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“The Muggles had a few good ideas after all, you know.”

Potter stared.

Draco leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers, trying to determine whether Potter was employing some half-baked interrogation technique or simply, predictably dumbfounded. He raised an eyebrow. “This chair, for instance. Herman Miller. All the comfort of a cushioning charm, none of the electronic interference. The office supplies them.”

Potter blinked twice in quick succession.  

“The cars, too. Did you know that the Bentley Continental Flying Spur can reach double the speed of a Nimbus 2002? And accommodate a driver? They don’t smell of Abraxan shit, either. Best innovation in British travel since the ban on flying carpets. Family brooms are so sluggish.”

Potter opened his mouth.

Once Draco had established that words were not immediately forthcoming, he dropped his hands to his blotter and folded them neatly. “Of course, I’m stuck with the Arnage until they’ve finished the custom interior. Then it’s on to planes, I think. I can use the company jet, of course, but they’re still on the Learjet 40, and those have been around since… well, let’s just say that if he’d had more of a sense of style and a bit less priggishness about their origin – and any money of his own to speak of, obviously – they’re so old that the Dark Tosser could’ve had one of his own. And they only seat seven. Seven! The Bombardier Challenger 300 can fit twice as many.” He paused. “Still, it’s American...”

Potter closed his mouth, furrowed his brow, then opened it again.

“I know, Potter. The thought galls me, too.”

Potter managed a garbled sort of noise.

Draco bit back a smile. Six years of astronomical success at Barclays had got him a bit used to leaving people speechless, but seeing it on Potter’s face came with an extra edge of nostalgic charm. “All a bit unfamiliar? Fine, then. How did you get here?”

“B–” Potter squeaked. He stopped to clear his throat. “Bike.”

Draco felt his forehead strain as his eyebrows shot upwards. “Bicycle? The Ministry has their golden boy riding a bicycle on official business?”

“No!” Potter exclaimed and then, seeming to find at least a hint of his feet, lowered his voice. “It’s mine. And a motorbike. It’s my motorbike.”

“Ah.” Draco leaned back, dangling his hands over the arms of his chair. “The explains the–” He flicked a finger up and down over Harry’s ensemble. “And here I thought the leather jacket was some futile attempt at intimidation.”

Potter’s cheeks coloured. “No. Safety.”

“Did you wear jeans to one of London’s premier financial institutions for safety, too? Or is that down to poor taste?”

“It’s all charmed.” Potter’s tone was defensive. A good thing, in Draco’s book. Men on the defensive gave in easily.

“Of course. Wouldn’t want to run the risk of chafing.”

“For safety,” Potter insisted again, this time more vehemently.

“Is that what they’re calling it nowadays?”

Potter’s jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Draco might not even have noticed it if he hadn’t sat through quite so many negotiations. Or so many Death Eater meetings. Though in the end, he thought, Muggle and magical megalomaniacs weren’t so very different. They all clenched their jaws and narrowed their eyes sooner or later.

He thought it a good time to change the subject. “I suspect you aren’t here to talk transportation.”

“No.”

“Though you’ve yet to supply your own topic of conversation.”

“Did you get my owl?”

“Have you seen the building?" Draco gestured to the solid glass pane behind him. "They don’t exactly open.”

“It was meant to go to your home if it couldn’t get you at work.”

“Do you know how many people would like to throw an AK my way? My home is under six different layers of wards, three of which were laid by foreign security firms. Your average British wizard wouldn’t begin to know how to crack them. Even owls can’t get through.”

Potter squinted at him. “You didn’t know I was coming?”

“You didn’t do the basic due diligence to make sure I did?”

“How was I supposed to do that?”

“You were raised by Muggles. I would assume you are familiar with the telephone.”

Potter’s words came more easily as colour rose on his face. Some things never changed. “I don’t exactly have your number in my mobile.”

“I work with a secretary and a personal assistant in a building with a massive switchboard.”

“How was I supposed to know you didn’t get the owl?”

“Perhaps because I didn’t respond to it?”

“Maybe you were just being rude.”

“I’ve been accused of many things, Potter. Rudeness has never been among them.”

Potter mumbled something that sounded distinctly like, “–clearly didn’t spend much time in the Gryffindor common room.”

Draco, with all the enlightened magnanimity of adulthood, decided to let it pass.

Potter had the good grace to look the teensiest bit abashed when Draco offered him a restrained smile instead of a bollocking.

Draco felt the first, relaxing hint of victory. “If anyone’s been rude, Potter, it’s you. Though that’s far less surprising.”

“If I’m so rude, why’d you let me up?”

Draco laughed. “I sold £1.5 billion in securities this morning. One of the lads at Credit Suisse bet me a Goodman’s fillet and a bottle of Chateau Margaux that I couldn’t get a penny over 1.45, but the poor bastard’s in meetings all afternoon and can’t pay up until this evening.”

“So…?”

“So,” Draco huffed, a grin still playing at the corners of his mouth. “I was bored. What’s your excuse?”

“Just trying to do my job.”

Draco’s smile vanished. He was glad – gladder than usual – that his job involved learning to perform a certain amount of bravado even when one’s stomach had begun to twist uncomfortably. He knew he hadn’t done anything the Ministry could bring him in for. He also knew that that didn’t always have much to do with whether they brought people in or not. “Your job involves coming to see me?”

“As you would have known if you’d opened my letter.”

“As I would have done if you’d contacted me in some manner more effective than hurling pebbles at a Protego.”

“As I wouldn’t have needed to do if you didn’t work in a glass box and live under nineteen different enchantments that probably aren’t even registered w–”

“Listen here, Potter. Everything I’ve done, everything I do, is completely in compliance with Ministry regulation. Completely. My solicitors and accountants, Muggle and magical, look over every penny, every charm I cast, everything. Say what you like about me – you don’t reach this level without developing skin thicker than a Chinese Fireball’s – but don’t you dare suggest that I’ve run afoul of any sort of regulation.” His voice rose, full of all the confidence he didn’t feel. Whitley & Whiting were excellent, but perfection was damn near impossible to find and the sliver of a chance that they’d missed something, that he’d be dragged back to the wizarding world kicking and screaming – literally, if necessary – wasn’t the kind of thought he wanted to so much as entertain. “There is no conceivable way I could be in trouble with the Ministry, and I’ll thank you to keep your accusations to yourself.”

Potter held his hands up in mock-surrender. “I wasn’t accusing.”

“Then pray tell, what are you still doing in my office?”

“I’ve come to ask for your help, Malfoy.” Potter’s face twisted into nervousness at the end of the sentence, as though he’d been just annoyed enough to get through the start of it, and lost steam as he remembered what exactly he was asking, and of whom, and how it was likely to be received. Which Draco thought showed better judgment than the request itself.

“My help?” Draco spat.

“Er.”

“My help? He couldn’t entirely stop the hint of hysterical laughter that threatened to edge into his voice.

“Yes.” Potter paused just long enough and in just such a way as to make Draco feel like a Crup under inspection for signs of rabidity, and then rushed on. “We’re trying to break up a potions smuggling ring but the Goblins say they don’t have records on this one, so they’re either dealing in cash or… well, we have reason to believe they might be coming through your bank.”

“You have reason.”

“Yes.”

“Which is?”

“Er, as it happens, we tackled one of them at the end of a chase. He got away, but Davis nicked his wallet. Three IDs with different names but the same picture, and a Barclays debit card.”

“Only Barclays?”

“Yes.”

“And you’re sure it’s his?”

“Pretty sure. Robards recognised the picture and and said it was a match to the name on the card. And we know of a few people he’s worked with before. We need their records too.”

“Potter, I do fund management. I’m on the investment side. What makes you think I have access to individual bank records?”

“We just need someone with access to the computer system.”

“Why don’t you ask Williams on seven? She’s a witch.”

“Leora has been… reticent, in the past. She feels it’s… well, in any event, she’s… unavailable to us.”

“Bloody hell, we’re bankers, there’s not exactly a Hippocratic Oa–Oh.” Draco stopped short. A wave of cold fury washed over him as Potter’s intimation caught up. “Oh.” Draco laughed. “She feels it’s unethical, doesn’t she?”

Potter froze.

Doesn’t she?” Draco repeated. “Of course, you figured I wouldn’t have any such qualms, didn’t you? Why would the former Death Eater give a damn about Muggle banking regulations? Never mind that I’ve rebuilt my life in this industry. Never mind that I had to do it after you lot took everything my family had worked for over generations – and don’t you dare make that face at me, Potter. All you ever saw – all you ever took was the end result of a fortune and a reputation that was centuries in the making. And you took it all, down to the last saucer, the last runner, the last duvet.

“And here I am now. Top of Barclays tower, driven home to Mayfair in the Arnage. I earned that. With one parent in Azkaban and the other out of the country and a few neglected scraps of Muggle investment here and there – do you know how difficult it is to go from operating in Galleons and Sickles to pounds? From working with Goblins to–” He stopped short. Investment bankers hadn’t been much of a transition, really. “To being at the very bottom rung, having to prove yourself all over again, knowing that you have nowhere to go, nothing to fall back on. You think I’d give that up, risk that, because you waltz in here uninvited and ask? And cast aspersions on my character in the process?” His breath began to run out. He crossed his arms tight across his chest and waited expectantly.

“Er.” Potter’s had looked thoroughly unmoved until the last bit, when a funny sort of look had replaced his usual blank stubbornness. “No?”

“Ten points to bloody Gryffindor. No, Potter. Not on your life.”

“I suppose ‘please’ wouldn’t do much good?”

“Apologies would be more effective, and even those would be quite a stretch. I will not risk my career for you.”

“So that’s a no, then?”

Draco goggled at the pure gall. Only Potter.

“Right, then. Shall I show myself out?”

“As far as I’m aware, the last time you left a bank it was by Dragon.” He pushed a button on his phone. “Kate will walk you out.”

Potter rose as one of Draco’s heavy wooden double doors swung open and, after a tight smile and nod, he followed Draco’s secretary down the hall.

Draco wondered if Martin-Davies would let him swap out the Chateaux Margaux for something a bit stronger.

£     £     £     £     £

Draco was considerably less sanguine when he arrived at his office the next morning to find Potter waiting for him. Sitting in his damn chair, no less. He decided, not for the first time, that pleasantries might reasonably be reserved for those who were actually pleasant.

He slammed his briefcase down on the desk and slid it across to land in front of Potter who, to Draco’s satisfaction, didn’t quite manage to suppress a flinch. “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.”

Draco cursed his luck. In addition to being more annoying, Potter had got more confident. His awe at the finer things had worn off on a second exposure. Draco rounded the desk and did his best to loom. “Get out of my chair.”

“You have others.” Potter gestured to the two chairs on the opposite side of Draco’s desk. Uncomfortable by design, for visitors. Which Draco was not.

“Now, Potter.”

“Or what?” Potter reclined and looked up at him.

The bastard had probably messed with all the ergonomics, Draco realised. All of them. Even the angle on his lumbar support.

If a man’s home was his castle, his desk chair was his throne. Or as close as one could get in an office setting without drawing unwelcome attention. It practically made the decision for him. He waved his arm. “Levicorpus.

With a most undignified squawk, Potter was flipped upside down, dangling over the Clive Christian mahogany by the ankle. Draco gestured to the left, so as to suspend him fully over the hand tufted Pierre Frey instead, clearing a path to his chair in the process.

He sat gingerly, testing it while Potter spluttered. Potter had apparently lacked either the inclination or the knowhow to adjust anything other than the tilt. It would be easy enough to fix once Potter was dealt with. He reclined, if not nearly as far as he would’ve liked, crossed one wool-clad leg over the opposite knee, and folded his hands neatly in his lap. “Thanks ever so, Potter. It’s terribly rude to take a man’s chair.”

“You–” Potter gasped. His face was halfway to resembling the old Express.

“How–You–Bloody–You don’t even have a wand!”

“Ah.” Draco flexed his fingers and stretched his right arm. “Wand pocket.”

“How–Where–It’s your arm, Malfoy!”

“Bespoke, Potter. The Huntsman house style. Hammick still does mine himself, and he’s both understanding and discreet. Had a wizard in the family, Hogwarts ‘63.” He cuffed a sleeve, revealing a sliver of fine green silk and the very tip of a wand. “He understood.”

Potter flailed his legs, trying, with much futility, to right himself. “Thought you were a Muggle now.”

“I may live among them and do near-magical things with their money, but a wand, Potter… Much like a black card, one should never leave home without it.”

Draco had never had cause to wonder what it would look like if someone tried to roll their eyes whilst upside-down. It wasn’t any less amusing for the lack of anticipation.

“Now, I gather you were waiting for me. I assume it wasn’t for your entertainment?”

Potter grunted.

“Or was it? Is this the sort of thing you go for, Potter? If so, I’ll put you down immediately.”

Potter clenched his jaw and shook his head, looking more and more like a tomato with each passing second.

“Hmmm. Shall I leave you there, then?”

Draco was almost impressed that Potter managed to cross his arms and pout. If he’d been rightside up – and if Draco hadn’t been well over the Potter hype since he was, oh, twelve – he might even have been intimidated.

But he was well over the Potter hype. “I’ve got a meeting in–” he glanced at his Audemars “–7 minutes. The charm should hold while I’m gone, but the carpet’s quite soft if it doesn’t.”

“Let me guess,” Potter managed, twisting his torso in a mostly vain attempt to look Draco straight on. “Fancy Persian silk handwoven by children?”

“Tut, tut, Potter. No. Pierre Frey of Paris, expert craftsmen weaving wool and silk onto a custom designed frame with a Savonnerie knot. Though I suppose compliments are due; I wouldn’t have thought you knew a Persian rug from a bathmat.”

“Full of surprises,” Potter managed through gritted teeth.

Draco tilted his head to the side. The banter wasn’t nearly as entertaining as it might’ve been when Potter could only manage half a dozen words at a time. “Finite.”

Potter landed with a barely audible thud. The rug had been a great investment.

“I trust you’re satisfied with the pile.”

“Oh, extremely,” Potter intoned. “I just love being dropped head first when it’s on to a really soft carpet.”

“I’m glad you have some appreciation for life’s finer things.”  

“Did Barclays take out your ability to detect sarcasm along with any concern for the poor?”

“To hear your lot tell it, I never had any concern for the poor. Or,” Draco arched an eyebrow, “any semblance of an ethical compass to start with.”

Potter had the good grace to look vaguely chagrined at the reference to their last conversation as he climbed to his feet. “About that.”

Draco pulled his other brow neatly into line with the first, and waited.

“I’m sorry about that.”

“Are you?”

“Yes.”

“And you couldn’t have sent a card?”

“Through your seventeen layers of wards?”

“You’ve met Kate, Potter. She takes messages. Professionally. And I’m fairly certain I mentioned our switchboard? We’ve got a mailroom, too. Or is Ministry training so poor nowadays that you’ve completely forgotten how to use Muggle post?”

“I can send a letter, Malfoy. It’s just you’re a bit prickly, aren’t you? Thought the personal touch might do the trick.”

“You thought seeing your face would leave me more inclined to help? I haven’t got a Pensieve on me just now, but I’d wager you’re badly misremembering our shared history if you think that’s the case.”

“Well how else would you sugg–”

“Flowers, wine, liquor. It’s hardly practical for the everyday, but I would’ve accepted the ‘74 Quattroporte.” He took a turn to roll his eyes at Potter’s blank confusion. “It’s a Maserati, Potter. That’s a car.”

“I know what a– You want a car?”

“You want me to accept a half-arsed apology for serious insinuations, and perhaps a touch of stalking, which you’ve chosen to deliver by breaking and entering?”

“Er.” Potter ran a hand through his hair, as if it might make any sort of difference in either his appearance or Draco’s disposition. “Yes?”

“A car might be a good start.” He glanced down at his watch. “And I don’t mean a shiny new Vauxhall. I’m off, Potter.” He looked back up. “I’ll be back in thirty minutes. If you haven’t come up with something substantial by then, I’ll have Kate block your calls and security ban you from the building.” He started moving towards the doors, stopped, and cast a few quick wards. “If anyone else comes in, I’ll know about it. And remember, this is just the apology we’re negotiating.”

Potter exhaled heavily. “Seriously?”

“Look around you,” Draco laughed. “One doesn’t get this far by offering freebies.” He nodded curtly. “Half an hour.”

£     £     £     £     £

“I have a list.” Potter stood and held out a battered mobile before Draco had even finished closing the door. Damned shame, not least of all because the door on the left was squeaking, and somewhere there was an office manager who needed to hear about it.

Draco glanced at the mobile, kept his reports firmly in hand, walked around Potter, and took a seat in his office chair.

Potter turned and shuffled towards him, audibly dragging his trainers over the rug.

Draco didn’t look up until his papers were in order, and found Potter, still holding out the mobile. “I’ve got a phone, thanks.” He paused. “Two, actually, both much nicer than that bit of rubbish.”

“It’s not the phone, Malfoy.”

“A phone call, then?” Draco snorted and crossed his arms. “I can’t imagine you’d know anyone I’d want to speak with.”

“The list,” Potter huffed, “is on the phone.” He let a hint of smugness tug at the corners of his mouth. “It’s charmed.”

“Wizards think they’re so innovative.” Draco laughed and pulled a blackberry from his top drawer. “Muggles have already got there.”

Potter frowned. “Do you want to hear the list or not?”

“Not especially, but I’m a man of my word. In spite of your opinions to the contrary.”

Potter’s frown deepened. “You left me to come up with options. Do you mean to say you’re not actually willing to consider them?”

“Consider? I always consider an offer. The distance between an offer and a deal, however, is about as vast as the difference between our respective aptitudes for fashion.”

Potter surveyed his suit, seeming to linger over the top button of his waistcoat before his eyes snapped to Draco’s face. “Are you ready?”

Draco gestured him onwards. “Please.”

“I will go before the Wizengamot,” Potter read, “and see about restoring a portion of the reparations they took after Voldemort’s defeat.”

“Reparations?” Draco laughed.

“A portion of your choosing,” Potter added. “A particular vault. Or,” he leaned forward, loading his voice with meaning. “A particular property.”

“The Manor, you mean?”

“Of your choosing,” Potter repeated.

“Your flexibility is appreciated, if stupid. I have no interest in the Manor.”

Potter balked. “You’re joking.”

“The wards on the property are embedded in the very foundation, as well as many of the root systems on the grounds, and some predate the Magna Carta by over a century. Do you really think it would accommodate WiFi?”

“But,” Potter spluttered, ”but–”

“Or a mobile signal? Or telly?” He leaned in faux-conspiratorially, trying to match the gravity in Potter’s voice rather than dissolving into laughter. “Between you and me, I do enjoy seeing which magical bits and bobs turn up on Antiques Roadshow.”

Potter gaped.

“So no, I’m afraid that won’t do.”

“The things that are in the Manor? The portraits, the heirlooms?”

Draco arched an eyebrow, quirked his mouth, and left it at that.

Potter’s jaw fell, and stayed that way for so long that Draco considered seeing if he could land a paperclip on Potter’s tongue.

He sighed instead. “That was a short list. If I’d expected anything, I’d be disappointed.”

“No!” Potter exclaimed, pacing towards Draco. “There’s more. The press. Your reputation. I could restore your reputation in the wizarding world.”

“Is it possible that your head’s got even bigger than it was at school? Have you inspired haberdashers across the wizarding world to new widths?”

Potter scowled. “Not necessary.”

“No, but none of this is, and as long as we’re having a bit of fun.”

“F–” Potter bit down on his lip to stop himself speaking.

Draco did enjoy seeing him flustered.

Potter took a deep, steadying breath. “You might not like that I am actually capable of doing something to help you, but that doesn’t change the facts. I could do it.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. A few front page headlines at big charity dos. Reintroduce you as a philanthropist.”

“In what world can you guarantee that? You’re an Auror, not a reporter.”

“Yeah, I’m an Auror who never goes to these things, and the Prophet’s favourite recluse. We could–We could pretend to be dating. If we showed up together we’d make the front page, guaranteed, and they wouldn’t dare write anything against me.”

“Your ego really is boundless, isn’t it?”

Potter pressed his lips together. “I’ve never liked that it’s true, Malfoy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.”

“Even if you weren’t full of shite, you miss the larger picture: I don’t care.”

Potter snorted. “A Malfoy who doesn’t care about reputation?”

“And a Potter who does. The world’s gone all turvy-topsy. But, in a stunning turn of events, you’re not entirely wrong.”

“No?” Potter crossed his arms and quirked an eyebrow.

Draco smirked and hit the intercom. “Kate, bring in the invitations.”

They stood there, staring each other down, until the door on the right swung open. Draco wondered whether he could possibly enjoy the smug victory to come more than his anticipation of the same.

Kate’s heels clicked once against the threshold, and then she crossed the carpet to stand next to Potter. She held out a thick stack of envelopes. “Sir?”

Draco held up a hand and gestured to his… well, guest would be pushing it. “Kate, you remember Mr Potter?”

She nodded.

“Would you please read us, say, the last five invitations I’ve received?”

“Of course, Mr Malfoy.” She pulled the first from its envelope. “We’re getting into June and July, now. Great Ormond Street Hospital would like to know if you’re interested in a table at the second annual F1 Party.” She moved the envelope to the back of the pile. “The Royal Opera House would like you for a dinner preceding the premiere of Das Rheingold. These next two are internal and primarily social. Mr Varley would like to know if you’re interested in joining his group for the Lord’s Test match, and,” she glanced sideways at Potter, “Lady Rose Gilman would like to extend an invitation to join her family in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. The last is a high tea for the RSPCA.” She glanced up.

“Thank you, Kate. That will be all.”

She nodded and, with another single click over the threshold and the sound of the door shutting, excused herself.

Draco met Potter’s eye. “The Malfoy name may have relocated, but it isn’t exactly suffering.”

“You’re seriously telling me you don’t care at all?”

“About my reputation? Even you know me well enough to answer that. About charitable giving? It contributes nicely to the spirit of the social season. About the scapegoating twats who turned a coerced, quite literally tortured, seventeen year old onto the streets without parents, a home, or the chance to finish his education? Not a whit.”

Potter was left silent, seeming to take him in for a moment. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“As a Bludger to the head.”

“There’s… is there really nothing?”

“I do appreciate the attempts at ingenuity, but you haven’t even come close.”

“We–” Potter paused and carded his hair. “Look, Malfoy, I hate to say it, but we’re desperate. This lot aren’t just smuggling potions, they’re selling them on the cheap, and mounds of people are ending up in St Mungo’s, half of them claiming they didn’t even intentionally take the stuff. We think they might be slipping it into people’s gardens or owl orders or drinks or something, and it’s not as though all wizards are, are… scapegoating twats, or what have you. It’s innocent people getting hurt here.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but that doesn’t make it any more my problem than it was when you first showed up. Uninvited.” It felt amazing to say it. Even more amazing to mean it.

“But if we could just access their bank records–” Potter had the good sense to stop talking when Draco shot him a warning look. He sighed. “Fine, my ideas are shit. Fine. Can I–What if I send you the Prophet? Or the Quibbler, Witch Weekly, whatever you want.” He went from carding his hair to tugging at it. “Look through them, see if anything jogs a memory, if there’s anything you want. We need to solve this case. Legilimency has never been my strong suit. If I can’t guess what you want, tell us? Name your price, and if we can meet it, we will.”

Draco reclined and sized him up warily. There would have been a time when Potter’s offers would have appealed. When they would have appealed quite deeply. That they didn’t anymore wasn’t a good enough reason to turn down a blank cheque from the wizarding world. If he could think of something worthwhile.

He sat up and folded his hands on the blotter. “Fine. You have one chance. Put them in a box, send all of them to Kate, and I’ll look them through once. Once. And I hope it goes without saying that you’re to use Muggle post?”

Potter sagged, unmistakably relieved, and nodded.

“This doesn’t mean I’m saying yes,” Draco warned.

Potter failed to repress a sigh, but nodded.

“And Potter? For the record, the grovelling doesn’t hurt.”

Potter’s face was, for one instant, unreadable, though whatever mystery might’ve been found there was quickly replaced with annoyance. “Thanks ever so, Malfoy.”

“Ta, Potter. Have Kate walk you out.”

£     £     £     £     £

The package arrived at the start of Draco’s lunch break. It was hand delivered by Muggle courier, and Draco would almost have been impressed with Potter’s thoughtfulness if he hadn’t made the necessity of Muggle methods so abundantly clear. And if Potter hadn’t used the cheapest courier service in central London, thereby forcing Kate to interact with someone so utterly plebian that she had delivered the box, free of its outer wrappings, with the smell of sanitizer fresh on her hands and a poorly hidden twist to her nose.

He crumpled a barely legible note from Potter and threw it into the bin without reading it. Then, as promised, he perused.

The Prophet was thoroughly boring. An ad for Honeyduke’s evoked a moment’s nostalgia for chocolate frogs–until he remembered the truffles at Prestat, which didn’t ever try to jump away from him. Witch Weekly was much of the same. Even if Draco had ever had any need whatsoever for cosmetic glamours, he wouldn’t trade in the satisfaction of an hour with Bobby or Fabrice, the feeling of wringing every last reserve of strength from muscles no amount of Quidditch could ever have touched. Or the results, which had the distinct advantage of not wearing off at inopportune moments. And he certainly didn’t need charmed curlers or contraceptive potions.

The back pages of The Quibbler were a bit more interesting. The masthead suggested that Lovegood the younger had taken over from her father, and her advertising policy was a departure from even the most liberal of mainstream wizarding policies. Draco was not a little entertained by the promise of a masturbation sleeve charmed to respond to the user, but asking Potter about it was well out of the question. He bookmarked the relevant page and made a note to see whether Expectations or Coco de Mer could do one better. Likely. Without the benefit of wands, Muggles had to be far more inventive.

Potter had been clever enough to include Which Broomstick, but he simply didn’t have any need of anything in its pages. He’d moved on from that life. If he wanted top speeds, he had his choice of cars. If he wanted a view and the wind in his hair, there was always the roof at Shoreditch House.

He sighed and turned back to the Prophet. Flipped past Quidditch results and was happy enough to notice that the Falcons were still performing well, though even that didn’t elicit more than a mildly pleased hum. He considered a request for World Cup tickets; he still had a few of the old Slyths around on occasion, and it might be nice to throw something of meaning their way. But Quidditch tickets were the sort of thing one threw in as an extra. They were far too trifling for the main event.

He flipped past the politics section–blissfully irrelevant nowadays–and on to the social pages.

Whatever Potter might have said about his supposed reclusiveness, they managed to get more pictures of him than he’d let on. There was a grainy photo of Potter leaning on the bar at the Leaky, his head thrown back as he laughed at his companion’s joke. One of Potter, clearly taken through a window, being fitted for robes at Madam Malkin’s, the fabric hanging open over Muggle jeans, sliding over his hips as he smiled kindly and turned to let an assistant at his sleeve. Witch Weekly had a few more still – Potter grinning and urging his broom forward during a game of pickup Quidditch in what looked like someone’s private orchard, Potter giving a group of stumbling Auror trainees a commandingly, almost enticingly, stern look. And, once he started looking, the Quibbler was the biggest surprise of all: Potter, grinning sideways at a musclebound bloke as they seemed to joke–joke of all things–with a Sphinx.

Now that–that was interesting. The Potter in these photos was a different creature to the nervous, flappable bloke who’d let himself be hung upside down over the rug. He had much more in common with the stupidly heroic–and, Draco would admit, self-assured, determined, athletic, surprisingly competent, utterly confident–subject of at least a dozen of his schoolboy wank fantasies.

It had been an age since he’d had a wizard. Muggles were certainly better at sex toys, and quite a few of them were given to an admirable, or at least much appreciated, libertinism. But none of them were wizards. All of that faffing about with condoms and containers of lube, never the smooth efficiency of a charm. He did miss the ease of it.

Granted, taking up with Potter, in particular, was a strange proposition. But the more he thought on it, the more it grew on him. Either Potter would balk and have to go back to his Ministry empty-handed, or he’d have to bend over and yield to Draco’s will. Even as used to winning as Draco was, the thought of it brought on a sense of anticipation so visceral that he couldn’t help but take notice. He bested the wizarding world every day, of course. Shoved it up their collective arse by not giving a damn. It had been some Muggle or other who said living well was the best revenge, and he embodied that like none other. But they didn’t see that, cloistered as they were behind the Leaky and in Hogsmeade. On the rare occasion when they did, as Potter had during his office invasions, it wasn’t the same as knowing it. They didn’t avert their eyes the way the junior traders did when Draco walked down a hallway. They didn’t tremble, as his opponents across a bargaining table did, when his reputation preceded him into a room. They didn’t know his power. But Potter… he could make Potter know it. Make him feel it.

And wouldn’t Potter be delightfully defiant about that. At least until Draco got his hands on him.

Among other parts.

He realised it might be construed as petty. He didn’t especially care. Not when this particular victory promised to taste better than the black truffle risotto at Orrery.

He ran back through the photos again, then shoved it all into a drawer and turned on the intercom. “Kate?”

“Sir?” She replied near-instantly.

“Has Potter attempted to make another appointment?

“No, Mr Malfoy.” There was the slightest hint of surprise in her voice. “Do you want him on your calendar if he does?”

Draco paused. “Yes, and make sure he gets the full treatment on arrival. Imagine he’s got ten million pounds to invest, or the hottest tip since mortgage bundling. Whatever does it for you.”

“As you say, Mr Malfoy.”

He lifted his finger off the intercom and began to make his plans.

£     £     £     £     £

Potter did call eventually, and came back to the office, this time by appointment. Kate's efforts to make him comfortable had some effect, though they did not quite make him confident. He seemed… differently unnerved, looking over his shoulder as though expecting cameras to be revealed, watching Kate lay out tea and biscuits on a table in front of the sofa as though she might slip a bit of cyanide in if he turned away.

He perched tentatively on the edge of the sofa and looked surprised when Draco walked around his desk, ignored his chairs, and took up the other end, crossing one leg over the other and twisting to rest one elbow on the leather upholstery and look him straight on.

“Um.” Potter began.

“Good afternoon,” Draco offered. “I trust that Kate has made you comfortable?”

“Yes. Er, very comfortable.” He shifted on the edge of the seat.

“It won’t bite if you sit comfortably, you know. Do you take sugar, milk?”

Potter slid back halfway. “Two sugars, please.”

Draco hid a grimace. “Of course.” He poured the tea himself, dropped in two cubes, and offered the saucer.

Potter took it gingerly, his eyes never leaving Draco as he took a first sip. “Thanks.”

“You’re quite welcome.”

“Yes, well, thank you.”

“Biscuit? Thought you might be a sugar man, but Kate can bring in crudité if that would better suit.”

“Er, no, thanks. Just had lunch.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “And I’m really just here on business, anyway.”

“Ah.” Draco leaned further back into the sofa. “And why shouldn’t business be a bit pleasant from time to time?”

Potter leaned forward and put the saucer down. “To be honest, Malfoy, I wasn’t expecting much more than a kick to the bum, so it’s not so much pleasant as disconcerting. You can just give me your answer, you know. Somehow I don’t think tea will change it, whatever it is.”

“You wouldn’t, would you?” Draco mumbled, rising from the couch and walking part way across the room. “Fine, then. You may be disappointed, though I imagine not surprised, to hear that the wizarding press was of no particular interest.”

Potter sighed, and weariness began to edge on to his face.

“Except for one thing.” Draco turned to face him.

Potter perked up, and sat up straighter.

Draco resisted the urge to straighten his spine, lest Potter think he was anything less than perfectly relaxed. “You made a proposal, when last you were here, about restoring my reputation.”

“I did.” Potter knit his brow. “You refused it. Rather adamantly.”

“How far were you willing to take it?”

The lines in Potter’s forehead deepened in confusion. “As I said, we could publicly attend charitable events–”

“You misunderstand me. How far are you willing to take the particular charade that would be involved?”

“I thought three or four events ought to do it.”

“For Merlin’s sake, Potter, tell me they have a separate unit for detectives. In order to sell the story, you proposed a particular conceit. Do you recall?”

“That we,” Potter pointed to himself, and to Draco, and back again, “would pretend to be dating.”

“Very good.”

“In order to make it believable.”

“Yes.” Draco waited.

The edge of confusion didn’t show any signs of abating.

“For Circe’s sake, Potter, what do boyfriends do? Or is that a total mystery to you?”

Realisation dawned on Potter’s face, closely followed by something nervous, and then open wariness. “They go to charity balls.”

“Mmm. And?”

“And… out for drinks.”

“And?” Draco arched an eyebrow.

“Antiquing?” Potter tried.

“Bloody hell, Potter. The papers make quite clear that you’re single, and I am no longer wondering why. Antiquing, really?”

“You’re the one who wants to give up his ancestral home for the chance to watch Antiques Roadshow!”

“When I’m too hungover to move, Potter, and that’s in anticipation of the day a wayward magical teakettle bites Michael Aspel on the nose.”

“Well you clearly like posh old stuff!”

Draco felt the affront down to the tips of his toes. “You think I buy it myself? That’s what decorators are for you–” He clenched his jaw and force himself to exhale. “Do you want to make a deal or not?”

Potter groaned and buried his face in his hands. “Yes.”

“Are you going to continue feigning idiocy, or shall I assume it’s authentic?”

“What’s your point, Malfoy?” It came out muffled, spoken mostly into the heel of Potter’s palm.

“Aside from antiquing and, I don’t know, crocheting doilies and feeding street urchins, what do you and your boyfriends generally do?”

Potter snorted. “Hold hands and share ice cream sundaes.”

“How important is this case to you?”

Potter’s impatience disappeared in a flash. He looked up. “Serious.”

“How serious?”

“Serious enough that I came here in the first place.”

“Mmm. And serious enough that you, quite voluntarily, offered to be seen on my arm in public.”

“Yes.”

“And how far does that offer extend?”

A flush rose on Potter’s cheeks. “Are you asking what I think you’re asking?”

“Are you, quite voluntarily, willing to take your place on my arm in private?”

“You arm?” Potter’s eyes widened. “Your whole–?”

“Figure of speech.” Draco raised his eyes to the ceiling in a silent prayer for patience. As he looked back down, it slid into a grin. “Unless you’re into that kind of thing.”

“No!” Potter nearly screeched. “No, definitely no arms.”

“Was that the opening of a proper negotiation?”

Potter paused, then nodded once.

Something tensed in Draco’s chest. It felt a bit like anticipation. Of his success, surely. He refused to let it show. “Fine, then.”

“But what’s in it for you?”

“Is that relevant?” Draco didn’t pause before his question. He was well trained in deflection, and bloody thankful for it.

Potter shrugged and opened his mouth.

“Exactly,” Draco went on before Potter had the chance to figure himself out. “Do we have a deal?”

“Well,” Potter began slowly, his eyes focused on Draco’s tie instead of his face. “The start of one, maybe.”

“Your terms?

“I need everything you can give me on our suspect and his three known associates. Bank statements, payment records, investments, known aliases. Anything and everything.”

“And in exchange?”

“You can do that?” Potter refused to move on. “You will provide all of that?”

“I can.” Draco hesitated, and not because he couldn’t. “Whether I will depends on the rest of our negotiation.”

“Right.” Potter paused. “Right, then. What is it you’re asking for, exactly?”

“Apparently a whole arm is off the table.”

Potter wrinkled his nose. “A whole arm, a whole hand… nothing like that.”

“Really? All those years you walked around with a stick up your arse, you’d think a hand would slide right in.”

Potter scowled. “And no insults. None. That’s a hard limit.”

Draco perked up and slid back on to the couch. “A hard limit, Potter? Is it possible that the Golden Boy knows the scene?”

“Golden Boy counts as an insult. Savior, Chosen One, Boy Who Lived, and all their variations. Absolutely none of that.”

Draco tilted his head. “No insults, or no dirty talk?”

“No insults. Or epithets.”

Draco noted the omission of ‘no dirty talk’ from Potter’s list of nos. “Fine. And no fisting?”

“Or… arming.”

Draco braced his elbow on the sofa. “And what should be on the table?”

Potter closed up tighter than a Pogrebin. “This is your show.”

“In which you’ll be participating. Actively. If your plan is to lie back and think of England, deal’s off.”

“Which doesn’t grant you insight into… whatever. It’s up to you.”

“Oral.”

“Fine.”

“Rimming.”

“Fine.”

“Snogging.”

Potter hesitated, just for a moment. “Fine.”

“Spanking.”

“Fine.”

Draco’s eyebrows rose entirely of their own volition. “Handcuffs.”

“On who?”

“You.”

“No.”

“No to handcuffs particularly, or all toys?”

“Nothing that would bind, otherwise constrain, or injure.”

“Fine. Vibrators.”

“This is the strangest negotiation I’ve ever had.”

“Vibrators.”

“And I once negotiated a hostage situation between the goblins and merpeople over a Pygmy Puff breeding facility.”

“Vibrators and cock rings.”

Potter sighed. “Fine.”

“Anal.”

A pause. “Whose...?”

“Your arse, spread open.”

“I don’t, usually.”

“Yet you’re not saying no.”

“Lots of lube. Lots.”

“Not a problem.”

“And condoms, protection charms, whatever.”

“Obviously.”

“Fine, then.” Potter was gripping the edge of the sofa so tightly his knuckles had gone white.

“Anything else I ought to know before we meet again?”

“If I think of anything, I’ll be sure to send it by courier rather than owl.”

“Fine. While this is blissfully unlikely, if I run into any other Aurors, what’s your cover story?”

“Cover story?” Potter blinked at him.

“Unles the DMLE has changed a great deal in my absence, I assume you’ll need one?”

“Right.” Potter sighed. “You held me hostage and dangled me over a pit of hungry Nundus until I promised my firstborn.”

Draco blinked.

Potter rolled his eyes. “I was going to say you were helpful and the paperwork had taken a while.”

Draco blinked again, trying to parse the various types of confusion that had settled in his stomach at Potter’s offer. He finally picked one at random. “Are you trying to make me out as a fool?”

“I–what?”

“Someone who wouldn’t even have the good sense to negotiate?”

“Oh, for Godric’s–It’s simple, it’s easy to remember, they won’t ask questions, and they don’t understand Muggle banking well enough to need more specifics. And I wouldn’t think you’d be actively opposed to something that makes them think well of you. Okay?”

Some of the confusion settled. Some. “Oh. I suppose that’s fine, then.”

“Good.” Potter rose. “When can I get the records?”

Draco stood, looking him in the eye. “After.”

“After?” Potter frowned. “How am I supposed to know you’ll come through?”

Draco folded his arms over his chest and smiled thinly. “That might be the smartest question you’ve asked yet.”

Potter waited.

“You’ll just have to trust me.”

Potter threw up his arms. “Seriously?”

“Well it wouldn’t be very smart to give it to you beforehand, would it? What incentive would you have to follow through?”

“What incentive do you have?” Potter retorted.

I have a happy, prosperous, trouble-free life in the Muggle world, and I’d like to keep it that way. And you’re asking me to hand you just enough material to charge me with extortion or report me to the FSA, without getting enough to bring you down with me if you try it? I think not.”

“Fine.” Potter shook his head. “I can’t believe–Fine. Where’s your flat?”

“My flat, Potter? Do you really think I’d go to all the trouble of laying that many different wards just to hand the address to Britain’s star Auror? You’re even more barking than usual.”

“Then where?”

He didn’t bother to suppress a smile. “Here.”

“Here?” Potter looked sceptical.

“Here,” Draco confirmed. “The office empties out by nine. I’ve got a full bar, and if we find ourselves in need of any other accoutrements, well, we are both wizards, are we not?”

Potter craned his neck as if taking the room in anew. “Here,” he repeated.

“When I said ‘here’ the first two times, it wasn’t because I meant somewhere else.”

Potter’s eyes lingered on the edge of the desk, the leather Winchester that they’d just abandoned, the rug. And the he turned them back to Draco, a determined gaze set above firm lips. “Nine o’clock.”

Draco smiled.

£     £     £     £     £

The start of acquisitions talks was enough to keep Draco’s mind mostly occupied for the rest of the afternoon. Not much could rival billions of pounds for his attention. That Potter nosed in once or twice was remarkable, really.

But nosed in he had. The figures they’d been throwing around had been in the billions and Draco still found his mind wandering a time or two. Most of it was down to the prospect of victory, some sliver of it it was the promise of Potter’s arse, and the rest could be attributed to the sheer number of possibilities. They had to be considered. Potter over a chair, Potter over his desk, Potter on his back on the sofa, Potter spread across the rug, Potter on the knees sucking cock in front of the great glass window with a view of the water below and the city beyond. If the thrill of promising financial deals was enough to get Draco’s blood pumping, the promise of having Potter for an evening was enough to direct it southward. He almost detoured to the gym just to get it circulating again.

He settled for a martini instead, and wiled away the early evening with a week’s worth of the crossword. Traffic in the corridors sped up and then slowed as seven turned to eight. Cleaning crews appeared and disappeared as eight crept towards nine. By five to, the lights on the floor were all out save Draco’s desk lamp. At five past, the diffuse glow of the city was the only thing that lit Potter’s silhouette from behind as he filled Draco’s doorway.

He knocked, then stuffed his hands in his pockets.

Draco looked up from the Financial Times. “Potter.”

“Malfoy.” Potter nodded once. He was wearing that leather jacket again, and boots to match, and jeans and a white t-shirt. He’d have stuck out like sore thumb if anyone was still in the office.

No one was, though, and Draco didn’t mind too terribly much, even if Potter’s shirt looked like he’d got it in a 3 pack at M&S. He raised his glass. “Drink?”

“No need to draw this out.” Potter’s voice was cool.

If Draco hadn’t caught the hint of a tremble in it, he would’ve been put out. “Don’t speak too soon.” He took a long sip. “The finer things are best savoured.”

“I’ll be sure to remember that when I come across them.” Potter hadn’t stepped further into the room. His face was shadowed in the low light.

Draco stood to set his half-empty glass on the bar, out of the way of any potential flailing limbs. It was Waterford, after all. “Fine.” He turned to face Potter and pulled his cuff into place. “Some men don’t have enough, shall we say, natural ability to risk the negative effects of liquor.”

“Then why are you drinking?” Potter retorted.

“So abrasive.” Draco tutted. “Why don’t you come inside and put that mouth to better use?”

Potter took a single step forward.

“At least far enough to close the door,” Draco continued, “unless you’re secretly dying to be shagged against a water cooler.”

Another step, this one heavy and onto the rug.

“Do be careful. It’s–”

“Wool and silk.”

“Why Potter!” Draco clasped his hands in mock excitement. “You do have a memory.”

Potter’s posture didn’t reflect any of Draco’s levity. “A long one.”

Draco felt his jaw tighten of its own accord. “Ah.”

Potter stood stock still, his back straight and his shoulders rigid with tension.

“Is it that time, then?” Draco held up a hand as if to ward off interruption. “No, no, allow me. ‘Draco Malfoy, you’re a bad, bad man, from a long line of bad, bad men, who’ve done bad, bad things, and you should be locked up in a bad, bad cell and made to eat gruel and wear horizontal stripes till the end of your days. Who cares that–” he raised an eyebrow “–Harry Potter, saviour of kittens and puppies, chosen cover boy of the wizarding world, testified for you in front of the Wizengamot? Who cares that you were tortured and coerced, threatened with the deaths of your parents? Who cares that you were a boy? No one like you deserves to see sunshine ever again, or eat filet mignon, or drink Veuve Clicquot in the backseat of a town car on the way to Ascot. No tailoring or attractive men for you, Malfoy. Hair shirts and self-flagellation only.’” He lowered his brow and crossed his arms. “Does that about cover it? Are we free to move on?”

Potter stood silently for a moment. “No epithets is a hard limit.”

“We’re not fucking yet.”

The thin line of Potter’s mouth turned down. “I didn’t–” He sighed and ran a hand through the wild nest of his hair. “Nevermind. Fine. If that’s how you want it, fine. More than covers it.”

Draco blew past him, barely hearing the words. “You know, Auror, if you’re that concerned with getting a bit of Malfoy on you, you’re perfectly free to leave without the records.”

“No.” Potter practically jumped to answer. He took a step forward, extended an arm. His face came into the light and Draco saw his eyes, wide and concerned. “That’s not… No.” He dropped his hand, bit his bottom lip.

Draco would be damned if he didn’t have Potter on his knees and begging before night’s end. He spread his arms. “Then get to it.”

Hesitantly, ever so hesitantly, Potter took a step forward. A tiny step. Another tiny step. And then he stopped.

“For fuck’s sake.” Draco closed the distance between them, grabbed Potter by the collar, and pulled him into a kiss. He felt as much as he heard the start, and almost immediate end, of a muffled objection. Potter’s mouth was warm against his, but Potter was stiff with surprise, his lips unyielding. Draco stepped back, half prepared to send him packing. He’d specified that Potter would be an active participant. If he’d just wanted to get off, he was blessed with two good hands. Or a high cash withdrawal limit and the cards for several fetching rent boys, if needs must.

Potter opened his mouth before Draco could tell him as much. He looked just a bit dazed. “What– What?”

Draco squinted, trying to work him out. “I couldn’t very well fuck you from across the room.”

“No,” Potter agreed, his eyes glancing down Draco’s front. “No.”

“Are you quite well?”

“Yes,” Potter answered, after a pause. “Yes, I’m–” He swallowed.

Draco watched his Adam’s apple bob, took in the flush coming in just above Potter’s collar. “Why, Potter. You weren’t entirely bothered by it, were you?”

Potter swallowed again, his throat clicking audibly in the silence. “I’m a man of my word.”

Draco raised his arm. “Colloportus.” The door swung shut and locked itself. Potter inhaled sharply. “Of course you are.” He smiled, stepping closer so the zip on Potter’s jacket scraped against the fine wool of his suit. “Of course that’s the only reason you’re breathing like you’re halfway through a chase.”

“I–” Potter’s eyes flicked to the top of Draco’s waistcoat and down to the rug. His chest rose and fell shallowly. “Yes.”

“Of course,” Draco laughed, trailing a finger down the rough leather of Potter’s jacket. “Of course it is.”

Potter stared. His breathing didn’t slow.

“If that’s what you need to tell yourself, who am I to argue?” Draco’s finger reached the bottom hem and he pulled at it, tugging the leather taut. He smiled thinly when Potter barely, but undeniably, canted his hips towards Draco’s hand. “Isn’t that right?”

Potter swallowed. “Didn’t think you’d be such a fan of leather.”

“Not of the cheap stuff, of course. But this isn’t, is it?” He took the excuse to run his hand back up Potter’s front. “Will wonders never cease? Almost feels like Dragonhide.”

“Might be.” Potter managed half a shrug.

Draco slid his fingers up to Potter’s collar and traced a fingertip over the sliver of skin there. He saw Potter bite his lip and moved to cup Potter’s neck.

Potter tensed under his hand, but didn’t pull away.

Draco slipped his other hand inside Potter’s jacket and used them both to lift it off his shoulders and down his arms. He stepped forward again to lower it past Potter’s hands and off him.

Still, Potter didn’t move. Still, his chest rose and fell quickly and shallowly.

With his eyes still trained on Potter, Draco threw it to the sofa. “Shall we see what’s underneath, then?”

Potter’s breath hitched.

“You can say yes, you know.” He leaned in to whisper in Potter’s ear. “I won’t tell the Prophet that you liked it.”

For a moment, it seemed that Potter had stopped breathing altogether.

Draco walked around him, running his hands over the curve of Potter’s biceps, sliding over the planes of his back, reaching around to trace the ridge of his ribs and the thin indent in musculature that led to his flies. It was more than he had expected. More muscle, more tension. More overwhelming.

He stepped closer, so his front was pressed to Potter’s back, and slipped a hand under the thin cotton of his t-shirt.

The muscles in Potter’s back rippled with tension as he arched forward.

As he ran a hand up Potter’s front, Draco lowered his mouth to the back of his neck, nipping at the skin and squeezing a nipple between his fingers.

Potter gasped. He clamped down on it as soon as he could. Couldn’t take it back, though.

Draco hummed, dropped his hands to the hem of Potter’s shirt, and lifted. The dim light cast shadows over the definition of Potter’s muscles, especially when Potter inhaled sharply again, bit back a whimper. Draco almost hesitated to move, lest he miss those sounds.

He moved anyway. Found himself just as eager to make more of them as he was to hear the first few. He stepped around to meet Potter’s eye, to rake a thumbnail over his chest, over a nipple, down, down, until he tucked his thumb into Potter’s waistband. With his free hand, he tilted Potter’s chin up towards him, and leaned in to nip at Potter’s bottom lip.

Another muffled whimper, and this time Potter’s mouth pressed into his own.

Draco licked his bottom lip to keep back a smile. He came forward again, as if to kiss Potter, but stopped just short to whisper, “What do you want?”  

Potter blinked quickly. Swallowed. Shook his head an blinked again. “The records.”

“No,” Draco corrected. “What do you want?”

“I– It’s, this is your thing.”

“It is,” Draco agreed. “And my thing involves seeing you reduced to incoherence. So tell me, Potter, if you want those files. What do you want?”

“I–” Potter began again. “This isn’t– I don’t usually…” He trailed off, looking at Draco searchingly.

Draco seized the moment to nip at Potter’s lip again, and this time Potter tried to catch him in a kiss. Pressed forward of his own accord, warm lips moving against Draco’s, almost searching. Draco let him. For a moment. “That’s one way to get out of the question.” Potter reached for him again. He stepped back, hoping that Potter couldn’t tell how hard that step was to take. “Or try to.”

Potter gaped.

“Tell me.”

Slowly, Potter shook his head.

“Is it that you can’t?” Draco asked. “Or that you won’t?”

Potter shook his head again slowly, opened his mouth and closed it again. Draco saw his eyes trace the line of Draco’s lapels before they met the rug again.

“I am trying to make this interesting for you, you realise.”

Potter’s head was bowed, but Draco thought he saw his eyes come back up to Draco’s cuffs, first one and then the other.

“I don’t have to. I can have you now. Bend you over the desk and fuck you stupid. Bit less civilised than I’d like it, but if you’re not willing to talk…” He trailed off with a shrug. “Less civilised is how you like it anyway, I suppose.”

“I–” Again, Potter tried, and, as he fell silent, seemed to fail.

Draco sighed. “Fine, then.” He glanced down and raised a hand to the single button on his jacket.

A warm hand wrapped around his before he could undo it.

He looked up to find Potter staring, rapt, at their hands. His voice was hoarse, almost broken. “No.”

“No?” Draco repeated, raising a brow.

Potter didn’t–seemed unable to–look at him. He moved Draco’s hand away from the button. “Let me.”

“Is that what you–?” Draco stopped halfway through the question. Potter’s eyes met his, and the hint of raw desperation that he found there was enough to take the words out of his mouth. His chest tightened. He hadn’t been rendered speechless by anything since he’d tried Varley’s Dalmore 62. Instead of a retort, he found himself nodding. He stepped back, almost against his desk, and spread his arms.  

Potter crept forward carefully, boots silent on the rug. For the first time, Draco could see why he’d made it as an Auror. He moved with deliberate caution and tremendous power. It was a bit of an awe-inspiring thing to be his target. His bottom lip was flushed and full, and he bit it as he reached forward and, with the tip of his index finger, barely grazed the wool-encased button of Draco’s coat.

“It’s a suit, not a lift.” Draco meant it as a joke. It came out much gruffer than he’d intended. “Pressing it won’t accomplish anything.”

“Right,” Potter agreed at a whisper. He slid a finger around the button and popped it free of its hole.

Draco leaned back, resting against the very edge of his desk. The sides of his coat fell away. He felt the slightest hint of pressure as Potter stepped forward and ran his finger over the four buttons of Draco’s waistcoat. As much as Draco appreciated a good suit, he hadn’t thought Potter would.

And yet.

“Still not a lift,” Draco said, his voice gruffer than he’d meant for it to be.

“Right.” Potter swallowed. He brought both hands to the bottom of the waistcoat, skimmed over the unbuttoned bottom button, and undid the one above it, and then another. He hesitated on the last, straining with a knuckle to brush the spot where Draco’s tie was held in place by the weight of the wool and that last button. Then he opened it, his fingers rustling over the stiffly pressed fabric.

Draco almost startled when Potter looked up at him. Potter’s eyes were dark and heavy, his lips flushed red. His expression tried not to give anything away, but no one, not even Potter, could entirely control biology. He was starting to lose control, starting to yield it to Draco, who could hear his pulse pound through his ears at the realisation, his heart rushing blood to his rapidly swelling cock. The evidence was right in front of him, and it was all his doing. Potter was turned on. He was also on tenterhooks, seconds away from spooking. Draco bit back several different iterations of “I told you so” and settled for raising a brow and looking pointedly downward.

Potter took the hint. His hands tugged at Draco’s shirtfront. “Yeah?”

Draco reminded himself that he was perfectly in control. Even as his cock twitched, even as he found himself at a loss for words. He gripped his tie to steady his hands and pulled it free of its knot, leaving it to hang on either side of his chest. “Yes.”

Potter tugged at the buttons on Draco’s shirt, seeming to remember only halfway through that he wasn’t supposed to be eager. He slowed, but the message had already been sent, and Draco heard it perfectly. Saw it perfectly, as Potter brought a sliver of his chest and stomach into view.

He thought Potter might be flustered by his own tell, or that he might pull back to try to hide his reactions.

He did not expect Potter to drop to his knees.

Potter didn’t look up. He blinked slowly, closing his eyes for a moment longer than necessary, and then looked straight ahead, nodding at Draco’s flies.

“Yes?” Draco prompted, taking advantage of Potter’s focus to let his lids flutter shut.

“I can– If you want, I’ll do it.”

“Do what?” Draco asked, trying to hide the hoarseness that threatened to invade his own voice, and ignoring the distinct possibility that his question was born more of disbelief than obstinance.

“Suck you.”

The thousand sarcastic retorts that had started to fight their way past Draco’s lips died instantly. He lowered his hands to the top button of his trousers, and then Potter’s calloused fingers came to rest on his own. He felt the care behind that roughness, felt Potter lift his hands and move them away. He braced them on his desk and looked down in time to see the intensity on Potter’s face as he undid the top button and lowered the zip. He tried not to make a sound as Potter tucked his thumbs into Draco’s pants and pulled them down just far enough to reveal honey blond hair and the base of Draco’s cock, which twitched as Potter licked his lips.

Potter took a deep breath, and Draco felt the warm exhalation over his skin, complemented by the warmth of Potter’s knuckles as he lowered Draco’s trousers and pants to his thighs. His fingers were calloused, rough against the skin of Draco’s prick.

Draco didn’t object. Particularly as those coarse fingers guided his half-hard cock towards Potter’s mouth.

He bit his lip when Potter licked him, suddenly, base to tip. Couldn’t quite control the raw groan that came from his throat, but he didn’t mind that, either, when it seemed to give Potter the confidence to suck him down. He tightened his fingers on the edge of the desk as Potter hollowed his cheeks. His tongue must’ve been in training along with the rest of him, as strong as it was. It licked along the underside of his prick and around the head, and it was all Draco could do not to thrust forward.

Then he realised there was no good reason not to.

He let go of the desk and carded his hands through Potter’s hair, tugging gently to see if Potter would recoil. He didn’t. He hummed around Draco’s shaft and kept on. Draco tugged again, pulling him forward this time. Still, he didn’t show any sign of resisting. Draco gave an experimental thrust. Potter stilled, looked up questioningly. But he didn’t pull off.

Draco wasn’t sure if it was the ongoing rush of blood southward or the sight of Potter, eyes wide and lips stretched around his dick that left him faint. Whichever it was, he almost had to grab his desk again for support.

Instead, he dug his fingers into Potter’s scalp. “I’m going to fuck your face.”

Potter blinked once and slowly nodded.

Draco watched Potter tilt his head back, felt his thumbs dig in against Draco’s hip bones, his fingers braced on Draco’s sides. He felt Potter’s mouth open. Felt the surprisingly fine mess of Potter’s hair under his hands as he dug his own fingers in again and thrust once. Felt Potter’s throat contract around the head of his cock as he pushed deeper still. It was incredible. Tight and hot, and he felt it shooting down his thighs as he pulled back and thrust forward again.

Potter gagged around him and it felt so fucking good Draco almost stopped. Until Potter, perhaps mistaking the pause for displeasure, took him down again. Draco’s hips snapped forward, Potter coughed, and still he didn’t stop, pull away, any of it. His eyes were closed, his cheeks flushed, and he was starting to answer Draco’s thrusts with tiny moans that vibrated through him.

Draco went faster, and faster still, felt his balls tighten as he hit the back of Potter’s mouth and pulled out again over that glorious fucking tongue. Always, Potter took him, and when he looked down to see Potter leaning forward, when he felt Potter’s nails rake over his hip, it was almost too much. And then it was, tension gathering in his legs and pooling in his spine until he couldn’t, didn’t want to, keep it back any longer. He tugged Potter’s hair as a warning, as the sort of basic manners that didn’t desert a gentleman even in moments of abandon, but Potter either didn’t notice or didn’t care. He hummed, and hollowed his cheeks, and his eyelids fluttered as Draco shot down his throat with a shouted expletive.

He repeated it as his breathing came down. “Fuck,” he panted. “Fuck.”

He released his hold on Potter, reluctance edged out by the promise of seeing his face, by the hope of dilated pupils and wet lips.

Instead, he got the slightest hint of a smirk.

The lips were there too, and the pupils, but it was the quirk of Potter’s mouth that brought him crashing back to earth.

This hadn’t been the point. Or, it had been, of course it had, sex was always part of it. But not the whole of it. Not the end. He’d meant to make Potter beg. He’d wanted–he still wanted–to hear Potter cry out for him, and a good face-fucking should’ve done it, would’ve with anyone else. But of course proud, stubborn Potter would manage to look smug about it.

Nothing focused Draco’s attention like the potential of losing.

He tucked himself away efficiently, a different sort of thrill pooling in his stomach at the confusion that glanced over Potter’s face.

Confusion that disappeared almost as soon as it appeared. Potter rocked back on his heels and stood, crossing his arms, his smirk replaced with stone-faced stoicism. “Are we done here?”

Draco laughed and pulled his tie from his neck. “Not even close.”

Potter eyed the length of silk. “No. You agreed.”

Draco sighed heavily. He’d forgotten.

But he was nothing if not inventive. “Fine.” He dropped it on his desk and stepped away. “We’ll see if you prefer going without. Bend over.”

“Bend…?” Potter blinked.

“Over,” Draco repeated, rounding the desk to take his seat. “Hold the edge of the desk.”

Potter looked wary.

Rightly so, Draco thought. “Are those instructions too confusing for you?”

“No.”

“Waiting for something else?”

Potter exhaled heavily through his nose, nostrils flaring. Without another word, he bent forward, resting his palms on the edge of the wood and looking Draco straight in the eye.

Resentment tightened Draco’s chest. He would not let Potter make a fool of him. “Over, Potter, not on.”

“I’m bending over,” he retorted, the hint of a smirk returning.

Draco rose and ran a hand down Potter’s side and grabbed his hip, pulling him back and pressing up against him. “We could do so many nicer things with your arse, Potter, if you’d only play along.”

The muscles in Potter’s back tensed beautifully, but he didn’t speak again.

“I’m quite determined to make you beg, Potter. Whether it’s begging for me to stop or begging me to keep on is entirely up to you.”

“What if I beg you to sound less like a Bond villain?”

Draco raked his nails down Potter’s back, hard. He didn’t miss the goosebumps that sprung up along the way. “You’ve always thought very highly of your wit, haven’t you?” He rested his hips against Potter’s arse and reached around to pull Potter’s flies open. He felt the muscles of Potter’s abdomen contract against the back of his hand. “But we both know you’re best at talking out of your arse.” He tucked his fingers in the sides of Potter’s waistband. “Figure I ought to go right to the source.”

Potter tensed, but his response had no real venom. “Fuck off.”

“Drop the ‘off’ and you’ve got yourself a deal.” He pulled Potter’s jeans and pants down over his arse until he could see the swell of his bollocks, and abruptly stepped back, dropping down into one of the seats opposite his desk.

He crossed one leg over the opposite knee, buttoned his shirt, and waited.

Almost a minute passed before Potter broke. “What are you doing?”

“Waiting. Watching.”

“Waiting for what?” Potter rasped.

“Waiting for you to bend over properly.”

“You’ll be waiting a long time.”

“Are you enjoying the view, Potter? The lights of London, cast against the night sky.”

Potter’s hands flexed against the table top, his fingertips pressing into the wood. “With prose like that you should stick to banking.”

“And you should stick to ventriloquism, “Draco mused. “Your arse barely moves when you talk.”

Potter’s legs tensed, and his back along with them.

Draco folded his hands in his lap, careful not to press the heel of his palm into anything above his thigh.

“You’re just– You’re not going to– You just want to–” Potter sputtered out at the end of each attempt. ?”

“I’ve tried making conversation. And of course, if you’re uninterested…”

Potter groaned and hung his head, his shoulderblades casting stark shadows over his spine.

“Do you like the view?” Draco asked again, conversationally, almost beginning to enjoy their tug of war. “We just moved into the building this year, you know. I thought of asking for something on a lower floor for the convenience, but I do think the view is worthwhile.”

“Merlin’s sake,” Potter murmured, half under his breath. “Yes, Malfoy, the view is fine.”

“I quite agree. Though mine would be better if you’d give up this stubbornness.” Draco took a sip. “Unless, of course, you’re trying to draw it out?”

With a strangled sound of frustration, Potter dropped his elbows to the desk.

“Lovely.” Draco stood, drink still in hand, and ran a hand down Potter’s flank. “Are you going to stay that way?”

Potter nodded into his arm.

Draco leaned over him to set his martini on his blotter. Never the wood. “If you insist.”

He ran a hand down Potter’s spine, tripping his finger over the bump of each vertebra, and straight onto the crease at the top of his arse.

Potter stiffened, as his fingers ventured further.

“I remember, Potter. Lots of lube.”

Potter shook his head minutely.

“Tense? Mulishness can do that.”

“Fuck off.” Potter spoke into his elbow.

Draco sighed. He thought it best to leave that uncommented upon, though it took a not-insignificant amount of restraint. He reminded himself, with calm, professional patience, that winning a negotiation didn’t always mean using the strategies you most enjoyed. Sometimes you had to adapt to the other party’s way of doing business before you could bring them round to yours.

And this was a simple negotiation, he reminded himself. Potter, another stubborn adversary.

He handled it by turning Potter around, shoving him backwards onto the desk and snogging him senseless.

Potter yielded easily this time. Didn’t even yield so much as meet Draco with enthusiasm. Draco pressed his lips against Potter’s, and Potter opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. When Draco pulled him close, Potter went. When Draco nipped at his lip, he felt the hint of a moan bubble up in Potter’s chest. This was the problem with Gryffindors, he thought. Or one of them. Giving them too much time to think was never a good idea.

So he didn’t. He sat Potter on the edge of his desk, pulled Potter’s legs up around him, and kissed Potter until he was gasping, until Potter’s fingers dug into his shoulders as if asking for more. And then he slipped a hand down Potter’s back, and when he wandered towards the centre of Potter’s arse, he met with no objection.

He pulled away just far enough to look at Potter, who met his gaze with open desire. He leaned over Potter to turn off his desk lamp, and pulled him into another kiss.

When they broke apart again, Draco’s eyes had adjusted, and Potter’s fingers were twined in the buttons on his waistcoat.

“What are you doing?” Potter breathed.

“You like the view.”

“Yeah, sure?” Potter knit his brow.

“Good. I want you to look at it.”

Potter glanced over his shoulder, then turned back, brow furrowed as if he was trying to figure out what question to ask first.

Draco didn’t give him the chance. He pulled Potter up and towards the plate glass, and placed himself behind Potter as they looked out over London.

“It’s nice?” Potter offered.

“Good. Keep looking at it.”

Potter turned around, startled. “You don’t mean–”

“I do.” Draco answered, pushing Potter’s jeans down his thighs. “And you will.”

“But–”

“It’s dark, no one can see in.” He crouched to push Potter’s jeans down to his ankles. “Probably.”

“Merlin,” Potter breathed.

“Quite,” Draco answered. “Hands on the pane.”

Slowly, with one hand first, and then the other, Potter complied.

“Good. Very good.” He thought, for a moment, that Potter bristled at that. But that wasn’t quite right.

He ran a knuckle over Potter’s arse. “You’ve got a lovely arse, you know.” And there it was again, that odd reaction.

Draco ran a hand up Potter’s abdomen, over his stomach, up to his chest. He found a nipple and squeezed, and Potter let out the softest moan. Draco hummed approval in his ear, and there it was again. Draco bit the tender skin at the base of his neck and licked at the bite mark, and Potter tilted his head to bare the skin.

Interesting. Very interesting.

“I bet you’re so fucking tight.”

Potter arched under Draco’s hand.

“I’m going to open you up so slowly, Potter. Get you so ready for my cock.”

The tension shifted, moved out of Potter’s back and into his chest as he pressed into Draco’s touch.

Draco murmured a charm, and the fingers of his other hand were slick when he ran them over the crease of Potter’s arse. He slipped his index fingers between Potter’s cheeks, down, down further, until it found the ridge of Potter’s arsehole.

Potter gasped and pushed back.

Draco followed, pressing against him. He leaned in to whisper, “Spread your legs as far as you can.”

Slowly, Potter complied.

“Good, that’s good,” Draco soothed, and marveled as Potter canted his hips back without even seeming to realise it. “Are you hard?”

Potter swallowed heavily.

Draco cut him off before he could talk. “I bet you are. I bet your arse is gagging for it, Potter, just like you were gagging for me.”

Potter’s breath hitched.

Draco pressed his finger forward. “I’m going to be inside of you,” he whispered, making good on the promise. His finger slipped past the tight ring of muscle and he bit back a groan when he felt Potter’s arse, warm and smooth, around his finger. He slid out, and back in. “So deep inside of you.”

Potter whimpered. Barely, but it was there. Draco had heard it.

Draco began to move his finger steadily, slowly, in and out of Potter’s arse. He could feel Potter relax around him, could feel the slickness of his finger as it entered Potter’s hole. Noticed the tension in Potter’s shoulder’s ebb, and his forearm come to rest against the glass. When Draco next withdrew, Potter followed him back.

He wasn’t going to miss the chance. “You’re ready for another.” It wasn’t a question. But then, Potter had had no problem making his objections perfectly clear. With a twist of his wrist and a whispered incantation, Draco covered his fingers with more lube and returned to his task.

Potter tilted his hips again, arching his back. Draco felt almost lightheaded, his cock swelling when he turned his attention to his hand, fucking Potter’s arse as Potter began to tremble before him.

“You like that,” he said. “You like my fingers inside of you.”

The tiniest of nods. Relief filled Draco’s chest and he bit down on a smile.

He would still make good on his commitment to besting Potter. “Tell me,” Draco ordered.

Potter nodded again.

“No, Potter. Tell me or I’ll stop.” He drove his fingers as deep as he could to punctuate the point.

Potter moaned. “Like it.”

“Say it.”

Potter exhaled, and took a shuddering breath in. “Like your fingers inside me.”

“Good,” Draco soothed. “That’s right.” He pushed in again and twisted, and Potter whined thinly. “Your arse is bloody gorgeous.” He leaned in to catch Potter’s ear between his teeth. “I’m going to put my cock in it.”

Beneath him, Pottered shuddered. Nodded.

“Yeah?” Draco asked, pulling his fingers out until just the tips were left inside of Potter. He could feel Potter’s hole clenching around them, looking for more.

Potter nodded again.

“Want me to give it to you?”

Potter nodded, just once.

“I need to hear it, then.”

“Want you to give it to me,” Potter mumbled, half into his arm.

“That’s hardly convincing,” Draco replied, sliding his fingers half an inch into Potter and feeling him tighten around them.

Potter took a deep breath, and let it go without speaking.

“Say the word and I’ll fuck you,” Draco said. “Fill you right up. Might even let you come.”

Potter whimpered openly. “I–” He tried. “I want…”

Draco waited, removing all but the tips of his fingers again. “Yes?”

“I–” Potter shuddered as Draco’s finger tips stretched his entrance.

Draco removed his hand entirely and saw Potter sag against the window, bracing his head against the glass. His back heaved as he tried to catch his breath, and the tension was gone from his shoulders. Even if they tightened at the sound of Draco’s zip, as he shoved his trousers and pants down to free his cock, Potter made no move when Draco pressed his erection against the crease of his arse. Instead, he moaned, unmistakeable and barely restrained.  

“Can you feel my cock, Potter? Feel how hard I am for you?”

Potter nodded furiously.

Draco rutted against him. “Could be inside of you.”

Potter pressed back against him, rolling his hips to try to catch Draco’s shaft.

Draco slicked his hand again and began to stroke himself, putting his knuckles and the edge of his sleeve between his prick and Potter’s arse.

Still, Potter pressed back against him, breathy noises beginning to catch in his throat.

“You’re arse is so tight. Can’t wait to bury my cock inside you.”

Potter moaned and rolled his hips again, whining when he met with Draco’s knuckles instead of his prick.

“You just have to ask,” Draco whispered, running his knuckles over Potter’s arse.

“’Kay,” Potter managed, barely, through a gasp. “Okay. Fuck. Yeah.”

“Yeah?” Draco prompted, struggling to keep his voice more even than Potter’s was.

“Yeah,” Potter exhaled. “Fuck me.”

“Hard?”

“Yeah,” Potter answered, nodding slowly. “Hard. Want to feel you.”

“Fuck,” Draco breathed. “Hang on.” He pulled his hand away to grapple at his clothes.

“No,” Potter interrupted, reaching a hand behind him to encircle Draco’s wrist. “Leave them, come fuck me.”

“Leave them?” Draco asked, glancing downwards at the cotton and fine wool that framed his chest.

“Yeah.” Potter squeezed Draco’s arm. ”And fuck me.”

And there it was, the hint of pleading he’d been waiting for. Draco pressed his front into Potter’s back, the buttons of his waistcoat surely pressing into Potter’s skin. “Leave it?”

“Bloody leave it,” Potter repeated, rolling his hips and grasping at the glass.

The suit was bespoke. Huntsman’s bespoke. On the other hand, he was a wizard.

Draco leaned forward, bracing his hand above Potter’s on the glass. His other hand came to his cock. “And fuck you.”

“Fuck me,” Potter replied. “Now, c’mon.”

Draco took himself in hand and guided the head of his cock to Potter’s hole. Potter was so tight around him, his hole already clenching, trying to take in more. And while Draco prided himself on his control, this was hardly the time.

He pushed forward as Potter pushed back, slipping inside of him with the most electric friction he could’ve imagined. “Fuck.”

“Yeah,” Potter agreed breathlessly, relaxing and tightening again around Draco’s cock. Beads of sweat were beginning to gather between his shoulder blades.

Draco settled a hand on Potter’s hip and drove into him harder. They edged forward, Potter now almost pressed against the glass, his forearm beginning to slide against it.

Potter bucked his hips again, and Draco realised it wasn’t just an attempt to ride his cock. He reached forward to take Potter’s prick in hand and bit back a moan when he found hard and dripping. “You fucking love this.”

“Fuck me,” Potter whispered.

“Yeah,” Draco panted. “Tell me.”

“Fucking touch me, wanna feel you against me, come here, fucking touch me already.”

He wanted to hear ‘please,’ of course he did. But he heard it all day long, didn’t he? One way or another. And no one was nearly this raw about it. Not like Harry fucking Potter.

He grasped Potter’s cock firmly, and the guttural noise that rose from Potter’s chest was already enough. He began to lose track of the rhythm just as they’d established it.

“Fuck,” Potter gasped. “Harder.”

“What? Harder what?”

“Everything,” Potter answered, fucking himself back onto Draco’s prick.

It was so fucking tight, and the touch of Potter’s skin so electric, and there was Potter, naked, hard, plastered to his window, on display for all of London and singlemindedly fucking himself onto Draco’s cock, and Draco had no desire whatsoever to say no, or do anything but bury himself entirely in the moment.

So he did.

He pumped Potter’s cock and fucked into him, and it was almost…it almost felt like enough, in a way nothing ever did, not any of it. All those victories, but never the pure, blank pleasure of wanting and getting so viscerally, so certainly. And when Potter shouted for, “More, fucking more, Malfoy,” and when the tension began to pool at the base of his spine, and when Potter half-screamed as he arched his back and spilled over Draco’s fingers and onto the plate glass, clenching his arse so Draco couldn’t do anything but follow him over… all of it, any of it, was enough.

His vision flickered as it rolled through him. His hand slipped on the pane, and then it was just Potter’s back holding him up, the world narrowed to the heavy satisfaction in his thighs and the heat of Potter’s bare skin pressed against his own. His breathing slowed. He dropped his hand to Potter’s shoulder and felt Potter relax beneath it.

It took Draco more than a moment to realise he should step back, and another few to make himself do it. The only reason he had to be glad about it was the sight of Potter’s back, shining with sweat, picking up the reflection of a thousand city lights.

He didn’t plan to give up banking, but some observations were hard to resist.

He stared openly, taking it in, until Potter’s breath began to even out, and Draco looked down. He was still half-clothed, his shirt and waistcoat and jacket hanging open, his trousers at his thighs. A gentleman in a suit, with his limp prick hanging out. Fresh off of fucking a former childhood nemesis with his jeans around his ankles, no less. The absurdity of it hit Draco before Potter could even turn around.

Potter must’ve come to a similar realisation. He bent to lift his pants and jeans, fastening them before he turned halfway towards Draco. Only halfway though, not meeting Draco’s eyes, looking furtively to the stain on the window and away again, as though, Draco thought, he already couldn’t stand what had happened there.

Draco tucked his prick away and hastened to do up his flies and all of his buttons. He might be a bit mussed, but there was no need to wander around with his dick looking like a bespoke bloody elephant.

Potter looked away as soon as Draco turned towards him. Cleared his throat. “Well.”

“Yes, well,” Draco repeated, trying for testy. It was over. And he’d got what he wanted, as he always did.

“Well,” Potter repeated. He paused. He carded his hair. He turned towards Draco.

Who ignored it and gave Potter a wide berth as he went to the bar and retrieved what was left of his martini. Drink in hand, he turned his face to the window, focusing on the view below and keeping his back to the room. Potter had fucking loved it, and if he was too priggishly embarrassed to behave with a modicum of maturity, so be it. “I’m free from one till three tomorrow and will let Kate know to expect you.”

“Oh.”

Draco was not interested in the hint of disappointment in Potter’s voice. So much the better if it was inconvenient for him. “Problem?”

“No, I just–”

“I can’t access the files you want in the middle of the night without raising red flags.”

“Okay, I wasn’t–”

“Though why you’d expect otherwise when the Ministry still operates with carrier pigeons’ slower, surlier cousins, I don’t know.”

“Malfoy, for fuck’s sake.”

“You’re free to go.”

A pause. “Just like that?” There was something undetectable in Potter’s voice.

Draco glanced sidelong at the stain on the window. He couldn’t be arsed to detect whatever it was that lay beneath the strain in Potter’s tone. Stubbornness, probably. Or some ugly accusation, or a request for proof that Draco would follow through. He didn’t care what Potter wanted from him. Not when this was just another negotiation, and its terms already set. He held out his arm and raised his glass in a toast. “Just like that.”

There was a long moment’s silence. Draco lowered his hand and took a long sip. It had got warm. Waste of good gin, that was. Then he heard Potter’s boots shuffle across the carpet, heard the leather of his jacket against the leather of the sofa as he retrieved it, heard the quiet “Finite,” heard Potter leave. And then it was quiet.

£     £     £     £     £

Even with his doors shut, Draco could hear the office bustling just beyond them. Phones rang. The idiot two doors down, who wouldn't know a Huntsman from a Harrod's off the peg, kept lingering over Kate's desk and cackling at his own jokes. Draco wondered if, given permission, Kate would share his interest in seeing the tosser kneed in the bollocks.

Though it was none of his affair, really. His first order of business was reviewing papers for this afternoon's follow-up to yesterday's acquisition meeting. The project had the potential to inch into the low eleven figures. These were the sorts of things he lived for, he reminded himself. The control, the influence. The casual power with which he could throw around the GDP of small countries. Everything he had always been meant to have. Everything he had re-made for himself, damnit. And the bonus would be near-orgasmic. The Bombardier was practically his. With custom leather interiors, and perhaps a bedroom in the back.

He groaned and dropped his head into his hands. He'd slept dreadfully and neither the thought of his plane-to-be nor all the tea in England was shaking him out of it. He glanced at the clock with open resentment. Already past one, his meeting was at three, and his focus was nowhere to be found. Usually a half-decent shag had him sleeping like a king, and large sums had him as excited as a Hogwarts first-year. Instead he was blinking away sleep and watching the hands on his desk clock rotate more slowly than they ever had before. He half-wondered if it was in need of repair, but it was Chopard, and he knew as well as anyone that good Swiss clocks didn't just stop working.

He discarded the idea of a nap as quickly as he came up with it. Not that he'd never left Kate with strict orders not to disturb him and retreated to the sofa after a three-martini lunch, not that his fellow traders wouldn't understand an early-afternoon break, especially when Wall Street was barely open. But that, as much as it rankled, as much as it set his teeth on edge, he couldn't tolerate the idea of Potter showing up and discovering him mussed and unguarded in sleep. He could've spent last night engaged in a marathon, rather than a fuck and a bit of sleepless pacing, and he still would've mainlined Americanos before he chanced that sort of discovery.

The intercom on his desk buzzed and saved him from his thoughts. Or might've, had it not been Kate to tell him Potter had arrived.

Draco straightened his tie and his spine. Potter had been an acquisition just like any other. There was no need to make anything of it. Potter certainly hadn’t wanted to.

He straightened his cuffs and cleared his throat. "Yes, Kate, send him in."

Potter entered with all the hesitation Draco was determined not to show. He half-crept over the threshold and forward on the rug, eventually slinking into one of Draco's chairs.

Draco gestured expansively. "Please, Potter, have a seat."

"Oh." Potter shifted, half stood and then sat back down. "Sorry."

"I'm sure. You're here for the files, I imagine?"

"Yes."

"Very well. Have you brought the list of names?”

Potter fished a scrap of parchment out of his pocket and handed it to Draco.

He took it, with just a hint of disdain at the crumpled mess. "How organised," he sniffed.

"It's alphabetical," Potter defended.

Draco rolled his eyes and lifted his phone. "Kate?" He paused. "No, no tea." He looked at the list. "Mr Potter has several clients who are interested in leveraging a combination of personal and business assets into our Mid Caps and I need to see their financials to know–” He waited out her interruption. “No, it’s the Old Mutual UK and the Franklin UK, and I have the précis for both. I need to know whether they’re qualified to invest personal and business assets separately, or whether they’ll have to liquidate–” He stopped for her apology. “Not at all. Would you call downstairs and have them send up complete records on,” he glanced at the list, “Christopher Macnair, Susan Wilkes, Charlotte Jugson, and,” he raised an eyebrow at Potter, “Archard Carrow.”

Potter mouthed, “Cousin.”

Draco mouthed backed, “Birthdates?” and held out a pen and pad.

Potter scrambled to collect them.

Draco nodded and looked back to his phone. “I don’t have their IBANs in front of me.” He glanced up at Potter and held out a hand. “But they were born in… right. Macnair was born in 1974, Wilkes 73, Jugson and Carrow both in 94.” He paused. “Yes, that’s fine. Thank you.”

He lowered the receiver and turned back to Potter. “Five minutes.”

Potter stared at him for a long moment, then at the phone, and back to him.

Draco waited.

Potter looked at the phone again, and out the window, until his gaze focused on one particular spot that Draco had not yet seen fit to attend to. He glanced quickly at Draco and back to the window, and then stared at his hands for a solid minute before chancing a look up. “So that’s it?”

“You were expecting what, a grand heist?”

“No, I mean–” He shook his head and exhaled through his nose, and his mouth turned down into a thin, mulish line. “Right, the files. That’s it? One phone call? That’s all it took?”

“There’s more to it than that.”

“What, a second phone call?” Potter was teetering on a precipice between incredulous and outraged.

Draco folded his hands in his lap without answering.

“After all of that, everything you asked for–” Potter stopped short.

Draco raised an eyebrow.

“You made out like it was a whole… thing,” Potter spluttered. “And after Williams wouldn’t do it at all–It’s just a phone call? That’s all? You were just being… what? Difficult? Just wanted to see me–” Potter froze at a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Draco yelled, more than a bit relieved for the interruption. Potter certainly hadn’t lost his talent for self-righteousness.

Kate’s heels clicked once on the threshold before she stepped onto the rug, eight thick files in hand. “Your records, Mr Malfoy.”

He held out his hand for them. “These are complete, yes? Transaction records, investment history, currency exchanges, records of foreign investment, other names with which they’ve done business, all of it?”

“Yes, sir. Business records and personal.”

“Thank you, Kate. I’ll have them back to you within the hour.”

She nodded, and had barely closed the door behind her when Potter exploded out of his seat. “One hour?!” He looked over his shoulder and lowered his voice, though his ire was clear. “One hour? We need copies of these, Malfoy, we need to have our people look through every line!”

Draco squared the edge of the pile and raised his wand arm. “Geminio.” The stack contracted and then, with a pop, produced an identical stack. “Do you ever listen? I told you there was more to it than that.”

Potter gaped.

“Really, Potter, it’s like the Ministry’s got the worst of both worlds. Too Muggle to think of using a basic spell to get around a paper trail. Too magical to realise you could’ve just filed a warrant.”

Potter blanched.

“Scotland Yard requisitions things like this all the time. Could’ve got a look at their safety deposit boxes that way too. You can’t seriously tell me that the Ministry doesn’t still have a relationship with them.”

Potter worked his mouth soundlessly.

“Shall I do a Shrinking Charm as well, or would you rather do it yourself?” Draco held out the stack of files.

Potter shook his head at them. At Draco.

“You don’t want them?” Draco asked, already knowing the answer. “After all that trouble you went to? Seems an awful shame. Ah, well.” He shook his head and raised his arm again, “Evanesc

“No!” Potter yelled, lunging towards the desk and grabbing for the edge of Draco’s sleeve before pulling away as though it was made of lava rather than tweed.

Draco pulled the files closer towards him. “Really, Potter, you only had to say so.”

“Give me the files.” Potter’s voice was low and gravelly, and just a bit dangerous.

“I’d tell you to ask nicely,” he began, something incendiary uncurling in his stomach, “but we both know getting you to say please takes a lot more effort on my part. And I’m afraid I’ve got a meeting in an hour.”

Potter’s cheeks flushed. “And it was nothing to you. Just a phone call.”

“You thought I would actually risk something?”

Potter stared at him, stone-faced.

“Thought I would give up everything I’ve worked for, risk a trip to the FSA, just because you asked?”

“I didn’t just ask,” Potter hissed. “I did a lot more than just fucking ask, gave you a lot more than–.”

“Of course,” Draco soothed, “and the Ministry will thank you for it, I’m sure.”

Potter narrowed his eyes.

“And they’ll thank me too, I suppose,” Draco mused, “since you’ve told them I’ve been so helpful.”

“Why?” Potter asked, shoulders tense. “Why ask for anything–for that–if it was that easy?”

Draco paused for longer than he would’ve liked to, longer than he knew he should have, until he found an explanation that would suit. “It’s like I said before. One doesn’t get this far on freebies.”

“But why? Why ask for–” He snapped his mouth shut.

“Same reason I don’t play cards with a buy-in under a thousand pounds.”

“Because you’re a bastard?”

“Because it’s more fun if all parties have something of value on the line.”

Potter snorted. “And you?” He waved at the files. “What exactly did you stand to lose in all this?”

Another unfortunate pause preceded Draco’s answer. He was overdue for one of those games, if his poker face was suddenly failing him. “I suppose that’s for me to know.”

“Bullshit,” Potter insisted. “That’s bullshit.”

“Maybe it’s just the thrill of a successful negotiation.” He held out the stack of folders.

“Yeah, right.” Potter stepped forward, just barely close enough to grab them. He thrust out a hand, but wouldn’t meet Draco’s eye.

Draco leaned forward and waited until Potter had a grip on the files to tug, forcing Potter to look at him. Even pressed into a thin, angry line, Potter’s lips were unmistakably flushed with something other than anger. “Maybe it’s one of those finer pleasures you haven’t yet come to understand.” He tightened his grasp, felt Potter meet him with equal force, the files suspended between them. Draco narrowed his eyes and smirked. “You should try it some time.”