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Partners of the Four-Legged Variety

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Draco navigated the maze-like halls of the Ministry of Magic, dodging memos, until he found his destination.

The Minister’s squat, bushy haired receptionist was tapping her wand efficiently on three organized piles of parchment when Draco walked up to her desk. She didn’t spare him a glance as she asked for his credentials, her eyes instead fixed on her inbox, checking for memos.

“Draco Malfoy. I’m here to see Minister Shacklebolt, at his request,” Draco said. He tapped his Ministry visitor badge, which was inscribed with Draco Malfoy, Professional Crup Trainer Extraordinaire, Highly Sought After And Very Busy. The receptionist brushed a frizzy lock of hair out of her eyes when she glanced up at it. She raised one eyebrow, but said nothing. Draco was beginning to regret losing his composure with the disembodied voice at the visitors’ entrance.

The receptionist — Matilda, her name badge read — gestured towards the austere sofa that sat outside the door to Minister Shacklebolt’s office. “He’ll be with you in a mo’. Have a seat.”

Draco sat carefully on the sofa, crossing an ankle over his knee. He watched Matilda sign off on budget reports with one hand, while rifling through a filing drawer with the other.

Draco hadn’t intended to become a Crup trainer — he hadn’t been interested in doing anything at all after his trial — but when his mother had asked him to care for her prized Crups, he’d found something to keep his focus again. He’d become interested in their lineages, and studied breeding and training. Eighteen months later, when his mother told him he’d collected quite enough of them, he had opened a kennel and training facility. His obedience and protection training courses quickly gained recognition.

Now, his reputation had reached the ears of the Ministry. He’d received a letter from the Minister for Magic himself, enquiring about the creation of a K9 Unit within the Auror Department. The letter was burning a hole in his robe pocket.

The door opened, interrupting Draco’s thoughts. Minister Shacklebolt stood in the doorway, smiling and beckoning him into his office.

“Mr Malfoy, I’m pleased you’re here. Please, come in, come in,” he said as his large hand came down, warm and heavy on Draco’s shoulder. “Have a seat.”

Shacklebolt dropped into his chair with a huff. He slid a stack of reports to the edge of his desk, almost knocking them off. Draco’s only sense of the Minister was what he’d seen in the Daily Prophet. He hadn’t expected the man to be so open and laid back, answering the door to his office on his own. The man he’d seen in the photos always looked stoic.

“Minister Shacklebolt, I —”

“Kingsley, please,” he interrupted, leaning back in his chair. “Continue.”

“I ... alright. Kingsley, sir,” Draco repeated, feeling wrong-footed about the Minister for Magic asking Draco to address him by his first name. “I was pleased that you reached out to me about my training services.”

“You came highly recommended by a colleague. I believe you trained her Albino Bloodhound,” Kingsley said, and Draco nodded. “Several of our Aurors have expressed interest in a K9 Unit, and the demand for special training is the reason we need to bring in a professional trainer.”

“A Crup team would certainly benefit your Auror Department, sir. They’re a highly trainable breed, and are well suited to many of the tasks the Aurors would need them for,” Draco said. He reached into his robe pocket and withdrew a small roll of parchment. He tapped it with his wand, enlarging it to its original size. “I’ve put together an overview of what my Crups are capable of, with the proper handling, as well as a recommended training course.”

Kingsley hummed his approval and pulled the scroll across the desk. Draco leaned forward to point out different sections as Kingsley’s eyes skimmed across the parchment.

“Crups are wiry and agile. They are easily able to fit in small spaces, and they’re excellent trackers,” Draco explained. “I can teach them to detect Dark Magic, as well as illegal potions.”

“Excellent,” Kingsley smiled. “I see here you’ve listed training for scent discrimination. That’s most impressive.”

“Yes, that’s right, sir. They have excellent noses.”

“The Ministry is prepared to license each of our Aurors with the necessary credentials in accordance with the Creature laws,” Kingsley said. “I see you have protection training listed, as well. Some cases take our Aurors into Muggle districts.”

“I train the dogs out of their aggression towards Muggles, sir. They’re intelligent and can adapt to any situation. They also know how to react when under spell fire,” Draco said. Kingsley made another pleased humming sound and nodded.

“How soon can you set up the K9 programme?” Kingsley asked.

“Whenever you need it, I can be ready, sir,” Draco confirmed.

“Wonderful! Tell Matilda what you’ll need on your way out. We’ll be in touch,” Kingsley said. Before Draco knew it he had been ushered back out into the outer room, and the Minister’s door was closed again. Draco glanced around to find Matilda already looking at him with an impatient, expectant look on her face.

***

A week later the Daily Prophet ran an article announcing the Auror Department’s plans for the Crup Unit. Draco had been enjoying toast and tea as the early morning light crept across the dining room. He was mentally going over some changes to his agility course when his eagle owl swooped in with the morning paper.

Draco set his tea aside and unfolded the Daily Prophet. He found the article on the second page, in the bottom left corner — the words curled around the scores for the Arrows versus Puddlemere match.

DMLE TO INSTATE AUROR-CRUP PARTNER TEAMS

Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt has today confirmed his approval for the instatement of an Auror K9 Unit. The programme will seek to create an effective unit of specially trained dogs and Aurors for active duty casework. Minister Shacklebolt divulged that widely sought-after Crup trainer Draco Malfoy, 23, is to oversee the training courses and provide Crups to the DMLE. Among the first of Aurors to sign up for the new unit is Auror Harry Potter, 23, the renowned Boy Who Lived. For a transcript of Minister Shacklebolt’s press interview turn to page 7.

Draco’s eyebrows rose as he read the short article. He wasn’t sure what to make of his first Auror volunteer. He wondered if Potter even knew that Draco was going to be in charge of the programme. Draco hadn’t even seen him since the trials. Potter had spoken for Draco and his mother, and then thrown himself into his work with the Aurors. Draco was sure Potter was the only reason he hadn’t ended up in Azkaban along with his father.

Draco chewed his bottom lip. His training techniques required him to get close to the handler, as well as the dog. Draco would have to spend a lot of time with Potter over the next few months.

He set the newspaper aside and sipped his tea, contemplating all the ways this could go disastrously wrong.

***

The morning of Potter’s initial visit to the kennel came around in no time. It was only for a short assessment and to let him meet the Crups, but Draco found himself twitching nervously. He berated himself for getting so worked up over Potter. His imagination had run away with him on the matter of how much of a disaster this could be; he couldn’t stop coming up with scenarios.

“Stop being ridiculous,” Draco muttered to himself under his breath. Surely Potter had grown up and matured, just as he had. He soothed himself by stroking the soft ears of Hyperion, one of the Crups sitting obediently at his feet. Hyperion was his favourite of the late spring litter of his prize Crup, Athena.

When all of the Crups’ ears perked up and they looked towards the gate, Draco steeled himself for what was to come. He heard a distant pop of Apparition, and a moment later Potter came strolling through the gate, looking windswept and healthy in his off-duty Auror kit. He filled out the short, dark blue robes in a way he never could have as a gangly, malnourished teenager. Draco swallowed and shook himself. Focus.

The Crups at his feet all sat very still and alert. Several of the puppies were vibrating with the desire to run up to Potter. This litter was still going through the basics of obedience training, and some pups required more work than others. Potter had a big grin on his face, his eyes glued to the puppies surrounding Draco. As soon as he reached them he dropped to his knees, getting his jeans soggy in the mud, and the puppies all lost their composure. They yipped, squirmed and leapt excitedly up into Potter’s waiting arms. His warm, full laugh echoed out into the crisp morning air. Draco opened his mouth to tell him off for not waiting for permission, but the sight of the puppies happily wiggling their way through Potter’s arms to lick any part of him they could reach made warmth spread through his stomach.

Draco let it go on for a few minutes, watching silently as his dogs fell over themselves vying for Potter’s attention. A small, insidious part of him was jealous that they adored Potter so easily. He knew it was stupid — he knew they cared for him just as much.

Potter doted on each of the Crups, spreading his affections equally over the pack. Draco had to swallow and push away the thought of how attractive Potter was with a lap full of puppies, his off-duty robes stretched over his broad shoulders. Merlin, help me, he thought, as he chewed on the inside of his cheek.

Draco cleared his throat. “Potter.” Potter’s green eyes snapped up to him, looking sheepish. He stood, gently prying the dogs away from him, and brushed half-heartedly at his muddy jeans. Draco raised an unimpressed eyebrow at the gesture. “Always the Muggle way with you, isn’t it?”

“What?” Potter’s eyes shot back up to him. Draco pointed at the mud stains. “Oh yeah, well … I’m pants at cleaning charms,” he said with a shrug and an easy smile. He stuck out his hand after a moment’s pause. Draco stared at it. “So, Malfoy. Crup training. Thanks for doing this for the Aurors, we really appreciate it.”

“Of course,” Draco said stiffly, hesitating for a long moment before shaking Potter’s hand. When he pulled back his fingers were tingling, his wrist hot where Potter’s callused fingers had brushed against it. Potter flashed him another effortless smile, like there was nothing to their past at all. Draco stared at him for another moment, lost in the way Potter’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled, before coming back to himself with a jolt.

“Right, you’ve been asked here for an assessment. You’ve already met the litter I’ve selected for your K9 Unit,” he said. Potter made a strange kissing sound at the dogs. They all looked up at him with adoring eyes and wagging, forked tails. Draco always waited until his dogs were eight weeks old before performing the required severing charm which enabled them to blend into Muggle society. He held up a sheaf of forms and a self-inking quill. “I’ll need to ask you a few questions and run through these forms to assess your personality.”

“Personality assessment?” Potter asked. He’d grown distracted, and had bent down to ruffle the smallest Crup’s ears. “What for?”

“So that I know which Crup will be best suited to you. Once I’ve carried out the assessment, we’ll come back out to spend some time with the Crups before I select one to pair you with,” Draco explained. He’d been around the dogs for so long at this point that he sometimes forgot most people didn’t know the intricacies of the bond between a wizard and his dog.

Draco gave a hand signal to the Crups, which all flopped onto their bellies with their back legs stuck out behind them. Potter’s delighted smile spread slowly across his face; he looked like a child on Christmas morning. Draco led Potter towards a picket fence garden with a patio table and chairs. He preferred to conduct his interviews there.

Draco circled slowly around Potter, eyeing the way he carried himself. He didn’t slouch in on himself like he had back in Hogwarts. Now he stood to his full height, with his chest pressed out confidently. Potter watched Draco as he circled, his eyes turning curious and calculating. For a moment Draco was taken back to their sixth year of school. He smirked.

“Relax, Potter, I’m just conducting my initial assessment of your aura. You’re familiar with the magical bonds between people in the wizarding world — Life Debts, Unbreakable Vows, and the like?” Draco asked. Potter nodded. “Well, it’s the same with Crups and wizarding folk. Your magical core bonds with your dog, so it’s important to get a feel for what you give off naturally. That way I’ll be able to pair you with a dog that will complement your magic.”

Draco removed his wand from his arm holster, raising it up. “Keep still, I’m just going to take a reading of your magical signature.”

“Bit personal, isn’t it?” Potter commented, still eyeing Draco curiously. His ears had gone slightly red and flushed.

“It’s just a protocol I use,” Draco assured him. With a twisting wand movement, Potter’s magical aura swirled around him. Draco studied the cloud of blue that mixed in with the orange and grey ribbons. A misty warm brown cloud encompassed the whole floating mass. It was an intimate thing to see someone else’s aura, and Potter’s didn’t disappoint. Draco hummed to himself and nodded. Potter fidgeted, running a hand through his messy hair. Draco idly wondered whether his hair was soft or coarse. The fingers of his free hand twitched at his side.

“What does it mean?” Potter asked, poking his finger through an orange curl of mist.

“Didn’t that mad old bat teach you about auras in Divination?” Draco asked him impatiently. Potter shrugged as he studied the way the grey colour twisted around his splayed fingers. “Each colour means something different. The blue and grey mean that you’re intelligent, loyal, reliable and trustworthy. The orange is for courage, confidence, and friendliness. And the brown is for the earth and the outdoors.”

Potter made an interested humming sound. With a twitch of Draco’s wand the colours disappeared.

“Is that it?” he asked.

“Not in the slightest,” Draco replied. He uncurled a long roll of parchment which set out the questionnaire he’d designed to get to the core of a client. He reached into his pocket to retrieve a pair of reading glasses. When Potter opened his mouth, Draco glared at him, daring him to comment on them. Potter’s jaw snapped closed with an audible click. Draco put the glasses on and glanced down at the parchment. “I’m going to ask you a series of questions. You can respond with yes, no, or neutral. First question, do you prefer variety to routine?”

“Er — yes?” Potter replied, but he didn’t sound convinced. He seemed distracted by Draco’s reading glasses.

“Are you sure?” Draco asked. Potter was still staring at him with an odd expression.

“It seems silly to simplify it down to one or the other,” Potter said.

“Neutral, then. You could go either way,” Draco said and ticked off the answer with his self-inking quill. “Do you enjoy being part of a group or working with a team?”

“Agree. I mean, yes,” Potter answered. His attention shifted back to the Crups, which were waiting patiently where they had left them.

“Are you easily intimidated?”

“No.”

“Do you get angry easily?”

“I — er — sometimes,” Potter admitted sheepishly. Draco ticked off the answer, scanning his list of questions.

“Do you try to follow the rules? Well, we both know what you were like back at Hogwarts. Has that changed?” Draco teased, brushing the end of the quill against his chin.

Potter snorted and shrugged unapologetically. “Neutral,” he said with a straight face. Draco smirked at him, marking off the answer without looking down at it.

They worked their way through the list of questions, covering all manner of subjects. At first Potter answered easily enough, but as the questions steered towards what could be construed as innuendo he became amused.

“Do you love excitement?” Draco asked. He forced himself to stare at the questions on the parchment and resisted the urge to flash Potter a flirtatious smile, as if they were at a club together rather than two professionals working together for the Ministry of Magic.

“Yeah, a bit,” Potter said with a laugh.

“Do you have a vivid imagination?” This time Draco gave in to the urge to look up. Potter bit his lip and gave Draco a wry smile. He nodded, and Draco moved on to the next question. “Do you take charge?”

“When I need to. Sometimes I like to let other people take the lead,” Potter said airily. Draco swallowed and ticked off the answer. He tried valiantly not to think of which areas of Potter’s life that applied to. He reached up to adjust his glasses, pushing them further up the bridge of his nose.

“Are you easy to satisfy?” Draco said, straining to keep his voice even. He glanced up at Potter through his lashes.

“What kind of questions are these?” Potter asked, his eyebrows rising high on his forehead. The corners of his lips twitched.

“Standard personality test questions,” Draco answered, turning away and ticking off an answer without consulting Potter. He took a breath and let it out slowly. He needed to be professional.

“Do you work hard?” Draco asked, regaining a hold on his resolve.

“I like to think so,” Potter replied with a beguiling tone to his voice. Draco cleared his throat as his eyes scanned the page for another question.

“Do you dislike being the centre of attention?” Draco asked. Potter was silent and contemplative, his eyes flitting over Draco’s face.

“Yeah,” he answered softly. He’d lost the playful tone from a moment ago. “Never had a taste for it.”

Draco smirked and shook his head. He wanted to point out how often Potter had been in the paper and the spotlight. Instead, he held his tongue and asked his last question. “Do you complete tasks successfully?”

“Yeah. Er — well, I try, anyway,” Potter said, scratching at the back of his head and ruffling his hair. A warm surge of attraction and want ran through Draco’s stomach without his permission. He frowned to himself.

“Thank you, that concludes the questions. Let’s go back and see the dogs again, shall we?” Draco gestured back out into the pasture. Draco removed his glasses and pocketed them. When he looked up Potter’s head was tilted, studying him like he was judging the difference between Draco with and without his glasses. Draco cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows meaningfully. Potter shook his head as if to clear it, looking abashed. Draco tapped his wand twice against the parchment, which rolled back up and glowed a soft yellow. “This takes a few minutes to process.”

As soon as they reached the Crups, Potter launched right back into playing with them. Draco sighed and pushed aside the fuzzy feeling making a home in his chest.

“Ah — Potter,” he interrupted. Potter looked up from nuzzling his face against the muzzle of one of the pups. “While play is an important aspect of life for the Crups to learn, it needs to be limited to a minimum between master and Crup. That way the dog can see you as his leader, rather than his pack mate,” Draco explained firmly.

“How are you able to resist them?” Potter asked, holding up a squirming puppy and earning enthusiastic kisses everywhere the dog could reach.

“If you want this to work successfully for your Auror team, then you’ll listen to my expertise,” Draco said, more sharply than he’d meant to. Potter sighed and put down the Crup. It trotted over to Draco and sat obediently at his feet. Draco leaned down to reward the good behaviour with an affectionate scratch behind the dog’s ears.

“Don’t they need love and affection, though?” Potter insisted.

“I’m the professional dog trainer here, not you,” said Draco haughtily, offended by Potter’s righteous need to be right in all things. Potter looked as if he was about to argue, but then took a breath and nodded. Draco clicked his fingers and the Crups all sat up at attention, waiting for a command. With a crook of his fingers and a whistle they all bounded over to him. He rewarded each of them with enthusiastic petting. Potter watched with an unreadable look in his eyes. Draco took a calming breath, willing his professionalism to return to him. “There’s a balance. I don’t mean to say you can’t show your partnered dog affection.”

Draco introduced each of the dogs formally to Potter, and explained their names.

“You name them all after constellations and Greek Gods?” Potter asked with a teasing smirk. Draco nodded stiffly and muttered the word tradition under his breath. Potter snorted and shot him a lopsided grin.

Draco showed Potter the simple hand signals and verbal commands for sit and down, then stood aside to watch Potter with the dogs. Hyperion was especially drawn to Potter, and it seemed the attraction was mutual; he smiled down at the dog each time he completed the task first.

“Good, now reward him. Tell him he’s been a good boy,” Draco said.

“How does the obedience training transition to fieldwork?” Potter asked.

“The training is all made out to be a game to keep them engaged. That way, what they’re doing never feels like work. It prevents them from burning out. You’ll see once we get past the obedience training that it provides the foundation for their other training,” Draco explained.

At the end of the meeting Draco reached out his hand first to shake Potter’s, and was pleased when he grasped Draco’s hand without any hesitation. Potter’s fingers brushed along his wrist again, making his skin prickle.

“I’ll bring your matched Crup to your home next week,” Draco said. Potter nodded and began to walk away. “Training starts in the home, Potter, so your new Crup and I will need to stay with you for a few weeks while I show you how to properly train and bond with him.”

That caught Potter off guard. He spun around and looked at Draco with wide eyes. “Why can’t we train here, or at the Auror Department?”

“My training techniques are very intimate, Potter. They’ve never failed,” he said, keeping Potter pinned in place with a look. “We need to follow my techniques in order for the K9 Unit partnerships to be a success. I’ll expect hard work and dedication from you, as well as your respect for my expertise on the matter.”

“I — alright, then,” Potter said, still looking bewildered. Draco sighed, taking pity on him.

“Relax, Potter. It’ll be fine. It’s all part of the handler training and bonding period. This dog is going to live with you until he is too old to work as your Crup partner,” Draco said, aiming for a reassuring tone. Potter looked mollified.

“Can I borrow your quill and a bit of parchment, then?” Potter asked. Draco handed over a blank piece and his quill. Potter bent over his knee, bracing the parchment across his muddy denim-clad thigh. He scribbled a short note and handed the slightly crumpled slip of parchment back to Draco.

“What’s this?” He looked down at the barely legible writing.

“My address,” Potter said simply. “It’s under a Fidelius Charm.”

Draco squinted at the parchment and tilted his head. Harry Potter lives at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, London. Draco blinked slowly, looking up at Potter.

“See you next week, then?” Potter asked with a small frown. Draco nodded. Potter gave each of the dogs a friendly pat goodbye as he left.

***

Harry stood in his hallway, fidgeting nervously. He couldn’t believe Malfoy was coming to live with him. He had initially tried to force his way out of the proposed living arrangement, but Robards had silenced his complaints with a stern look. Harry had been putting on a brave face ever since.

He had to admit the assessment meeting had gone well. He’d even avoided falling prey to old habits — he hadn’t flung any insults or accusations at Malfoy. He was pretty sure they’d even awkwardly flirted a little bit. Harry shook his head and hastily dusted the mirror with his t-shirt.

Grimmauld Place had felt terribly lonely ever since Ron and Hermione moved into a home of their own. Harry wasn’t home much, since he let his Auror work take up the majority of his time, but whenever he was home he was filled with a sombre, empty feeling. It was always worse when summer drew to a close. He could never have expected to fill that emptiness with a Crup and Malfoy, of all people.

Harry ran a hand through his hair for the third time in five minutes and nearly jumped out of his skin when there was a knock on the door. He glanced around and wished he’d paid a bit more attention to straightening up the neglected old house. The knock on his door sounded again, more insistently. Harry rolled his eyes as he strode forward to throw the door open.

“Malfoy, hi,” Harry said. Malfoy stood there on his doorstep with a Crup tucked carefully under his arm to hide its second tail from the passing Muggles. Harry swallowed, his throat suddenly dry at the unexpected sight of Malfoy looking quite fetching in a light tan-coloured jumper and dark blue trousers. He’d only ever seen Malfoy in wizarding robes. He found he liked the change, but it caught him off guard.

Malfoy glanced around Harry and entered without saying a word or waiting for permission to come in.

“Okay, yeah, come in. Shall I give you the tour or would you like a cup of tea first?” Harry asked as he shuffled aside to make room for Malfoy. If Malfoy was offended by the state of the house, he didn’t make it known as he silently took in the entrance hall

“Tea first, I think,” Malfoy drawled. He set the dog down and gave a hand signal. The Crup plopped his bottom on the ground and sat to attention. Harry smiled. He recognised Hyperion immediately. He’d liked that pup very much, and he was pleased Malfoy had chosen to pair them up. Malfoy slid his wand out from his sleeve and removed two small boxes from his pocket. He tapped each box and they expanded to their original sizes; they were a travelling trunk and a dog crate. Harry eyed the crate and shifted on his feet.

“I’ll just leave my things here, then?” asked Malfoy.

“Um, sure. Kitchen’s this way,” Harry said, turning to lead Malfoy down the steps. With a click and a hand gesture from Malfoy, the Crup lay down in the hallway. “Will I get to learn some of that silent command stuff?” Harry asked.

“We’ll see,” Malfoy replied archly, his attention focused on taking in his surroundings. He glanced at the rough-hewn, pitted table and raised one delicate eyebrow. “Tea, if you please.”

“Right,” Harry said as he jumped forward to light the range with his wand. He filled the kettle with a muttered Aguamenti and set it over the flame to boil, before getting out the chunky pottery mugs that Teddy had made for him at primary school. He heard Malfoy make a faint scoffing sound behind him. He ignored him in favour of digging out the fancy tea that Hermione liked to drink, forgoing his usual tea bags.

“I see you’re not as hopeless as I’d pictured,” Malfoy commented while Harry fiddled with the loose leaves and his chipped teapot.

“Nothing but the best for my guest,” Harry said in a mocking drawl. “You can rest assured that when it’s just me, I go full-on heathen and drink it straight from the kettle with a tea bag.”

Harry was satisfied to hear Malfoy’s scandalized sound of discontent behind him while he finished pouring their tea. “Sorry, I don’t have proper cups. Will your aristocratic constitution be able to manage it?”

“Shut up, Potter,” Malfoy said, accepting the cup and sitting carefully at the table. He discreetly shifted on the bench, as if testing to make sure it wouldn’t fall apart beneath him. Harry guessed it was only Malfoy’s upbringing that kept his manners mostly in check.

Harry sat down opposite him and summoned milk and sugar to the table with his wand. He poured a splash of milk and half a spoonful of sugar into his tea then rested his elbows on the table while he studied Malfoy’s tea-making process. He poured in a generous helping of milk, and what Harry considered to be three heaped spoonfuls of sugar into his cup. Harry raised an eyebrow and didn’t comment.

“The Head Auror has given me a couple of weeks off to get a head start on the K9 training,” Harry said conversationally. “Then I’ll need to go in for a bit each day after that.”

“Good. We’ll work on obedience and the basics of the bond this week. Next week we can start on the framework for the specialized training,” Malfoy said. “I’ve arranged for an assistant to handle my other Crups, and the facility, for two weeks. Then I’ll need to spend some time with them.”

Harry nodded in acknowledgement. They drank their tea in awkward silence, each of them glancing at the other from the corners of their eyes when they thought the other wasn’t looking. It had been easier when they were sort-of flirting over intrusive personality questions, or talking about dogs. Now they were faced with the reality of living together.

When they’d finished their tea, Harry spelled away the dishes as he stood, stretching languorously. When he relaxed again he caught Malfoy hastily closing his mouth.

“I’ll give you the tour, and then we can start if you’re ready?” Harry asked, gesturing vaguely towards the stairs. Malfoy nodded and cleared his throat. “Well, kitchen,” Harry said, waving his arm around the room. Malfoy’s lips quirked into a smirk as he followed Harry up the steps.

“This house belonged to the Blacks, did it not?” Malfoy asked when they reached the main floor. His eyes slid over to the covered portrait of Mrs Black hanging on the wall.

“Yes, er, Sirius Black was the last to own it. He was my godfather. He left it to me when he, ah, died,” Harry said stiltedly, shoving his hands into his pockets. Malfoy nodded and didn’t push the matter.

“I have a memory of being here as a child, I think. When my mother was visiting her Aunt Walburga.” Malfoy looked around with a furrowed brow. “Weren’t there mounted house-elf heads somewhere?”

“Yeah,” Harry said, grimacing at the memory of them. “I took them down as soon as I moved in. I haven’t really had the chance to do much else to the place. Auror training was intense, and my caseload keeps me pretty busy.” Malfoy hummed noncommittally in response as Harry led him down the hall. “The sitting room is through here. There are a lot of books, feel free to give them a go. And there’s a telly.”

“That’s a Muggle contraption, right? The telly-fision?” Harry had to chew on his lip to keep from smiling at the way Malfoy had botched the pronunciation. Harry was impressed that he knew what it was at all, let alone that he had managed to comment on it without disdain.

“Yes,” Harry answered. He led them upstairs next. “There’s a bathroom at the end of the hall. First door on the right up the steps is my bedroom. There are several others that you’re welcome to, so take your pick. Not all of them are tidied up, though.”

As they continued down the hall, Harry pointed out various rooms. “This bathroom is connected to my room. There’s another one on the next floor up. There’s also a full library up on that floor, and at the very top of the house is the attic.”

“This is a rather large house to live in all alone,” Malfoy said.

“Well, now I’m not alone, am I?” Harry said. “I’ve got you for a bit as a housemate, and the dog.” Malfoy’s ears went rather pink.

“Is there a garden for Hyperion to run around?” Malfoy asked.

“Yes, it’s back on the ground floor. Shall we?” Harry gestured for Malfoy to precede him downstairs. They walked by Malfoy’s travelling trunk, and the dog crate. “What’s that for?”

“That is for my clothes and personal effects. It is called a trunk — you should be familiar with the concept. We did use them at boarding school for several years,” Malfoy said dryly.

“No, I meant the cage. It’s dog-sized.”

“Well spotted,” Malfoy said, throwing Harry an odd look. “It’s a crate for Hyperion to sleep in at night, and for when you’re not home.”

“Isn’t it a bit small?” Harry asked in a strained tone, not wanting to start an argument. He swallowed thickly; his throat felt dry and scratchy. Malfoy raised an eyebrow.

“It’s the correct size for a Crup. They like to have a little cave to sleep in at night. It makes them feel safe,” Malfoy explained. “It’s a dog thing.”

Harry nodded and tried to shake away his memories of sleeping in cupboards and being locked away, unwanted.

Once they were out in the garden Harry watched Malfoy guide Hyperion around the perimeter, the dog following at his heels. He did it twice more, waving his wand, before calling the puppy over to the centre of the garden.

“What was all that about?” Harry asked curiously.

“That was me attuning Hyperion to your wards,” Malfoy said. Harry’s eyebrows shot up. “Relax, Potter, good grief. I don’t have access to your wards, but the bond between Hyperion and the wizards he is around allows me to connect his magical core to that around him. It’s part of how their magic works, and why they’re able to be trained to detect other forms of magic — especially Dark Magic.”

“Oh,” Harry said as he deflated from the rant he’d been about to go on.

“There is a long and proud history of wizard and Crup working together as a bonded pair,” Malfoy said, sounding like he was reciting from one of Hermione’s books. His lecture continued, emphasizing trust, magical balance, and symbiosis, but Harry tuned out to look down at his new Crup while Malfoy droned on. Hyperion sat at attention, his twin forked tails wagging in sync. “...and that is why, to this day, they remain the number one choice for trainable companions of wizards and witches,” Malfoy finished, sounding every bit as proud and haughty as he had at school.

Harry nodded, not wanting to draw attention to the fact that he hadn’t listened to most of what Malfoy had said.

Malfoy conjured a long lead and handed it to Harry. “Now, for obedience and for the bonding to work you’ll need to train Hyperion with the lead on. He’s been with me since he was born, so he only recognizes me as his master right now. The lead tells the dog that he does not have full freedom to run around, because he has not yet earned your trust. You’ll notice that it’s quite long, so that when you begin to give him your trust, you can give him more freedom.”

Harry clipped the lead around Hyperion at Malfoy’s direction.

“We’re only going to work on the basics today, and then we’ll end each training session with some playtime to help strengthen the bond,” Malfoy said. Harry smiled at that and looked down eagerly at Hyperion. He’d never had a dog before, and he was excited by the prospect of having a friend that wouldn’t make him feel as if he was replacing Hedwig.

Malfoy went over the basics of obedience. He covered sit, come, stay, and down. Hyperion was eager to please and quick to master every command Harry gave him. There was little need to correct him; he was nearly perfect every time Harry gave him a direction. Harry had to focus intently on Hyperion, so he forced himself to ignore how excellent Malfoy looked with his hair blowing freely in the wind. Malfoy’s jumper made Harry want to bury his face in his neck and lave it with kisses. Malfoy, who was completely oblivious to Harry’s furtive glances, was impressed by Hyperion’s progress. He added more advanced obedience tasks, like fetching and staying from a distance.

“He’s quite impressive,” Harry said as Hyperion returned with a ball in his mouth. He’d correctly fetched the green ball instead of the red and blue balls that Malfoy had put out as decoys.

“He’s my favourite out of his litter. I love them all — especially his mother, Athena, but Hyperion is a very good Crup,” Malfoy said as he ruffled Hyperion’s coat fondly. Hyperion yipped at them, his tails wagging happily. “Now, he’s done well with the fetch training, so why don’t we play with a better reward — treats.”

Malfoy pulled a small sack from his pocket, and Hyperion snapped to attention, practically vibrating with the need to obey. His chocolate-coloured eyes were trained with an intense focus on the bag of treats.

“I’d say he’s quite keen on that idea,” Harry said, amused. Malfoy handed the bag to Harry along with a stuffed pheasant toy, which he’d conjured with a showy wand movement.

“Yes, they only get treats when they’re extremely well-behaved. Part of my technique is training them to work for positive reinforcement through praise so they don’t get too spoiled. The treats are for special occasions,” he explained.

Harry spent twenty minutes flinging the pheasant toy, rewarding Hyperion with a treat and a thorough pet each time he returned.

“Good boy, Hyperion, there’s a good boy,” Harry said as he gave Hyperion the meaty morsel and rubbed his soft ears.

“Well done, Potter,” Malfoy said. Harry straightened up. “I’d say he’s good for the day. Leave the lead on so he understands that he has freedom to explore, but you remain in control. Let’s go inside.”

Harry led Hyperion inside with a loose hold on the lead, with Malfoy following close behind them. They made their way to the sitting room. Harry paused inside the doorway, watching Malfoy brush by him. Malfoy browsed the bookshelves and selected a book with a leather-bound spine. He settled himself in a wing-backed armchair with it. Harry usually watched television when he didn’t have work to do. It struck him how awkward the next few weeks could be, sharing his home with Malfoy.

“Er, I could leave. Give you some time alone,” Harry offered with a vague gesture towards the Floo.

“Nonsense,” Malfoy said with a wave of his hand. He didn’t even glance up from his book, pulling out his reading glasses and settling more comfortably in the char. “I’m hardly going to kick you out of your own home.”

“Right,” Harry said on an exhale. He glanced around the room and signalled for Hyperion to lie down on the bed he’d bought over the weekend. Harry flopped gracelessly onto his lumpy sofa, trying to relax. He didn’t see the sidelong look that Malfoy shot him as he reached for the remote from the side table.

They ended up sitting quietly together for several hours. Malfoy read his book, Harry watched the telly, and the Crup slept on the bed in the corner by the fireplace. For the first time in years it dawned on Harry that his house didn’t feel quite so empty anymore.

***

The first week had its ups and downs. Harry grimaced on the first night when Malfoy directed Hyperion to bed, but the dog had happily gone into the crate. Malfoy had rolled his eyes at Harry and excused himself.

Things continued to feel awkward any time they weren’t working on training Hyperion, but Malfoy kept insisting that Harry didn’t need to leave the house every time they’d finished. In the afternoons and evenings Malfoy liked to read a book from the selection on Harry’s shelves. Harry had even run into him on the stairs a couple of times, where he’d obviously been in the library if the pile of books in his arms was anything to judge by.

Malfoy wasn’t the easiest housemate. His constant whinging about being cold grated on Harry’s nerves. Malfoy was picky about the temperature regulation charms on the house, complaining of a chill every evening, when Harry was enjoying the draught after an afternoon spent baking in the late summer sun and oppressive humidity. He’d also finished off three bottles of milk and pilfered Harry’s favourite chocolate biscuits.

Harry had woken up one morning and stumbled into his adjoining bathroom, only to find Malfoy already in the steam-filled room. He’d hurriedly wrapped a towel around his pale arse, and left Harry gaping at the beads of water slowly trailing down his back as he made a hasty retreat. It was only after Malfoy closed the door to the bedroom he’d chosen across from Harry’s that Harry realised the git hadn’t even apologized. Every other time Malfoy had showered, he’d used the upstairs bathroom. Malfoy had made Harry and Hyperion jog endlessly around the garden perimeter all afternoon that day leaving Harry panting and sweaty, and not in a fun way.

***

Malfoy complained constantly about the state of Harry’s tea supply. After that first day he’d forgotten his politeness, and proceeded to mock Harry’s tea bags whenever he saw them.

“What’s wrong with using tea bags, you snob? They’re easier and faster!” Harry said hotly, holding his tin of sachets away from Malfoy’s reaching hand. Malfoy had got it in his head to rid Harry of his ridiculous and childish tea supply, and in exchange set him up with proper tea.

“What’s wrong with — what is wrong with tea bags? The fact that your tea leaves are crushed up together in bags, you heathen!” Malfoy ground out through gritted teeth. Malfoy drew his wand, because apparently they were going to go to war over tea bags versus proper tea.

Harry couldn’t believe that this of all things was what finally drove them back to their old ways. Part of him was itching for the fight; his blood sang in his veins and he felt alive. Part of him even wanted to toss aside his wand and tackle the insufferable bastard to the ground just as he had on the Quidditch pitch during fifth year.

“Yeah, well I like my tea bags, and you can’t have them!” Harry shouted. He held the tin higher and higher in the air, until he was on his tiptoes; he was half-climbing up the counter to get away from Malfoy.

Malfoy, who was closely matched to his height, came closer and pressed their chests together, his left hand clawing at Harry’s t-shirt as he reached up to grip tightly around Harry’s wrist with his right.

“I’m trying to improve your lifestyle, you brainless pillock!” Malfoy seethed. Harry suddenly realized that they were pressed together, breathing hotly into each other’s faces. Malfoy pressed harder against him in an attempt to reach the tin of tea bags, and the slide of Malfoy’s firm body made Harry’s cock give an interested twitch in his pants.

Harry panicked and hurled the tin across the room, where it crashed loudly against the wall. Malfoy jumped back and practically dove after the tin. Harry closed his eyes as he ran a hand over his face, panting from the rush of adrenaline coursing through him. When Malfoy stood up again, brandishing the tea tin in triumph, there was a gleam in his eyes that made warmth spread through Harry’s stomach. Malfoy was panting, too; his chest was heaving, his thin blue jumper was pulled taut over it.

“Do what you want,” Harry mumbled and shoved past Malfoy, escaping the suffocating air in the kitchen. If he stayed he might do something incredibly stupid, like kiss the bastard.

“It’s for your own good, Potter,” Malfoy called after him, apparently unaware of the indecent thoughts swirling through Harry’s mind.

***

“Potter!” Malfoy’s sharp voice startled Harry. It made him miss the contestant’s answer on the game show he was watching. Hyperion’s head shot up from where he was curled up at Harry’s side. He’d been snoring just a moment earlier.

“Yes?” Harry asked, muting the television. He ruffled Hyperion’s ears.

“Can you please explain to me,” Malfoy said in a measured, slow tone, “why the Crup is cuddling with you on the sofa?”

“What? Oh, he came up for a nap,” Harry said distractedly. He was busy rubbing Hyperion’s belly, smiling to himself at the way the dog wiggled on his back as he stretched to give Harry better access.

“A nap,” Malfoy said flatly.

“Yeah, what of it?” Harry replied. Malfoy heaved a great sigh.

“Potter, have you not paid attention to any of what I’ve been teaching you?”

“Of course I have! I’ve got him off the lead now, haven’t I?” Harry said, sitting up straight on the sofa. With a severe snap of Malfoy’s fingers the dog jumped down and sat loyally at Malfoy’s feet.

“Good boy,” Malfoy said, giving a warm smile and tender touch to the dog. When he looked back up at Harry his eyes turned icy.

“You cannot let him up on your sofa to cuddle — or in your bed, for that matter. And no more table scraps! I saw you slip him your leftovers last night,” Malfoy said accusingly. Harry scoffed and stood up.

“Why can’t the dog just sit on the sofa once in a while, or have some leftovers? I wasn’t going to eat them,” Harry said. Malfoy massaged his temples like he was warding off a headache. He sat down heavily in his favourite wing-backed armchair.

“Because if you allow him to get away with any bad behaviour, or let him form bad habits without correcting them, he’ll never fully respect your chain of command. That could cost you your life in the field,” Malfoy said flatly. Harry was sure it was part of the lecture Malfoy had continued to give over the course of the week, and suddenly felt like he should have paid closer attention. Malfoy pinned Harry in place with a piercing look. “It’s my job to train you to handle your dog in the best way I know how, so I can prevent that from ever happening.”

“Oh,” Harry said, unsure of how to respond. He hadn’t realized Malfoy took his Crup training so seriously.

“It all comes back to the merits of the bond between you and Hyperion,” Malfoy said quietly. “It’s a partnership, just like having an Auror partner.”

“Okay,” Harry said. “Sorry, I’ll — er, I’ll do better.”

***

The second week began more smoothly after Malfoy had scolded Harry as if he was an ill-behaved Crup.

Malfoy had explained that because of their connection to magic, Crups could learn faster than non-magical dogs, but Harry was still surprised at just how quickly Hyperion caught on. Once they had mastered obedience training, Malfoy led Harry and Hyperion through more advanced dog training and magical theory techniques. At the start of the week Malfoy spent quite a bit of time teaching Harry about the bond he was forming with his dog.

Malfoy had set up a game for Hyperion in the garden to improve his scent discrimination and detection. They were using the coloured balls again; Malfoy and Harry had charmed each of them. The red one had a Dark curse on it that would stop a wizard’s heart if touched. Malfoy carefully levitated the ball to its hiding position, then waved his wand in a complicated pattern. Shimmery, silvery wisps of magic sprouted from his wand to form a maze for Hyperion to navigate.

“Now, focus your mind on Hyperion and what you need him to find. He’ll be able to detect that there is a Dark curse present on his own. With the bond he should be able to anticipate the command you give,” Malfoy explained for the third time. He’d shown Harry how it worked, his face a mask of concentration.

Harry planted his feet firmly as he shook his limbs out. This portion of their training reminded him of Occlumency lessons. He’d never admit to Malfoy that he was much better at teaching Harry how to focus his mind than Snape had ever been. Harry took a steadying breath and pictured his dog in his mind.

“That’s right,” Malfoy murmured. His voice drifted close to Harry’s ear. Harry took another breath and imagined Hyperion seeking out the cursed ball. He pictured the Dark Magic in his mind. Malfoy lay a calming hand on Harry’s back, right between his shoulder blades. “Concentrate.”

Harry heard Hyperion snuffling through the grass. He opened his eyes to watch as the Crup sought out a path through the maze. Malfoy had changed the layout each time Hyperion went through it.

“Feel the connection between your magic and his,” Malfoy said softly. His hand was hot on Harry’s back, warming him through his thin t-shirt. He closed his eyes again as he breathed in and out, picturing himself disarming the curse.

Hyperion yipped, bringing Harry out of his trance. He saw Hyperion rolling over in the maze, his signal for having found an object.

“Good job, Hyperion!” Harry called with a smile. He turned his smile on Malfoy, whose hand was still pressed to Harry’s back, and waved his wand, dispensing a treat for the Crup.

Hyperion trotted back over to them and Malfoy dispelled the Dark curse. “Good boy, Hyperion,” he said fondly.

“You did well, too, Harry. I’m very impressed that you’re picking this up so quickly,” Malfoy murmured. His warm hand brushed back and forth over Harry’s back in a caress, like he was petting Harry. It was the first time Malfoy had ever used his name. A jolt of desire lanced through Harry at Malfoy’s praise, startling him. He caught his breath in his throat as he stared at Malfoy, who was smiling easily at Harry and squeezing his shoulder lightly.

For a brief moment Harry vividly pictured Malfoy murmuring good boy repeatedly against his throat. He swallowed thickly.

***

Hyperion had immediately taken to Harry, and for that Harry was grateful. He’d been enjoying having a companion again. It’d been so long since he’d lost Hedwig that he hadn’t been entirely sure that his heart could handle it, but Hyperion had easily wormed his way in, earning Harry’s affection.

It didn’t hurt that Harry had snuck him table scraps and cuddled with him on the sofa. His soft fur and inquisitive eyes seemed to see right through Harry. He wondered if that was part of the bond Malfoy was always on about.

Harry stretched on his back in the grass, squinting up into the afternoon sun. It had been another hot morning as the season drew to a close. He was enjoying lying sprawled in his garden with Hyperion leaning against his side. He’d taken off his t-shirt and stuffed it under his head as a makeshift pillow. Harry flung his arm over his eyes. The heat of the sun was beginning to make his skin glisten.

“Potter, you’re out of milk aga—“ Malfoy’s voice cut off abruptly. Harry peered up at him from under the shade of his arm.

“I’ll go to Tesco’s in a bit, I’m bonding with Hyperion right now,” Harry said, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“I, ah, see that,” Malfoy said. He sounded strained. Harry peeked at him again.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes, I — yes. Don’t forget the milk,” Malfoy said. He winced as he bumped into the doorframe on his way back inside the house. Hyperion snuffled in the grass at Harry’s side.

“Let’s nap for a little longer before we run to the store for his majesty’s milk, yeah?” Harry said with a drowsy yawn. The Crup snuffled again and Harry nodded. “Yeah, s’what I thought.”

***

After only two weeks, Harry had become so used to spending his days with Malfoy and Hyperion at Grimmauld Place that it was an adjustment to return to work at the DMLE. Malfoy was spending time back at his kennels, while Harry spent a few hours each day catching up on his paperwork. Malfoy had promised Harry that he could accompany him to the kennels to visit the other pups later in the week. Harry found himself eagerly looking forward to seeing them again — and seeing Malfoy in his element, surrounded by the Crups.

Harry stared unseeingly down at his report and tried to make himself focus on it. He’d glanced at his pocket watch three times during the past half hour. He wasn’t even scheduled to be in for a full day, yet it was dragging by.

When his hours were finally up, he escaped back to Grimmauld Place with a sense of relief. He smiled when he found Malfoy was back, too, and had made them each a cup of tea. Harry would never admit it to his face after the fuss he’d kicked up about it, but Draco made tea much better than Harry could, especially when he used the expensive loose leaf tea.

“Hey. Is this for me?” Harry asked, scooping up his favourite mug. It was one that Teddy had crafted for him, and Malfoy had taken a liking to the one that sort of matched — that is, if one tilted their head and squinted.

“Well it certainly isn’t for the dog,” Draco commented dryly. Harry’s lips curled into an easy smile.

“Sod off, you,” Harry said as he took up his seat on the sofa. Malfoy’s reading glasses were slipping down the bridge of his nose. Harry’s fingers twitched with a desire to push them back to their correct position, or better yet pull them off altogether.

“How was the Auror Department? Save any kittens from trees today?” Malfoy asked without looking up from his book. Hyperion was curled up at the foot of Malfoy’s wing-backed chair. Harry liked the picture the pair of them made.

“No kittens today. Just a ridiculous amount of paperwork,” Harry said with a sigh. “The game show comes on in an hour. Want to watch it with me?”

Malfoy never knew the Muggle-related answers, but he surprisingly was good at the history questions. When Harry had asked him about it, Malfoy had shrugged and only said that he appreciated history.

“Only if you budge over and share that overstuffed monstrosity you call a sofa,” Malfoy said with a smirk.

***

On Thursday Harry rushed through his duties at the office to ensure he’d be on time to meet Draco at the kennels. He checked the time repeatedly, and his colleagues teased him about it all morning. He stuck two fingers up at them as he left, rushing towards the lifts to escape before Robards could give him any more work.

When Harry arrived at the kennels he opened the gate to the pasture and hurried along the path. He could hear the Crups’ excited yips and Draco’s laughter ringing out in the air.

“You silly lot. Go and fetch!” Draco called. Harry watched as he flicked his wand and several balls hurtled through the air to the far end of the pasture. The dogs all took off, their heads bobbing as they ran, stretching their long legs. Harry’s heart seized at the sight; for a moment, his chest almost hurt. Draco’s intricately patterned Fair Isle jumper was rumpled and his hair was hanging in front of his eyes. Draco turned and saw Harry. He waved to him with a smile. Harry’s heart clenched with longing.

Harry watched as he slowly made his way over to Draco. The Crups retrieved the balls and fell all over themselves for Draco’s attention. It was obvious that the Crups loved Draco. Harry found it sexy, the way Draco smiled at them, and the way his long fingers affectionately scratched behind their ears. He liked watching Draco interact with the Crups — he’d often found himself watching Draco and Hyperion back at home.

“Good job, everyone!” Draco said warmly. He looked up as Harry finally reached them. “Hello. You’ve missed the training exercises, but you’re in time for playtime.”

“That’s just my luck, I love a good playtime,” Harry said with a wry grin. Draco’s eyes widened, and he spun around. Harry took the opportunity to glance down at his arse.

***

Sunday’s training activity involved another morning in the garden. This time they were testing Hyperion’s tracking skills. Harry hid a scented prize for him in different spots around the garden. So far Hyperion was having a very successful session; his tracking skills were very impressive.

Harry began to think about what it would be like when Hyperion was ready to work in the field with him. He’d grown fond of his Crup; he already felt the love and trust between them. Hyperion and the other Crups were going to be valuable additions to the Auror Department.

Hyperion barked and led Harry along the trail to the hidden prize. Harry rewarded Hyperion with a long ear scratch.

“Good boy, Hyperion!” Harry praised him.

“Let’s break for lunch,” Draco called from near the house. Harry and Hyperion trotted back towards Draco. When Harry ordered the dog to go inside, Draco nodded, pleased.

“Very nice. You’ve been working hard with him, and it’s paying off,” Draco complimented. That warm, syrupy feeling that Harry was getting used to whenever Draco praised him spread low in his stomach. If Draco noticed how his praise affected Harry, he never let on.

Harry followed Draco down to the kitchen. Harry started pulling out ingredients for sandwiches. While he made lunch he listened with half an ear as Draco told him about Hyperion’s mother, and his history with her.

“She was the from the first litter I bred. My mother had asked me to care for her Crups, and at first it was just something for me to do. Then I found that I was interested in it, so I looked into breeding them. Athena was the strongest of that first litter, and has produced brilliant litters every other year for me,” Draco explained.

“Why every other year?” Harry asked as he set their plates on the table.

“It gives her a break in between. It’s rough on their small bodies,” Draco said as he picked up his sandwich. Harry was looking at him, his heart thudding heavily in his chest as Draco expressed his love for the Crups.

“Go out with me,” Harry blurted out. Draco choked his mouthful of sandwich. Harry jumped up and flicked his wand, muttering the spell to clear Draco’s airway. “Sorry.”

“I beg your pardon?” Draco said after gulping down half a glass of water.

“I, er, I asked you out. On a date. Dinner, or — I mean, whatever.” Harry stumbled through his explanation. He fidgeted with his wand, twirling it between his fingers. The moment stretched on until the atmosphere grew as awkward as when Draco had first moved in. “Or not, I was just — I don’t really know what I was —”

“Alright.”

“What?” Harry looked up, startled. Draco was looking at him evenly, though the tips of his ears were pink.

“I said yes. I accept your invitation. I will go on a date with you,” Draco elaborated.

“Oh,” Harry breathed out. His nerves melted away and were replaced with a giddy sort of excitement. He hadn’t felt this way since he was a teenager. “Good.”

***

Harry had stressed a great deal over the restaurant he’d selected to take Draco to. He personally would have preferred a place like the Leaky, or somewhere Muggle, but he had to take Draco somewhere impressive. Hermione had pointed him in the direction of a small, upscale restaurant that had just opened in the wizarding residential district of Chelsea. It was perfect, and Draco would love it.

As soon as they sat down, though, Harry’s nerves returned. Draco’s warm hand had been resting between Harry’s shoulder blades throughout their whole walk from the Apparition point; it had been comforting, and had kept him focused. Now that they were seated across the table from one another, Harry found his mind wandering.

“Do you like red or white?” Draco asked without looking up from the wine list. He seemed to be completely at ease. “There’s a Goblin wine I haven’t tried on here. I wonder if they make wine as well as they keep gold.”

Harry made a noncommittal sound as he fidgeted with his napkin. He was thinking of Hyperion, curled up on his small dog bed in his crate. His stomach clenched as he worried about whether the Crup was okay. They didn’t usually leave him alone at night.

“Do you think he’s alright by himself?” Harry asked. Draco glanced up from the dinner menu he’d been perusing.

“Who?” Draco asked. Harry’s eyebrows rose.

“Hyperion,” Harry said quickly. “We never leave him alone for very long.”

“He’ll be fine, Potter,” Draco said, with a wave of his hand. But Harry’s thoughts were still fixed on his Crup. Was Hyperion lonely all by himself? Was he afraid? Was he worried that Harry and Draco weren’t ever coming back for him?

Harry tried to focus on their date, but his stomach continued to churn with worry.

“I should’ve asked Hermione or Ron to stop by and check on him. Or we could have put him at the kennel for the night,” Harry said with a sigh. It would’ve been prudent to put the Crup at the kennel with his brothers and sisters — it had the added bonus of leaving Grimmauld Place empty for Draco and Harry’s return. He looked up and caught Draco’s exasperated look; he was shaking his head, smiling reluctantly down at his menu.

“I hope you’re as attentive a date as you are about your Crup training,” Draco said sharply. He sighed as he pushed away the menu. They’d barely been out for an hour, and Harry knew he was being ridiculous. He was probably monumentally fucking up his date with Draco. “We can go home,” Draco sighed.

Harry let out a relieved breath and flashed him a grateful smile. “Thank you.”

Harry waved over the waiter. “We’d like to order our meal to take away,” Draco said. The waiter nodded and stepped away. After Harry had taken care of the bill and the waiter had brought over their food, packed in takeaway containers, they left for the Apparition point. Harry stood and offered his arm to Draco. He gripped Harry’s arm as they walked out together, and maintained his hold for the entire walk.

“I hope you realize that this filet mignon is definitely not meant to be boxed up as a takeaway,” Draco drawled. Harry ducked his head, embarrassed that he’d interrupted their date to check on his Crup.

“I’m sorry. I just want to make sure he’s okay. We can do something else after?” Harry asked hopefully.

“We’ll see,” Draco said. When they reached the Apparition point Draco gripped his arm tighter, and Harry Side-Along Apparated him back to the porch of Grimmauld Place.

Harry was relieved to find that Hyperion was completely fine, unfazed by their departure and speedy return. He looked the same as he always did, sprawled in his crate, his now single tail wagging lazily. Harry sighed as he turned towards Draco.

“Can you give me five minutes?” Harry asked. Draco nodded and Harry grinned. “Wait here, I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

Harry hurried into the sitting room, and shot a cushioning charm at the rug in front of the fireplace. He transfigured the coffee table into a long, low table and set down their food. With a few elaborate flourishes of his wand he lit the fireplace and set up a picnic. He hoped this would make up for him being an idiot over Hyperion. As a last minute thought, Harry flicked his wand at the record player, setting it at a low volume for background noise.

“You can come in!” he called. Draco appeared in the doorway a moment later; his eyes landed on the picnic Harry had set up and grew warm and fond with his smile. He seemed to float over towards Harry; he walked so elegantly it was almost a smooth glide. Draco glanced at the record player as he passed it.

“Nice touch, Harry,” Draco said quietly.

“What was it your personality questionnaire said … I have a good imagination?” Harry said with a grin. Draco smirked and sat down on the floor. He looked surprised and pleased with the cushioning charm.

“Well then, I approve of your imagination,” Draco said as he poured them each a glass of wine. His eyes met Harry’s. They gleamed mischievously in the firelight. “I wonder what else that imagination can do.”

“Stick around and you just might find out,” Harry murmured huskily. Heat flared in Draco’s eyes. Harry grinned smugly down at his plate.

When they’d both finished their food, Harry crawled clumsily around the table to sit next to Draco. They were leaning heavily on each other, drinking the rest of the wine. Harry felt pleasantly warm, and Draco smelled nice. They’d been laughing over Harry’s story about the first time he’d cocked up in Auror training. He’d worried he was a failure, and that they’d kick him out.

“Only you could think that,” Draco said, laughing. “As if anyone could ever kick you out of something and make it stick.”

“I was always pretty good at getting out of the threat of expulsion, thankfully,” Harry said.

Draco set his empty glass down on the table behind them. He leaned more heavily on Harry. Harry’s arm automatically moved up around his waist and he fingered the soft fabric of Draco’s shirt — he’d shed his jumper shortly after they’d sat down to eat. Draco looked up and their eyes met. Harry’s fingers continued to rub gently at the fabric of Draco’s shirt.

Draco leaned forward slowly, eyes locked on Harry’s. Harry’s breath caught in his throat. His tongue darted out to wet his bottom lip. Draco glanced down at it. He was just inches away. Harry’s lips tingled at the prospect of kissing Draco.

Bark, bark! Hyperion’s excited yips startled them both. The Crup was standing before them with one paw up on Draco’s leg. He looked eagerly between Draco and Harry. They shared a look and laughed at the interruption.

“I think he needs to go for a walk,” Draco said, amusement shining through his exasperation. Harry sighed heavily and hauled himself to his feet, reaching a hand down to help Draco up.

Harry waited in the hallway while Draco put his jumper back on. Hyperion circled twice by Harry’s feet before sitting patiently. Harry glanced down at him.

“Oi, be a mate, would you? You’re meant to be my partner, here, not cockblock me when I’m about to get lucky,” Harry chided him. Hyperion tilted his head. His tongue lolled out of his mouth, making it look like the dog was grinning at him. “Ha ha, very funny.”

***

Draco was in the Auror Department on the day of Hyperion’s first field test with Harry. He was there to set up magically expanded kennels within the DMLE offices.

After he’d finished setting up the final space he sat in the empty conference room of the DMLE offices, worrying over how Hyperion’s test had gone. Harry had explained to him that it was a routine field operation which shouldn’t take longer than two hours to complete. Draco’s eyes skated over to the clock on the wall and saw that it had been a little over two hours. He was beginning to get antsy and impatient.

Draco tapped his fingers against the cheap wooden table in front of him, as he continued to work himself up. He huffed as he rubbed at his temples. Stop being so ridiculous, he mentally chided himself. Harry was a professional, and excellent at his job — he had years of field experience under his belt. Hyperion was a very clever Crup, who descended from Draco’s prized Athena. They were fine. Everything would be fine.

The sound of jovial voices drew Draco’s attention. He peered around the door and saw Harry standing in the middle of the open plan office with a wide grin on his face. His colleagues were slapping him hard on the shoulder and laughing. Hyperion was tucked under Harry’s arm, his tongue lolling out as he panted happily.

“He was brilliant, just brilliant!” Harry said. He looked down at Hyperion and ruffled his ears. “That’s my good boy.”

Draco’s heart gave a great squeeze in his chest. He walked forward towards the rambunctious group with his hands folded behind his back. When Harry’s eyes fell on him they lit up.

“So it went well, did it?” Draco asked. He wanted to ask Harry why the mission had taken longer than expected. With Hyperion by his side it should have been completed faster, more efficiently. Harry was nodding enthusiastically.

“Yeah, it went off without a hitch. Hyperion was wonderful with his tracking and scent discrimination. He was easily able to lead us on the trail of the magical signature,” Harry assured him with a bright, excited expression. “He responded beautifully to his commands, it was amazing. I wish you’d been there to see it.”

“I would have liked that, but I’m considered a civilian,” Draco said. Harry reached towards Draco’s arm, like he was going to brush it, and then aborted the motion awkwardly. Draco cleared his throat as he turned towards the offices he’d been working on. “The kennels are all set up for when the unit is fully instated. They’ve been magically expanded for the Crups’ comfort while their human counterparts are catching up on the more menial tasks of Auror work.”

“Great,” Harry said. “Listen, I was thinking tonight we could go back to that —”

“I also wanted to let you know how well you’re doing,” Draco interrupted. Harry’s eyes widened, then darted off to the side to avoid meeting Draco’s gaze. His cheeks were flushed and he ducked his head, licking his lips. Draco had noticed these odd reactions several times when he’d told Harry that he’d done a good job. He very much wanted to explore it more. “You’ve got the basics down now, so I can move out of your home. We can switch to weekly check ups.”

“Weekly — wait, what?” Harry asked, snapping back to attention. He glanced around to gauge where his colleagues were and pinned Draco with an intense stare. “You’re moving out?”

“Yes, Potter, it wasn’t a permanent thing,” Draco said. Harry looked sad. “I enjoyed training you, but now you can move on to the maintenance phase. I’ll be able to start training the next Auror for the unit.”

“Oh,” Harry said, his eyes flashing for a moment. Draco wondered if he was jealous. He bit the inside of his lip and tried to control his erratic heartbeat. The idea of Harry Potter being jealous over him was ridiculous.

“I’ll move my things out today — I’ll be out of your hair after dinner. Come and see me at the kennel next week, and bring Hyperion,” Draco said quickly. A silly, childish part of him wanted to reach out and crush Harry to him in a hug. He wanted to wipe that despondent look off Harry’s face. More than that, he wanted to curl up with him by the fire and kiss him.

Draco did none of those things. Instead, he returned to Grimmauld Place alone. He moved his trunk down to the hallway and returned the books that he’d collected by his favourite wing-backed chair. He washed and put away the child-made mug he took his tea in. He shrank his trunk as he glanced around the room before stepping out onto the porch. He didn’t want to linger. If he lingered then there was a chance he might not leave.

It was amazing and ridiculous all at once how living with someone for a month could completely turn his world upside down. It was time for him to get back to his routines.

***

It took a while, but eventually Harry adjusted to seeing Draco once a week instead of daily. He missed Draco’s presence in his house; it felt lonelier without him there. When he’d returned home from the office after Hyperion’s first field test, he’d found that Draco had already cleared out. His mug had been put away, and his stack of books was gone. Harry had turned to Hyperion for comfort and was grateful for his loyalty.

The field tests with Hyperion continued, and they were all wonderful successes. Harry was able to take Hyperion with him on more and more cases. The Crup’s skills only continued to grow. Once, Harry had ended up in a duel with a suspect, and Hyperion had adapted excellently to the stress of spell fire.

He’d also adjusted to bringing his Crup to Draco’s kennel for his weekly check in. At first Harry had been unsure of how to act. After their date and their almost kiss, Harry had thought they were moving towards something. But then Draco had brushed him off, and told him that he was moving on to the next Auror. Harry had spent several dark, lonely nights thinking that he’d been nothing more than a silly, flirting fling for Draco. His stomach had tied itself in knots whenever he thought about Draco living with any of the other Aurors.

Only, when Harry had gone to the kennel the week after the first field test, his visit went well. Draco was impressed with the continued success of the field tests, and with Hyperion’s improving skills. Even better, Draco had seemed genuinely happy to see Harry. They had relaxed enough to fall back into their normal banter by the third week.

“Go on, play with your brothers and sisters,” Harry said, letting Hyperion off of his lead after they’d cleared the kennel gate. Hyperion barked excitedly and bounded off towards his littermates. Harry waved to Draco as he walked over at a slower pace. He could see from a distance that Draco was wearing Harry’s favourite jumper, the tan-coloured one that made his skin look like it glowed.

“Hi,” Harry called when he was close enough to be heard. Draco shot him a smile before he turned back to running through the obedience drills.

“You’re late today. We’ve started without you,” Draco said between commands. Harry looked at the ground, heat flooding his cheeks.

“Sorry, I was late getting out of the shower,” he said.

“That overactive imagination of yours, again, no doubt,” Draco said with a smirk. Harry laughed as he bumped their shoulders together.

“If only! No, I had a late night at the DMLE last night. A new case has come in,” Harry explained. A lock of Draco’s hair had come free and was blowing in his eyes. Harry was overcome with an urge to brush it away. After a moment, he gave in; he tentatively reached up and tucked it behind Draco’s ear. A smile spread slowly across his face.

“Good thing the Auror Department is instating this lot, then. In twenty years they’ll be doing your job for you,” Draco teased, gesturing at the Crups.

“Well, then I’ll be able to take an early retirement and have plenty of time for that imagination, won’t I?” Harry said with a mischievous grin. Draco snorted, and Harry waggled his eyebrows at him. “Where will that leave you? Still training the new recruits, or will they be able to train themselves, too?”

“Wouldn’t that be wonderful? An entire team of self-sufficient, highly intelligent Crups,” Draco said, his eyes bright with mirth. “What’s the Muggle term for that? Super Crups?”

Harry’s stomach did a somersault. He leaned against Draco for a moment, overwhelmed by how drawn to this man he’d become over the course of two months. Somehow Draco had swept into his life and wormed his way into Harry’s heart. Draco’s hand came up and rested against his back, pressing between his shoulder blades. Harry turned his head and rubbed his nose against Draco’s neck.

“Come out with me this weekend? Saturday night?” Draco asked. Harry nodded, enjoying the feel of Draco’s smooth skin against his face.

***

When Saturday night came around, Harry Apparated to the coordinates Draco had given him. He arrived at the base of a hill in Wiltshire, near Malfoy Manor. Harry could see the lights of the estate in the distance. Despite the warmth of the day, a brisk autumn chill had developed in the air. Harry found Draco at the top of the hill, looking even more striking than usual. It was difficult to make out his face in the dim light given off by the moon.

“Don’t cast a Lumos, your eyes need to be adjusted to the dark,” Draco said when Harry reached him. He had set up a blanket and plump pillows in the grass.

“Well, isn’t this romantic,” Harry said lightly. Draco ducked his head, and Harry was sure that if he shone a light on him right now the tips of his ears would be pink.

“Don’t be so smug, Potter, it doesn’t suit you. You don’t have the bone structure for it,” Draco drawled when he’d regained his composure. “Maybe I just brought you up here for a dirty shag.”

“Doesn’t look like the type of setting for a dirty shag, though,” Harry said in amusement. “Dirty shags don’t come with blankets and throw pillows.”

Draco grabbed his hand and pulled him down onto the blanket. Harry allowed Draco to arrange his limbs until he was satisfied, before lying down beside him. They gazed up at the twinkling stars together. A peaceful quiet blanketed the hilltop.

“I used to play up here with the Crup I had as a child,” Draco said softly. He’d burrowed closer into Harry’s side for warmth. Harry smiled, picturing Draco in a little sailor suit with a Crup racing ahead of him.

“I can see it now,” Harry said. He described his mental image to Draco, and received a light punch to the arm. Harry laughed hard, wrapping an arm around Draco’s shoulders, and drew him closer. He laughed again, snorting, when Draco pinched his side.

“Shut up, you prat,” Draco chided. He held up his wand and twirled it, murmuring an incantation under his breath.

Constellations began to light up in the sky. Draco pointed to each one and named them.

“And look, that’s the Draco constellation. It never sets below the horizon, so we can see it all year round,” Draco said, pointing to a glowing patch of stars. He connected the constellation with another flick of his wand. “My mother taught me this spell as a child — she used to light up the stars for me,” he said conversationally.

Harry turned towards him and studied his profile in the dim light. He reached over, gently pulling Draco’s chin around to face him. He leaned in and pressed their lips together softly. He felt rather than heard Draco’s breath catch. Harry rolled onto his side, wrapping Draco in the crook of his arm. They opened their mouths at the same time, and their tongues slid together as easily as if they’d been kissing their entire lives.

They kissed for long minutes, their hands straying to gently caress and brush against each other’s faces, their sides, and their hair. Draco made a sound at the back of his throat and rolled Harry onto his back. He leaned up on his elbow over Harry, kissing him thoroughly. He kissed Harry until he had him melting into the ground.

Harry ran his fingers through Draco’s hair, squeezing the back of his neck to hold him in a longer press of their lips. Harry sucked on Draco’s lower lip and nibbled at the corners of his mouth. Minutes or hours later, they ended up tangled together on the blanket. They pulled apart to catch their breath. Their mouths were swollen and red from kissing. Harry touched Draco’s bottom lip gently, shivering when Draco pressed a gentle kiss to the tip of his finger. He stared wonderingly into Draco’s eyes. Harry wanted to capture the smile Draco gave him and hold it in his heart forever.

“Shouldn’t you be getting back to the dog?” Draco suggested breathlessly. Harry snorted and flipped Draco onto his back, straddling his hips.

“I’m sure the dog will be fine,” Harry said.

He stole more kisses, trailing them over Draco’s jaw and down his neck; he felt drunk on the laughter and breathless, sighing sounds Draco made.

***

Draco had to wonder if it really was wise for him to get involved with Harry while he was still training the Crups for the Ministry. He’d almost owled Harry on three separate occasions to explain why it wasn’t a good time, but each time he’d pictured the way Harry had taken to the training — how he’d bonded with Hyperion — and his heart swelled with feelings he didn’t want to put a name to yet. The scope of his feelings for Harry excited and intimidated him all at once.

Draco found himself spending more and more time at Grimmauld Place with Harry and Hyperion. He felt like for the first time in his many years of knowing Harry Potter, he was finally getting to know him. They talked, even about the difficult areas of their past. At first the conversations had been stilted and awkward to navigate, but they’d gradually learned to be open with each other.

They worked out a new routine where Draco would stop by for afternoon tea, and usually end up staying for dinner. As they got closer Draco wasn’t sure whether he’d have the strength to ever get out. He wasn’t sure he ever wanted to prise himself from Harry’s life.

A month into their new routine, Harry had cooked him dinner on an ordinary Wednesday night. It hadn’t been gourmet in any sense that Draco was used to, but it had been pleasant to sit and drink wine while he watched Harry cook. None of his past boyfriends had ever cooked for him. The word stuck like sap in Draco’s head. Boyfriend. He’d been unprepared to examine what they were doing before, but somewhere along the line he’d allowed his mind to naturally slip from casual dating and a few snogs, to boyfriends. He set down his wine glass and looked around the room, as if he was seeing it in a new light.

“Is everything alright?” Harry asked. He was clearing away their plates and had a tea towel draped over his shoulder. Desire coiled in Draco’s stomach at the sight of it. It wasn’t even an erotic image, yet it made his blood pound through his veins.

“Perfectly fine,” Draco said. He stood and snagged the towel from Harry’s shoulder. “I think you’ve earned yourself a reward for making me dinner.”

“Is that so?” Harry said with an easy smile. Draco whipped the towel at Harry’s arse.

“Quite right, get a move on!” Draco commanded. Harry snorted and shot Draco a look over his shoulder. “Let’s go upstairs, so the dog won’t disturb us.”

Harry’s eyes grew heated and he licked his lips. They were on each other in an instant, tasting wine on each other’s tongues as they stumbled clumsily up the staircase to the bedroom. When they parted for air, Harry threw Draco bodily onto the bed. He looked up at Harry through the hair that had fallen in his eyes.

“Auror brute,” Draco said with a deep laugh. Harry grinned a predatory smile and lifted Draco’s jumper to reveal his stomach. He leaned forward and laved playful bites and kisses all over Draco’s skin, until he was panting and arching up into Harry’s touches. He gasped when Harry bit his nipple and scraped his blunt nails down Draco’s side.

They took their time divesting each other of their clothes — jumpers, trousers, and t-shirts fluttered to the ground. They slid and rocked their heated skin together as they devoured each other with desperate kisses.

“Need you,” Harry breathed into Draco’s mouth, and he nodded, unable to find the words to answer him. Harry rolled over and Draco ground the hard line of his cock down against Harry’s muscled arse.

“Oh Salazar,” Draco groaned. Harry bucked his hips in response, leaning over to fiddle with a drawer in his side table. He retrieved a bottle of lube and tossed it blindly back at Draco.

Draco snatched the small bottle as he pressed wet, open-mouthed kisses down the line of Harry’s spine. When he reached Harry’s arse he couldn’t bear to part from his skin, so he nipped at one of his cheeks. Harry cried out in pleasure, arching back against him. The blood was rushing in Draco’s ears as he poured lube onto his fingers.

A curious yip sounded from somewhere in the room, but it wasn’t until the second yip, and the sound of nails against the floor, that Draco realized what was happening. A cold, wet nose pressed against his ankle, making him jump.

“Bloody — fuck,” Draco said as he spun around. Hyperion had jumped up onto the bed. Draco couldn’t recall whether they’d remembered to close his crate in their lust-induced rush to the bedroom. “Hyperion,” Draco said flatly.

Harry leaned up on his elbows and peered over his shoulder, still panting. Draco narrowed his eyes as he slid his gaze over to Harry. Draco’s fingers were still dripping with lube.

“Have you been keeping him in his crate at night? Even if we forget to lock his door, he should stay there. You haven’t been letting him up on the bed, have you?” he asked in quick succession. Harry looked ready to deny Draco’s accusations until Draco gave him a sharp look.

“Okay, okay — it was one time! I had a nightmare and he came in when he heard me,” Harry admitted.

“Why wasn’t he in his crate?” Draco asked as he wiped his fingers on Harry’s leg with a grimace.

“He — I didn’t want to leave him in it. I know, I know!” Harry said before Draco could interrupt him. He rolled over and sat up. “I didn’t want him to have to sleep all cramped up like I did as a kid, in the cupboard my Muggle relatives kept me in.”

Draco was stunned into silence. “It’s fine,” he said eventually.

That hadn’t come up in their conversations — at least, not in explicit detail. All Harry had told him was that his Muggle relatives hadn’t liked him much.

“It’s fine,” he repeated. “He’ll be okay sleeping in the crate, though. I promise, it’s like a den to them. It doesn’t feel like a cage, or like they’re being locked up. I explained this to you during the first week, remember?” His throat had gone dry as he forced the words out. “Hyperion, go and lay down. Crate.”

Hyperion gave one last wet sniff to each of their legs before leaping from the bed and trotting out of the room. Draco leaned over to pick up his wand and erected a ward in the doorway.

He pressed feather-light kisses all over Harry’s body. He held Harry until they fell asleep together, still naked.

***

Draco slowly awoke to the feeling of wet kisses against the back of his neck. He was disoriented for a moment, thinking that the dog had got into the room again. Then Harry’s hand brushed lightly over his bare chest, and his morning erection rocked insistently against Draco’s arse. He stretched, arching back into Harry’s body. Harry hummed appreciatively and curled his arm tighter around Draco’s waist as he nipped at the side of Draco’s neck. Draco shivered as Harry’s tongue teased the shell of his ear.

“Morning,” Harry said in a deep, husky voice that went straight to Draco’s cock. Harry’s hips hadn’t stopped their slow, rocking rhythm. His thick cock was nestled in the crease of Draco’s arse. When Harry’s lips reached the back of Draco’s neck he dragged his teeth over a particularly sensitive spot before sucking what was sure to be an impressive bruise into his skin. Draco shuddered in pleasure at the sensation, his breath leaving him in a shaky exhale.

“Care to pick up where we left off last night?” Draco asked. His voice was pitched low and sultry. Harry hummed into the back of his neck.

“That’s the idea,” he murmured into Draco’s heated skin. Draco rolled over in his arms to capture Harry’s lips in a searing kiss. Their tongues slid together as they explored each other’s mouths. Draco’s hands drifted down Harry’s back; his fingers wandered into the crack of Harry’s arse. Harry sucked on his tongue in a tantalizing manner that had Draco bucking his hips forwards, bringing their groins together.

Draco pushed Harry onto his back and slithered down his body, pausing along the way to leave a trail of kisses on Harry’s flushed skin. He bypassed Harry’s cock, which was standing proud and jutting towards the ceiling, to continue kissing every inch of him. When he bit the inside of Harry’s thigh, his hand shot to Draco’s hair.

“Don’t be a tease,” Harry said lightly, making a pleased sound when Draco’s fingers stroked the skin behind Harry’s balls. His fingers became bolder as he explored further back, finding Harry’s furled hole. He spread Harry’s legs wide and teased his finger in a slow circle along the rim. He glanced up and saw Harry grinning widely at the ceiling. Draco smirked as he moved forward to quickly swallow Harry’s prick, encasing it in the wet heat of his mouth.

Draco was satisfied to hear Harry’s surprised groan of pleasure. He continued to stroke Harry’s hole, teasing the tight muscle with fluttering brushes of his finger as his mouth worked Harry’s throbbing cock. Draco’s tongue flicked and curled around Harry’s cock, mapping it in the same way as he’d done with Harry’s mouth. Harry bucked up, his cock sliding further past Draco’s lips.

“Oh god, yes,” Harry babbled. “Like that!”

Draco teased his tongue into the slit of Harry’s cock and sucked it down again. Harry’s hips rocked slowly to match Draco’s bobbing. He pulled off for a moment to find the bottle of lube, slicking his fingers, before taking a deep breath and filling his mouth with Harry’s thick cock until it pushed into his throat. At the same time he rubbed his oiled finger against Harry’s hole and pressed it in achingly slowly.

“Christ, Draco, your mouth! So good!” Harry cried out. Draco squeezed Harry’s arse, signalling for him to thrust. Harry bucked his hips up, his hand still buried in Draco’s hair. Draco worked his finger in and out in a steady rhythm until he was able to add a second. He curled his fingers up and Harry moaned as he rubbed his prostate. He pulled back to bob his head while he massaged his fingers against the bud of nerves until he was driving Harry crazy. He was moaning continuously, his hips bucking into Draco’s mouth and pressing back against Draco’s hand. Draco hummed in pleasure around Harry’s cock when his arse clenched around his fingers, pulling them further in.

Draco pulled away from Harry’s cock when he sensed he was close to falling over the edge. Harry gave a strangled cry of frustration in protest.

“I want to taste all of you,” Draco said in a rush. He spread Harry’s legs open further, putting him on full display. Draco bit his lip as he took a moment to admire the sight.

“What are you —” Harry began to ask hoarsely, but his words were cut off as Draco’s tongue swept broad strokes over Harry’s hole. “Oh, oh fuck —”

Harry melted back into his pillows, his hips undulating slowly to press his arse against Draco’s face. Draco closed his lips over Harry’s damp hole in a wet, sloppy kiss. He swirled his tongue in a circle around Harry’s rim. He couldn’t get enough; he needed all of Harry.

“You’re like a Crup with a bone,” Harry quipped breathlessly as Draco jabbed his tongue past the tight ring of muscle. Draco kneaded Harry’s arse with his fingers, holding his cheeks open wider. He pulled his tongue free and lapped at the furled pucker of skin again, before jabbing his tongue back inside with insistent thrusts. “Ah, not — fuck — not complaining, though.”

He slid a finger in alongside his tongue. The sounds Harry was making had Draco’s prick throbbing heavily between his legs, leaking precome against his thigh.

“Draco, Draco,” Harry said in a wild tone, like an animal hunted. It was music to Draco’s ears, listening to him fall apart. “Too much, need you to fuck me. Come up here and fuck me into the mattress!”

Draco pressed his tongue in further, as far as he could go, before finally pulling away. He pressed one last, chaste kiss to the loosened ring of Harry’s arse before sitting up.

“You’re beautiful like this, all spread out and ready for me,” Draco said. And Harry was, he was completely open for Draco. He swallowed thickly. “I’m going to fuck you until you forget anyone that’s ever been there before me.”

“Yes, please,” Harry said as Draco poured more lube into his hands. Harry leaned up on his elbows and reached out to help Draco oil his cock. Draco spent a few moments thrusting into Harry’s fist, his fingers stroking Harry’s wrist.

He lined himself up, rubbing the slippery head of his cock against Harry’s entrance until Harry grunted impatiently. Harry wrapped his legs around Draco’s hips and pulled him forward with his heels against Draco’s arse. Draco closed his eyes and let his head fall back when he breached Harry, momentarily overwhelmed by the tight heat. Harry made a relieved, triumphant sound.

Draco inched in slowly, savouring every slide of his cock until he was fully seated with his balls pressed up against Harry’s arse. After a long minute Harry nodded to Draco. He pulled almost all of the way out and pushed back inside with a long thrust.

Draco worked into a slow rhythm, leaning down to press a kiss to Harry’s neck. Harry’s hips met him at every thrust.

“You’re doing so well. You’ve been so good for me, Harry,” Draco murmured against his neck as he thrust shallowly. He leant back and watched Harry’s eyelids flutter. “You like that? You like it when I tell you what a good boy you are?”

Harry’s back arched, his neck a tantalizing column that called for Draco to leave a matching bruise like the one Harry had left on his own neck.

“You feel amazing, you’re so tight and your arse is sucking my cock in,” Draco said breathlessly.

“Godric, yes,” Harry said. He propped himself up on his elbows and kissed Draco desperately. When he pulled back he licked his bottom lip, staring up at him through hooded eyes. “Now fuck me like you mean it.”

A wild grin spread across Draco’s face. He lifted one of Harry’s legs over his shoulder and gripped Harry’s thigh. Draco snapped his hips forward at a punishing pace, angling to pound into Harry’s prostate. Harry was braced with one hand against the headboard and his other gripping the sheets. He was babbling and moaning, breathing out a continuous stream of so good, yes, don’t stop, right there.

An incessant barking finally cut through Draco’s lust-induced haze and Harry’s desperate sounds of pleasure. They shared a look of exasperation. Draco looked over his shoulder and saw Hyperion desperately trying to get through the magical barrier that he had put up in the doorway the night before. Apparently the Crup had mistaken the sounds of loud, enthusiastic sex for those of mortal peril, and had come to charge in and rescue Harry.

Harry burst out laughing before Draco could even fathom a response, his brain still sluggishly trying to process the scene while all of the blood in his body seemed to be in his prick.

“Did you give me a dog with as much of a saviour complex as I have?” Harry asked between peals of laughter. He was panting and grinning, his skin still glistening from the exertion of their coupling. Draco’s heart fluttered in his chest, and it had nothing to do with how out of breath he was from fucking Harry.

“Merlin help us all if that’s the case,” Draco said, his lips twitching. Harry snorted, and Draco couldn’t hold back his own laughter any longer as Hyperion’s fierce barking devolved into desperate whining sounds. They collapsed together in their fit of laughter.

“Hyperion, go downstairs and wait,” Harry commanded when he’d caught his breath again. The dog jumped up, eager to obey Harry’s orders, and scampered off. Draco could hear the click-clack of his nails against the hardwood floor, gradually fading as the Crup ran further down the hallway.

Harry held up a hand and waved lazily, using wandless magic to close the door. Draco bit his lip as his cock gave an eager twitch at the powerful display.

“That’s quite attractive,” he murmured, leaning down to rub his nose along Harry’s neck.

“Mm?”

“Wandless magic. I didn’t know you could do that,” Draco said. Harry shrugged with a smug smile.

“Weren’t we busy doing something, before we were interrupted by a needy Crup?” Harry said, rolling his hips and clenching his arse around Draco’s prick. Draco bit his lip, his hips snapping forward of their own volition. “Something about making me forget anyone I’ve ever been with before you?”

Harry winked at him and managed to flip Draco onto his back without dislodging him. Without missing a beat, Harry raised himself up and slammed back down, impaling himself on Draco’s cock. Draco’s strangled groan caught in his throat. His hands shot up to grip Harry’s hips. Harry caught Draco’s wrists and pinned them to the bed as he circled his hips teasingly, using his grip to balance himself.

“Are you being naughty now?” Draco asked hoarsely. Harry gave him a cheeky wink. “Naughty boys don’t get rewarded,” Draco chided. Harry’s arse clenched tightly around his cock.

“What’ll you do, Malfoy? Tie me up? Spank me?” Harry said cockily. Draco had a mind to do just that. He pictured Harry with his wrists bound, his arse flushed with red marks inflicted by his hand.

Oh Merlin,” he moaned, planting his feet beneath him, pumping his hips up to meet Harry’s. Harry gasped sharply and ground his arse down on Draco’s cock. “You may very well be the death of me, Potter.”

“Touch me,” Harry gasped out. Harry released one of Draco’s wrists, and Draco stroked his cock firmly. Harry murmured something under his breath, then Draco’s hand was coated in oil.

“Did you just —” Draco began to ask, but Harry was swearing and fucking himself in earnest, filling himself with Draco’s prick. “Fuck, that’s so hot. You look so good like that. Keep it up, Harry. Fuck yourself on my cock. I’m going to fill you up, and I want to see you come all over me.”

Harry leered down at him as his hips moved. They were both sweating and panting. The pleasure was building quickly; Draco wasn’t going to last much longer. His fist flew over Harry’s prick, squeezing it.

“Right there,” Harry said desperately. His head fell back and his mouth open in a silent cry of pleasure.

“Come for me, Harry,” Draco breathed.

Draco pounded up into him, his balls tightening up as his orgasm slammed through him. He swore as his release spurted out of him in throbbing pulses. He was distantly aware of Harry’s arse clenching around him like a vice, and he forced his eyes open. Harry was a vision when he came, his whole body arching as his prick twitched. He came in pearly ropes which coated Draco’s chest and landed as far up as his chin. Draco wiped it off, sucking his finger into his mouth.

Harry collapsed against his chest, not at all concerned that he was smearing his come between their bodies. They were both panting, exhausted.

“Well,” Draco said dazedly, turning his face to kiss Harry anywhere he could reach. “That was…”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed as he caught his breath. Harry slid off Draco, causing Draco’s softening cock to slip free. Draco’s fingers trailed lightly over Harry’s flushed skin. He couldn’t quite bear to be parted from Harry’s arse just yet. He teased his fingertips against Harry’s rim and grinned as he slid two fingers into the loosened hole. Harry hummed and rocked slowly back on his fingers. Draco felt his own release coating his fingers; it made him bite his lip.

He fingered Harry until he winced, then gently slid his fingers out. “Sorry, you’re irresistible.”

Harry pressed a kiss to his shoulder, and then propped himself up on his elbow. “Shower, then breakfast?”

Draco nodded, wrapping his arms tightly around Harry. “And then you’re going to suck my cock, and fuck me in the garden.”

Harry shivered, nipping along Draco’s jaw until he reached his lips. They shared a lazy kiss.

“Is that so?” Harry asked. “And I suppose you’ll be needing warming charms for your perpetually frozen arse?” Draco hummed in agreement.

“Yes please. I appreciate it when you do as I say,” Draco said, enjoying the flush that crept across Harry’s cheeks.

“Do as you demand, more like,” Harry quipped.

“That, too,” Draco said, amused.

A pitiful whine stole their attention as they got up to make their way to the shower. Harry waved his hand and the door swung open to reveal Hyperion sitting with one paw pressed against the magical barrier. Draco snorted and shook his head.

“I mean it about not letting the dog in the bed, Potter,” Draco said.

***

8 Months Later

Harry stood on the raised platform in his full Auror regalia, with Hyperion sitting loyally at his side. He was flanked by nine other Auror and Crup partnerships that Draco had worked with over the course of the year to complete their training and testing. The ceremony was being held to officially instate the Auror K9 Unit, and to thank Draco for his service to the Ministry.

Hermione had given a speech on the positive step forward the Ministry was taking, towards a fair and efficient justice system, all whilst improving relationships between magical creatures and wizarding folk.

Kingsley called each of the Aurors and their Crups by name, pausing after each partnership to allow the audience to applaud. Cameras flashed intermittently.

“Auror Harry James Potter, and his Crup partner Hyperion,” Kingsley said, his magically amplified voice echoing around the room. Harry clicked his fingers and Hyperion stood. Harry signalled to him with a silent hand gesture. They stepped forward together, now fully bonded and in sync with one another. Harry had been so impressed with Hyperion as their bond had strengthened over the year. He didn’t even need to command him verbally; his Crup anticipated what Harry would order before he could finish thinking about it.

“We thank these Aurors for the time and dedication they’ve put in on top of their regular caseloads over the last year. They’ve seamlessly incorporated their Crup partners into their routines, and welcomed them into their homes. The Ministry hopes that this Unit will continue to grow within the DMLE, and will continue to be a resounding success. Please join me in celebrating the official induction of the Ministry of Magic’s Auror K9 Unit,” Kingsley said proudly. Applause and cheers followed his words.

Harry glanced over to the side of the platform, grinning at Draco. Today he had skipped the Muggle jumpers that Harry loved so much in favour of dress robes. Harry still thought he looked incredibly handsome. Draco was clapping along with the rest of the crowd, his eyes glued on Harry. He looked so proud. It made Harry shiver just to think of the words of praise Draco might whisper in his ear if he was close enough.

At Kingsley’s gesture the Aurors stepped back into line with their service dogs.

“And now, I’d like to call forward the man who helped make this all possible. He’s a renowned Crup trainer, and the Ministry could not be more pleased with the results. Please join me in welcoming Draco Malfoy to the stage,” Kingsley announced. Draco bowed his head and stepped elegantly onto the platform. Kingsley shook his hand and stepped back to applaud. Harry was clapping so hard his palms were beginning to sting. “For your service in bringing the Ministry towards a greater future, we bestow upon you this plaque of thanks. We would also like to award you an Order of Merlin, Third Class, for your contribution to society.”

Draco stood with his chest puffed out, his chin tilted up proudly while Kingsley pinned the white ribbon and gold medal to his dress robes, then bowed his head and shook the Minister’s hand again. He drifted off to the side of the stage, close to where Harry stood. They shared a look that spoke volumes. Harry reached out and entwined their fingers as they stepped off the platform at the end of Kingsley’s speech.

As they mingled with the attendees, they caught each other’s eye several times and flashed each other secret smiles.

As the event began to wind down, Harry tugged Draco close so that he could lean over, his lips brushing the shell of Draco’s ear. “I’m so proud of you,” he murmured.

“I love you, too,” Draco said with a smirk that threatened to spread into the full smile that Harry loved.

“Ready to go home?” Harry asked. Hyperion squirmed in Harry’s arms, growing restless. “He’s ready to run around. There’s a lot less excitement for him at an awards ceremony than there is in the field.”

“Mm, and we know how much you both love excitement,” Draco said flirtatiously. His hand came up to brush against Harry’s shoulder blades.

“You’ve trained us both to be creatures of habit,” Harry said, squeezing Draco’s hand that he still held onto.

“I have. And you’re such good boys, aren’t you? I like it very much when you behave well for me,” Draco said with a fond, knowing look. Harry bit his lip. He tugged on Draco’s hand, leading him through the crowd to the Floo.

They returned to their new home, a small cottage on the outskirts of London, where Draco had built new kennels on the grounds. They let Hyperion run with the other Crups in the large field behind the cottage. Draco caught Harry’s hand, brushing his fingers against Harry’s wrist.

Without needing to exchange any words they came together, lips and hips pressed in close contact.

The End