Harry again and tugging at the waistband of his joggers until Harry's cock sprang free. Malfoy deftly stripped off the rest of Harry's clothes and kept Harry pinned underneath him as he wriggled out of his own jeans, and then they were both naked and there was only bare skin, and the bumping of bony knees, and uneven breaths, and an almost frightening arousal.

It was too much to take in. Harry thought he might come solely from touching Malfoy, and he wanted to touch all of him. He wanted to try everything. He wanted to come all over Malfoy's stomach, to nudge his cock in between Malfoy's curving lips. He wanted to fuck along the line of Malfoy's arse. He wanted to struggle underneath Malfoy's wiry body and feel the power of it. To hold Malfoy down and make him take it. He didn't have a clue how to choose, or what to ask for first.

Malfoy ran his eyes all over Harry's body. The look on his face was almost predatory. “I want to fuck you.”

Malfoy's cock was flushed and pink and very, very hard. It strained up towards the ceiling, like a challenge, like a provocation.

Harry's mouth was very dry. “Uh. I've never.”

Malfoy smiled. “I know.”

“I mean. I want to. But I've never. And so help me, if you laugh now, I'll hex your arse to Walthamstow Central.”

Malfoy pushed him down on his back and climbed on top. “Hell. You're so bloody hot. I want you just like this. All spiky.”

Harry moaned as Malfoy murmured a spell into his hand and then enclosed the head of Harry's cock with a slippery fist.

“Merlin, Malfoy. I— Oh, hell.”

Malfoy moved above him with a sleek smile. He pushed Harry's knees apart and then one slick finger ran from Harry's balls down to his arsehole. Harry knew what was coming, but he still bucked upwards as Malfoy circled the furled skin of his arse. He looked up to see if Malfoy was laughing, but Malfoy's face was serious and intent. He watched Harry's face as he probed, gently, and then, when Harry moaned, not so gently, his finger sliding in as deep as the knuckle.

Harry gasped and lay very still. It felt... god. It felt... too much. He wasn't sure if he liked it. It felt like it might hurt, quite badly, at any moment, and Malfoy looked… he looked almost cruel, up there between Harry's legs, his eyes glinting like stones.

“Stop,” Harry croaked, and Malfoy froze. Harry tried to breathe, slowly and carefully, but it was no better, in fact, he seemed to have tensed up and it was worse. “I don't think I can do this.”

Malfoy slid his finger out carefully, and that was practically worse than it going in.

“Fuck.” Harry felt like shouting with frustration.

“What is it?”

“I just want to… I want to, OK? But I can't.”

Malfoy frowned down at him. “It didn't feel good?”

Harry shook his head.

“There are other things we can do. So many other things.” Malfoy told him. “I'm sure you've been thinking about some of them.”

Harry closed his eyes. He wanted everything to be just right. Like before, like when he knew deep in his bones that this was so right for him, that this was what he'd been waiting for. What if — what if he couldn't, with women or men? What if there was just something wrong with him?

“Maybe if we try again,” Harry said, but he couldn't disguise the uncertainty in his voice.

Malfoy dipped his head down until his hot breath was teasing over Harry's cock. “How about you forget about it for now.” And then, oh, holy Merlin, his mouth was hot and wet and perfect, so perfect, like silk, like fucking liquid silk, and Harry forgot about everything but the insane pleasure of thrusting up into Malfoy's mouth.

“Hell, holy hell,” Harry stuttered, and then, as Malfoy hollowed his cheeks and sucked, Harry thought he might levitate off the bed. Malfoy pushed Harry's legs wider, and then slid his hands under Harry's arse and licked a path right to the base of Harry's cock and back up again. Harry could feel sounds welling up in his throat and then when Malfoy took him down deep, they spilled out of his mouth, half-formed words and cries. This was right for him. It was better than right. Malfoy was fucking perfect for him, and Harry whimpered in relief and gratitude.

Malfoy pulled off, his face glowing. “Does that feel better?”

“Yes, hell, yes. Don't stop. Please. Although.” Harry drew a rather shuddery breath. “I'm probably going to come. Pretty fucking fast.”

Malfoy smiled, and his voice was sly. “Not yet. Not quite yet.” He dipped his head again, but this time he only teased at the crown of Harry's cock with his tongue, before nuzzling into the unruly patch of black hair at the base.

Harry's hands clutched at the sheets. This was like torture. Pure, heavenly torture. Malfoy sucked cock like he did most other things – insolently and with great self-satisfaction. “Please,” Harry croaked, but he didn't know whether he was asking for Malfoy to let him come or to carry on doing exactly what he was doing.

Malfoy nudged at Harry's balls with his nose, his lips moving over the seam of them, his tongue slow and searching. He was quite likely trying to kill Harry. It wouldn't take much more of this. Harry arched his back, but Malfoy had him gripped firmly and kept him still as his mouth moved lower, damp breath washing over the delicate skin between the cheeks of Harry's arse.

Harry honestly didn't think Malfoy was going to do it, right up until the second when he did. And then it was so fucking obvious. Of course Malfoy would do that. Of course he would. Malfoy was filthy, and shameless, and holyfuckingmerlin, Malfoy's tongue was licking, slow and deliberate, just where Malfoy's finger had been, and Harry thought he might honestly die of it.

Harry tried to pull away, but Malfoy had him in a vice-like grip. “Nnnnghh,” Harry moaned, but Malfoy just carried on as if he didn't hear. Carried on, and actually went one stage worse, pushing his lips and tongue against Harry until his tongue was up Harry's arse, actually inside Harry's body, all wet and sloppy and sinfully good and, god, Harry was making noises, the most ridiculous noises, and he couldn't stop, not for a second.

He tried to keep quiet, tried to stop squirming his body like that against Malfoy's face, but Malfoy was merciless. Malfoy went on and on, pushing his tongue deeper inside, making noises himself, as if he liked it, as if he loved what he was doing to Harry. Harry opened his legs wider and clutched at Malfoy's hair with his hands, and made sounds that were more like an animal than a person. Malfoy used his hands to spread Harry apart, and gave a heartfelt groan as his tongue slipped further into Harry's body, a sound which reverberated right through Harry's core, the sensation rippling through his balls, his cock throbbing and twitching helplessly into thin air.

Harry's eyes were screwed shut and just as he began to see bright bursts of colour behind his eyelids, Malfoy pulled away, short of breath and pink in the face. He looked smug and slightly defiant. “Not so fucking shy now, are you, Potter?”

Harry wiped a hand over his face. He could feel his hair sticking to his forehead with sweat. “My god. Oh, my god.”

Malfoy took a few long breaths and held Harry's legs apart again. They were starting to burn with strain. Malfoy paused, just looking, while Harry's cock twitched in anticipation. There was a thin sheen of sweat across Malfoy's chest and his pupils were blown wide. Harry could not imagine ever wanting anyone as much as he did Malfoy.

“Malfoy, god, please. Please. More.”

“More what?” Malfoy waited. “What do you want?” His smile was teasing, but his voice had an edge to it, as if this mattered to him. “I want to hear you say it.”

Your tongue, Harry opened his mouth to say, but what came out was, “Your cock.”

Malfoy's eyes went very dark. “Potter.”

“God, Malfoy. Your cock.”

“Merlin. Yes.” Malfoy's expression was close to fierce.

“I want you to fuck me.” Now Harry had said it, he could feel the truth of it. He looked at Malfoy. At his imperious features, the flared nostrils, his eyelids heavy with desire.

Malfoy murmured a spell into his hand again and then slicked his own prick with the result. He stroked himself lingeringly, watching Harry all the time.

Harry couldn't wait. He was going to go mad if it took another second. “What's that spell?”

Lubricus.”

Harry muttered it into his own palm. The first time, nothing happened, but the second time he was startled to find his hand coated with a soft, warm liquid.

He held Malfoy's eye as he rubbed the oily stuff over the puckered skin of his arse. It felt… it felt good. Not so good as Malfoy's tongue. But good. He concentrated on keeping relaxed, and let the tip of one finger slide inside. Now that felt―

Fuck,” Malfoy whispered, his eyes riveted on Harry's hand.

Harry arched against his own touch. Malfoy's hand gripped tighter, his foreskin sliding over the head of his cock as he watched Harry. Watched the place where his finger disappeared into his own body, tentatively at first, and then greedily, wanting more, wanting Malfoy.

“What's keeping you?” Harry shifted on the bed, making sure they had enough room.

Malfoy crawled across the bed until he was propped up over Harry, the muscles on his arms standing out in sinewy knots. “Don't worry. I'm ready.” He looked it, too. He had that spare and hungry look that stirred something potent within Harry.

“Get on with it, then.” Harry didn't mean it to come out in a sort of growl. It was only that he wanted it so much. It was only that he had to know.

Malfoy's eyes flamed with heat, and he bent to let his teeth scrape along Harry's collarbone, just holding back from a bite. “It'd be easier with you on all fours, the first time,” he said.

“I don't want easy,” Harry said. He didn't add that he wanted to see Malfoy's face.

Malfoy lifted one of Harry's legs. His hands were shaking slightly and Harry felt a frisson of fear as well. What the bloody hell were they doing? This seemed as inevitable as night and day, but also precarious, impossibly risky. It felt like shouting a curse when you didn't have a clue what it did.

“This is more than just getting off.” Harry said.

Malfoy swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing. “Yes.” He knelt between Harry's legs, lining himself up. Harry could feel the head of his prick, smooth and blunt, just resting there, ridiculously intimate.

“What you said before was shit. This is not just shagging a different bloke every night.” Harry held his legs apart, exposing himself still further, knowing that Malfoy was looking.

“Damn it, Potter, I know that.” There were beads of sweat standing out on his top lip. He looked fascinated by it – by the sight of his cock about to cross the threshold of Harry's body. Fascinated, and close to terrified.

Harry gripped his arms, felt the wiry strength of them. Malfoy's whole body was vibrating with tension, and then he pushed forward, just an inch, and Harry's mouth opened wide as he felt the stretch. Then Malfoy slid all the way in and Harry was gasping for air. He had to breathe in deep gulps and wait for the sensation to subside. He was so full – Merlin, Malfoy was so, so deeply inside him and Harry wasn't sure if he could cope with how it felt. It wasn't that it hurt, exactly. It was more that nothing in his life had prepared him for how it would feel to let another man – no, to let Malfoy do something so shockingly intimate. He felt suddenly so vulnerable that it nearly overwhelmed him, and then he saw Malfoy's face.

Malfoy was holding himself so still, his body straining with the effort of not moving. His eyes were closed and he was biting at his bottom lip, a pained look on his face.

“Look at me,” Harry told him.

Malfoy opened his eyes. A shudder ran through him as he looked down at where their bodies were joined. “Oh, god.”

“How does it feel?”

A drop of sweat fell from Malfoy's forehead onto Harry's chest.

“Fuck. Feels good.”

The first intensity had died away, leaving only pleasure. “Do you like being inside me?”

Malfoy's forehead creased with tension. “You'd better shut up now.”

“You'd better start fucking me properly, then.”

Malfoy groaned, and pulled out a little way. Harry frowned, but then Malfoy slammed back inside, deeper than Harry had realised was possible. It pulled a ragged sound from Harry's throat. Having Malfoy inside him like this...it filled a savage need that Harry had never even knew he had.

Malfoy's eyes gleamed with something dark and dangerous. He drew back again, and this time as he drove his hips forwards, Harry felt – holy shit – he didn't know what he felt, but it had his fingers scrabbling at Malfoy's arms in a crazed sort of desperation.

Malfoy grunted and did it again. Holy hell. Harry had no idea how. Again. Harry made a loud sound, a frank moan, and arched his back off the bed to meet Malfoy's next thrust. It was even better when he did that. It was like waves of sheer intense pleasure, and he felt like he was just about to come, any second.

Except he didn't. Malfoy slammed back inside, deep and hard, and Harry arched off the bed again, crying out with the intolerable, staggering bliss of it. He seemed to already be on the verge of orgasm, the sensations radiating through his arse, his thighs, his stomach, and deep in his cock without Malfoy even touching him. Pre-come was pooling on his stomach, more pulsing out with every stroke, and now surely Harry was going to come, any moment. He tried to tell Malfoy, but he couldn't find the words.

Malfoy moved above him, his muscles taut with effort, his eyes hooded. He was watching himself fuck in and out of Harry's body like he wanted to memorise it. Like he would never stop. Harry made a breathless, rapturous sound, and Malfoy's eyes flicked to his face.

“Harry.” Hearing him say it was addictive. Malfoy gave a deep, ardent thrust and, then, still deep inside, shifted his weight over Harry until they were face to face. Harry's breath came in quick, short pants.

Malfoy was short of breath himself. His voice was husky and low. “I knew you'd be like this.”

Harry pulled Malfoy in and kissed him, all tongue and teeth, hungry and demanding.

“So fucking gorgeous,” Malfoy whispered.

Harry's hands tightened in Malfoy's hair. He could feel Malfoy's cock twitching inside him. “More.”

“Yes. So many things I want to do to you, Potter.” Malfoy propped himself up on his arms and shifted backwards in a lazy, deliberate outstroke. “Things I— uh.” He bit his lip again. “Things I want you to do to me.”

Harry thought of Malfoy underneath him, needy and impatient, and it was nearly too much. “More,” Harry urged, and then Malfoy started fucking him again and it was swift and relentless.

Malfoy looked ferocious, driven, and then he did that thing, slid right over that absurd and wonderful spot that made everything burst into flames of pure joy inside Harry.

Harry's eyes closed and his head fell back.

Malfoy thrust in again, nearly as deep. Harry felt it sear through his body, one long, sweet, seductive rush, and this time, there was nothing on earth that would stop him from tumbling over the edge. Malfoy didn't stop fucking him, making Harry cry out, making him shake all over with the force of his orgasm, and then Malfoy was coming too and it was everything, everything.

Malfoy weighed more than Harry expected when he was slumped against him, but he didn't care. Harry lay panting, almost dizzy, gratification buzzing around his body in lazy spirals of contentment.

Malfoy rolled flat on his back and flung one arm out. “Fuck.” He looked a bit wrecked, but also utterly relaxed. They didn't talk, but after a while, Malfoy turned on his side and flung an arm over Harry. Harry dragged the covers up over them and they both slept.

 

~~**~~

On Saturday, Harry sent Will an owl to say he wasn't going to be coming out that night after all. Malfoy had him pinned up against the kitchen table as he wrote it, Harry's scrawling handwriting even worse than usual due to greedy hands running over his body and a hot mouth on the back of his neck.

On Sunday morning, Malfoy slept and slept, taking up a surprising amount of room in the bed. Harry thought about waking him, and then remembered the shadows under his eyes and let him be.

On Sunday afternoon, Harry was calling Malfoy Draco more often than not, especially when Draco made him come so hard in the shower that his legs gave out and he had to sit on the edge of the bath, breathing hard, until he'd recovered.

Draco was still mostly calling Harry Potter. But it was worth it to hear the few times when he forgot.

On Sunday night, Draco was sitting astride him on the sofa, his jeans still on but his shirt half off, when Harry blurted out, “I have to work tomorrow.”

Draco looked unimpressed. “What's it like, slaving away for the Ministry?”

“It's OK. There are bits of it I really like. Quite often it's boring, though.”

Draco kissed him, his tongue sending shivers of delight through Harry. “People are always doing boring things. I don't know why.”

“How long before you get bored of this?” Harry asked. He meant it as a tease, but as soon as he said it, it was obvious that he actually wanted to know the answer.

Draco shrugged. Bloody hell, it was ridiculous how much Harry loved making him shrug. “What about you?” Draco raised an eyebrow. “Maybe you'll get bored.”

Harry didn't care if they were joking around or not. He answered firmly, “No. No, I won't.”

Draco frowned, but then threaded his fingers through the hair at the nape of Harry's neck and began to stroke. “This is stupid. Let's deal with it if and when one of us does actually get bored.”

Harry nodded. Draco carried on playing with his hair, tactile caresses, then pulling a little bit, just enough to be maddening. The position of his arm brought his raven tattoo very close to Harry's face. Its out-thrust wings seemed too full of life for the narrow space, every feather spread wide in the search for freedom.

Harry opened his mouth again but Draco pulled at his hair. “No more talking. I want you to fuck me. Slowly this time.”

Harry groaned as Draco pressed his arse against Harry's lap. The first time had been… well. It was enough to say that Harry was no longer worried about whether he was lacking the ability.

“I've got more questions.” Harry paused. Maybe it was better not to know? But he had to ask. “Could you ever be satisfied with just one person?”

Draco shrugged, infuriating and perfect. “I don't know. I've never tried.”

Harry swallowed. “Would you ever want to try?”

Draco looked at Harry, studying his mouth carefully before leaning in to kiss it. “Maybe. Yeah, maybe.” He kissed Harry again, then said regretfully, “I'm not very good at making promises.”

Harry nodded. He could understand that. He wasn't sure how he felt about promises, either. He and Ginny had promised each other quite a lot of stuff, and that hadn't exactly worked out. “OK,” he said.

He looked at Draco's raven again. Maybe this was how a bird felt when it sprang from a branch, in the split-second before its wings beat down and propelled it into the sky. It didn't know whether it was going to fly, or plummet down and break its neck. It could only make the leap and hope for the best.

“OK,” Harry said again, and then Draco's hands, searching beneath his shirt, seeking out the bare skin of his spine and the muscles of his back, stole all further thoughts away.

 

~~**~~

It was Friday night again, and they hadn't seen each other since late on Sunday when Draco had taken the Floo home to Rainville Road, still looking tired, but wearing an aura of satisfaction like a cloak as he threw the powder down in the fireplace. Harry had sent a couple of owls since then, and Draco had replied to the last one in a looping, careless hand to say that he would see Harry “on Friday, as usual.”

As usual meant the bar. Didn't it? Harry didn't know, but he put on a new shirt and fussed with his hair before he left the house. Draco wasn't there when he arrived. Harry felt pretty sure he would know if he was, just from the energy in the room, just from the thrum of Draco's magic – there was something deeply rousing about it. But he asked Sam if he'd seen Draco, too. Just to be absolutely sure.

When Draco did arrive, he scanned the tables and spotted Harry only a moment after Harry had seen him. Draco smiled, slow and knowing, seemingly just for Harry's eyes, and it warmed Harry, deep in his bones. Then someone else greeted Draco, a massive blond guy with a beard, and Draco walked towards the bar with him and then Harry couldn't see either of them any more and he didn't know what the fuck to do.

He sat for a minute with a feeling like he'd missed a step walking downstairs, and then got to his feet. He kept his hands in his pockets, and when someone jostled him as he made his way through the crowd, he had to breathe hard through his nose so as not to turn and jostle them back.

Draco was there at the bar, waiting for Sam to come over and serve him. The bearded bloke was smiling and standing too close to Draco, and Harry didn't know whether it was just because it was crowded, or...

He swallowed down something sour in his throat and went over to them. “Draco.”

Draco smiled at him again, his mouth curving in satisfaction, and Harry didn't know if he wanted to kiss him or hex him.

“This is Potter,” Draco told the man.

“Harry,” Harry said.

“I'm Steffen. Good to meet you.”

Harry had to look up to speak to the man. He was tall and blond, healthy and fit-looking, and Harry hated him already.

“Been here long? Anyone interesting here tonight?” Draco asked Harry, but Harry wasn't sure if he seemed like Draco, now, or Malfoy. He looked teasing and shameless, and as if he knew perfectly well that Harry couldn't look at him without wanting to touch him. Without feeling a deep, relentless ache for his hands, his mouth, his cock…

You. You're here, Harry wanted to tell him, but he only said, “I got here a little while ago. I'm sitting with Will and Morrie. You know, my friends from before.”

Draco nodded. “There are a few people I want to say hello to. I'll catch up with you in a bit, OK?” And he turned back to give his order at the bar, leaving Harry standing there feeling like a spare Quaffle.

So now, Harry was sitting with Morrie and Will, and Draco was... somewhere. Somewhere in the bar. Harry could feel him, his intoxicating presence in the room. It was tempting to find out where he was and then to keep watching him. Not to be weird. Just because of how it made Harry feel to watch Draco.

Harry kept thinking that Draco might be dancing. Part of him felt like he needed to know if he was. Because Draco dancing was something he could watch forever. But also because he wanted to see who Draco was dancing with. If they were touching Draco, draping themselves over his shoulders, or letting their fingers trail over his hipbones. If Draco was smiling that smile, that sly, secret smile…

Harry's leg jittered under the table, a tense, edgy rhythm, but he tried to look as if he were concentrating on Morrie's story about their trip to the new club last weekend and to laugh in the right places.

Harry had quite a different subject on his mind, though. One of the things Harry liked about Draco – one thing that really got Harry riled up for him, one way or another – was how Draco didn't let anyone fuck with him. How he just did what the hell he wanted. So why did Harry have these knotted-up feelings simply because Draco might dance with another man? Because he'd seen Draco talk to someone else?

If he closed his eyes, he could picture Draco's raven, clear as day, as though he had memorised every line and arc of it. The power, and the boldness of it – the way it looked as if it would take flight from Draco's arm at any second. That was what drew the eye, again and again – you wanted to see it fly, to see it soar. You knew that it would take your breath away when it did.

Harry had seen pet ravens for sale in Diagon Alley. They sat, hunched over, brooding and resentful in their cages. Draco's raven looked as if it would fight and claw at anyone who tried to keep it from flying wherever it wished. Not only that – it looked as though it would probably be willing to injure itself in the process.

Will poked Harry gently on the leg. “You OK? You're miles away.”

Harry raised a half-hearted smile. “Yeah. Just thinking about things.”

“You looked a bit like you wanted to kick somebody.”

That did make Harry laugh. “Yeah, maybe.”

Maybe. That was what Malfoy had said when Harry had asked him if he would ever try being with one person.

Thinking it over, one honest maybe seemed an awful lot better than a stack of promises that couldn't be kept.

Harry suddenly became aware that Will and Morrie had fallen silent and were looking over his shoulder. Draco stood there, his smile closer to being shy than Harry had ever seen it. “Want to dance?”

Harry frowned. Watching was one thing. “Well. I'd like to, but, you know, I'm not really much of a dancer.”

Draco looked amused. “Anyone who looks the way you do on a broom can't be a complete dead loss.”

Harry was taken aback. Draco hadn't seen Harry fly for a long time. Did that mean that back then, he'd been watching Harry, been thinking―

Draco's smile widened, turned broad and wicked. “Not to mention the way you—”

“I'm coming,” Harry said, getting up in a hurry before Draco could tell the whole table about the other things Harry was good at.

The dancefloor was packed, but Draco led Harry to somewhere near the centre anyway, weaving through the groups and couples until they found their own little space. A new song was starting, slow and slightly wistful, and Draco put his hands on Harry's hips and pulled him closer. This was OK. This was easy, just moving where Draco went, loose and lazy.

“You look so fucking good tonight.” He spoke close to Harry's ear to be heard over the music.

Harry glanced down at his shirt.

“Not what you're wearing. The way you look. Like you're famished. And all sort of pissed off.” Draco's voice sounded breathy. “I wondered if you were a bit jealous.”

Harry thought about this. There didn't seem anything to lose by being honest. “Yeah, I was.” Draco didn't look unhappy at all, quite the opposite, so Harry went on. “I wanted to see you. And I didn't know what was happening.”

Draco slid his hands into the back pockets of Harry's jeans and moved with their bodies pressed together. “This is happening.”

It felt good. As moments went, it felt pretty wonderful.

Draco bent towards Harry's ear again. “I like you, Potter.“ His lips brushed against Harry's skin. “I really like you.”

Draco leaned back to look at Harry, and seemed pleased at the effect his words were having. If it weren't for the fact that every inch of Harry's body was now glowing with rampant heat, he might have felt annoyed at how simple it was for Draco to press his buttons. It seemed bloody unfair, the way that he could wield his body and his voice and make them just as devastating as his wand.

“Come home with me? To my place. After the club.” Draco kept his eyes fixed on Harry, dancing close, moving against Harry, sensual as honey clinging to a spoon. The tempo of the song increased, the singer's throaty voice confiding words full of longing and dreams, but never making promises.

Harry swallowed. “Yeah. Course I will.”

“Unless, that is, one of us gets a better offer.” Draco gave Harry one of his smirks.

Two could play at that game. “Yeah, I thought I might have a chance with Steffen,” Harry told him.

Draco pulled him closer, and Harry saw the moment when Draco felt Harry's erection, his eyes flaring with approval. “God, Potter. Steffen wouldn't have a fucking clue what to do with someone like you.”

“Oh, and I suppose you do?” Harry spoke teasingly, but his mouth was dry.

Draco nodded. “Yes, actually. I've got lots of ideas,” and then the music got too loud to talk any more. Draco closed his eyes and raised his arms, his hips fluid, every movement drawing Harry in, heady and irresistible.

Harry found that, whatever Draco might say about him on a broom, he still wasn't much of a dancer, but it really didn't seem to matter. The music built to a crescendo, the drums urgent and unstoppable, the bass vibrating, insistent, and the way Draco moved was better than any melody.

Harry felt an unruly swell of hope bubbling inside him, hedonistic and joyous, his pulse pounding along with the drums. Draco grabbed his hands, fingers intertwined in a snarl of damp heat, and then Harry's mouth was on his as if tugged by a magnet.

The lights strobed over them, purple and blue, flashing mesmerising patterns through Harry's closed eyelids as they kissed, moving together, the music pulling at their feet. Life had brought them together again and again; they were tangled together in chaotic, intricate, impossible ways, and for what purpose, Harry didn't know. He only knew that both of them seemed powerless to resist.