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The One Where Draco Loses his Mind and Gains a Boyfriend

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The One Where Draco Loses his Mind and Gains a Boyfriend

Gods, Harry hated these things. Fucking hated them. And if Hermione wasn't sitting next to him, he'd have bailed on this one the moment they walked in and he realized he was stuck at the head table. But she'd hauled his sorry arse up here, where he now sat woefully exposed under what seemed to be unduly bright lighting, right under the banner telling him what he was whoring himself out for tonight. The angle of their seats was so awkward that he couldn't even read the damned thing. Fortunately, the notes for Hermione's speech, neatly printed on index cards, sat next to his right elbow.

He angled his head and read 'the Society for the Protection and Rehabilitation of War Impacted Magical Creatures'. Taking the pen from Hermione's hand while she was chatting animatedly with Ron, he added 'the soc for the protect & rehab of magic creats' to the beginning of the lines of messily scrawled writing on the back of a paper napkin he'd nicked from the bar. He started to slip the gold pen into the inside pocket of his formal robes, and she reached over and pinched his hand. Hard.

"Ouch!" he complained. "That fucking hurt." He rubbed at the resulting pink mark left just under the whitened 'I will not tell lies' scar.

"This is my pen, thank you very much." She snatched it neatly from his hand. "And would it positively kill you to write your speech before you arrive at a dinner?"

He shrugged. "Might do. I've no idea, really. Never tried it before."

Ron laughed and Hermione elbowed him sharply in the ribs. He grunted and rubbed the spot, giving her a reproachful look. "Easy there, Hermione. You keep beating up on us and we're going to stop coming to these bloody things with you."

"Amen to that, Mate." Harry lifted his drink absently to his lips. The firewhisky burned on its way down, making him grimace, but it also loosened the tight muscles bunched on either side of his neck almost instantly, reminding him why he drank it. Short of a blunt, which he really couldn't light up while sitting on the dais, this was the quickest way he could think of to settle the nerves swirling in his stomach.

"You'll both keep coming," she said. "Where else can you get all the free drinks you want?"

"There is that," Harry agreed, saluting her clear disapproval with his heavy tumbler. She forced a bright smile, which put him instantly on alert. "What?" he asked suspiciously.

"I was just going to compliment your new dress robes," she said. "You look very smart."

He gave her a sardonic look. "You should like them; you picked them out."

"I have very good taste." She looked entirely too smug, and Harry managed, just, not to roll his eyes.

Ron gave him an assessing look. "Seriously, though, Harry. They're much better than the old ones. They were starting to look a bit sad."

Easy for him to say, Harry thought. Ron was wearing the deep red formal Auror's robes, his position as deputy head embroidered on his left breast just below the Ministry insignia. Hermione was wearing her purple Wizengamot robes, the color indicating how highly she was placed in the governing body. By comparison, Harry thought his own black robes were pretty understated.

"The green piping brings out the color of his eyes, doesn't it?" Hermione said to Ron.

He nodded sagely. "It really does. And the cut shows off how fit he's managed to stay."

"The new haircut is also very flattering."

Harry grimaced at them. "Can I tell you how disturbing I find it to listen to the two of you discuss my hair and wardrobe as if I'm not even here? You hauled me to Malkins and your stylist yourself, Hermione, so you should approve. The way you're going on, one of you might've begun writing the gossip column for the 'newspaper that shall not be named' without telling me."

Hermione gave him her recently patented 'I'll be patient with my poor, sad, dumped gay friend' look. Gods, he hated that look.

"We're just commenting on how good you look," she said. "It's good that you're changing things up a bit, and getting out."

"I'm not drunk enough for this," Harry muttered. "And you forced me to come."

"You need to get out of that cottage and away from your computer once in a while."

Harry huffed softly.

"It's true though, Harry. Being a writer is a sedentary business; you might have gone to fat. But you haven't at all." Ron looked encouraging, but all Harry felt was faintly put off.

"Okay, really. That's about all I can handle for one evening." He drained his glass and set the tumbler on the table. It was whisked away by a waiter almost before his fingers were out of the way. He was in the process of turning to demand his glass back when Hermione's fingers closed around his wrist. He met her searching gaze, his heart sinking. Fuck. He knew where this was going.

"We're just concerned about you, Harry," she said, her voice soft.

"Don't." He wasn't begging, he told himself. He'd just heard it all before, and hearing it again wasn't going to change anything.

"Mate."

Ron leaned back in his chair, fixing his direct gaze on Harry behind his wife's back. "You haven't. That bastard did a right number on you, and you haven't been the same since."

Harry closed his eyes, turning his face slightly away. Christ. Like he didn't know? But he didn't want to think about Kieran O'Connor, ever again. Beautiful fucking O'Connor, seeker for the Irish National Team. Harry met him at a cocktail do after the last World Cup, and he'd been struck dumb. Kieran was all lean limbs and slender frame, a typical seeker's build, and had straight black hair framing his piercing blue eyes. He'd taken Harry's breath away. They'd spent six months fucking like rabbits, and it had never dawned on Harry until the very end that he was being used. Kieran hadn't wanted him, just his name. By now, he should have seen it coming from a mile away, but he hadn't. He'd been lonely, and Kieran had been kind, and now he felt like an imbecile.

"I really don't want to talk about that," he said through lips that felt bloodless.

"I know you don't." Ron had understanding and compassion in his gaze. "But you can't deny you've turned into something of a hermit. Mum is worried…"

"Molly is always worried; you know that."

"Even Gin's concerned, and six months ago she'd as soon have set you on fire as look at you." She'd been a chaser for the English; finding her ex involved with the seeker of the team that beat them for the cup hadn't made her happy, putting it mildly.

That startled a laugh out of Harry, and he rubbed his hand over his face, then met Ron's steady look.

"I'm trying," he said softly.

"As long as you promise to keep trying, we'll try not to nag you to death." Hermione opened her mouth, and Ron gave her a quelling look. "We won't," he said with soft emphasis. "He's here, Hermione. Don't press your luck."

That made Harry laugh again, and even Hermione's lips twitched as she fought a smile. "Fine. As long as you let me drag you shopping occasionally, and you promise to meet us for dinner at least once a month."

"Not to a lot of these bloody things," Harry emphasized.

"Gods, no," Hermione agreed. "Fish n'chips, curry. Maybe even Italian."

Harry grimaced, but he nodded. He supposed he needed to get out, and he'd needed the new clothes; it was one of the things Kieran had commented on, his utterly unsuitable wardrobe for someone of his 'stature'. And Hermione seemed to delight in making him play dress up. Fuck.

Oh, well. "Yeah, okay."

She grinned in delight.

oooOOOooo

Draco Malfoy stepped out of the hotel Floo and waited as his date came through behind him. She looked stunning, but then no one could say that Pansy Parkinson didn't clean up well. She was wearing a floor length black satin cape over a black beaded gown that was fitted from her shoulders to her heels, cut nearly to her waist in front. She lifted one of her pale hands to the back of her head, touching the French twist with her blood red nails. She looked enquiringly to Draco, doing a quick twirl.

"Soot?"

"Not a smudge." Draco didn't bother to ask her the same; he'd known how to Floo without there being a mark left on him since he was in short pants. His father told him it was the sign of an upper echelon Wizarding family, being able to Floo without anyone knowing you'd stepped out of a fireplace.

He offered his arm to Pansy, and they walked sedately to the set of open double doors, thrown wide into a dimly lit ballroom. He could hear the soft background music of cocktail hour, and the low hum of dozens of murmured conversations. They paused in the doorway and looked around the room. Pansy sighed.

"Why is it we always have to arrive at these things so bloody early?"

It was true; cocktail hour had just begun and there weren't more than a handful of couples nursing drinks at the tall cocktail tables scattered around the nearest corner. There was a short que at the bar, and the man mixing drinks looked ridiculously young.

"We come early so we can spend enough time at the bar that the rest of the evening is palatable. Here, give me your cloak and I'll check it for you, while you go cast your spell on that infant behind the bar."

"They do seem to get younger and younger, don't they?" she muttered, slipping the cape from her shoulders, then straightening them with a toss of her head and a determined air. "Firewhisky on the rocks?" She glanced over at him, one brow raised.

"You know me so well." He kissed her cheek, then watched her walk toward the bar, slim hips swaying, a vision on the six-inch stiletto heels. There wasn't a man in the area who didn't follow her with his eyes, or a woman, no matter how beautiful or glamorous, who didn't hate her on sight. Draco smiled as he walked to the coat check, handing over her cape and his long black wool overcoat, taking the tickets from the polite coat check girl and slipping them into the pocket of his outer robes. He entered the dimly lit ballroom and stalked along the edges of the bar area, looking for the perfect spot to watch the room while being inconspicuous himself. He supported the cause, but had no desire to see himself on the society pages the next day.

There was a vacant table near the wall and he went to stand at it, keeping an eye out for Pansy while leaning one arm on the tabletop, searching the room. It didn't take long before his attention was caught. Shifting slightly to his left to avoid an older matrons high-teased bluish white hair, he had an unencumbered view of the long banquet table on the dais. And of the dark-haired man seated just to the left of the podium. Apparently he and Pans weren't the only ones who arrived at these things early.

Draco would never say it aloud on pain of death, but Potter had grown into a thoroughly attractive man. He looked really good tonight, pulled together far more than usual. He could discern Granger's touch in that, and he smiled slightly. The black hair was skillfully cut, just tousled enough that he looked as if there'd been someone's hands in it, but not so messy he looked as if he'd just escaped a tropical storm. His new formal robes were quite smart, slim cut not unlike Draco's own, the green piping showing all of the lovely lines of Potter's frame; broad shoulders, slender waist, subtly muscled chest. No one who sat on their arse for a living should be so fit, he thought.

Potter, the writer. Draco snorted softly. He'd read all three of the git's bestsellers, and he'd always believed there was a ghost writer in there somewhere. Not Granger, although that had been his guess before he'd actually read them. No, they were unmistakably masculine; he just couldn't bring himself to believe his old school boy nemesis was capable of writing anything he'd found so fascinating. It was a series; an addictive tale of an Auror captain and his lover, another junior officer on his team. It was all expressly forbidden by the Ministry and they risked exposure every day, but the plot as they tried to case down rogue Death Eaters was riveting. He hadn't been able to put it down, which was why he had a hard time believing Potter had actually written it. Frankly, he was surprised the git could spell, let alone publish three books in the ten years since the war. That didn't change the fact he was sex on a stick.

They were fussing at one another, up there at the head table. Draco had spent six years at Hogwarts watching their interplay; he saw the gentle teasing, the way Granger and the Weasel ganged up on Potter. And he could see the moment Granger won whatever point she was trying to make. Potter rolled his eyes expressively and shook his head, and the bright smile that pulled at Granger's pretty lips was triumphant. She'd grown up extremely well, too, Draco thought, knowing he'd never tell anyone that. Nor would he comment on the realization that the Weasel looked quite handsome in his Auror robes. He'd always assumed the burgundy robes would clash horribly with that ginger hair, but they didn't, surprisingly enough.

He felt a light touch on his arm and looked over in time to see Pansy set a crystal tumbler containing a large square ice cube and gleaming amber liquid on the white linen cloth near his hand, and he nodded his thanks.

"Ah, that's why we came early, is it?" Pansy lifted her goblet of white wine to her lips, instantaneously leaving a blood red lip mark on the rim of the glass.

Draco gave her a level look.

"Is the infant bartender you've just been chatting up willing to give you a go later?"

Her returned look could only be described as scathing. "At least I haven't had a jones for him for twenty years," she sniffed.

"That's because he wasn't out of his pram yet twenty years ago," Draco retorted. Pansy colored prettily, but she didn't bother to respond; the kid behind the bar couldn't be more than twenty, twenty-one. He was very attractive, but entirely too young for Draco's taste. Plus, he was a blond, which had never done it for him. He took a sip of the fine liquor, blowing a perfect ring of smoke before putting his hand onto Pansy's on the table, squeezing it briefly. "I don't want to snipe with you tonight, all right?"

One of her perfectly tweezed brows arched. "Are you feeling ill?"

He couldn't help the short laugh that escaped his lips. "No. I just actually support this cause, you know."

She did know; his mother's house elf Blimby had been one of Draco's only friends before he'd started school, attending to and putting up with Draco when he'd been a snotty little brat terrorizing the peacocks. When Voldemort was in the house, and Rabastan's dark eyes constantly followed him promising things that sent a chill clear to Draco's soul, Blimby used his house elf magic to conceal Draco's rooms. The Death Eaters never found him alone, and that was Blimby's doing. Now he felt supporting this particular charity was the least he could do, while an aging Blimby still refused to leave his mother's service, even though she couldn't afford to pay him. Narcissa lived with Andromeda and Teddy, calling herself a 'poor relation'. Draco's position in the apothecary in St Mungo's was generous enough to pay for his flat and food and whatever else he might want, but his mother refused to take his money. Fortunately Andie wasn't opposed to him slipping a few galleons into her account at Gringotts every month.

Pansy turned her hand and linked their fingers. "How is old Blimby?" she asked, compassion and understanding in her gaze.

Draco gripped her fingers lightly. "Doing his best to take care of Mother, as much as she'll let him."

"What would we have done without him?" She rested her chin on his shoulder, her smile nostalgic.

"No doubt drowned in the pond." His tone was dry, and she giggled. It was an incongruent sound paired with her elegant up-do and almost obscenely low cut dress. She did have lovely breasts, even though they did nothing for him. He could appreciate them on a purely aesthetic level, and no doubt the bartender had enjoyed the view. And speaking of views – he turned his head to look back to the head table just in time to see Potter giving a waiter the evil eye. Draco wondered what that was all about…

He heard Pansy sigh, and he turned back to her. She was giving him a long, level look. "What?"

"Have you any idea how lowering it is to have this much tit on display and for my date to completely ignore it?"

"Darling, as you well know from my disastrous fumbling at Hogwarts , your tits are quite beautiful, and I've no idea what to do with them."

She smirked and looked toward the head table. "Ah, but that messy hair and those admittedly more fashionable specs; you'd know exactly what to do with those." She looked back at him, her dark eyes alive with humor. "Add in those broad shoulders, the narrow hips, and those obviously sturdy thighs and he's practically your perfect man." Pansy ran her tongue around her red-tinted lips. "He really is quite fit these days. Why am I not making a play for that?"

Draco snorted. "Because you know those knockers don't do any more for him than they do for me?"

She sighed dramatically. "More's the pity."

"All right, old thing." He released her hand and patted it gently. "I need a quick trip to the men's, but I won't be long and then we can find our table."

"Need any help?" She grinned.

He gave her a narrow-eyed look. "I think not."

He glanced toward the front table as he walked to the doors and saw that Potter was still engaged in conversation with the other two thirds of the golden trio, and hadn't even noticed him. He ignored how disappointing the thought was.

The only thing worse than being despised was being invisible.

oooOOOooo

Hermione lifted her hand, then gestured to the obsequious waiter. "Bring Mr Potter another drink, will you please?"

"No, Hermione," he said, waving the energetic man away. He didn't miss the small frown of disappointment that moved across his face. "I need to stretch my legs anyway. I'll just go to the bar."

He pushed his chair back from the table when he heard Ron catch his breath and Hermione curse softly. She never cursed, and Harry couldn't help but look for the cause of the uncharacteristic expletive. She and Ron were both staring at the same thing.

There was a press area set up to the right of the main doors; he'd managed to avoid it by arriving via a V.I.P. Floo; he hated the very idea of the thing but hated the press more. But now flashes from the cameras and shouts from the reporters over-rode the soft sound of background music and hushed conversation. When Harry saw the handsome couple posing for photos, their arms about one another's waists and their fashionable robes on display, his heart sank through his body to somewhere beneath the raised platform they sat on.

"Fuck me," he groaned.

"Believe he's already done that, Mate," Ron growled. "The fucking poser."

"Ronald!" Hermione sounded aghast, and Harry wasn't sure which she was more upset by; her husband's comment, or Harry's ex.

He pushed blindly to his feet, searching for his glass before remembering it had already been swept away.

"I need… I'm… the bar…out," he finally managed, and turned away, avoiding Hermione's outstretched hand. He walked behind the podium and off the far side of the stage, amazed he didn't fall on his face.

"Ronald…" he heard Hermione say.

"Leave the man alone, Hermione," Ron answered, and Harry had never loved his best friend more.

He couldn't have said where he was going, or what he was after. He just knew he had to put as much distance between himself and the press pool as he could before someone remembered just what Kieran O'Connor had put him through and turned the camera's around, searching for his heart broken expression. And he wouldn't give them that; not now, not ever.

There was a lit exit sign over a hallway that led out of the ballroom, and Harry headed for it. If this venue was like any of the other ten thousand hotel ballrooms he'd been in during the interminable last ten years, that hallway would lead to the loo's, and then the lobby. He thought if he could just splash some cold water on his face, he'd be okay. Then he'd go back, his pride intact, order a double firewhisky and ignore the obnoxious Irish prat for the rest of the evening. He could do that; he was sure he could.

He saw the sign to the gents up ahead, and with a rush of relief he hurried toward it, pushing into the masculine outer sitting room before the stalls, leaning against a dark panelled wall, pausing to take a deep breath. It was then he realized he wasn't in the room alone. His attention turned to the other man, and his heart sank.

Of course, he thought. Of course it would be him. Why was it that they seemed to find one another in loo's when one or the other of them was at a low point? Hermione mentioned he would be in attendance, something about this being a cause he was deeply invested in, but Harry had doubted they'd even have reason to speak. Stupid, that.

Large, cool grey eyes surveyed him in the mirror as graceful, pale hands adjusted his black collar. His robes were austere, black and high collared, reminiscent of Snape. Cut of beautiful, shimmering cloth with only a thin pewter grey line of piping to accent the solemn cut and colour, they fit him perfectly. In fact, if one didn't know better, they'd think Harry's new robes and the ones across from him were ordered to complement one another. Pale hair gleamed in the light from the wall sconces, just brushing slightly darker brows in front and the collar of his robe in back.

Silence settled in the room, thick and uncomfortable. Finally, pale pink lips in a face that was all planes and angles and entirely beautiful pulled up into a mocking smile.

"Potter," he said, his posh voice lower, smoother than Harry remembered. "Fancy meeting you here."

"Malfoy," Harry managed after a moment. "We do seem to have chance encounters in the loo."

Malfoy laughed. "That sounded faintly filthy."

Harry felt his face heat but forced himself not to look away. Malfoy turned casually to face him, and it was then an absurd idea bounded into Harry's head like a rabid rabbit and wouldn't go away. It was utterly mad, no less mad than jumping onto the back of a dragon and riding it up through Gringotts, but he was desperate to not appear pathetic. It was idiotic, of course, but standing before him was a possible, elegant reprieve.

Harry straightened. "Malfoy, if I asked you for a favour, would you consider it at all or just refuse outright?"

Malfoy studied him, one mobile brow arching. "You want to ask me for a favour?"

Harry nodded. He couldn't miss the amused light that came into Malfoy's pale eyes.

"Now, isn't that intriguing." He crossed his arms, which pulled his robes taut across broad, square shoulders. "I'm listening."

Harry took a deep breath. His heart was pounding in the pulse point below his jaw so hard he thought Malfoy must be able to see it, the repetitive beat rushing through his ears.

"Would you consider –," he swallowed hard, "— posing as my date tonight?"

Malfoy frowned, eyes narrowed. He blinked. "What was that again?"

Harry took and released another deep breath. He was beginning to feel light headed, and he reached behind him to brace his hand against the wall.

"Would you pose as my date for the rest of the banquet tonight?"

Draco looked incredulous, reaching up to rub his hand over his pointed jaw. Harry couldn't help but notice how smooth Malfoy's chin was, completely unlike the prickly five o'clock shadow that darkened his own skin. "I did hear him correctly," he muttered. His hand dropped away from his face, and his eyes returned to Harry's. "Have you gone utterly mad?"

Harry's snort of laughter sounded vaguely hysterical to his own ears. "No doubt."

Malfoy stared at him for several long seconds that felt more like hours. "Are you trying to take the mickey out of me? Is this some sort of juvenile dare with Weasley?"

Harry was startled, but he guessed it was a legitimate question. "NO! No, I just… I would like…" He huffed and ran his hand through his hair, scrubbing his head hard. "I need a date, Malfoy. And I thought you might…just help me out."

The silence between them was stilted. Malfoy studied him. "You want me to help you out by pretending to be your date for the duration of the evening. You want me, to help you out."

"Yes, exactly," Harry said, realizing how ridiculous it sounded even as he said it.

Draco's eyes narrowed. "There's no chair next to you on the dais, Potter. You came alone. You didn't plan to have a date. Everyone in that room out there knows that."

"Well, yeah, but…" Harry studied the handsome, sceptical face, the wary light in his eyes, and the folly of what he was proposing crashed into him with the force of a hippogriff. The blood drained from his face, and he took a step back into the wall. "You know what? Forget it. Please. Forget I even asked. Just…it was a mistake. Forget it."

He slid along the wall, legs shaking, and turned into the room with the stalls. Rushing into the nearest cubicle, he slammed the door closed and leaned against it, wondering if Kieran could make him feel any worse than he'd just done to himself.

oooOOOooo

Draco watched as the flowing hem of Potter's robes caught in the stall door, hanging there as he slammed it as if he wasn't even aware of it. He stared at the expensive fabric for several long moments, hanging limply between the door and metal brace, so mystified he couldn't look away.

What the bloody hell just happened?

By all appearances Potter wasn't going to free his robes, which was faintly surreal, and all Draco could think was of the horrible wrinkle he'd be leaving behind when he did. Then Potter's question echoed through his head again, and anger began to replace mystification.

"How dare he," he thought, the bloody berk. This was some sort of stunt, it had to be. The idea that Potter might request a favour from him was ludicrous. Draco stalked to the main bathroom door, unable to think of one single swear word strong enough for the occasion, and yanked the door to the hall open, nearly dislocating his shoulder in the process.

"Of all the asinine things that wanker has ever done this is the absolute limit!" he muttered as he stamped along the wide hallway, ire deepening. "Thinks to get one over on me, does he?" He could just imagine Potter and that redheaded menace planning this. They must've seen him head to the loo and cooked this up between them, imagining how hilarious it would be when Potter humiliated him in front of a room full of people whose opinion mattered to him. Gods! He wished he'd hexed his left nut up his arse. Wait until Pansy heard about this! Potter would be lucky if he escaped with his prick intact.

He turned into the ballroom and drew up short. There was some sort of loud disturbance going on in the press area by the main doors, bulbs flashing and people shouting. For a fairly sedate event, this was an anomaly. What the hell? he thought. He paused, staring until there was an opening between reporters and he saw the handsome man with his arm around his equally handsome date's waist, straight black hair gleaming in the bright lights and white smile gleaming. The professional seeker lifted his hand and gestured as if waving to his legions of fans.

Draco's lip curled. Of course, it was O'Connor, the bloody prick. He might be magic on a broom but he was a horrendous human being. Potter was a jack ass, but no one deserved what O'Connor had done to him, talking about their private life in the bloody press, revealing things to the rabid public no one should have to see about themselves in print. Draco liked to ride a thick cock as much as any man, but he'd just as soon not see everything he enjoyed in bed splashed across the front page of the Daily Prophet. And it was then, watching O'Connor posing for the cameras, that it hit him. He turned back toward the hall, staring at the door to the men's loo.

Of course. What was it Potter said again?

"I need a date, Malfoy. And I thought you might…just help me out."

He needed a date. Not that he wanted one, or wanted to spend the evening with Draco. He needed a date, and Draco understood.

Sitting alone up on the dais, Potter would be the subject of ridicule and pity for all of those cameras and reporters for the rest of the evening, staring at him, writing about his every expression and every movement. 'Poor Potter, all alone, his ex sitting there with his latest fuck, everyone in the room knowing exactly what was going on, pitying the poor, lonely saviour.'

Potter would hate pity as much as Draco would. It was why he'd brought Pansy, so he wouldn't be sitting there all alone, just waiting for the first person to curl a lip at him, sneer or smirk. Things were better than they'd been right after the war, but he was still quite obviously a Malfoy, and that was rarely a plus in the wizarding world. Although in this room, he thought, he was generally well liked. Was that why Potter had blurted out his mad request in the loo? Draco was liked here?

No, he thought, shaking his head slightly. Potter hadn't given it that much thought, and this was the first time he'd attended this particular function. It was Granger's doing, no doubt. Potter was a patron of many of the charities that had sprung up after the war, but not this one. No, by asking Draco to pose as his date Potter had done what he'd always done; jumped in with his mouth before his brain could even begin to engage. It had been a decision born of panic and watching O'Connor enjoying the chaos he was creating; Draco could understand it.

He looked back toward the loo again, his brow furrowed. He couldn't believe he was even contemplating this, but he was. It was stupid, no doubt he'd live to regret it, and if it went balls up, which it undoubtedly would, Pansy would never let him live it down. Now, however, allowing Potter to walk back into that room by himself was unthinkable, and he couldn't do it.

"Draco, you're a bloody fool," he muttered, "How is it Potter can manage to drive me crazy and yet make me want to help him? I have to have lost my mind to even consider this insanity." He turned on his heel and walked back toward the loo, hoping Potter was still alone in there. "And if this turns out to be some massive prank, Potter will pay for the rest of his life."

He pulled the door open with less force than before, glancing around the ante room before walking quietly toward the room of stalls and urinals beyond. He studied the line of open doors before turning to watch Potter, who apparently hadn't seen him, leaning over one of the sinks. He had his hands braced on the porcelain, leaning heavily forward, water dripping from his fringe and his chin. Clearly he'd splashed his face without bothering to clean himself up after. Draco sighed softly and moved into the line of sight of Potter's mirror.

"You do know those water marks will never come out of that silk, right?"

 

Potter's head jerked up and he splashed droplets of water on the mirror before he spotted Draco standing behind him. His whole body stilled, but Draco could see his arms begin to tremble. He reached up absently to wipe the water from his chin with his sleeve. Draco sighed dramatically. "The silk, Potter. Honestly."

"Malkin said it wouldn't mark," Potter muttered absently, blinking.

"That old cow is a horrible liar. She'd say anything to make a sale. And she knows you'd not have a clue, although I find myself surprised Granger didn't call her on it." He took a deep breath, then sighed its release. "We do seem to find ourselves in this position, don't we?" he murmured. "Staring at one another across a loo?"

"What are you doing here?" he asked. He sounded truly mystified, a slight tremble in his voice giving him away. He cleared his throat in irritation and straightened, crossing his arms over his chest.

"That expression would be infinitely more intimidating if there wasn't water dripping from your fringe onto your specs." Draco tried to sound mocking, but it came out more gently teasing.

Potter yanked his glasses from his face, rubbing the lenses haphazardly against his silk sleeve. Draco grimaced.

"Silk, Potter! For God's sake, Silk! Obviously you should never buy fine robes if that's how you intend to treat them."

"Fuck you," Potter shot back, narrowing his eyes to peer through his lenses. Apparently finding the view acceptable, he shoved his glasses back onto his nose. "And I wouldn't have these if Hermione hadn't made me buy them."

"This does not surprise me a bit." Draco mirrored Potter's posture, crossing his arms over his chest. "And is telling me to fuck off any way to talk to a fellow conspirator?"

Potter's body stilled, absently lifted hand hovering by his face for a moment before dropping back to his side. "What?"

A flicker of amusement made Draco smirk. "I'm sorry, were the words too big for you? Allow me to clarify. You shouldn't insult someone who is about to do you a favour."

Potter blinked several times, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. "What?" Potter's eyes narrowed. "Why?"

Draco huffed. "Merlin's balls, Potter. You asked me to do you a favour, I've changed my mind and decided to do it. Shouldn't you be thanking me, instead of questioning my intentions?"

Potter looked both hopeful, and faintly terrified. Draco knew exactly how he felt. The vivid green eyes studied Draco with a bit of suspicion, and the expression reminded Draco so much of all of those years at Hogwarts that his body had an instantaneous, visceral reaction. He was grateful for the robes. He doubted getting hard would improve the mood in the room at the moment.

Finally, Draco exhaled in irritation. "Fine. I just saw that great wanker O'Connor out there with his current fuck, holding court."

Potter flinched. Backing up until he bumped into the wet sink. Lovely, now he'd have water marks on the back of his robes, too. Draco nearly rolled his eyes.

"So what?" Potter said defensively.

"So what?" Draco stared at him, incredulous. "So, I've come to…" he paused, trying to think how to word it so it didn't sound insulting and condescending. He spread his arms, smiling in self-mockery. "I've come to offer myself as escort."

Potter's eyes widened. He really was just alarmingly attractive, with the clear eyes, those long, curling black lashes framing them. They looked as thick and black as Pansy's did with a coating of mascara. "But you said…"

"I told you, I've changed my mind." Draco let his arms fall to his side. "Did you change yours?"

"I -- ," Potter rubbed his hand haphazardly through his hair.

Draco approached him before he could think better of it. "Do stop that," he ordered, startling Potter with his tone and his nearness. He grabbed Potter's shoulders and turned him until he faced the mirror once again, reaching up and gently tousling Potter's hair into soft intentional waves rather than the dishevelled mess it currently was. He was slightly taller and he could see his shoulders just above Potter's, his near white hair like a halo around his ink black hair. It was softer than Draco expected, and he fought the urge to curl his fingers into it and pull Potter back until he was pressed against him, that lovely arse pushed into Draco's groin. The stunned look on Potter's handsome face effectively stopped him from doing it. "It was cut to fall over your forehead like this," he arranged the damp curls to fall over the nearly faded, lightning bolt scar, "not stand on end like you've been through a hurricane."

Potter's hand shot out and curled around Draco's wrist, holding him tight but not hurting him. Draco's mouth went dry.

"Why are you doing this?" Potter asked.

Draco cleared his throat. "Because it's a mess," he finally answered, intentionally choosing to misunderstand and keeping his tone light. "If I'm going to be seen with you, I'd just as soon you weren't a disaster."

Potter's thumb pressed into Draco's pulse point, stilling his hand. Their eyes met and held in the mirror.

"You know what I'm saying."

Draco hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Yes. I know what you're saying." He gently freed his hand from Potters grip. "O'Connor is a menace," he said softly. "And no one deserves to bear the brunt of what he's doing out there."

The corner of Potter's full lips twitched. "Not even me?"

Draco returned the small, sardonic smile. "Not even you."

There was a heavy pause, which Draco thought was ridiculous given that Potter proposed this whole charade to begin with. Finally, he nodded.

"Thank you."

Draco was startled by the soft, clearly sincere statement. "Oh, trust me," Draco said airily. "You'll pay me back, one way or another."

He hadn't meant to make it sound lascivious but it did, and when Potter arched a brow, Draco reflexively sought his own reflection in the mirror and watched a faint blush spread over his cheeks.

He frowned with more venom than he meant. "Just – tell me how you want to play this for the masses."

Potter looked bemused, and Draco rolled his eyes.

"Honestly, Potter. Did you give this any thought at all before blurting out that you wanted me to pretend to be your date?"

Potter turned, and they were standing nearly nose to nose. Draco felt like he was looming over him, and took a quick step backwards.

"As I'm sure you've already figured out," Potter said a bit archly, "I didn't think about it. I saw you standing there and I just…asked." He sagged a little, and Draco rolled his eyes.

"And you think the people in that room are going to believe we've been dating on the sly, and none of the media have even heard about it?"

Potter swallowed, and Draco watched his Adam's apple move up and down with fascination. He wondered how far down the man had to shave, then forced his eyes away from the tawny, beard shadowed throat, instantly horrified by his wandering thoughts.

Potter closed his eyes, and he looked tired, Draco thought. And defeated. "Probably not," he said, and Draco had to think back to recall his own question. "It was probably a terrible idea."

"Well, yes, it undoubtedly was, but it's out there now and it isn't just going to just go away. At least not for me. Let's think about this for a moment." Draco propped his hands on his hips, more to have something to do with them so that he didn't reach out and straighten the collar on Potter's robes, which was slightly lopsided and affecting the set across the shoulders. He chewed the inside of his lower lip, staring over Potter's broad shoulder at the wall. Finally he looked back into his inquisitive eyes. "All right, what about this? What if we do simply play it as if we have been seeing one another secretly." One of Potter's dark brows arched ironically.

"You said they'd never believe it," he responded flatly.

"Some of them won't," Draco said dryly. "But if we play it right, the press will eat it up, and most people will believe what they see, and what they read, Merlin helping them, if it's the Prophet. So, we make them believe we are a couple, and determined that tonight would be the night we'd go public. For some reason, I was held up. I do have a life; I might've been called in on a consult." Most of the people who mattered knew about his position at St Mungo's; he was called in by Healers on difficult cases to make adjustments to potions fairly often.

"So how do we make them believe it?" Potter asked.

Draco shrugged one shoulder, crossing his arms. "We act like a couple." He arched one brow. "You do know how to do it; I've seen the pictures."

Draco was surprised when Potter didn't look horrified. "Meaning PDA's," he said. Draco frowned at him in confusion, and Potter smirked. "You mean there's something you don't know?" Draco hoped his return look was appropriately scathing, but Potter just looked amused. "Public Displays of Affection. PDA's."

"Yes, I've heard it." Draco had, but he couldn't remember where, or when. "I assumed there would be some of that, but I'm not an exhibitionist." He frowned. "Why am I coming up with the plan for your suggestion again?"

"Because I believe my brain is having difficulty coming to terms with the fact you've agreed."

"Ah, well, that poor, underdeveloped grey matter in that skull of yours has enough to be going on with to walk and chew gum at the same time."

Potter finally came up with a look that truly was scathing. "I don't think comments like that will be conducive to us pulling off this little charade, either."

Draco widened his eyes. "Conducive and charade in the same sentence," he drawled. "I am impressed."

"What you are is a pain in my arse." Potter dug in his pocket and withdrew a mobile. "But this was my idea; there's no backing up from it now. I'd never be able to look you in the face again." He moved his thumb quickly over the screen, brow furrowed.

"What are you doing?"

"Texting Ron, asking him to come back here." He lifted his eyes to Draco's. "We need to get a chair placed by mine up on the dais, and Ron has to be told in advance. He has absolutely no poker face at all."

"Now, that I can believe." He reached into the inside pocket of his outer robe, withdrawing his own streamlined mobile, enjoying the widening of Potter's eyes when he saw the phone. "What? I can't always just send a Patronus, you know." Potter's phone chimed and his eyes went back down to it, but the smirk on his face was very attractive. Damn him.

Draco crossed the room to put some distance between them, lowering on to a sofa placed along the wall, crossing one long leg over the other. He began to compose a text to Pans.

Come to the men's loo in the main hall leading to the lobby. Don't say anything, just come. It'll be worth your while, I promise.

He slipped the mobile back into his pocket and crossed his arms, waiting for Weasley and Parkinson to arrive.

That alone ought to be worth the price of admission for everyone concerned.

oooOOOooo

Harry paced, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his trousers, his long outer robe held back behind his wrists. Malfoy, damn him, sat in the corner of the sofa, arms and legs crossed, looking utterly composed and damnably striking. His blond hair was softer than he'd worn it in school, layers brushing his cheeks, no doubt tousled exactly the way his stylist intended. Harry's palms itched with the desire to see if it was as silky as it looked. Malfoy had grown into his features in the last decade; they were now more angular than pointy, but even when he'd been pointed and snotty there had been something about him that drew Harry in like bees to honey. Their animosity was legendary at Hogwarts; Harry found out after the fact that some of their classmates even took bets on who was most likely to hex the other next. Ron apparently won a good bit of dosh that way, although Seamus had come in a close second and complained it wasn't fair because Ron, being Harry's best friend, had the inside tract. What the Gryffindors he'd shared a dorm with hadn't known, and neither had Ron, was that mixed in amongst his regularly scheduled nightmares, Harry also had some very erotic dreams featuring long thin limbs and pale skin and white blond hair. He probably should have had his sexuality sorted long before he was seventeen, based on those dreams alone.

He heard a long inhalation and turned in time to see Malfoy take the first drag off of a long, black cigarette, the tip flaring bright red. It hollowed his cheeks and caused a twinge of arousal to shoot down Harry's spine. His face heated, and he let the long outer robe drop and crossed his arms over his chest, holding it closed.

"That's illegal," he said shortly, turning and looking away when Malfoy blew smoke toward the ceiling.

"So?" Malfoy said behind him. Harry shot him a vicious look over his shoulder.

"So, it's illegal," Harry repeated. Malfoy took another long drag, and Harry rolled his eyes.

"What do you care?"

"I don't. Other than they smell like shit."

Malfoy scoffed. "This is a clove cigarette, Potter. It doesn't smell like shit."

It didn't, actually, but Harry wasn't going to back down. "I beg to differ."

Malfoy made an irritated noise, but vanished the cigarette and the smoke with a snap of his fingers. "There. Better?" Malfoy said with a snotty twist of his full lips. Harry forced a smile he knew would annoy him.

"Much, thanks."

Malfoy huffed. "Who'd have ever thought you'd end up the prissy, poncy one."

Harry snorted. "Oh, you're much poncier than I am, Malfoy. Trust me."

Malfoy slowly crossed his arms again. "Trust you? I think that could prove injurious to my health."

"Injurious? Who even says shit like that?"

Malfoy looked faintly insulted. "People with a vocabulary."

"And here you were just complimenting mine a few minutes ago."

"I wasn't exactly complimenting it," Malfoy said smoothly. "I was just startled you even knew those words. Again, it has to be Granger's influence, and not that lummox she's married to."

Harry narrowed his eyes and started to mount a spirited defence of Ron's vocabulary, which would actually have been something of a stretch. Ron wasn't an idiot, but Hermione was the well-spoken one of all of them, actually. Then the lummox in question pushed through the door, and there wasn't time.

The door swung shut behind Ron and he stared at Harry in consternation. "What's the matter, Harry? Feeling peaky? Hermione told you not to drink that rot-gut firewhisky on an empty stomach."

"My stomach is fine, Ron," Harry said, exasperated. The only other person he could remember asking him if he was 'feeling peaky' was Molly. Apparently the ginger didn't fall far from the tree.

"Well, good. Cuz no one would believe you'd suddenly come up lurgy, what with O'Connor swanning around like a great mincing wanker out there, doing his trained monkey bit for the press boys."

Malfoy chuckled softly. "Mincing wanker and trained monkey to describe one man in the same sentence. I feel like I'd protest if it weren't so completely accurate."

Ron straightened and stilled at the same time, which was something of an accomplishment. He turned slowly. "Malfoy," he said, just this side of civil.

"Weasley," Malfoy responded in precisely the same tone, although he looked infinitely more amused. Ron turned back to Harry.

"We were beginning to wonder if you'd slipped out through the employee Floo."

"I'd not thought of it, honestly," Harry said, "or I might've. Actually," he paused, feeling suddenly extremely awkward, "we've errr…come up with a better idea."

"You," Ron took an aperitif toothpick from the corner of his mouth and pointed it at first Harry, then Draco, "and him have come up with an idea. Together."

"We've come to an… understanding," Harry said, knowing his face was vivid red. This was verified when he glanced at Malfoy and saw the sardonic amusement in his eyes.

"An understanding of what?" Ron demanded.

"Oh, for fuck's sakes," Malfoy said in irritation. "An understanding that anything we could do to make that Irish pillock out there appear to be an arse is better than sitting back and allowing him to make Potter look pitiful."

Ron reared back a bit at the anger in Malfoy's tone, probably as startled as Harry that it wasn't aimed at him for a change. Silence settled over the three of them.

"O – kay," Ron said slowly. "And why exactly should you care that O'Connor is enjoying himself entirely too much, at Harry's expense?" He pinned Harry with a look. "He's noticed your absence, by the way. When I got your text he was working his way toward the head table. Abandoning my wife out there probably guarantees I won't get laid again for a year."

Harry grimaced. "Sorry."

"I'm not sure which of those statements is more likely to put me off my dinner," Malfoy drawled. "The idea of you and Granger doing the wild thing, or of you," he shot Harry a look, "caring that they won't."

Ron's face turned slightly red, from anger not embarrassment.

"You aren't helping," Harry told Malfoy. He shrugged negligently in response.

"Not my job to be helpful, Potter. I believe my function, according to your plan, is to appear ornamental." Malfoy's grin was wolfish as he watched Ron – and waited.

Ron frowned, still obviously perplexed. "I don't get it."

Malfoy smirked. "Clearly."

The door behind them opened and closed, and Harry turned, knowing who he'd see but closing his eyes for a moment in dismay.

Pansy Parkinson's stiletto heels clicked on the marble floor as she sashayed calmly into the anteroom of the men's loo, head high and mocking smile firmly in place.

oooOOOooo

"This had best be good, Draco," Pansy called out entering the room. "You've no clue the delicious drama…" She stopped, staring around the room with a lascivious grin. "Or perhaps you do. Well gentlemen, and I use that term fairly lightly, just what in the name of Merlin's saggy pants is going on in here? Because I'm fairly certain it has to do with that one's," her head shifted in Harry's direction, "bastard ex and the current show he's orchestrating in the ballroom."

"Never could get much past you, Pans," Draco said affectionately. "But for now, can you pedal back the smugness and listen? I'm certain introductions aren't necessary."

Pansy leaned against the wall, crossing her arms. "Do go on, this has to be infinitely more interesting than this evening's scheduled program."

The room was charged with emotion and yet no one spoke. Ron nudged Harry in the side. "You really need to explain. Best estimate is we have about three more minutes before Hermione comes to drag our arses back inside."

Harry nodded and took a deep breath. He opened his mouth but words refused to come out.

Draco rolled his eyes and stood in one graceful movement. "Right. Yes, we've all correctly assessed the situation and it does involve that bastard O'Connor and his untimely arrival tonight. And it also involves Potter, the man who never had an idea that didn't blurt out of his mouth the second it came into his brain."

"Hey!" Harry protested softly.

Draco raised an eyebrow in reply and continued. "And for Merlin only knows what reason, it involves me."

Always one of the smartest people in the room, Pansy clasped her hands together in front of her and began to laugh. "Oh Draco, no. Seriously? Oh hell, this is just too good to be true."

Ron looked from Pansy to Harry and then to Draco. "What's too good to be true?"

Draco began and Pansy interrupted. "Please…please allow me." Draco shrugged. She turned to Ron. "It seems your friend, Potter, has asked Draco to be his escort for the rest of the evening. They had to pull us to the gents to explain, so that neither of us blew, so to speak, their story when they return to the ballroom. Especially since they'll appear to all the world to be madly in love."

Ron stared at her, mouth gaping, before turning to Harry. "Are you off your fucking nut?" He waved his hands expressively in the air.

"Possibly," Harry said quietly. "But I can't…" His voice broke. The entreaty in his eyes when he looked at Draco would have broken a harder man. Much as it pained him to admit it, Draco wasn't a hard man.

Draco stood and moved to face Ron. "Are you going to stand here and tell me you want your best mate to walk into that ballroom and let that piece of slime drag him through the press again? Do I think we're barmy for even considering posing as a couple? Yes, but no one should be made to feel insignificant by some low-life, scum-sucking arse!" He took a deep breath. "So you're either in and you'll do your best fucking job of acting anyone's ever seen or you can leave right now!"

Ron took a step back. "Are you quite finished, Malfoy? Because I never said I wasn't in, but even you have to admit it's going to be a hard sell."

Draco shrugged. "People believe what they see. If they see Po…Harry and I behaving like a couple, they'll believe we're a couple."

 

Pansy's brow creased. "So just like that my being Draco's plus one is done and I'm left looking like a pathetic twat. You really are a tosser, Potter, stealing my date."

Draco rolled his eyes and wrapped an arm around Pansy's shoulders. "You mad cow. I had to practically drag you here in the first place. Now," he pushed her gently towards the door, "go show your lovely rack to the nice barkeep. I've no doubt he'll be more than happy to escort you home tonight."

Pansy turned back and air-kissed Draco's cheeks. She spoke in barely a whisper. "I hope you know what you're doing darling. Be careful there." She nodded in Harry's direction then she walked to the door, paused and turned to look directly at him. "If you do anything to hurt him, I will eviscerate you. Slowly, with a dull, rusty fork. Are we clear?"

Harry, brave man, nodded. "Crystal."

"All right, then." With that she turned and left the loo, her heels clipping on the tile floor and her hips swaying emphatically. She exited with the panache of a movie star.

Ron rubbed the back of his neck. "And I thought Hermione was a bit scary."

Draco laughed. "Oh, she is." He rubbed the slightly crooked bridge of his once perfect nose. "I had the sinus problems for years to remind me of that. Pansy, on the other hand, was raised a Slytherin and is therefore naturally vicious."

Ron arched a fiery brow. "You said it, Mate. Not me." He looked between them. "All right, gents, if we're going to do this, we should do it now."

Draco felt his heart jump, his pulse follow suit.

"What do you want me to do?"

His unwavering agreement and the support of his best friend was somewhat humbling. He knew Pansy would walk through fire for him; so would Millie, and Greg, but he doubted Blaise would. He should have expected this from Weasley, he supposed.

"We need a chair and a dinner set up added to the front table," Harry answered. "And Hermione needs to be brought up to speed."

"And I get to do that?" Weasley groaned. "Merlin, Harry; that's just rotten of you."

"I know," Harry said, sounding genuinely sorry. "I'll make it up to you, I swear."

"Oh, that's really helpful when I'm looking at two weeks on the sofa and no sex for the rest of my natural life."

Harry grimaced. "I truly am sorry."

Draco made an irritated noise. We've already been through all of that. Please, let's just do this. I do need to be able to look at you and Granger all evening without that vision circulating in my brain."

"Eh, fuck off, Malfoy," Ron said, but he looked more amused than anything. He patted Harry on the shoulder as he passed, headed for the door. "See you out there."

Once the door closed behind him, the silence he left behind was heavy. Harry looked over at him, and there was a tentativeness, and nervousness in his wide eyes.

Draco took and released a deep breath. Apparently, this was on him. "Wait one minute." Harry looked concerned. "Your robes," Draco said as he waved his wand in a complicated movement.

Harry looked down at his now spotless and wrinkle free robes. "How did you… You said they were ruined."

Draco shrugged. "Really Potter, you are impossibly lacking in the finer charms of clothing care." He gestured toward the door. "Now, after you."

Harry looked at the door with dread, then straightened his shoulders and walked to it, pulling it open. He turned to Draco with a long, steadfast look.

Draco huffed. "Fine." When he walked past, he playfully nudged Harry with his shoulder, then thoroughly enjoyed the startled look on his face.

oooOOOooo

Harry watched Malfoy… no, he had to get this right. Draco. He watched Draco walk out into the wide hallway, still feeling the brush of his square shoulder on his upper arm. He glanced back at Harry, mischief making his already amazing eyes dance.

"Are you coming, love?"

The endearment was a bit like a shot to the solar plexus, but Harry grabbed himself by the legendary bootstraps. "Get a grip, Potter," he thought, giving Draco a slight smile as he followed him.

They were walking side by side, shoulders nearly touching, when Harry heard voices approaching from the hotel lobby. A man and a woman, bickering softly but unmistakably headed their way.

Draco held out his hand. Harry stared at it for a moment, then reached out and grabbed it.

The long, pale hand was warmer than he expected, and soft. There were no broomstick callouses left over on the smooth skin, unlike Harry's. He flew every day when the weather around his home in Ottery St. Catchpole allowed it; he'd purchased ten acres from Arthur at the end of the war and restored what had been a falling down pile of nineteenth century stones into the small, charming cottage where he lived. He found himself wondering if maybe Draco couldn't fly in Wiltshire.

The couple he'd heard entered the hallway abreast with them, and Draco leaned into his side. Harry felt a surge of pleasure so strong he almost missed what Draco was saying.

"Pay attention, Harry," Draco said with a meaningful look. "Shall we start this little bit of theatre now? Because that woman is one of the biggest gossips on the board of St Mungo's, and she's well enough connected everywhere that she can give it all a bit of a kick start."

Harry swallowed nervously. "Uhm, yeah, okay. Sure."

"So decisive," Draco teased. He leaned closer, grey eyes wide. "Buck up, lover. I'm about to kiss you."

Harry made a small sound of surprise as Draco turned and slipped his arm around Harry's waist. He pulled Harry against him, leaned forward, and angled his head before taking Harry's lip in a soft, careful kiss.

There was a sound a startlement across from them but Harry couldn't pay attention to that; he was too stunned by the soft lips currently moving on his. He caught his breath, opening his mouth and inhaling Draco's breath. He tasted dark and spicy, the top note of smoke and the richness of the oak barrels firewhisky cured in, and it made Harry's toes curl.

He lifted his hand to the back of Draco's head and his fingers speared through the strands of blond hair. Harry discovered that yes, indeed, it was as soft as it looked. When Draco's hand spread on his lower back and pulled him closer, Harry went pliable at the insistent pull, allowing himself to curve into Draco's chest. A long, slender thigh slipped between Harry's legs, and the obvious strength in it was thrilling. He found himself wanting to push even closer. His prick hardened so fast it was dizzying, and he knew pressing it against Draco's prominent hipbone would be heavenly. He didn't, but it was a near thing.

Draco finally pulled back, his full lips darkened pink and his eyes half-lidded. "Lovely," he murmured, pressing a soft kiss to Harry's throat just above the collar of his robes.

"Uhm, Healer Malfoy?"

The voice was tentative and unmistakably breathless. He turned his head, and Harry looked over his shoulder. The woman they'd seen was standing nearby, and Harry felt his face heat. If Draco hadn't stopped Harry was afraid he'd have massaged his balls on the tensile strength of the strong thigh, putting on more of a show than Draco intended.

"Not a Healer, Mrs Brockhurst," Draco said smoothly. Harry made to take step back, but Draco held him firmly in place, right where he was. "Don't you move," he said under his breath, his voice a rough purr. It made the hair stand up on Harry's neck. "Merely a Potions brewer. I didn't know you supported this cause."

"Oh, yes," she said brightly. She wasn't bad looking, but her makeup was unfortunately heavily applied and her dress regrettably tight. Her husband, a smallish man with thinning hair and a scowl on his jowly face, was clearly not happy about her having stopped to talk to them. Seized with a flare of mischief, Harry let his hand slide down the smooth silk covering Draco's strong back and come to dangerously close to the curve of his arse. The man watched, a rusty stain filling his cheeks. His jaw worked in irritation. "My parents still have many house-elves, although they must pay them now, you know." She looked a bit put out by that, which made Harry question her presence. It also made Draco stiffen against him.

He appeared to be forcing a smile. "Why yes. I was aware."

"I was wondering if you might introduce us to your… date," she went on, blissfully unaware that Draco was quietly seething. Harry wasn't precisely sure how he knew that, but he did.

"Oh, where are my manners," Draco said, stepping back but retaining his grip on Harry's hand. "Mr and Mrs Maximillian Brockhurst, allow me to introduce Harry Potter. My --," he eyes filled with amusement, " --, hmm. Well, this is our 'coming out' excursion, isn't it sweetheart?" He looked back to Mrs Brockhurst. "We haven't exactly discussed endearments."

Harry managed not to grimace. He smiled instead as she took a deep breath, her hand going to press over her décolletage. It was an improvement. "Well, I didn't think I'd read anything about the two of you being… involved."

"Serafina, please." Her husband rolled his eyes expressively. "We need to find our seats."

"As do we, not to mention you, undoubtedly, need no introduction," Draco said. He looked to Harry, who smiled at the woman and quickly offered his hand to her, then her husband.

She was so clearly over-awed, and he was so clearly annoyed, when Harry offered his hand for them to shake.

"Oh, Mr Potter. You have no idea how thrilled I am. I wish I had something you could sign…"

"Serafina," her husband groaned, sounding like he was in pain.

"It's all right," Harry said magnanimously, "I'll sign your programme after, if you like."

"Oh, would you? How lovely of you, really. I've heard that you weren't impressed by your own celebrity, but you're so attractively humble. And so handsome!"

Now Harry did grimace.

"Yes, he's a paragon of modesty and well," Draco met his gaze, the mischief Harry was already coming to appreciate in his light eyes, "I don't date trolls, so I suppose he has that working for him." Harry turned his head away but he couldn't cover his snort of laughter. "We really must get to the head table before the dinner actually starts. I'm sure we'll see you later."

"Oh, yes…"

Before she could go on even further, Draco turned Harry and steered him rather forcefully towards the ballroom's double doors.

"Well, that was nauseating," Draco said dryly as they entered the room beyond.

"Yeah, it is a bit… much."

"Does that go on all the time?" Draco glanced over at him, his brows slightly furrowed.

"More than I'd like, yes." Harry knew his face was colouring, but he didn't know if it was the embarrassment of the woman gushing or the kiss. He held his robe closed a bit self-consciously, knowing the close fit of his trousers wouldn't hide much. He wanted to look and see if Draco was in the same predicament but was too afraid he'd get caught.

Draco took Harry's hand again, escorting him to the head table. When they arrived at the steps leading up Harry felt like they were in a spot light; there seemed to be a startled hush in the room at first, then conversation swelled as an excited buzz moved through the crowd. Draco stepped back, releasing Harry's hand and gesturing for him to go first. Harry stepped onto the raised dais, reaching back blindly. O'Connor, fuck him, was seated just a few feet from the head table, and Harry truly needed Draco's hand when Kieran gave him a slow, faintly menacing smile. The quick moment of surprise as he watched Draco take Harry's hand lifted his spirits more than a little.

The head table was long, but it felt like a mile as they moved along it. Mostly because Hermione had risen slowly from her chair and was watching them. Ron stood at her shoulder, and for the first time in his life, Harry thought, he couldn't read what he was thinking on Ron's open face. His breath felt like it stalled just behind his sternum, but eased slightly when he felt the warm, broad palm at the small of his back.

"Harry," Hermione said, a faint warning in her tone. He knew she was only concerned, but it rankled.

"Hermione, look who I found lurking in the men's," he said brightly. Heads turned. Everyone at the table was listening, and Harry could almost feel them leaning in toward them, conversations halted. "Apparently it never occurred to him to text me and let me know he was going to make it after all."

"You know how I feel about texting," Draco answered without missing a beat. "Those tiny screens frustrate me to no end. Hello, Hermione." Draco leaned around Harry and kissed her on the cheek, and Harry was possessed of a sudden urge to giggle madly. She did pretty well hiding her shock, but not to Harry. He knew her too well.

"Draco," she said faintly. "We're uhm… glad you could make it?"

"Weasley." Draco shook the hand Ron offered, and they looked as if whatever animosity they'd carried for one another was long gone. "I am sorry I'm so tardy. The consult I was called in on wrapped up more quickly than anticipated. I suppose I should have called to let Harry know, but I just rushed here instead." He looked at Harry, double meaning in his eyes. "I wouldn't just do that for anyone, you know."

Harry felt a bit breathless. "I know." Their eyes held for several seconds, the underlying message clear; Draco wouldn't go through this for just anyone. The fact he was doing it at all was a bit humbling.

The hum of conversation in the room returned to something closer to normal, but Harry could still feel the eyes on him, watching his every move. He leaned back into Draco, and Draco slipped his hand possessively around his waist. Harry sighed, some of the tension draining from his shoulders.

"Gentlemen?" The President of the society for… something, Harry couldn't remember what, approached them with a smile. "If you could take your seats, we're about to have dinner served?"

"Lovely," Draco said, then turned his mouth against Harry's ear, "elastic chicken and primary paste potatoes. At least the firewhisky is good."

"Thank Christ," Harry replied with feeling, and Draco's soft laughter sent a shiver of delight through Harry's chest. They moved to the two chairs at the end of the table, Draco solicitously pulling out the chair next to Hermione's and waiting while Harry sat before taking the one nearest the podium. He was impressed by the way they'd fit him in; it wasn't crowded at all. Hermione leaned forward slightly, clearly trying to catch Draco's eye. Harry put his hand over hers on the table top.

"Stop," he said softly. "He's doing me a favor."

"If he does anything to hurt you or cause you embarrassment," she muttered under her breath, "I will hex him into a pile of dust."

Harry shook his head. "What is it about our female friends that they're so suspicious?" he murmured back.

"And so blood thirsty," Draco added, letting Hermione know he'd heard every word. "Rest easy, Granger. I'm only here to ruin O'Conner's evening."

Of course he was, Harry told himself firmly.

It was still surprisingly disappointing.

oooOOOooo

It surprised Draco how low the level of awkwardness was between himself and the three Gryffindors as the evening progressed. They were actually very good actors, particularly Weasley. Once the strangeness of his being seated with them passed, and it did rather quickly, he and Weasley snarked back and forth like old friends. Harry didn't speak a lot, but what comments he did add were both witty and spot on. Draco was interested in that; he'd always thought him a bit of a dullard, but that wasn't the case at all. The longer they sat in close proximity and talked, the more charmed Draco became. He was also intensely aware of O'Conner, watching from the corner of his eye as he pawed his date in a way that was extremely off-putting. As he'd told Harry earlier, he wasn't an exhibitionist, and he didn't particularly enjoy it when someone else decided to put on a show.

Initially, Draco was well aware of Harry's stiffness as O'Conner whispered in his date's ear, nibbling on the lobe, pressing kisses to his neck. The young man was entirely thrilled, totally in to it no matter how uncomfortable the other diners at their table appeared, and Draco couldn't imagine Harry ever putting on such a display. In fact, the idea that he might made something very like jealousy flare hot in his chest.

Between the appetizer and salad courses, which were surprisingly good, Draco lifted his arm across the back of Harry's chair. After a moment of startled rigidity, Draco leaned in close to his ear.

"If I promise not to nibble on your ear, will you relax?"

Harry sputtered, hiding his laughter behind his napkin.

"What an utter wanker he is," Draco went on, gently fingering the collar of Harry's robe. "However did you tolerate that nonsense?"

Harry paused, settling his napkin back in his lap. "I didn't," he said finally. He looked over, and Draco saw the soft blush that brushed his high cheekbones. He really was quite easy on the eyes. "It's one of the reasons we aren't together. He always wanted to…well, it's a bit like he's posting a sign that says 'mine, don't touch', isn't it?"

Draco nodded. "And you don't like that."

Harry grimaced. "I hated it. It became clear pretty rapidly it was more about his having Harry Potter than having me."

"Hmm." Draco moved his fingers a bit higher, teasing the ends of Harry's soft hair. He really had been surprised by how silky it felt; in his experience curly hair tended to be slightly springy. Harry's was soft, and clung to the tips of his fingers. "And you and Harry Potter aren't one and the same, then?"

"Are you and Draco Malfoy one and the same?"

Draco had to pause to consider that, staring into watchful green eyes.

"Sometimes, but not always. I think I understand what you're saying, though. He wanted the giant slayer, not the man."

One of Harry's arched black brows lifted, and he gave Draco a slight smile. "That's observant of you."

"I have my moments." Draco's fingers brushed the warm skin of Harry's neck right above his high collar, and not even sure why he'd done it, he braced for Harry to pull away, even slightly, but he didn't. Instead he leaned back into Draco's hand, and his soft lips fell slightly open. He looked, to Draco's more than observant eye, subtly aroused by his touch. The look on Harry's handsome face had him hardening in his trousers, and it was an expression Draco found himself wanting to tease from him again, and often. He was – Draco sought a word for it and could only come up with – pliant. He leaned toward Draco instead of away, his eyes were soft, his expression open. It shocked Draco that he would let himself be so vulnerable in front of a room full of people, and at Draco's hands. Surely, Harry wasn't this good an actor. Draco had an almost overwhelming urge to kiss him again. His momentary madness was forestalled by the delivery of their main course. And yes, it was a baked chicken breast and scalloped mashed potatoes . Fortunately, it was tastier than most banquet food he'd choked down.

They also had an extremely attentive waiter who stood by with the firewhisky and all Draco had to do was glance in his direction. By the time they were polishing off their chocolate mousse, Harry was thoroughly relaxed and by all appearances enjoying himself. Not sozzled, but giggling occasionally, which was a charming, unexpected sound. The waiter had just delivered a fresh glass and Harry reached for the smoking crystal tumbler when Granger touched his arm.

"Do you really think you ought to drink that?" she whispered.

Harry's fingers hovered at the rim of the glass, and Draco felt a flicker of irritation.

"Hermione, honest to Christ. He knows his limit." Ron leaned forward. "Mate, if you want it, drink it."

Harry turned his eyes to Draco as if seeking his opinion, which surprised him. Draco paused.

"You have to give a speech, don't you?"

"Just a few comments, but yeah, I have to talk."

Draco shrugged one shoulder negligently. "Maybe wait until after you talk? Up to you, of course."

Harry hesitated, then pulled his hand back, leaving the glass on the table. When he leaned back comfortably into the cradle of Draco's arm, Draco was stunned. And pleased. He was more amused by the shock on Granger's face.

This was a Harry Potter Draco had never seen before. The Potter he'd known at school was confident bordering on arrogance, quick to hex, nearly always angry. But then, he thought, he'd always been angry then, too, and had deserved all of the hexes thrown his way. Even that last, almost disastrous hex. Even giving what it had done. When you're throwing around unforgivables, you deserved what you got. He'd had a lot of time to consider that over the years. Perhaps Harry had, too.

Once the final dishes were cleared away, the speeches began and Draco found his attention drifting. He found Pansy, who was now sitting next to a handsome, distinguished looking wizard who seemed seconds away from falling into her cleavage, never to be seen again, and Draco covered his smile with his glass. As his eyes scanned the crowd idly, O'Conner caught his eye quite deliberately, shifted his gaze to Harry then back again.

"Loves prick," he mouthed, then made an obscene gesture with his hands, curling one into a loose fist, pushing the index finger of his other into it in a parody of sex. Draco was so startled he froze for a moment.

"You're a pig," he finally mouthed back deliberately, and O'Conner seemed to think it was hilarious. He laughed uproariously in a quiet moment, and Draco realized that unlike Harry, the man was completely polluted.

Harry's attention shifted to O'Conner, just like most of the other people in the room, and Draco felt him cringe, as if he wished he could grow smaller. It infuriated Draco. He tightened his arm around Harry's shoulders.

"Ignore him," he whispered. "I've met piles of excrement with more intelligence."

Harry covered his mouth with his hand but a short snort escaped. "You've met piles of shit?" he whispered back. Draco arched a brow.

"Think who lived in my house."

Harry's eyes danced merrily but he turned back to the podium and applauded enthusiastically when Hermione's name was announced.

She spoke skilfully and with obvious feeling for several minutes. She was good at it, Draco thought, certain her career in politics was probably on the rise. He no longer paid attention to what was happening at the Ministry; his father had been into government intrigue. Draco hated it. But he'd bet the last galleon in his vault that Granger knew every in and out, and someone so obviously passionate about magical creatures' well-being could only be good for their world.

Finally, Harry's name was announced to a solid roar of approval, and he pushed his chair back with reluctance that was clear to Draco. He caught Draco's eyes for a moment, and Draco saw the lack of enthusiasm on his face.

"Oh, come on, Potter," he said softly. "Compared to riding a dragon, this is nothing."

Harry's lips twitched, and he picked up what looked like a paper napkin before walking to the podium. He began stiffly, not as talented at public speaking as Granger, his head down, clearly uncomfortable. Draco couldn't help but wonder why he put himself through this until he glanced to the side and saw Hermione, leaning forward in her chair, silently urging him on. Draco sighed; he understood that. He'd do anything for Pans, too.

Harry hadn't been speaking for long when he suddenly stopped and lifted his head to look around the room, then crumpled up the napkin and shoved it into his pocket. He paused for a long moment, and the room was utterly silent as everyone watched him, riveted.

"I had a friend," he began finally. "He was – incredibly loyal, and selfless, and occasionally," his lips pulled up in a nostalgic smile, "an enormous pain in my arse." Laughter rippled through the room. "I've been really lucky in my life to have friends who would stand by me through about anything, even when they thought I was barking."

Weasley, also obviously pissed, lifted his glass. "Hear, hear."

That garnered a laugh, too. "Thank you, Ron," Harry said wryly. "Anyway, this friend put himself in harm's way for me more than once. Finally, during one of those times – this good friend died, saving my life." There was a wobble in Harry's voice, and he blinked quickly before he went on. "Without him the war would have turned out very different. His name was Dobby, and he was a house-elf."

Draco was stunned, but he shouldn't have been. That afternoon was burned into his memory. He still occasionally had nightmares about Granger's screams. He was there when Dobby appeared above their heads and tried to drop a chandelier on his crazy aunt. He saw Batshit Bella throw a knife and had only been relieved to hear Potter was still alive when he got back to school. He even remembered Dobby from his childhood at the Manor. His father had treated the elf like shite.

"I'm here tonight," Harry went on, "because I guess some people care what I think, although I'm not sure why my opinion should matter more than anyone else's." He shrugged. "All I know is that Dobby deserved a better life than he had. House-elves want to serve, but they never should've been forced to. Now that the war is over, maybe – maybe they can be treated with the same kindness they've always shown wizards. If this charity can do that, then I reckon it's a good thing. Anyway, that's what I think, and I intend to put my money where my mouth is. Maybe you should, too." He backed away from the microphone, then turned to walk back to his seat.

There was a moment of startled silence, then applause began again, picking up in volume and enthusiasm until it was thunderous. Draco rose to his feet at Harry's side, clapping, hoping his approval was clear on his face. Harry just looked embarrassed to be the centre of so much attention, and Draco wondered if he'd ever really known the man at all.

"You know Dobby –," he started. Harry shook his head.

"I know. But it was Lucius; not you." His eyes were steady and Draco felt humbled by the kindness he saw there. He thought he'd rather die than have Harry know he'd yanked on Dobby's ears a time or two as a child.

oooOOOooo

Harry was grateful when the applause died away and everyone was back in their seats. He hated being the centre of attention like that, and he knew he wasn't particularly good at it.

"You did really well, Harry," Hermione said, her brown eyes shining. Ron nodded his agreement, giving him a supportive if somewhat beery smile. Still, he searched for Draco.

Slowly, holding his gaze, Draco leaned forward and picked up the glass of firewhisky that sat smouldering on the table, still smoking slightly. He held it out to Harry.

"Well done," he said, and the warmth in his eyes filled Harry with a slow, spreading pleasure. He took the heavy tumbler from Draco's hand, their fingers brushing, and he caught his breath as he raised the glass to his lips. Even the knowledge that this was the last man on earth he should allow to get close didn't stop the slow curl of reaction to that long, steady gaze. Who was this Draco Malfoy now? Had he ever really known him? Or had they both just finally grown up, leaving all of their baggage behind?

There was a live auction to be endured but Harry scarcely noticed. He found himself more aware of Draco's body next to his than the auctioneers shouts to the crowd. His arm was once again stretched behind Harry, leaving his side open, his long and lean body right there next to him, and Harry fought the urge to curl into it, wanting so much to rest his head on Draco's shoulder. The firewhisky had made him feel loose and sleepy, with the quiet hum of arousal singing in his veins. If they weren't on a dais in front of half of Wizarding London, if he wasn't already the centre of far too much attention, he'd follow the impulse.
At one point Draco adjusted his long legs, and his thigh pressed against Harry's under to table. He supposed he ought to pull away, but he didn't. He took a long sip of his firewhisky and returned the pressure, loving the heat and strength of the tensile muscles. Draco shifted slightly to lean into his side.

"What are you doing?"

"Acting like a couple." Harry turned his head and looked into the large grey eyes. They really were so pretty, like the colour of the sky just before it rained. Harry thought even his dark lashes, lightly tipped with blond, were sexy. "Right?

 

Draco studied him for a long time, then smiled slowly. "So you are."

There was a commotion, and a flurry of muttered conversations just behind them, and Harry turned his head, watching.

"Oh." Hermione looked over at him, apology in her dark eyes. "Harry, I…forgot."

"What did you do?" Harry asked, alarm slipping into his chest. He loved her, but she had a tendency to surprise him with things occasionally, usually something he didn't want to do. Things she knew he'd say no to.

"And now, for our last auction item, we offer the pièce de résistance," the auctioneer said, sending him a big smile. Harry groaned.

"Hermione…"

"It's just lunch at the Leaky. Honestly, that's all. And if you ever read the information about the events you go to, you'd know that already. How do you think we sold so many tickets this year?"

Draco frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"We'll open the bidding at four hundred galleons," the auctioneer shouted. "Who would like to make our opening bid for lunch with Harry Potter!"

Draco straightened, and even he looked alarmed. "Wait; I read the info about this event, and I didn't see anything about that!"

"It was there," Hermione said softly. "It was listed as the mystery item at the end."

“If it was listed as a mystery item,” Draco said, sounding a bit suffocated, as if he was trying to hold onto his composure, “how is it all of these people knew what the mystery was?”

Hermione’s color deepened. “We placed a blind item in the Prophet.” She looked pleadingly at Harry. "Ron and I will go with you – "

"Too right, you will," Harry growled. "You know how I feel about this, Hermione."

"They caught me at a weak moment," she offered feebly.

"She was sozzled." Ron laughed. "They caught her one evening on the Floo after she'd had half a bottle of Merlot." He caught Harry's glare and raised his hands in supplication. "I was in the loo, it was done and dusted before I came back into the room."

"Oh, will you be quiet," she growled at him, but he just grinned.

"Five hundred galleons!" Someone in the back shouted, and Harry started to feel the room closing in on him. He forced a deep breath.

"Wait, haven't we just spent the last hour convincing this room that Harry and I are a couple?" Draco's smile looked a bit forced, but he put his hand over Harry's on the tabletop, squeezing gently.

"It's for charity." Hermione's argument sounded weaker and weaker.

"Two thousand galleons!"

The room was plunged into silence. Harry knew the voice, and his stomach clenched. Fuck.

"Oh, no way in hell," Draco said at his side. "No way in bloody fucking hell."

Harry forced himself to look, knowing in advance what he'd see. Kiernan O'Conner was standing at his table, feet planted and arms crossed. The smirk on his face made Harry's skin crawl. Kieran drunk was an unpleasant thing to be around; he didn't hit, but his mouth was vicious enough.

"Well, now. Kiernan O'Conner has bid two thousand galleons for the pleasure of Mr Potter's company, and I know the Magical Creatures fund will appreciate this more than you know. Do I hear twenty-five hundred?"

"Merlin, Mate," Ron sad, staring at Harry glassy-eyed. "That a fucking butt ton of money."

Harry rubbed his hand over his face.

"Three thousand."

Hermione gasped and Ron stared, dumbstruck. Draco threw his napkin onto the tabletop and stood; long legs planted. Harry stared up at him.

"What are you doing?" he asked, his voice ragged.

"Keeping you away from that git," Draco answered without looking down at him.

"Three thousand," the man at the podium sang out in delight. "Apparently Mr Malfoy doesn't want to share."

Harry wished he could become invisible, slip under his cloak and skulk away. He seriously considered Apparating out at that moment, but he couldn't leave Draco standing there alone. But oh God, how he hated this.

"Four thousand!" Kieran shouted, undeterred. Now the rush of conversation held the undercurrent of excitement of people watching a prize fight.

"Five," Draco shot back before the auctioneer could even speak. Draco stared down at Kieran. "I can do this all night, O'Conner. Can you?"

"Five thousand galleons, ladies and gentlemen! Our organization hasn't raised this much in the last two years!"

There was a wave of applause as the two men stared at each other.

"How much do you make a year, playing Quidditch?" Draco goaded. "Five? Maybe six thousand galleons. How many years do you figure you've got left, before you play yourself out or fall off of your broom?"

Kiernan scowled at him. "Ten thousand, damn your soul to hell," he shouted, his brogue even thicker than normal. "Raise that if you can, you bloody Death Eater!"

The silence that descended this time was stunned, as if even the crowd couldn't believe what Kieran had said.

Draco slowly, each elegant movement carefully calculated, drew his wand. A gasp rushed through the room and even Kieran paled. Harry, on the other hand, gasped. Not because he was shocked, which he was, but also because the sight of Draco standing there, formally dressed with his wand in his hand had left him almost painfully aroused. Still, he thought he had to stop this.

Harry reached out and put a hand on Draco's hip. "Draco – "

Draco looked down at him, and he didn't even look angry. The absolute ice in his eyes chilled Harry. And he wondered if there wasn't something terribly wrong with him, because chills raced down his spine and his prick throbbed.

"Please –"

Draco gave him a small smile. "It's okay," he murmured. "Don't worry."

He lifted his wand, and a huge black velvet bag appeared, floating for a long moment in mid-air. It hovered, then fell to the floor in front of the podium with the clang of coins on coins. A great many coins.

"I told you I could do this all night, O'Conner," he said calmly. "I bid ten thousand and one galleons ."

Several people cried out. Hermione moaned, her face in her hands. Ron muttered a filthy curse word, but stood slowly and began to applaud, one solitary set of hands, the sound surprisingly loud in the startled room. Finally, someone else joined in, then another, and another until it spread around the room and the sound was almost deafening.

O'Conner stared at him, fury stamped on every feature, then he grabbed the hand of the young man with him, and disappeared with a sharp crack.

Draco returned his wand to the holster in his sleeve, and slowly sat down.

"Ten thousand galleons?" Harry gasped, his heart in his throat. "For lunch at the Leaky? Have you completely lost the plot?"

Draco turned to him, his expression unruffled. "Apparently."

Harry couldn't help it; he laughed. Even as Ron applauded wildly, stopping occasionally to take a drink from his tall glass of beer, Hermione looked struck dumb and the people around the room applauded, Harry hid his hard-on with his robes, and he laughed. He saw the arrested expression on Draco's face and he couldn't help it; he laughed.

Then Draco startled the hell out of him by leaning forward, grabbing him by the front of his robes and kissing him even as the laughter shook him.

oooOOOooo

Harry had looked so joyful in that moment, so completely liberated from the misery that had held him tight and constrained all evening, that Draco couldn't help it; he fisted his hand in the front of Harry's robes, pulled him in and kissed him.

Harry felt stiff in his arms for only a moment. Then he opened his mouth and kissed back, and they didn't even notice that the applause had turned to cat-calls and there were the flashes of camera strobes all around them. Harry wrapped his arms around Draco's neck and Draco slid his palms around Harry's sides, touching his upper lip with his tongue, and Harry made a sound of welcome only Draco could hear.

"Oi, get a room!"

It was Ron's voice that pulled Draco out of the rapidly spiralling sensual haze. He leaned away, staring into Harry's flushed face, and suddenly all he wanted was Harry beneath him on the first available horizontal surface. He was so hard he ached with it. Draco bent back in, his mouth against Harry's ear.

"I desperately want to fuck you," he murmured, his voice rough. He felt Harry shudder.

"I desperately wish you would."

Draco pulled away slightly, finding Hermione's eyes. "Is this thing over?"

"Draco…"

"We're leaving, Hermione," Harry said, standing and pulling Draco up with him.

"Oh, Harry, please." She clutched his sleeve. "Don't get caught up in this."

"Hermione," Ron said, his voice gentle. "Sweetheart. This is none of our business." He looked at Harry. "Cheers, Mate."

Harry nodded at him, then turned to Draco. "Do you trust me?"

Draco blinked. "I -- " He laughed. " – yes. Why not?"

"Good." He slipped his arms around Draco, and instantly he felt the swoop low in his belly, the ear popping sensation of Apparating over distance. When they arrived at their destination, wherever it was, Draco had a quick view of a smallish sitting room with a sofa and one comfortable looking chair, an ottoman and a desk facing a large window. Beyond it, outside, it was dark. There was a fire banked on the hearth, and flagstone floors, and heavily plastered walls. And then he remembered he had an armful of Potter, whose arousal was pressed against his hip.

"Did you – ," They began together, and Draco smiled.

"You, go ahead."

"Did you mean what you said?" Harry whispered. "About wanting me?"

"I've never meant anything more in my life."

Harry's laugh went straight to Draco's groin. "Is this insane?"

Draco cupped Harry's jaw, then slid his fingers back into that wealth of curling black hair, making a fist. He held his head in place, and Harry's mouth fell open in a soft gasp. "Probably." His other arm went around Harry's waist, holding him tight against his body. "Do you care?"

Harry shuddered, rubbing the bulge in his trousers against Draco's hip. "Right now? No."

Draco had leaned in to kiss him, but stopped at the words. "I don't want you to regret this in the morning."

Harry laughed. "I'm not going to. Can we please stop talking now?"

There were two doors off of the sitting room, and Draco looked between them. "Bedroom?"

Harry gestured to the furthest door, and Draco kissed him quickly, then pulled him through the room and into the bedroom beyond.

It was a simple, almost Spartan room. There was a lamp burning low on the bedside table, and the bed was unmade but otherwise, but for a small pile of clothes on a chair, the room was spotless. Draco didn't really pause to study the furnishings; he was too busy kissing Harry deeply, his tongue doing a slow, thorough search of his mouth. Harry caught it against the roof of his mouth and sucked on it, and Draco shivered.

"Merlin, that mouth," he panted when he pulled back. "At some point I'm going to want to put that to use."

"Do you want me to suck you off?" Harry offered in a soft, rasping voice. He cupped Draco's prick boldly, searching out his shape through his robes.

"Not this time," Draco said. "This time I want to…"

"Fuck me," Harry finished, eyes yearning. "Please. Please."

"Gods." Draco went at the buttons down Harry's chest with ferocity, nearly ripping them through the holes. "Fuck, Malkin and her fucking buttons."

Harry was attacking Draco's jet buttons at the same time, and he laughed, that same uninhibited laugh from earlier and Draco leaned forward, latching his lips onto Harry's throat, right above his collar. Harry let his head fall back and leaned into him and moments later Draco felt a cool breeze brush over the globes of his bare arse. He also felt Harry's hand curl around his prick, and he made a small, gratified sound against Harry's skin.

"Those had better turn up in the morning."

"They're on the chair across the room. God's forbid you lose them, you poser."

"Gods forbid I have to go home naked."

Harry began to stroke him, his hand moving from base to tip. Draco thrust slowly into the motion, sucking a pink spot onto Harry's neck before pulling back. He wanted to see Harry naked, and took him by the shoulders so that he wouldn't immediately step back in.

His skin was tawny gold, the sparse hair on his chest black and curling. He touched where it curled around one copper nipple, finding it nearly as soft as the hair on his head. When he brushed his thumb over one of the small, oval nipples it tightened instantly and Harry closed his eyes at the reaction, his stomach muscles tightening into a well-defined six pack. Draco smiled.

"Aren't you lovely," he murmured, sliding his hand over one of Harry's sharp hipbones, then into the thick thatch of dark hair at the base of his very hard cock. It was average in length, Draco supposed. It went from the tips of his fingers to the middle of his palm, but it was thick, and the glans was peeking out of the rolled flesh of his foreskin. Draco pulled it back, revealing the plump red head, slipping his thumb over the slit.

Harry's hands were moving over Draco's slender torso, cupping his pecs, thumbing his nipples, gently tracing the long scar that went from his clavicle on one side to his hipbone on the other. He looked pensive, and that was not the mood Draco wanted him in.

"Isn't it a handsome thing?" he said flippantly. "I'm actually rather proud of it. I've told former lovers it was a gift from the one and only Harry Potter."

"Don't joke," Harry said softly. "This is the thing I'm most ashamed of."

"Stop." Draco put his fingers beneath Harry's chin and pushed it up, until his eyes left Draco's scar and returned to his face. "I deserved it. And I don't want to talk about it while I'm naked and you have your hands on me, all right?" He took the half step closer and closed the space between them. When they were skin to skin from knees to neck, they both groaned. "This. This is heaven." His hands slid around, along the thick muscles on either side of Harry's spine, down until he held the round globes of his arse in his hands. He massaged them, then pulled them up and apart, his long middle finger brushing over the tight furled opening of his arsehole. Harry shivered.

"Oh, Gods. Yes," he gasped. "Don't tease."

"Not teasing." Draco speared his fingers into the thick hair on the back of Harry's head, pulled it back, and kissed him.

Later Draco would never know how they got to the bed. One minute they were standing, kissing, the next they were laying on the bed, Draco on his back, Harry over the top of him. He spread his long legs and Harry settled between them as if he'd always been right there. Finally, they were cock to cock and they began to move against one another, pricks sliding and catching and wet.

"Lube?" Draco asked, taking his lips from Harry's to ask the question. He felt Harry's teeth sink into the heavy muscle on his shoulder and grunted.

Harry held out his hand, and the drawer on the bedside table rattled then bounced open, and a small bottle flew into his palm.

"Oh, honestly," Draco complained, but he didn't mean it. Grabbing Harry around the waist, he flipped them over until Harry was on his back, looking up at him with wide eyes and Draco knelt between his knees. "What do you like?" he asked as he flipped open the cap on the small lube bottle and dribbled some onto his fingers.

"Everything," Harry gasped, watching the lube avidly. "Anything."

Draco gave him a steady look. "You should be careful who you say that to," he said.

"I trust you."

Draco was a bit humbled by that. "I'll endeavour not to violate that. Are you adverse to arse play?"

He saw Harry's pupils dilate. "I love it."

So part of what O'Conner had told the press was true, at least. The bastard. Draco curled his slick fingers around Harry's prick and stroked it smoothly. Harry sank his white teeth into his lower lip and curled his fingers into fists, clutching the dark blue duvet. Draco added more lube to his hand, the stroked to the base of Harry's erection, then lower still, liberally soaking the small pink pucker. When he finally pressed in with his middle finger, Harry cried out softly, jerking his hips up, his cock bobbing.

"Merlin, you're tight."

Harry's arse gripped him, velvet heat along his finger as Draco pushed in further. He turned his hand palm up and curled his finger, and Harry's jerk and gasp, muscles going rigid and arsehole tightening down, told Draco when he found his prostate.

"You like this."

Harry nodded raggedly.

"You're sensitive," he observed when Harry shuddered as he stroked the spongy gland again. He exhaled, clearly trying not to make noise. Every time Draco pressed into him, a long clear strand of precome dripped onto his stomach. He was glorious, lying there, his head back and his throat moving when he swallowed, Draco's love bite darkening by his Adam's apple. Golden and muscular, he had scars of his own. One in the middle of his chest was the size of a galleon, and it was whitened, devoid of hair. "What happened here?" he stroked his thumb over the pale flesh, leaving a thin coating of lube behind.

"You want me to talk… right now?" Harry said breathlessly. Draco grinned down at him, stroking inside and out.

"Concentrate. You can do it. At least I assume you can."

"Fuck you," Harry laughed.

"Fucking you," Draco shot back, adding his index finger. Harry moaned, which Draco both found adorable, and extremely hot. His own cock was hard as stone and he raised a brow. "The scar?"

"It's from one of the horcruxes," he said quickly. "We took turns wearing it. Once I … oh, God!" He arched his back as Draco moved his fingers inside of him, his legs falling open. "Draco, please!"

"It's all right," Draco pulled is fingers out then slipped his hand under Harry's arse, lifting him, shifting forward on his knees. He pulled his cock away from his belly and lined up, pushed the thick head of his prick into him, pausing after he breached the tight ring of muscle. It was perhaps the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life, having Harry beneath him, finally, tight around him, and having to be still. Harry's brow was furrowed, his mouth a tight pained line. "Stroke your prick," he said. "Let me see you pleasure yourself."

Harry's hand was shaking but he curled his fingers around his cock and began to move up and down.

"Not so fast," Draco said. "I've waited a decade to have you beneath me. I want to make it last as long as possible."

Harry nodded, slowing his stroke, lifting his legs around Draco's hips. It changed the angle of his penetration, and Draco slid past the tight muscles. He finally pushed forward until he could go no further.

"Fuck."

Harry laughed roughly. "Believe you've covered that."

"Oh, you're hilarious." Draco lifted Harry's arse a bit higher, pulling back and then pressing in slowly. He watched Harry move his hand on his hard cock, his mouth open and his green eyes glazed with pleasure. "Lift your legs around my waist. There, that's good." He closed his eyes and swallowed. "So fucking good."

Draco leaned forward, bracing his hands on either side of Harry's head, looking down into the handsome face. It was slicked with a sheen of sweat as he jerked himself off, and it would have taken a stronger man than Draco to keep himself from moving.

Draco wanted to hold off his orgasm as long as he could, but it wasn't going to take nearly as long as he wanted it to. He was moving in a quick, steady rhythm, skin slapping skin, right on the verge of losing it. He leaned down, taking Harry's lower lip between his teeth and biting it gently. Harry grunted, pressing the wet head of his prick into Draco's stomach.

"Are you close?" he released Harry's lip to ask.

"Ung," Harry responded.

"Use your words, Harry," Draco teased.

"Arsehole. Yes, damn you, I'm close. Just -- don't stop!"

It was all the prompting Draco needed. He slipped one hand beneath Harry's arse and braced the other on the headboard of the bed. Harry had closed his eyes, but Draco didn't want that. "Look at me," he said roughly. "Look at me, Harry."

Harry's eyes snapped open and Draco saw need in them, and wonder. It was the wonder that pushed Draco over the edge, prompting him to move harder, and faster. Harry stiffened beneath him, head back, gasping as ropes of white striped his belly and chest. He tightened down so hard he nearly pushed Draco's cock out of him, but Draco couldn't allow that. With two or three more thrusts he buried himself balls deep, shuddering at the tight heat enclosing him, emptying himself in welcoming warmth with an inarticulate cry. He had the presence of mind not to collapse in a boneless heap on the limp body beneath him, holding himself up long enough to pull out, then rolling and falling onto the bed beside Harry.

It was several long moments of gasped breaths and trembling aftershocks. Harry found Draco's hand on the duvet and gripped it, and Draco returned the pressure, linking their fingers, holding tight. He never wanted to let go.

But of course needs must, and he wanted to be clean. Pushing himself up, he sat on the edge of the bed for a moment to get his bearings.

"You're leaving?" Harry asked. He sounded so disappointed. Draco turned his head to look down at him.

"No," he answered, and watched the disillusionment fade from Harry's eyes, replaced with hope. Draco wanted to keep the hope there, if he could. "Just looking for the bathroom to find a flannel. Or do you relish the idea of waking up to dry spunk on your chest and up your arse?"

"Not a believer in cleaning spells, then?" Harry grinned at him.

"Merlin, no." He shuddered. "They’re right up there with arse loosening spells. I prefer a more hands on approach. Which I'm sure you figured already."

Harry grinned lazily. "I did. And it's through that door, right there."

Draco padded across the room, flicking on the bathroom light. It was small and immaculate, and he found a stack of flannels on a shelf by the glass enclosed shower stall.

When he walked back into the bedroom feeling much cleaner than before, Harry was still lying as he'd left him, and the appreciation in his eyes as he watched Draco approach was gratifying.

"You're staring," he said, sitting on the edge of the bed and carefully cleaning Harry's stomach and the inside of his thighs before taking the soiled flannel and tossing it into an empty laundry hamper. He heard Harry laugh behind him. "What?"

Draco nudged Harry to move so that he could urge him under the covers. It was chilly in the dimly lit bedroom, and he pulled the sheets and blankets up over Harry's legs and hips. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Draco slipped between the sheets, settling onto his back and pulling Harry against his side. "Now tell me, why were you laughing?"

"Hermione bought me that hamper when I moved in. That's the first time it's been used. I usually just toss everything on the floor. She was trying to break me of the habit. After living with me in a tent for nearly a year, she was well aware I was a slob."

"Well, maybe we can break you of the habit. And I beg to differ; your house is neat as a pin."

"I have a witch who comes in once a week to clean," Harry said absently. Draco knew what he was implying with his bold statement about 'breaking habits', and he'd felt Harry go still against his side. Harry lifted up onto his elbow, looking down into Draco's eyes. His glasses were sitting a bit lopsided on his nose, and Draco reached up, gently straightening them. "We?" Harry said softly.

Draco studied Harry's carefully blank face. "I was hoping we might see… where this would take us. Tonight was far more enjoyable than I thought it would be, and we just shared a pretty spectacular fuck, if I do say so myself." Humour lit up green eyes. "Unless you aren't interested."

Harry bit his lower lip. "No, I'm very interested. Maybe just a bit cautious."

"Ah, well – understandable." Draco reached up, pushing Harry's fringe back from his forehead. It flopped immediately back down and Draco conceded defeat. "What if we just see what happens. I mean, as of tomorrow morning when the Prophet hits the stands, the entire wizarding world is going to think we're together, anyway."

"So they are." Harry laid his hand on Draco's chest. "I suppose it would seem odd if we come out one night, and break up the next."

"I have it on very good authority that it just isn't done."

"Really? And who would that authority be?"

"Pansy, who else?"

Harry chuckled. "Well, I imagine she is an unimpeachable source."

"Unimpeachable. My, my. That's a big word."

"Oh, shut it." He poked a sharp finger into Draco's side, and Draco grimaced, rubbing the spot.

"Ouch. I promised not to damage you. Doesn't the consideration go both ways?"

"Pussy."

"No, thank you." He grimaced. "Tried it, didn't like it."

Harry laughed. "You're impossible."

"Not impossible. Just improbable." Draco beckoned with his hand. "Do lay down. I'd like to get some sleep."

"You're going to stay?" Harry asked tentatively. "All night?"

"I planned to, unless you want to chuck me out the door."

"No." Harry studied him carefully. "I'd very much like you to stay. I just hate waking up to a cold, empty bed."

Draco shook his head. "I would never do anything so gauche as slip out like a thief in the night. I promise."

"I'm going to have to get used to your vocabulary."

"Only if you expect me to talk. Come here. You're making me tired looming over me like that."

"Gauche. Looming." Harry repeated dramatically, but he lay down, settling his head on Draco's shoulder. Draco curled his arm around Harry's broad shoulders, appreciating the feel of muscle beneath his hands.

"Perfectly acceptable words."

"Says you."

"Yes, says me. Or is there someone else here I hadn't noticed?" Draco settled deeper into the comfortable bed with a soft sigh. Harry yawned.

"No. Just you and your vocabulary. 'Gauche'. 'Looming'. No one really talks like that." He sounded sleepy, and Draco smiled. He ran his fingers tenderly through the thick, curling hair.

"Well, I do." Draco felt his eyelids growing heavy and he closed his eyes with a satisfied sigh. "And as I recall you've popped out with a few three syllable words this evening. I've been quite impressed."

Harry didn't respond and hearing his slow, steady breathing Draco thought that he was already asleep. He smiled faintly, his fingers caressing Harry's head.

"Don't worry, Harry." He said the first name with pleasure, and his smile widened. "I plan to be around to help with your vocabulary. As a writer, some of those big words could actually come in handy."

"Blah, blah, blah," Harry muttered. "Go to sleep."

"Fine. Philistine." Draco glanced toward the small light on the bedside table. "Nox."

The room settled into peaceful darkness.

oooFINISooo