"-- the difference between a Malfoy and Azkaban?" Seamus asked.
Harry hadn't really been paying attention. "What?" It came out too sharply, to his ears, but Seamus didn't seem to notice.
"Not everyone's been in Azkaban!"
Harry laughed, although it wasn't funny or even new, and Seamus went back to talking about the case. Harry didn't really listen to that, either. He was too busy feeling guilty. As soon as he could, he excused himself and went back to his office. His desk was covered in unfiled paperwork and dirty coffee mugs and pictures of his children in cheap frames. He would have liked to sweep it all onto the floor and stomp out.
Instead he worked steadily until just after seven, and didn't think about what Seamus had said until he got home. His key turned in the lock, the door to his flat opened, and there were Draco and Pansy Parkinson and Goyle, sprawled on his couch, watching quidditch vids on the big screen tv he'd bought, drinking his beer and eating Chinese food he'd probably paid for.
Harry shut the door, gently. Draco looked up. "Harry! Perfect, you can settle this. Look, this is Brendan Lynch at Seeker-- Killarney's playing Northern Wales-- watch it and see what you think, but it looks to me like he does this weird head bobbing thing when he sees the Snitch."
"Oh, he does not," Pansy said, grabbing for the remote, "and anyway Potter doesn't care about quidditch--."
Something must have showed on Harry's face then because Goyle, who was the only one looking at him, said hastily, "You're probably right, Malfoy, you mostly are. That's what they pay you the big galleons for. Anyway, Pansy and I ought to push off, we've had a long day."
"We have?" Pansy asked, with poisonous innocence. "Of course we have, Greg."
Draco looked as if he might have protested, but she overrode him. "Good practice today, Draco. Make sure you ice that shoulder tonight. Good night, darling. Potter."
When she and Goyle had gone, Harry sat down next to Draco. "How was practice today, really?"
"Hideous," Draco answered, without taking his eyes off the tv. "Brutal. If Pansy weren't my agent, and obliged to flatter me, she'd have said so too." He let his head fall onto Harry's shoulder. "I'm fat and old and completely unfit, and I'll be lucky if they start me once this season."
Harry smiled and patted his hair. "Work was hideous, too. They've got me working with Seamus Finnegan, I don't know if you remember him, but a bigger prat never existed."
"Poor Harry," Draco said with a sigh. "If only I were rich, I'd tell you to fuck the job and be my kept man. As it is, you'll have to settle for leftover takeaway and minor league quidditch replays."
It was the same thing he always said, when Harry talked about his work, and Harry wondered if it meant he wasn't listening, or if he really believed that Harry would be happy being a quidditch player's chippy. "Yeah. I need a beer. You want anything while I'm up?"
"No," Draco said, refocusing on Brendan Lynch's dubious charms and possible facial tic. "Wait, yes. Mum wants to know if we'll come to dinner Saturday night."
Harry would rather be set on fire than eat dinner with Draco's family again. "Do I have to? Can't we get out of it? You know what they're like--."
"Of course I know, Harry, they're my parents," Draco said, so reasonably Harry knew he'd made a mistake. "I thought you might do it as a favor to me, but that's clearly too much to ask, so don't worry, I'll put her off. I'd hate for my mother to know the hero of the wizarding world would rather immolate himself than eat her cooking."
Harry hadn't realized he'd said that part out loud. He was getting a headache. He stopped, trapped between the kitchen and the living room, and rubbed the bridge of his nose where his glasses sat. "You know I didn't mean it like that. Anyway, it's mostly your dad--."
The glare Draco shot him would have peeled paint off a portrait. "My father has never said an unpleasant word to you since I brought you home. If he can be civil, you fucking well could, too. But don't worry. I won't ask it of you." He shut off the tv and went into the bedroom, not quite slamming the door.
That had certainly gone well. Harry went and grabbed a beer out of the fridge and drank most of it, too quickly. He thought of Seamus, with what would probably be a neverending store of Malfoy jokes, and then of the infamous picture of Draco and Blaise Zabini. They'd run it on the cover of Witch Weekly, carefully cropped, and then as the centerfold, less cropped. Draco was under Blaise, his skin very pale against the other man's and his body almost fragile despite the muscle of a pro Seeker.
He finished his beer and opened another. The Chinese was a concession to Draco's training diet, mostly steamed vegetables and shrimp. No rice, no sauces, no fortune cookies, and other than the beer and Harry's muesli Draco'd pretty much Incendio'd every carb, sweet, and edible thing in the flat. Seekers were meant to be light, and Draco's contract was harsher than most. It specified he be under eleven stone during the season, which had probably been easier when Draco was twenty and not thirty-nine.
Draco was half a stone over at the moment, and Harry was the one who had to pay for it. He'd had a bacon sandwich for lunch, and there was a Choc Frog in his briefcase for later. Pansy and Greg could be martyred, if they liked, but Harry wasn't going to be. He finished the Chinese straight from the carton, and left the dishes in the sink and the bottles on the coffee table. After all, it wasn't his mess; they weren't his mates.
Harry's friends didn't come 'round, not since he'd moved in with Draco. They couldn't know who he was living with. If the tabloids found out, it would be the end of Harry's Ministry career-- a man, and a former Death Eater, and a Malfoy-- and Hermione was an Unspeakable and got regular Veritaserum tests, and Harry couldn't tell Ron and not tell her. He hated lying to them, hated more that they didn't even seem to have noticed. None of it was Draco's fault of course.
He took his beer out in front of the tv and put on the game tape. Draco was right about Lynch. Harry turned it off and went to tell Draco so, suddenly in a much better mood. But Draco was in bed with Mario Bagman's biography, wearing pajama bottoms and his reading glasses, an ice pack on his bad shoulder. It might as well have been an iceberg, judging from his expression when Harry came in.
"Hey," Harry said, "I'm sorry about that. It's just been a rough day, you know? I'll go to dinner, tell Narcissa."
Draco didn't soften. "I already told her you'd be out of the country for work."
Harry wasn't really disappointed. "Okay. So, what's Bagman up to now?"
"Being tortured by Grindelwald, because he can't keep his mouth shut."
"Great." Harry resolved to check the book in the morning and see if that was meant to be a subtle hint. "Well, I guess I'll get in the shower, then."
Draco went back to reading. Harry sighed, and went in the bathroom and jerked off in the shower.
When he came out, the light on Draco's nightstand was out, and Draco was asleep, or pretending to be, even though it wasn't even ten. If Malfoys had been the sort not to go to bed angry, they'd never have slept at all, but Harry still didn't like it. He should have looked over the papers he'd brought home from work, but instead he slid into bed and put out his own light, and inched over so that his back was against Draco's.
When he woke up the next morning, it was barely light, but Draco was already out. "Running," said the note on the counter, no signature and no love. Harry started coffee and sat down with his papers.
He was still at it when Draco came in. "Must be hot out," he said mildly, as Draco pulled off his soaked shirt and fished his water bottle out.
"Yeah," Draco said gloomily, "it's ridiculous for June."
Harry watched hungrily as he wiped his face with a kitchen towel and then drank half the water in big gulps. "Want me to make breakfast? I could probably manage an egg-white omelet."
Draco weighed this peace offer, while Harry held his breath. Draco was lovely, even early in the morning. His body, up close, was all lean muscle, the Mark on his arm very black against the pale gold of his tan. There were fading bruises over his ribs, darker ones on his left thigh below his shorts. Being a Seeker was a dangerous job, especially on a lousy team like the Cannons, and even the training could be violent. "No," he said finally. "I'm just going to have a protein shake-- but you can come and shower with me, if you like."
He didn't have to ask twice. Harry gave him a minute to rinse off and slipped in with him. The bath was huge, more than half the reason he'd chosen the flat, with a shower built for a centaur. Draco was warm and damp and considerably cleaner, and Harry bit gently at his neck while he worked a finger inside him.
It was awkward, doing it this way, because Draco was taller than Harry. But when it worked right it was worth it. And Draco never seemed to want to top before practice, even though after they fought was almost the only time Harry really liked bottoming. Draco moved restlessly against him, bracing himself with his arms against the wall of the shower, and Harry slid his free hand around and palmed Draco's cock.
Sex was the one thing that was nearly always right between them. Harry slid another finger in, and Draco gasped and said something that might have been "Merlin," or "More," and his cock jerked frantically in Harry's hand. Harry bit him again, harder, marking him so that everyone would know, everyone would see it and wonder who was fucking Draco Malfoy.
He pulled his fingers out and lubed himself before he shoved into Draco's body. Not much foreplay, but they'd never needed much-- and besides, they were both going to be late to work if they stayed under until the hot water ran out. Draco was still so, so tight, despite his shitty reputation, and even with him bent forward Harry had to struggle to get deep enough to hit his prostate.
He thrust a couple of times, shallowly, one hand on Draco's shoulder and the other on his dick. Draco was panting, his back tense with the effort of holding them both up, and he felt ready to come. It wasn't going to take long for Harry, either. Another shallow one, and then deeper, and then his brain shut off entirely and his body took over.
And when he came, Draco came with him. Harry's legs gave out and he sat down under the beating water, and Draco laughed. "You're getting old and out of shape, too, Harry Potter."
Sadly, he was right. Harry hadn't gained much weight-- although unlike Draco, he'd gained some, not having contractual obligation as an incentive-- but since he'd been promoted out of the field, he'd gotten soft. Being just barely on the right side of forty hadn't helped, either. "Shut it, Malfoy," he said, moving back a little so that Draco could wash his hair. "If you spent ten hours a day behind a desk, you'd be out of shape, too. Besides, when we fuck you always make me do the work."
Draco laughed and kissed him, openmouthed, until Harry forgot to blink and got water in his eyes. "Get up and get dressed, Potter, or you'll make me late for practice."
Harry got out and dried off. He was smiling, but he couldn't help it. When things were good with Draco, they were really good, and he wanted to go public even if it cost him his job and his best friends and probably his kids.
When things were bad he felt secretly relieved that he could break it off without anyone knowing. Draco could make him angry more quickly than anyone he'd ever met, and sometimes he thought about the things they said to each other and felt sick. Ron and Hermione were his measuring stick for normal-- almost the only original couple left in his group of friends-- and they fought sometimes, but not the way Harry and Draco fought.
Of course, they probably didn't make up the way Harry and Draco did, either. He went back to the kitchen and drank the rest of his coffee without noticing it had gone cold. Draco came out, already in his quidditch gear, and dumped pumpkin juice and raw eggs and potions powders into the blender. While he was waiting for it to achieve the perfect shade of putrid green, Harry said quickly, "I've changed my mind about Saturday, if you think the offer's still open."
Draco turned around. "Really?" he demanded. "Because you weren't very enthusiastic about it last night."
"I know," Harry admitted, not meeting his eyes. "But it isn't fair for you or for them as it is, keeping things secret like this. The least I can do is be nice about it."
"Hey," Draco said lightly, "I do get something out of it, you know. All this sneaking around is pretty hot."
Harry knew that that meant, "Apology accepted," and maybe even "Thank you." Malfoys didn't say things like that, even in private. He watched Draco pour his sludge into a glass and drink it without even a shudder, and tried not to wince. "Pretty hot?" he answered. "It's damn hot, and you know it." Because Harry didn't say things like, "I love you," not unless someone was dying.
"I'll tell Mum," Draco said, with the grin that made Harry's chest ache. "She likes you, Merlin only knows why." He set his glass in the sink, and came over to kiss Harry goodbye. "Do something good today, Potter."
"Try to stay on your broom today, Malfoy,".
Draco smirked and blew him a kiss before he went.
Wednesdays were Court days, Harry's least favorite. It meant a great deal of sitting and waiting, interspersed with moments of pure terror when he had to testify in front of the Wizengamot-- that, it seemed, was the same whether you were fourteen or nearly forty. Wednesday's only saving grace was that it meant he was done by three, and he and Ron generally met up to watch the Cannons practice.
It had become more exciting, and exponentially more awkward, since he'd started sleeping with Draco a year ago. Today the coach was running drills with Draco, and Harry sat in the stands next to Ron and pretended he hadn't kissed Draco goodbye that morning, before he'd slunk to the coffee shop for a muffin. He'd never done much Seeker-specific training at Hogwarts, and watching Draco be put through his paces over and over again made him glad he hadn't turned professional.
It just didn't look like fun, diving and pulling up over and over, while someone screamed about your form. "Damn Malfoy," Ron said, too loudly, "he should just retire. He's slower than a fat Thestraal these days, it's embarrassing just watching him play."
"He's not that bad," Harry argued, feeling like Judas. Several of the players on the bench had turned and were shooting them black looks. "It's only been three years since he was in the Cup team, Ron--."
"Yeah, and what's he done since? Besides get dropped from the Hornets roster and traded down to the Cannons, who, much as I love them, are the worst team in the league?"
Draco had a son to put through Hogwarts, and Harry knew he helped his parents, and Merlin knew he was probably supporting Pansy Parkinson and possibly Blaise Zabini and Malcolm Baddock. He wouldn't retire. He couldn't afford to. Harry wasn't supposed to know any of that, though. "Goyle's just as old, and you're not complaining about him," he pointed out, while the Seeker coach summoned a half a dozen players and set them against Draco.
Ron shrugged. "Goyle's a Keeper. And a third string one at that. They only took him to keep Malfoy happy."
In the sky, Draco dodged and weaved, leading the other players left, right, left, before suddenly reversing and flying straight toward the group on his tail. And when they tried to stop in midair, he rolled back to the right, and his fingers closed around the Snitch.
"Come on," Harry said, "that was some pretty wicked flying. We should buy him a drink."
"Buy Malfoy a drink? What, is Dolores Umbridge busy?"
And that, Harry sometimes thought, was the real reason he'd never told Ron and Hermione about Draco. "It might be fun," he protested. "We can't hang onto schoolboy grudges forever."
"We can, if they're Malfoy--."
"Hey, Malfoy," Harry shouted over him. "Come and have a drink with us after practice."
Draco glanced over his shoulder at the coach, who waved him off, and then flew over. "Harry Potter," he said, "the scourge of evil and savior of the wizarding world. And Ronald Weasley, sidekick. Of course I'll come, if my friends can come, too."
"Friends?" Ron demanded. "You have friends?"
"Parkinson and Goyle," Draco clarified, smirking ever so slightly at Harry. "Even evil geniuses get to have sidekicks, you know."
"Right. Grindelwald had your grandfather, and Voldemort had your father, and--."
Harry had lost control of the conversation, if he'd ever had it. "We'll be at the Black Cat," he interrupted, before Ron could say something Draco wouldn't find so amusing. "At the bar."
"Cheerio, then." Draco said, and flew off.
"You've lost your mind, Harry."
"I'll buy," Harry said hastily. By the time Draco and Goyle showered, he could have Ron halfway drunk.
Halfway drunk and even more belligerent, particularly when Draco came in and sat next to him, with a brilliant smile. "So, Ron, what are you up to these days?" might have been an innocent question, except that Harry knew Draco knew Ron was unemployed and stayed home with the children, and that he was sensitive about it.
"Doing some freelance work from home," Ron answered shortly. "It's rather pleasant, actually. How about you, Malfoy? Seeing any nice blokes?"
Which, of course, was a reference to Draco's well-publicized relationship with a Russian quidditch star named Sergei, which had been followed by his spot of amateur pornography with Zabini. Out of the corner of his eye Harry saw Goyle wince, and even Pansy looked apprehensive. But Draco smiled serenely. "I tell you, Weasley, giving up the ladies was the best decision I've ever made. I'm seeing the loveliest man--." Pansy must have kicked him under the bar, which was good; Harry wouldn't have been able to reach.
A part of him wanted to let Draco go on, and see how that sentence ended. An amazing man who's firmly in the closet, and puts his career in front of his boyfriend, and won't even let me tell my son we're seeing each other, for fear it will end up in the Prophet? And maybe that was the real reason he hadn't told Ron and Hermione-- because little as they liked Draco, they would like what Harry was doing even less.
He ordered the usual for the evil genius and his associates, without asking. Ron was too drunk to notice, but a part of Harry wanted to be caught. Two more years, he thought, and the words had all the weight of a Remembrance Charm behind them. Two more years until I make senior and can fuck whomever I like.
In two years James would be fifteen, and Albus Severus-- and Draco's Scorpius thirteen, and Lily--. It would still hurt them, and still hurt Ron and Hermione, but in two years they'd be infinitely better prepared, surely, and sometimes he wondered how his life had got to be such a fucking mess.
"So who are you persecuting these days, Potter?" Draco asked him, elbowing him in the ribs. "Any interesting cases?"
Harry had told him last night over veal scallopini, at a tiny Italian restaurant near the Thames. He smiled and told him again, and for a moment it was like none of the others were there.
When he'd finished, Goyle cleared his throat politely. "Reckon I'll push off," he said. "Long practice today." Harry expected Pansy to clear off with him, but she stayed, stubborn and loyal as a pit bull.
"How's the team shaping up?" Ron asked, his curiosity overwhelming his dislike of Draco.
"Better than last season, surprisingly." And they were off. Sometimes Harry wondered if pureblood wizards ever really thought of anything but quidditch. He'd accepted it, but although he'd loved playing, he'd never understand it.
Twenty minutes later, Ron's bladder finally failed him, and while he was having a piss Draco leaned over. "This is torture, Harry," he whispered, "don't ever do this again. All I want to do is fuck you in front of him to mark my territory."
On his other side, Pansy blushed faintly. "For fuck's sake, Draco, werewolves piss on things, they don't fuck them. And I'm right here, and can hear everything you say."
"Eavesdropper," Draco hissed back, but he straightened up. "We should go. I'll see you at home once you've ditched the Weasel."
They were gone by the time Ron came back, leaving Harry to charm him sober and Apparate him back. Fortunately, Hermione wasn't home from work yet, and Hugo was still at a friend's. Sobriety Charms weren't as effective as time and black coffee. But when Harry turned to go, Ron grabbed his arm. "I hope you know what you're doing, mate."
"Me, too," Harry said, throwing a handful of powder into the Floo.
The next day Harry had a headache that made him glad he wasn't Ron. They were getting too old to drink on weeknights. He stayed in bed while Draco got up and ran, and was still there when Draco came back, interestingly sweaty. There wasn't time to do much besides jerk each other off, but after Draco'd taken the world's quickest shower and gulped down an energy bar, he got up and made himself scrambled eggs with cheese and felt much better.
Being late for work made things go faster, too. They were between really interesting cases, and had been for a while, and by the time he got in it was time for coffee. Afterward he went through his post, and then had a long, rather expensive lunch with the heads of War Crimes and Juveniles. War Crimes was lovely, a couple of years Harry's junior, an ex-Hufflepuff who was meticulous but had a bitchy sense of humor. Juveniles was Penelope Clearwater Weasley, who took herself a bit seriously for Harry's taste, but after a half a glass of white loosened up considerably.
Ostensibly these meetings were a chance to discuss Justice business, but Nonhumans hated War Crimes and Government Oversight had been Harry's chief competition for Civilian Issues and felt he'd been chosen unfairly, so they'd gotten into the habit of having two separate meetings. Penelope, in a reprise of her Head Girl role at Hogwarts, went to both, providing a quorum.
Most Justice heads were promoted out of the field, as Harry had been. He'd loved being a barrister. He was less sure that he loved being a bureaucrat, but it certainly paid better-- and having two households, one secret, was expensive. He was just lucky his promotion had come through before his divorce began.
He was whistling to himself as he went up the stairs to the flat, juggling his bag and a bottle of red wine and a bag of groceries. But when he got to the landing Pansy Parkinson was outside his door, talking angrily into her mobile and crying. Harry's first thought was that Draco was dead. He set the bags down gently and touched her arm, less gently.
She turned to face him, mopping angrily at her eyes with her free hand. "What? Oh. Potter." Into her mobile she said, "I'll ring you back."
"It's Draco, then?"
"Draco? No. Look, Potter, you'd better not go in, maybe. Malcolm Baddock's killed himself-- last week, actually, but they've only just found his body."
Despite himself, Harry winced. "Is Draco--."
"He's taking it hard," Pansy said. "He blames himself for all of it, you know. Dumbledore and Snape, and Vince, and Greg's drinking so much, and me being unemployable, and the Death Eaters losing the war, and there having been a war at all." She sighed. Harry sighed, too.
Malcolm Baddock had been a year younger than they were, one of the youngest to take the Mark, and he'd only done it because Draco had, and ever since he'd been going to hell, not quietly. There had been meetings about Malcolm and interventions for Malcolm and rehabilitation and relapses-- and that was only since Harry'd started sleeping with Draco. He didn't really want to pick up the pieces, but he was the boyfriend, that was his job.
He put his hand on the doorknob, started to push. "Draco's having a wake, Granger's just turned up," Pansy blurted.
The door opened. There were two dozen people in Harry's living room. One of them was Hermione. "Harry," she said, coming over to kiss him. "I didn't know you knew Malcolm."
"I didn't really. Only at school."
"Well, then it was lovely of you to come." Draco's eyes were red, but his voice was clipped and under control. "Welcome, Potter. Can I get you a drink?"
Harry thought of the bottle of wine on the landing, the bag with pasta and sauce and bread and salad. Pansy could manage it. "Beer, if you have it. Or water's fine."
"I think there's some beer," Draco answered, not smiling. Of course, he'd screwed around behind his ex and the press's back with Serge Ivanovitich for half his marriage, all while playing for the most popular BQ franchise in decades, so Harry'd already known he was a good liar.
He took the beer from Draco-- beer he'd bought himself, at the shop on the corner-- and took a sip. Be normal, he thought. "I didn't know you and Malcolm were so close," he said to the space between Hermione and Draco.
Draco shrugged. "He was in Slytherin."
Hermione made the face she always made, when she was repeating something for the eighth time and knew Harry hadn't been listening. "I work with his sister? Leia Baddock? I set you two up on a date, Harry. You went out with her twice."
"Right. I remember." Harry couldn't help glancing over at Draco, but Draco wasn't even paying attention. The big photograph of the two of them that usually sat on the mantel had been taken down. Harry wondered if Draco'd done that, or Pansy. He didn't like her, but she was pretty efficient. "We should have a toast. To Malcolm."
The words fell in one of those weird silences that happened sometimes at parties, and Harry couldn't help blushing. And then Draco said flatly, "You're right. We should."
For a moment Harry thought they expected him to give it. He could only barely remember what Malcolm had looked like, and most of the stories he'd heard involved vomit, the tabloids, and prison.
"To the fallen," Draco began. "Malcolm Baddock."
"Vincent Crabbe," Goyle added.
Pansy was in the doorway. "Severus Snape," she said defiantly.
"Fred Weasley." Harry turned and saw Penelope in the kitchen. She really did know everyone.
When it came to Hermione, she whispered, "Hugh Granger."
Finally it was Harry's turn, and he couldn't think of anyone dead. Albus Dumbledore. Alastor Moody-- "Sirius Black," he said, and it didn't hurt anymore to remember.
When everyone was done, Draco lifted his glass. "Malcolm Baddock," he repeated. "May you rest in hell, you poor sad fuck." And then he threw the glass into the fireplace.
It was midsummer, and brutally hot; they only lit the fireplace when they needed to talk to someone who didn't have a mobile. But Harry still flinched as the others threw their wine glasses and bottles and tumblers onto the hearth, until he and Hermione were the only ones left. They were the only ones who weren't Purebloods, and this was clearly some kind of weird Pureblood ritual, but they were waiting and Harry fired his almost empty beer at the stones, and then Hermione did too.
He felt better for having smashed it. He hadn't broken anything for the sake of breaking it since he was fifteen.
The party broke up at midnight. They were all adults and most of them had kids and all of them had jobs, and it was a weeknight. Anyway, there were only so many sad Malcolm stories to tell. Pansy and Greg stayed, of course, but they slept on the couch or in the spare bedroom at least once a week during the season. Hermione stayed, too, and Harry realized that he was going to have to pretend to leave his own flat and then hide somewhere until she went. Really, he should see her home--.
"Harry?" she said, and he realized he'd been staring at her with his mouth open, and swallowed. "Look, don't you think it's time you came clean? You guys have been living together for eight months."
"Wait, you knew?"
Hermione picked up a couple of empty glasses that had survived the purge and started toward the kitchen. "I'm an Unspeakable. We know everyone's dirty little secrets."
"Oh," Harry said, and sat down on the couch next to Goyle.
Eventually Draco came out of the bedroom and sat next to him.
"Hermione knows about us," Harry said to him.
"She spies on people for a living, Potter."
"Right, but--." Harry leaned against him, suddenly exhausted by the day, and its implications. Draco allowed it for a moment, and then kissed him on the top of the head and got up. He went over and stood in front of the fireplace, hands in his pockets, staring down at the untidy heap of broken glass.
Hermione came out of the kitchen with a plastic cup of water. Harry guessed they were probably out of glasses. "Spy." She put out her tongue at him, and then came over and nudged his knee hard with her thigh, making go-over-and-talk-to-him motions at Draco. He glanced at Pansy for confirmation and she nodded, ear still glued to her mobile, from where she sat on the floor.
It was harder than he expected to get up, not least because he had no idea what to say to Draco. A thousand trite and idiotic things came to mind-- for the best and long time coming and not your fault-- but in the end he just took Draco's hand and said, "I'm sorry about Malcolm."
"It was a long time coming," Draco answered, and Harry saw that he was crying. He'd never been much good with Ginny, not when he'd been the one making her cry in the first place. Draco was a thousand times worse. Harry couldn't help remembering being sixteen and the way he'd failed then. But he stayed where he was, fingers entwined with Draco's, while Hermione quizzed Goyle about Pureblood mourning rites.
And it wasn't long before Draco stopped, scrubbing roughly at his face with his sleeve and sighing. He looked as shattered as Harry felt. "I should owl his parents," he yawned, "and order flowers or something for the funeral. Did Leia-- I guess someone took her home-- and the glass, I'd better get that before someone sits in it."
"You should come to bed," Harry said, and pulled firmly. He'd treated Ginny like she was made of glass, right up until she'd left him for someone who didn't. But Draco was different, Draco could look after himself, and mostly did, which was part of what Harry liked about him. It made it hard to take care of him, though, hard even to be nice to him sometimes.
Not tonight. Tonight Draco's jagged edges were smoothed away by exhaustion and grief and guilt, and Harry felt safe leading him to bed the way he would have led James or Albus Severus. Away from Hermione's eager questions about vessels and funerary wines, and Pansy's, "Mr. Malfoy won't be discussing that, I'm afraid."
In the moonlit darkness of the bedroom Draco revived enough to pull away and go in to the toilet by himself. Harry took off his work clothes and got into bed, too tired even for toothbrushing charms. Eventually Draco came out and crawled in next to him. He didn't say anything, but he turned to face Harry and began to kiss his throat, his shoulder, and then slowly down his chest to his cock.
Harry wasn't exactly in the mood for a blowjob; if he'd needed a reminder that he wasn't eighteen anymore, fumbling with Ginny in the Room of Requirement, the long moment it took for Draco's mouth to bring him erect would have done it.
The thought of Hermione in the next room with Pansy and Goyle was almost enough to wilt him again. His fingers tightened in Draco's hair, and he meant to say, not tonight. But Draco was brilliant at this, his mouth warm and wet and strong, and instead he swallowed the words behind clenched teeth. He knew that this was as close as Draco ever came to asking for comfort, this and the press of his fingers against Harry's.
And there were worse things than being sucked off. He didn't, after all, take long to come. Afterward, he lay, sweaty and wordless and completely exhausted, while Draco got up to clean up. He was asleep before Draco came back.
But in the morning, Draco was there beside him, curled against his back despite the heat and sleeping hard. It was late, but not so late that Harry had to wake him. He'd missed his run, but he could have another twenty minutes of sleep and then breakfast. There hadn't been much dinner the night before. Harry got up and started coffee, and then climbed in the shower. Hermione had gone but Goyle was asleep on the rug and Pansy on the sofa still clutching her mobile. The coffee would wake them, too, he decided.
It occurred to him as he stood under the water that he hadn't known going to bed with Draco after a charity dinner would lead to opening a halfway house for wayward Slytherins, but he thought of Draco the night before, angry and miserable and beautiful, and couldn't mind too much.
When he got out and dressed, he found Draco and the others in the kitchen, drinking coffee and reading the Prophet. Malcolm's death had missed the deadline, but the Sport page held a freelance article by Ron Weasley: "Malfoy: Cannon's Bad Faith Trade."
"Damn," Pansy said sweetly when she saw Harry looking at it, "I'll bet it stings, seeing that and knowing he knows."
"Pan." She didn't quite flinch at Draco's voice, but some of the edge went out her spine. "You did get him fired from Q. E. D. for using the word Buggery in all of his Hornets headlines."
"And Draco taught Scorpius's year all the words to "Weasley Is Our King," and had them sing it outside the press awards when he was runner-up," Goyle added.
"Q. E. D. is trash, and the Weasel should be grateful I got his contract voided," Pansy said haughtily, and Harry laughed with the others. But he was thinking of something Draco had said on the Wednesday night he and Ron'd watched the Cannons practice, that even evil geniuses had sidekicks.
Draco didn't have the ambition to be a Dark Lord. Harry thought he'd be happy to drag out his professional career as long as he could, and then go into coaching or commentating, or even write predictions for the dreaded Q. E. D.
But if he had-- if he had, Pansy and Greg would have followed him. Most of the Slytherins would have-- most of the purebloods. He wouldn't have won.
Maybe he wouldn't have won. Harry looked at him, standing in their small kitchen drinking coffee, in faded jeans and trainers and a black t-shirt, his hair still blond without even a hint of gray, and the Mark dark as a bruise on his arm. He had been the best Seeker in Europe once, taken England to the semi-final at the World Cup for the first time in fifty years.
And then his wife had caught him in bed with Sergei Ivanovitch, the mad Russian who played first-string Keeper for the Hornets, and divorced him. Ivanovitch had fled back to Vladivostock, the Hornets had started to lose, and then Draco had wrecked his shoulder just before the World Cup and England had gone out in the qualifier, losing the first three games. And after that the tabs had run an expose on Lucius Malfoy, detailing his affair with Snape during the war, and followed it up with pictures of Draco being fucked by Blaise Zabini.
They might have followed Draco then; they wouldn't now. Harry wondered if that was what he'd wanted. "Breakfast," he said instead, leaning over to take paper. "My treat."
Since the Cannons had a match on Sunday, Draco actually got Saturday morning off. He and Harry spent it in bed, not reading the papers, which were full of news about Baddock's death and gloomy prognostications for the game. Despite the charms it was still very hot in the flat, too hot to sleep.
Not quite too hot to fuck, but Harry let Draco top. "Think of all the calories you'll burn," he said breathlessly when Draco protested, and he rolled onto his stomach and refused to move. Draco bit Harry's throat sharply, but then he leaned over and found the lube and a condom in the drawer of the nightstand. His hands were warm on Harry's body, his fingers strong and his palms hard with callous.
"Fine." He was already nudging Harry's thighs apart, stretching him open. They didn't do this too often. Draco claimed it made his shoulder stiff, but Harry thought it was probably more complicated than that, because whenever he asked Draco was always willing.
Despite his experience, or maybe because of it, Draco was shyer in bed than Ginny had been, less likely to ask for what he wanted. Happier to take what he could get. If Harry ever had the chance he was going to punch Sergei Ivanovitch in the face, fastest reflexes in the world or not.
Harry liked topping best, but he liked the way Draco's weight felt over him, the sticky warmth of Draco's body against his back. He liked Draco's gentleness, and he liked when Draco forgot to be gentle and fucked him into the mattress, his hand under Harry working Harry's cock.
He liked coming first, not having to take responsibility for Draco's orgasm, only lie panting, face in the pillow. And he liked Draco rolling away from him to lie against his shoulder, sweaty and solid and real, in a way he'd never had with Ginny in more than fifteen years of marriage.
"Are you asleep, Potter?" Draco demanded. "Seriously? I did all the work here."
"I'm awake," Harry protested. "Resting, is all."
"Screwed your brains out, is all," Draco said, licking Harry's ear. Ginny had always wanted a bath as soon as they were done. Draco always wanted to talk.
His fingers were light along Harry's spine. "The Cannons are dumping me at the end of the season."
Harry turned onto his side so that he could see Draco's face. "But you have a contract for three years--."
"Pan says they can get round it, they always do." He shrugged philosophically. "I'm done. They can't risk getting rid of me and Greg in a World Cup year, is all. Rotten publicity, even if I am old and fat and slow now."
"Will you mind?"
He thought Draco might get up and walk away, the way he usually did when Harry brought up the future like this. But he didn't move. "Of course I mind, idiot. But I'll get over it. I always knew it wasn't forever, and I had a damn good run of it."
Harry had been watching Draco since they were eleven, and he still didn't understand him. Sometimes everything Draco was thinking was written on his face-- other times, as now, Harry could read nothing at all in it. The important times. "What will you do?"
"There won't be much money," Draco said slowly. "Not with Scorpius's school fees, and Astoria, and anything that's left over will have to go to Dad for the taxes on the Manor. I'll find a job, of course, but--."
"Listen," Harry said roughly. "That wasn't what I meant, Draco. Not the money. Fuck the money. If you never want to work again, that's fine with me."
"Thank you. But I don't think I'm cut out to be a politician's wife, any more than you were to be a quidditch player's girlfriend."
Harry winced. "No."
"I'll coach, probably, if I can find a job. Or teach, but--."
"Yeah," Harry said, thinking that the only school in Europe that would hire a former Death Eater-- and a Malfoy-- was Durmstrang. "Seriously. We'll figure something out."
"We should get up," Draco said, dodging the issue like a Beater. "I promised Mum I'd bring a couple of bottles of white tonight, and there's nothing drinkable left in the flat. That's Slytherins for you. And we have a strategy session at two, which gives them one last chance to see how fat I am." He looked gloomily at his flat, beautifully toned body, and Harry elbowed him hard in the ribs.
"Take a shower," he said, while Draco moaned theatrically. "Merlin, it's hot."
After they'd gone shopping and Draco'd gone to be tortured by the Cannons' head coach, Harry made himself a gigantic sandwich and then went back to bed. He didn't quite fall asleep, but he spent a long time fantasizing about poisoning Lucius Malfoy, which was nearly as good.
By the time Draco came in it was after seven and they were officially late. Ordinarily Draco would have been pissed-- he hated being late, and especially for his mummy, but he kissed Harry hello cheerfully and got changed at record speed. "Made the weight after all," he said when Harry asked. "I'll be champion broom jockey yet."
Harry smiled and straightened Draco's tie, and tried not to think what things were going to be like next season, when there were no more quidditch games. Draco wasn't the type to take well to retirement.
They apparated to the gate outside Malfoy Manor and walked slowly up the dusty drive. The grass was brown and the trees were drooping, and the graceful lines of the big old house seemed sad instead of menacing in the twilight. Keeping it up cost most of what Draco made, had even when he was one of the top players in the league-- but he loved it. Harry, whose loyalty had only ever been to people, couldn't see why. Draco never seemed more Lucius Malfoy's son than he did at the Manor.
Harry had never hated anyone like he hated Lucius. But Lucius seemed to delight in being pleasant and gracious and infuriating, so when he opened the door Harry smiled and shook his hand and did his best to seem genuine. For Draco's sake, and also just in case it pissed the old man off.
He got through drinks and dinner without any trouble-- they talked mostly about the children, and a little about the Cannons- Kestrels game, and Harry wondered what people without kids did-- but then Narcissa drew Draco away to talk about Malcolm's funeral. Harry abruptly found himself alone with Lucius, for the first time since he and Draco had started dating-- the first time in more than fifteen years. He accepted a glass of port and went to stand by the mantel, not drinking it.
There were no paintings at all in the rooms of the house Harry'd been in, and when he'd asked, Draco had said that they were a security risk, which seemed like sad way to live. But there were photographs lining the walls and tucked into the edges of the mirrors, and in an untidy clutter on the mantelpiece itself, in a way that spoke of home as the Manor itself did not.
Most of them were of Draco or Scorpius, as babies and small children, in Hogwarts robes edged in Slytherin green and in quidditch gear. But there was one of the three Black sisters, in white dresses with their hair down, the most beautiful women Harry'd ever seen, and one of Draco with Goyle and Vincent Crabbe, and one of Lucius and Narcissa and Snape that Harry couldn't pretend to understand.
He was holding it to the light, watching as all three parties ignored him and ignored each other, when Lucius said from behind him, "War makes for strange bedfellows, sometimes."
Harry took a sip of port, and swallowed it with difficulty. "Sometimes," he agreed, replacing the picture.
"You and my son, for example." And if Harry had learned one thing from Draco, it was that when the Malfoys went quiet this way, they were a thousand times more dangerous than when they were blusteringly angry.
"I'd had my eye on him for a long time," Harry admitted, and then blushed. Draco wasn't drinking tonight, because of the game tomorrow, which meant Harry could depend on him to apparate them both safely home. Which meant he'd had rather more of the excellent white than he should have.
"I want him to be happy," Lucius said, and Harry knew that they were finally going to have the truth, that whatever was said there would be no going back to it. "He married a woman he hated, to secure the succession, and then there was Ivanovitch who made him miserable in private and now you. Too ashamed to be seen in public with Draco. He tells me you love him. Well, Potter, you've got a damn odd way of showing it."
Harry set the picture of the Malfoys and Snape back on the mantel, very gently. "I do love him," he agreed. "And you're right that I haven't been fair to him." Snape and Lucius stood on either side of the seated Narcissa, each with a hand on her shoulder, and for the first time Harry wondered if their free hands were touching, hidden behind her back. "But things are going to change."
"I hope so," Lucius said, and the edges of his mouth turned up, ever so slightly. "Arranging for Serge Ivanovitch to be hit by a motor car was expensive enough; I should hate to think what it would cost to do it to Harry Potter."
Eight months of living with Draco, and eleven months before that of seeing him on the sly, had convinced Harry that Pansy and Goyle must have nerves of steel to have survived eighteen years of game days with Draco. Stroppy didn't even begin to describe it. Draco was a bitch.
Harry made coffee and stayed out of his way, while Draco stormed around the flat looking for his gloves-- already in his bag-- and the shirt he wanted for interviews. It wasn't worth trying to help and having Draco snap at him. And it was funny, although Harry knew better than to show it.
Eventually Draco gave up ransacking cupboards and overturning laundry baskets and came back into the kitchen and began fiddling with the blender. Eight months of this had taught Harry that appliances were replaceable, and he kept his eyes on the paper until the smoke started. When he looked up, Draco was sweeping the corpse into the garbage. "Another one down?" he asked before he could stop himself, but the blender seemed to have absorbed the worst of Draco's nerves.
"It's been that sort of morning," he admitted, and the corner of his mouth turned up in the way Harry loved most.
"There's muesli," Harry said. "Or eggs. It's not a green, nasty version of Pepper-Up, but--."
"I'm not really hungry anyway."
"I know. Listen, why don't you go ahead? I'm meeting Ron and Hermione on the way, and it's probably better--."
That got Draco's attention. "Don't be too hard on them," he said.
Harry stared at him, and he looked away, but he didn't give up. "They were waiting for you to trust them enough to tell them. You don't have a lot of faith in people, Harry, and your standards can be a little fucking high."
Even for Draco, this seemed bizarre and unjustified. "And have I been unfair to you? You think I don't have enough faith in you? Maybe you think I'm ashamed of you, is that it?"
"Aren't you?" Draco asked, and he picked up his bag and went out without saying goodbye or kissing Harry.
Harry stayed where he was, staring down into his cooling coffee. It had been that sort of morning, and that was the thing about Draco-- he always, always hit where it would do the most damage. He would be sorry afterward-- he was probably already sorry-- but he wouldn't have said it if he hadn't believed it.
What would it have been like, if their relationship had been public from the start? If it wasn't only Pansy and Goyle on his couch on lazy Sunday afternoons when there wasn't a game, but Ron and Hermione, too? If Draco and Scorpius were there when he took James and Albie and Lily to the beach in the summer? If he never made senior at work, if when people made Malfoy jokes in front of him he punched them in the teeth, if Lucius Malfoy never threatened to have him run over by a taxicab--.
He thought of Lucius the night before. "Too ashamed to be seen in public with Draco, but he tells me you love him," and he thought of what he had not said: that there was nothing Draco could do that would make Harry ashamed to be his lover, because that was not true. He hated the Mark on Draco's arm, and he hated all the old stories about Zabini and Sergei Ivanovitch that would inevitably be dredged up, and being openly gay was still new enough in wizarding Britain to be uncomfortable and occasionally dangerous.
All of which should be nothing, weighed against the fact that he loved Draco. He remembered how he'd felt, the night of Malcolm's wake, and almost smashed his coffee mug, but the breaking of glass seemed oddly significant, now. He put the mug in the sink and went to meet his friends.
They were waiting for him around the corner from the Cannons' stadium, Ron angry and Hermione apprehensive. "I'm sorry," Harry told them. "It's not that I didn't trust you guys, it's just that I didn't want to put you in a position where you had to lie for me." And then, because it was true, and he owed them, "It was just easier, not telling anyone."
Ron sighed. "Yeah, well. I'm sorry for winding you up about him. But Merlin, Harry, Malfoy? You never even told us you were--."
Hermione elbowed him and he cut off abruptly. "Harry, you can tell us anything. Really. There are ways around veritaserum, you know. Anyway, Draco is very handsome, even if it does mean sitting through years more of quidditch games." Over her shoulder, Ron turned green, either at the thought of Draco being handsome or at the thought that he might go on playing quidditch for years. But that was Draco's secret to keep.
"Thanks," he said, as Hermione put her elbows through his and Ron's. "Really, thank you, Hermione, I'm sure Draco would be very flattered."
The Cannons' match began inauspiciously, when their Keeper fell off his broom, allowing Kenmare to score and breaking his arm so that Goyle had to go in for the first time in years. "He's gotten fatter than ever," Ron spluttered, "you should never have stood him that round the other night, Harry."
"I didn't know the second string Keeper was pregnant," Harry pointed out, wincing as Goyle took a Bludger to the face but managed to stop it going in. "TheProphet somehow failed to leak that story." Draco and Lynch were at the far end of the pitch, circling lazily. Harry watched them for a moment. It never failed to amaze him how the Cannons' rich, warm orange, which suited almost no one, looked against Draco's skin and pale hair.
"Focus, Harry," Ron said as Goyle let another goal go by. "You can drool over Malfoy later."
Harry turned his attention back to the game, for a while, half-dozing in the heat. Hermione did paperwork, and Ron never wavered, and the scores continued to go up and the Snitch failed to appear. By the third hour he felt stuck to his seat with sweat, and he almost wished for a stack of boring legal papers of his own. Even Draco's edge was beginning to go. He and the Kestrels' Seeker had gotten slower and slower; now they were practically hovering.
"I will never, ever understand the allure of quidditch," Hermione sighed from Harry's right, as on his left Ron leapt to his feet to cheer another Cannons' save. "Don't you think it's gotten darker suddenly? Will they call the game if it storms?"
"Doubt it," Ron grunted, before Harry could say that he hoped so. "This isn't Hogwarts, Hermione. They don't cancel games for anything short of a blizzard, and even then it's been since 1912--."
He kept on, but Harry had stopped listening. The wind was definitely picking up. Hermione packed her stack of parchments away just before it would have snatched them from her hands, and on the field the game suddenly took on new fury. Five minutes later, the rain began. All around them, people got up to leave.
Hermione, the wife of a fanatic, and Harry, the player's boyfriend, stayed where they were, and thunder rumbled overhead. "We could watch the game from the bar," Harry suggested, guiltily, and Hermione gave him a radiant smile. Ron grumbled, but finally relented as water came sideways at him.
They were on their feet when Harry saw Brendan Lynch's head bob to the right. "Just a minute," he said, leaning forward.
It was hard to see in the driving rain. He didn't think anyone left in the stands realized until the two Seekers started to dive. But once they moved, it was easy to spot what they were after: the Snitch, dead center in the field and almost at ground level. The bright orange and green robes were muted, indistinguishable-- the two figures falling out of the sky might have been anyone.
"Merlin," Ron muttered, "they're closing in hard."
Too hard, Harry thought, his fingers tightening around the railing. Impossible to see who was in front. Lynch was only nineteen, and known for being mad. Draco was the better flyer-- probably-- but he'd never back down if Lynch didn't. They were going to crash. He took a deep breath, held it, thinking of Draco lazy and warm in their bed. Please, he prayed, with the desperation a child raised C. of E. never quite outgrew, please God, let him be okay. They were over the Snitch, and then they hit, hard, and landed rolling.
One of them got up, wavering, covered in mud. Harry couldn't see who it was. But the Apparition barrier was down. The game was over and both teams were landing around the Seekers, while the medic alarms went off. Harry let out the air he'd been holding and Apparated onto the field before Ron could finish the first word of whatever it was he was saying.
He landed just beside the huddle of Cannons' players, and shoved his way past them, and there was Goyle, and next to him, Draco, the Snitch still in his hand. Harry grabbed his wrist and dragged him away from the medi-wizards and the reporters and the worried Kestrels and the protesting Goyle. "What the hell," he demanded, "were you thinking?"
"Gee, Potter, I don't know. I guess I was thinking that if I caught the Snitch we'd win the game," Draco spat. He had mud on his cheek and mud in his hair and his lip was split and his uniform was ruined.
"You could have broken your fucking neck," Harry said, and the words tasted like fear, like the time he'd caught James climbing a tree, the night Lily'd had her appendix out, the day Ginny'd left him, the war. He put both his hands on Draco's chest and pushed him, hard, and Draco fell backward into the mud and lay there.
"Hey," Goyle said mildly. "What's your deal, Potter? It's just a game."
He was trying to cover for Harry, and maybe someday Harry would be grateful but not today. "You stay out of it," he gritted. "I was talking to my boyfriend."
He could almost hear the reporters behind them coming to attention, but he ignored them. "Oh, really?" Draco asked, rolling up onto his elbows. "Who would that be?"
"You, idiot," Harry answered, and then Draco lunged and pulled him down into the mud and kissed him, in the pouring rain while cameras flashed around them.
"This is going to be more of a scandal than the Zabini thing was," someone-- probably Pansy-- said, and Ron was demanding an exclusive, and later Harry would be terrified at the thought of it, later he was going to have to explain this at Justice and Government Oversight was going to give him shit about it for weeks.
But right now he was where he wanted to be, with the person he wanted to be with, and there was something he had to say. "You were completely right about the head thing," he told Draco breathlessly, "I could see it even from the stands."
"I know," Draco agreed, "the Cannons will never dare fire me after a save like that. Plus now they've seen I have a partner who's completely off his head."
But the smile he gave Harry was shy and sweet and pleased at once, like a man who's won the lottery without having even bought a ticket.
"I love you," Harry said to him there in the middle of the quidditch pitch while the medi-wizards splinted Lynch's leg. And Draco said it back, almost as if he weren't a Malfoy at all.