"This is the worst plan you have ever had," said Draco. "In a long history of impressively imbecilic plans, this, is by far the worst."
"Yeah, it's shite," Ron admitted. "But it'll work. He was my best mate for half my life. I know him. It'll work." Ron graced them with an awkward pause, from the king of awkward pauses. "He's always been… you know, half obsessed with you."
"Half?" Hermione snorted in a most undignified manner.
"Obsessed or not, this is also because I'm expendable," Draco added maliciously, ignoring Hermione's amusement. This situation wasn't amusing; it was horrific. Draco was being offered up like a lamb for slaughter. Again.
Ron had the audacity to grin at Draco before he said, "Yeah, that too mate."
"Brilliant," said Draco, with a well-practiced sigh. "When do I start?"
Operation Cockup, as Draco liked to think of it, was officially called Operation Dragonflight; which, in Draco's experienced opinion, was an even worse codename than Operation Cockup. But, as per usual, no one in this second rate rebellion was going to listen to Draco.
Op Cock was due to start any minute, on a murky Monday in late November. Timed thus, as far as he could tell, for no other reason than it seemed as good a time as any to throw Draco on the mercies of the newest Dark-Lord-to-be. Draco tried not to sulk but failed.
He leant against a grey brick wall on an otherwise anonymous street corner in a less savoury part of London. He wore a tight white Muggle style tee-shirt, almost thin enough to show his scars in the damp autumnal air. A leather jacket, ostensibly kept him warm but he had the sleeves pushed up, baring his forearms; the Dark Mark a stark display against his pale skin. The jeans some nameless Gryffindor girl had chosen for him were so tight that even Hermione had blushed. At least he knew he looked the part. Even if he was freezing his bollocks off.
He lit a cigarette and waited for the Boy-Who-Changed-Sides to show up.
Draco couldn't help fidgeting with the small potion vial in his pocket. It would have a sixteen hour half-life once Draco swallowed it. Seeing how unlikely the whole obscene plan was in any amount of time, Draco wanted every second he could get. Their source in the Dark Lord's inner camp had only managed to get them one strand of Potter's hair. Which meant they only had one dose.
When Draco left for the mission, Ron had insisted that his ridiculous plan had a very high chance of success and, in an even more blatant lie, a reasonable chance for Draco's survival too. Ron had, at least, pretended his slightly more heartfelt than usual goodbye was a joke. Then, Hermione had ruined it by having the audacity to both hug and cry on Draco before he left. So Draco's confidence in Ron's assessment of his survival odds was not as high as it might have been. Ron might be their strategist, but Hermione was the arithmetician.
Draco was the bait. Simple as that.
He was stubbing out his cigarette on a paving stone when an unforgettable voice broke him from his musings. He swallowed the potion fast before the door opened, and Harry Potter and his entourage walked out onto the street.
It was Yaxley that noticed Draco first, though. He was leading the way, a human shield against sudden attacks, and only half-listening to whatever orders Potter was giving. When he saw Draco he stopped dead in his tracks, causing Potter to almost barge into him and, for a moment, Yaxley's surprise showed in his normally dead eyes.
"Well, well," said Yaxley. "If it isn't little Mr Malfoy. We thought you ran away."
Every syllable was a mockery of what Draco used to be and his name used to mean. Draco resisted the urge to run right then and prove him right. He forced his eyes to meet the cold steel of Yaxley's.
"Yes," Draco said, as cold as Yaxley's glare. "I did. Now I'm back."
"Sod off, Yaxley," said Potter, coming to Draco's rescue when Draco finally wanted him to. "He's mine. Voldemort promised, remember?"
Yaxley backed off instantly, looking away when Potter spoke the Dark Lord's name with no fear and something closer to contempt. The light in Potter's eyes was positively feral in a way that made it difficult for Draco to breathe. He'd never felt more like prey than he did right then. He kind of liked it.
Potter braced his hands on the wall behind Draco and leaned in close. Too close.
Maybe Ronald hadn't been quite so far off on that 'obsession' thing after all. Draco shivered from the proximity; it should have been from fear. One of the first things Potter had done after switching sides was slaughter Snape. That really was the Elder Wand in Potter's pocket, and Draco knew what Potter did to traitors. But that shiver wasn't anything like fear; it seemed Draco was just as fucked up as Potter. Wasn't that bloody brilliant?
"Why are you back, Malfoy?" His breath was hot on Draco's wind cooled skin. "What is Dumbledore's Army playing at, eh?"
"I want to switch sides," Draco said.
"What, again?" Potter's tone was mocking, a sneer twisting his too soft lips and doing something equally bad to Draco's gut.
"If it's good enough for the Chosen One, why not me?" Draco couldn't keep the sneer from his voice. Didn't even want to.
Potter's eyes narrowed and his gaze hardened even further.
Shit. Draco really shouldn't be challenging Potter so openly. Not when Yaxley was standing right there with at least one other Death Eater minion. Was that sodding Blaise Zabini? Draco was so utterly fucked.
"Dumbledore was wrong," Potter said, and leaned in even closer instead of instantly killing him, so that was something. "It doesn't mean that you were right."
"Right," Draco said, apropos to nothing. "So, does that mean we have a deal?"
"Oh Malfoy, you don't even know my terms yet." Potter smirked at him in a painfully familiar way. The way he once had across the Quidditch pitch. All challenge and school-yard certainty. It hurt like bittersweet nostalgia, and yet it made him want to give Potter anything at all he might ask for. This game just got a whole lot more dangerous.
"I'll do anything you want," said Draco, with more honesty than he was comfortable with.
When Potter moved in to kiss him, snake fast and serpentine smooth, Draco didn't even have time to notice the taste of victory on his tongue. He was too distracted by finally getting Potter, even if it was in the worst possible way.
Potter Apparated them directly into Malfoy Manor. Draco hadn't been here since he ran away, which was just days after Potter's defection to Voldemort's side. It hurt in that same pleasure-pain nostalgia as Potter's kiss. He was so lust addled that it took him a few moments to recognise that they were in what used to be his own bedroom.
"You live here? In my… here?"
"Yeah." Potter's eyes were glazed. Draco wasn't sure if that was the potion or something else entirely, but whatever it was he wanted to keep it there.
Potter cut off any further conversation by kissing him again, getting his hands under Draco's shirt. Warm and broom calloused on Draco's fragile skin. He gave in, gave himself over to the push, pull and touch of it. Gave himself over to the cut grass and dark magic smell on Potter's skin. He let Potter push his jacket off his shoulders, dropping it to the floor and not thinking about anything else.
Potter was so hot he should burn. Warm skin and warm hands and an even more insidious heat of desire rising under Draco's skin. Potter crowded him towards the bed. Draco let him; this was easier than he'd dared imagine. Easier and way too close to every fantasy he'd ever had. He didn't think the potion was meant to work this way. The kiss was meant to make Potter pliant, devoted, not rampant and lustful. Maybe that was just Potter. Maybe Draco was kidding himself. Maybe it didn't matter.
Hermione is going to kill me, Draco thought as Potter shoved Draco against, but not over, the edge of the bed and fell to his knees. His hands were frantically insistent on Draco's jeans, desperate in a way that had to be the potion. This had to be wrong. But Draco couldn't find it in himself to fight it, when Harry Potter was so determined to go down on him.
Draco had never been quite so certain of his own complete lack of moral fiber as he was the moment Potter's mouth wrapped around him and all he did was moan 'yes'. He could probably even spin it the other way, say Potter forced him.
But letting someone use you wasn't meant to feel that good.
And it was Hermione who designed the potion; she would know. There was only so far the 'I had to keep him distracted' excuse was going to carry. In that hot and heady, skin-on-skin-moment Draco really didn't care who was using whom. If he was going to die tonight, it would be with this memory in his mind.
Afterwards, Potter was either potion addled enough, or simply had the sheer temerity, to drowse on Draco's chest. He was beautiful like that. Innocent somehow despite the lives Draco knew he'd taken, despite the fact he now cast Crucio better than Lucius Malfoy could have dreamed to. Asleep and post-coital pliant, he looked like the teen Saviour and schoolyard nemesis for whom Draco had fallen so hopelessly in love all those years ago.
Draco tried to find it in himself to feel guilty. Or dirty maybe. He tried, and failed, to think through the blissful aches and perfect bruises over his body. It still just felt inevitable.
The plan had always been a seduction, of a sort.
Draco was meant to distract Potter long enough for their spy to put other pieces into play. Then, with Potter malleable under the potion's influence, like a very soft Imperius, Draco was meant to talk him back over. Suggest, and cajole, or simply goad him into killing old Snake-face like he had always been destined to do. Or, to be more exact, he was meant to get Potter to try.
The snake had to die first, Draco knew that much. Their spy would let him know when it was time. Other things had also happened already in the weeks and months leading to this gloriously decadent, and obscenely impractical plan. There had been raids and secrets and coded Patronus messages in the night. Plans had been afoot. Things had been destroyed.
And now all Draco had to do was get Potter and Voldemort to kill each other. If the plan worked, Potter was going to die and it was going to be as clearly Draco's fault as if he'd been able to cast the Avada Kedavra himself.
For some reason that was the only part that managed to make him feel bad.
Draco would probably die too, of course. So at least he wouldn't have to live with the guilt for long. If a Death Eater didn't kill him then he was pretty sure Hermione or Ginny would when they figured out just how he'd kept Potter quite so pliable.
When Potter stirred against him and started with more of those unstoppable kisses down his chest, Draco was pretty sure it was going to be worth it. Even if he didn't die a hero. At least he'd have lived through this.
Potter was almost fully awake now. Eyes brighter than before and pressed full length and naked on top of Draco. Chest to chest, and hip to hip. Potter burned against him, as though he was made of nothing but indulgently hot skin and fiery rampant magic. It was glorious.
Draco leaned up to capture Potter in yet another blissful kiss, but Potter stopped him. Pressed him back with nothing but a touch of his finger and a thrust of his magic, pining Draco to the bed, helpless and surprised.
"By the way, Malfoy, your little potion didn't work," said Potter, more conversational with Draco in that moment that he'd ever been. Even back at school, before the war, when their enmity had been more a game than either of them knew.
"What?" Draco wasn't even ready with a denial. He was lust drunk and Potter still felt fantastic against him even as his words put lead in Draco's belly and ice through his veins better than any spell.
"Your potion didn't work," Potter said, more slowly this time as if Draco was the village idiot and needed it spelled out in glowing letters. "I guess Blaise is more my man than yours after all, who knew." Potter made it sound like Potter knew.
His smile was as cold as his skin was hot. Draco wanted to flinch from him but couldn't. The magic holding him was beyond any he'd felt since the last, and only, time the Dark Lord himself had Draco at wand point. Even like this it felt so good that he was tempted. Tempted to just submit and let go and forget about the wars. Let Potter take him, enslave him if that's what this was meant to be.
Draco hadn't even known Blaise was the spy. Still didn't, not for sure.
He was so close to just handing himself over and giving up. Sometimes the path of least resistance wasn't the worst option. Sometimes it was the smart one. Maybe Potter would protect him until he got bored. He didn't seem bored yet. Even cold and bright and burning with magic. He still seemed entranced. Merlin, giving in would feel good with Potter looking at him like that. Draco was born in war time, the last war, just before Potter ended it, but that didn't mean he was born to fight. He was a coward, at heart, and Potter's magic was an intoxicating and irresistible force all around him. Giving in would be so damn easy.
Just before he let go of all the fight he had left, Draco remembered that Ginny was pregnant, of all things. He remembered the stupid look on Longbottom's face when he'd found out he was going to be a dad, in the middle of a buggering war but a dad nonetheless. It had been so haplessly, helplessly, hopeful that Draco had meant to laugh but nearly cried instead.
For some asinine reason it was the thought of little Weasley-Longbottoms or Weasley-Grangers that got him. The idea of these as yet unnamed and unborn children fighting yet another round of this same war in 15 years time; that was what brought back the mettle he'd never been sure he had.
"Why did you take me to bed and lick every scar you've ever given me, then?" Draco demanded. He fought back with words when magic and brute force were beyond him. That had always been his playing field anyway. "Why would you ever want this with me, if the potion wasn't working?"
If the potion was working then Potter shouldn't be able to lie to him though, not outright.
"Spoils of war, Malfoy." Potter's eyes were emerald and steel as he spoke. "You've always been my prize, and you know it. It's why you ran away, the first time."
Potter kissed him then, and Draco let him, kissed back just as fiercely. Potter bit down on Draco's lip, hard enough to bruise, and all Draco could do against it was moan and wish for just a little more.
"I don't think you know who's seducing whom." Draco heard his own voice, gasping and wrecked when Potter finally let him breathe long enough to speak. He heard the words and wasn't sure if he was flirting with Potter or with death. Maybe he wasn't even flirting, just speaking to himself.
"Maybe not," Potter agreed. Oddly amicable for a man so obviously planning to be the next Dark Lord while he forced Draco to watch. "But neither do you," he whispered into Draco's collarbone.
It felt like a benediction or a prayer. A promise and a threat.
It still felt like a chance.