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Save My Wonders

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Tuesday the 21st of February was not a special day. Unseasonably warm, perhaps, if the sun shining through the large kitchen window was any indication. But the day started just as the Monday before it and the Sunday before that with a delicious homemade breakfast: fresh croissants and jam, courtesy of Draco's mother, followed by scones with coffee, courtesy of his aunt. Then Draco spent the next few hours holed up in his makeshift potions lab in the cellar, working up an appetite, until the scent of warm chocolate biscuits lured him back to the kitchen once more.

On a normal day, as this Tuesday should have been, Draco would steal two or three biscuits off the cooling rack while his mum tended to the oven before Aunt Andromeda would chase him to the table with a slap of his wrist. He'd bounce the biscuits from one palm to the other until they were just on the side of too hot, then he'd take a bite and rich chocolate would explode in his mouth. Teddy, just shy of eight, would look up from his school work or his sketches and swipe Draco's extra with an all too familiar smirk.

That was how Draco's afternoon was supposed to go.

But instead, after climbing the stairs, deep boisterous laughter made him pause. He took two hesitant steps, the open archway came into view, and there sat Potter, big as life, in his kitchen.

Harry Potter. Sat in Draco's kitchen. Having the audacity to look comfortable. Bastard.

Draco supposed it shouldn't be the shock that it was. It was, after all, technically Andromeda's kitchen, and Teddy was, after all, Harry Potter's godson. But last Draco had heard, Potter lived in America, a whole ocean away. He shouldn't be sitting, laughing, dressed in his full Auror regalia, with his short red cloak draped across the back of his chair, here in Draco's kitchen!

Draco let out a huff, which had the unfortunate consequence of gaining his mother's attention.

"Draco, dear. Come have a biscuit." She offered the plate, but it was to Harry that Draco's eyes were inevitably drawn and the flicker of surprise that passed over his features. His first button was undone, giving Draco a glimpse of his collarbones, which lead to the strong line of his shoulders and up to his freshly-shaved jaw, and—

"Merlin, you smell of pain salve." Andromeda wrinkled her nose. Draco promptly flushed, then remembering how he was likely to look to Potter, promptly flushed again. After five years, Potter's first impression would be of Draco gaping at him in his aunt's kitchen with a splattered protective apron wrapped around his very un-flat stomach, smelling of menthol and blushing like a bloody schoolgirl.

And Potter, the git, didn't have the decency not to stare.

Fabulous.

"I should wash up. Excuse me." Draco managed to eke out before fleeing down the hallway to his bedroom.

~ ~ ~

The shower did nothing to calm Draco's nerves. And when he shut the water off and stepped out into the steamy bathroom, he could still hear Potter and the rest talking, laughing, and carrying on. It made him want to both rush to get dressed and join them, and dither around and take his time—or, if he was to be brutally honest with himself, find any excuse to hide out in his room until he was certain Potter was gone. How much time did Potter really need to spend with his godson anyway?

It turned out not to matter; the choice to dally was taken from him as he faced a wardrobe filled with robes he could no longer wear. He didn't have many options left, so he pulled on a pair of worn comfortable jeans, a dark blue collared t-shirt, and stared at himself in the mirror.

Pink chubby cheeks is what he saw. A pudgy belly and a layer of fat on his sides. 'Love handles', as Aunt Andromeda liked to call them, referring to her own ample middle. He knew he'd been gaining weight, fairly steadily, since he and his mother had moved into Andromeda's home a year and half ago, and she and his aunt both discovered a love of baking. (Draco's skill, as always, had been in the tasting.) Draco hadn't much cared, to be perfectly honest. And his expanded body did nothing to hamper his burgeoning Potions business, so Draco hadn't been concerned.

Of course Potter hadn't ever shown up out of the blue before, fit as ever. His well-defined collarbones flashed in Draco's head and he gritted his teeth. What did he care if Potter had the most perfect collarbones the wizarding world had ever known? It didn't matter a whit to Draco.

And, as Draco tossed his drying locks out of his eyes, he comforted himself with the fact that he still had immaculate hair. Potter would never be able to claim the same.

Dressed and as prepared as he'd ever be, Draco strode back towards the kitchen, only to find the group gathered in the small foyer near the front door. Potter held a makeshift bag of cling film full of his mum's biscuits. When his gaze fell on Draco with his arrival, Draco had the mad urge to rip it from his hands. His own mother's biscuits. Did Potter have any shame?

Clearly not, as once his eyes had landed on Draco, they refused to move away. Draco fought not to fidget and stuck out his chin, daring Potter to insult him. He'd clearly thought of a doozy if the sheen in his eyes was anything to go on.

"Draco, Harry's taking me to the cinema!"

Thankful for an excuse to ignore Potter, if only for a moment, Draco focused on Teddy. The boy's smile was contagious, and Draco's lips pulled up at the corners despite himself.

"That sounds brilliant."

"Would you like to go with?" Potter asked.

Draco blinked. His first impulse was to turn his head to see to whom Potter could be referring. The question could not possibly have been directed at him. But Potter gave him a twitchy little smile and Draco's stomach tightened.

He couldn't be serious. Taking the piss, was more like. He wouldn't put it past Potter to invite him along just as an excuse to torment him.

Draco straightened his shoulders. "Will we be hunting dark wizards among the Muggles?"

"Oh! Right." Potter whipped out his wand and a few wrist flicks later, his Auror uniform melded into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. "Better?"

It was the complete opposite of better, for it only confirmed just how truly fit Potter was. Gone was the scrawny kid of his youth. The short-sleeves exposed his lean forearms and the curve of his taut biceps, and the thin cotton, just a hair too tight, enhanced the line of his chest. Draco forced down a swallow.

Bloody show-off. That's what Draco wanted to say, but he thought better of it and simply nodded instead.

"I'm afraid Draco has promised to help me in the garden." His mother laid a hand on Draco's shoulder; he'd forgotten she was even there, but that small touch soothed Draco's nerves and he nodded again, though he could remember no such thing.

Potter, strange as it seemed, looked disappointed. "Another time," he said.

"I doubt it. It's not as if I'll be popping over to America anytime soon."

"He's moved back!" That was Teddy, clasping Harry's free hand and swinging his arm back and forth. "Isn't it brilliant? Now we can see him all the time!"

"Fantastic," Draco heard himself say.

Potter beamed. Draco thought he might sick-up right then and there.

~ ~ ~

Before that afternoon, it had been five long years since Draco had seen Potter in the flesh. Yes, he'd caught Potter's press clippings every now and then, most notably when Potter was shipped off overseas in some new International Cooperation Initiative the British Ministry had cooked up. Potter's owlish eyes had blinked up at him on the cover of the Daily Prophet over the headline BOY WHO LIVED TO SAVE AMERICA. Draco had snorted and ignored the twist in his gut.

But that afternoon, after Harry left with a bouncing Teddy by his side, Draco's brain was stuck on a loop of the last time they'd run into each other.

The Ministry of Magic's Atrium. Draco had been arguing with Ernie, the Security Guard, who refused to scan his wand for entry. Potter, in his ever oafish manner, had bumped into Draco's shoulder—he claimed on accident—and caused Draco's lengthy Potion's Master Application to scatter all over the marble floors.

"Christ, Malfoy. I'm so sorry," he'd said, bending down to help scoop the pages up. He wore a black tracksuit with the official DMLE logo stamped on the front. His hair was stuck up at odd angles and he smelled of fresh soap and a hint of sweat.

He'd told Ernie to let Draco pass before sliding the paperwork into Draco's waiting hands.

And there'd been a moment when Harry had just stared, his intense green eyes pinning Draco into place, making him feel all twitchy.

"You look good, Malfoy," he'd said. "It's nice to see you," he'd said.

And then he was off before Draco could even start to form a reply.

He still had no idea what he would have said had Potter bothered to stick around.

You look good, Malfoy.

Draco clipped one of his mother's roses in their magically enhanced garden, practically ripping it from its stem.

He'd still been fit and trim then, of course.

"Time for tea?" His mother drifted over, gently taking the pruning shears from his hand. The sun was setting behind her, casting the sky in brilliant oranges and pinks. He nodded, stripped off his gloves, and she slipped her arm through his and led him back inside the house.

"I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of Mr Potter now that he's back in England."

Draco went to put the kettle on, thankful he had something to do with his hands now that he wasn't slashing vines.

"You and he have quite the history," his mother continued, despite his clear non-response. Quite the history. That was an understatement. He turned to watch her place their collected roses into a crystal vase on the table.

"Is there something you're getting at?" His tone came out harsher than he intended. His mother frowned, but laid a quiet hand on his arm.

"I simply..." She shook her head, worry lines crinkling at her eyes. She'd been so at peace since Andromeda had invited them into her home to stay. A knot of guilt tightened in his stomach.

"I'll be fine, mother," he said. He blew out a deep breath and patted her hand. "I promise."

Draco forced a smile until his mother returned it, and only then did it start to feel genuine.

He was done obsessing over Potter.

~ ~ ~

Like all of Draco's previous resolutions, this one lasted nearly twenty-two hours before Potter crept back into his mind again. Wednesday afternoon, he hesitated before leaving his lab for his daily dose of biscuits, certain that he'd find Potter in his kitchen again, and felt only the briefest sense of relief when he wasn't. Thursday, he could barely concentrate on checking Teddy's basic Charms incantations worksheet, wanting to crane his head toward the front door, anticipating the bell that he knew would be ringing at any moment.

He must have been more jittery than he realised because Andromeda thumped his drumming fingers and said, "What's with you today?"

Teddy, displaying keen observation far beyond his eight years, said, "He wants Harry to come."

Draco opened his mouth to protest, but Teddy covered Draco's hand with his small one and said, "Don't worry. He's coming over next Tuesday. He promised. He's going to take me to the zoo! And then the next week, maybe the park, and he said he'd teach me to fly, too."

Andromeda harrumphed. "You're far too young."

"He promised!"

They argued back and forth, but their voices dinned in the face of the swirling mess in Draco's head. Weekly visits. Every Tuesday. Draco didn't know whether to be relieved or dismayed.

True to Teddy's words, Potter showed up the next Tuesday, dressed in smart trousers and a soft-looking green jumper. Draco's original plan to hide out in his lab failed spectacularly when he'd been unable to resist slinking up the stairs. He'd been too jumpy to snag his usual biscuit and left his mother and aunt dickering over the oven while he hovered by the archway, realising belatedly he'd forgotten to think of a pretext for his presence.

He had remembered to take off his apron, thankfully, and had cast a quick Scorgify to rid himself of any lingering potions-related smells. He took a deep breath, stepped out, and Potter's head immediately snapped up. He stared so intensely for a moment, Draco had to suppress his urge to turn around and head straight back to the comfort of his lab.

Draco should have showered first. He should have changed his clothes. He should have gone out days ago and bought new ones.

"Will there be bears, Harry?" Teddy asked as he shrugged on his jacket, thankfully diverting Harry's gaze.

"Hmm, not sure. There'll be snakes though."

"Wicked."

Potter glanced back and gave Draco a smile. "I've always had a soft spot for snakes."

"They are a superior species," Draco said. "Especially compared to badgers or...lions."

"Oh really now?" Potter raised his eyebrows. "Care to come with then? So we can compare?"

It was his second invite in a week. Unfortunately this time, Draco didn't have his quick-thinking mother to rely on.

"I... there's a potion. My lab," Draco fumbled out. "Maybe next time."

Those words came out of nowhere and Draco promptly wanted to bang his head into the nearest wall.

Especially when Potter's eyes brightened, and he said, "I'll hold you to that."

~ ~ ~

Three Tuesdays later, Draco was forced to keep his promise through no fault of his own. They were going for ice cream, Harry and Teddy. Draco could feel his mother's gaze keenly from the kitchen archway, hear Andromeda whisking up a new batch of biscotti behind her.

He had his excuses ready, but Teddy morphed his hair blond and said, "Please, Draco. I want you to come. And I know you're done with your potions. You sent out the owl-order this morning, remember?"

Damn that kid.

"Unfortunately, my mother needs me."

"No, she doesn't," Narcissa said mildly. Draco turned at this act of betrayal and found his mother's thoughtful gaze focused on Potter. Then she smiled softly, glided over, and laid a hand on Draco's shoulder. "Our plans can wait."

"Go on," Andromeda poked her head out of the kitchen. "'Bout time someone dragged you out of the house."

Draco slid his hand into his pocket around his wand, a half-dozen hexes on the tip of his tongue—nothing hurtful, mind, just something to shut his aunt's mouth—but he doubted he could slip a spell past his mother.

"It seems it's four against one," Potter said. His lips twitched up, but there was no malice in his eyes. Just the opposite. Draco felt warm and confused all over.

"Very well. But I should change—"

"Nonsense, you look great."

Draco's stomach jumped. Potter looked thrilled, but no...he likely just didn't want to wait, and Draco shifted uncomfortably. He didn't have anything better to put on anyway, so he nodded and said, "Fine, lead the way."

They Apparated to Diagon Alley. Teddy tore off as soon as they arrived, running to press his face against the front window of Quality Quidditch Supplies. Keeping his eyes on Teddy, Draco fell in step next to Potter, following at a more reasonable pace.

"He adores you, you know."

Draco slid his gaze to the side to sneak a peek, and found Potter smiling wistfully in Teddy's direction.

"Who...Teddy?"

"Mmhmm. Talks about his brilliant cousin, the Potions Master, all the time. Says you're the cleverest wizard he knows."

Draco couldn't hide his surprise. He and Teddy mostly got on, but...well, he just couldn't imagine Teddy bragging about him. And Potter letting him.

"Bet you have something to say to that, don't you?" Draco said, flicking his eyes over to Potter. It wasn't like him to practically invite Potter to start up his insults, but Draco's body was rife with tension, just waiting for the tormenting to begin. Potter was being so bloody nice. It didn't make any sense.

He caught Potter's gaze and a sudden, unexplainable hot flush crept up the back of his neck. He nearly tripped over his own feet, but caught himself in time before he bumped into Potter.

"I can see why he thinks that. You're not so bad." Potter flashed a smile. "Except sometimes, you can be—"

But Draco never found out what he could be, because Teddy, horrid child that he was, chose that exact moment to run over, grab Potter's hand, and drag him to the window.

"I want that one," he said. "When you teach me to fly. Please, Harry?"

He pointed to the latest Firebolt—all in black, sleek and slim, glinting with danger.

"Maybe when you go to Hogwarts," Potter said. "But you can practice on one of my old brooms, all right?"

"I thought your grandmother said you were too young." Draco wasn't sure where those words had come from or why he felt the need to dampen Teddy's spirits when it didn't really matter, not now. Teddy glared at him like Draco had betrayed him in the worst possible way, and suddenly Draco felt like a phenomenal git. So much for being Teddy's favourite relative.

But Potter just laughed and clapped him on his shoulder, his touch brief but oddly pleasant. "Come on. When did you first learn to fly? And don't tell me at Hogwarts. I remember our first lesson."

Draco hid his embarrassment behind a huff. He'd been a phenomenal git then too, facing off with Potter. Though that had quickly turned around to bite him in the arse.

"What happened?" Teddy asked grudgingly, as though he really wanted to know, but still hadn't forgiven Draco yet.

"Well—"

"Absolutely nothing," Draco said quickly, cutting Potter off. "And if you wish to teach my cousin to fly, you'll do it at our home, in the back garden, with all the necessary protection spells in place."

Teddy's face broke out into a wide smile and Potter's eyes twinkled.

"Yes, sir," Potter said. Draco averted his eyes.

"Now I believe we came for ice cream? Which is this way." Draco promptly trudged off in the direction of Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour.

"What did happen at Hogwarts?" Draco heard Teddy ask behind him.

"Oh nothing," Potter said quietly, but loud enough that Draco could hear over the din of the crowd. "Your cousin is brilliant on a broom, that's all."

"Cool," Teddy said.

Draco's relief came swiftly and the tension in his shoulders eased the slightest bit.

It was short-lived.

As soon as he opened the door to Fortescue's, the entire parlor full of patrons seemed to stop and stare. Potter appeared oblivious, letting Teddy drag him up to the counter while he babbled on about the different flavours he wanted to try. But of course—it was Potter they all stared at, wasn't it? Their boy hero, the Saviour of the Wizarding World. Draco travelled to Diagon Alley at least twice a month for supplies and he'd never noticed anything amiss. Still, he self-consciously tugged his jumper down over his belt, and when Potter asked what he'd like, he declined to order.

They chose a table outside as it was a brisk but sunny day, Potter with his cone of chocolate fudge and raspberry swirl and Teddy, his peanut butter banana split.

"Can't believe we came all this way for ice cream and you're not having any." Potter gave him a rueful smile.

"Not very hungry. Though I might steal a bite of Teddy's," Draco said, though he planned to do no such thing. It didn't matter, because Teddy immediately shook his head.

"No, you won't! If you wanted ice cream, you could've ordered your own."

"That's not very nice, Teddy," Potter tutted. "It's better to share. Here." He offered his cone across the table. Chocolate dripped down the waffle-cut edges. "You can have a lick of mine."

Draco stared at the cone, but his gaze kept flicking up to Potter's face without his permission. A dab of chocolate rested on the corner of Potter's mouth from his first bite, and as if sensing Draco's focus, Potter flicked his tongue out to lick his lips.

"Thank you," Draco managed, weak-voiced. He blinked his eyes and leaned back. "But I'm fine."

Potter withdrew his cone, clearly disappointed. "Let me know if you change your mind."

Draco nodded swiftly and vowed not to look at Potter again until he'd finished eating.

And maybe not even then.

Though, like Draco's earlier vow to stop obsessing, he just couldn't quite keep this one either.

It was Potter's fault. The way he ate his ice cream was practically indecent. Swirling his tongue around the rim to catch a dribble of chocolate before it melted over his fingers, sliding the top between his lips to suck off a bite. Merlin, he should cover Teddy's eyes.

But Teddy chatted on, oblivious to the small glances Potter threw Draco's way (which Draco steadfastly ignored), mostly about flying and Quidditch and how he wasn't certain he wanted to try out for a House team—Teddy never had been a competitive child. Draco paid close attention to Potter's response then, certain he'd encourage Teddy to follow in his footsteps. But Potter just nodded and said, "Yeah, nowadays I mainly just fly for fun. You don't need to play Quidditch to enjoy it."

Draco's eyebrows shot up to his hair line.

"Not that I wouldn't take on Draco anytime," he added.

Then Potter winked at him. Winked.

Conversation resumed as if it had never happened, but Draco didn't say another word until after they Apparated home, Teddy allowing Potter to sweep him up in a tight hug before he thundered up the front steps and into the house. Draco made to follow, but Harry touched his arm and he froze.

His heartbeat sped up; he had the terrible notion that Potter might try to hug him too. A brief flash of Potter's arms coming around him sent a spike of panic through his chest.

But Potter just smiled and said, "So, next Tuesday?"

"What?"

"Next Tuesday. I'll bring a couple old brooms, and we can see how Teddy does?"

"Yes, fine." Draco nodded vigorously, adrenaline thumping through his veins. Ridiculous. Potter hugging him—the idea was too absurd to give a second thought. "Good."

Draco fled into the house as fast as his shaky legs would allow, nearly missing Potter's "See you then." He threw a hand up to wave and shut the door, but not before he caught a glimpse of Potter's amused smile.

Draco leaned up against the closed door, panting as if he'd just run a marathon.

~ ~ ~

An hour before Potter was due to arrive that next Tuesday, the doorbell rang setting off the chime in Draco's lab. It only activated when Draco was alone in the house, which meant the rest of the family were still out shopping. Draco had joined them in the morning, using it as a means to dart into a Muggle clothing store to freshen up his wardrobe, but that had been a terribly humiliating experience, and he made his excuses to return home shortly thereafter. He'd only ended up with two pairs of trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. It had hardly seemed worth the effort.

Draco's foul mood had stayed with him, and just as he was debating whether or not to ignore whomever showed up to disturb his work, the chime rang twice more. "Fine," Draco spat to himself. He threw up a large stasis charm over two bubbling cauldrons and trudged up the stairs, then yanked open the door to find Potter staring back at him.

Fuck. Not only had he left on his apron, but his thick protective eye glasses as well. He shoved them to his forehead and gave Potter his most thunderous, unimpressed look.

Potter laughed. "Love the goggles, Malfoy."

"Oh, shut it. What are you doing here?"

"It's Tuesday?" It was only then that Draco noticed two broomsticks in his hands.

"Yes, but—"

"I'm early, I know. Can I come in?"

"Teddy isn't home, yet," Draco said, but nonetheless, he stepped back and allowed Potter room to enter.

"That's all right. I came early to see you."

"Me?" Draco asked stupidly.

"Yeah, was wondering if you could help me." He leaned the broomsticks up against a wall, then dug into his front pocket and produced a small vial of white liquid. "This came up as part of a case. I don't have any Potions Masters in the department so I was wondering if you'd have a look. I'd pay you, of course."

Oh. A pit formed in Draco's stomach, but he wasn't certain why. It wasn't as if he was expecting Potter to come over early and what...want to hang about and listen to the Wireless? It was utter nonsense, that's what it was, and Draco wished his stomach would just leave off when Potter came around.

"I don't need your money," Draco said as he took the glass from Potter's hands. On first glance, Draco would classify it as a simple love potion considering the mother-of-pearl sheen, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Potions would be able to tell that, and Draco knew Auror requirements skewed higher. There must be something odd for Potter to have brought it to him.

Appearances could be deceiving.

"What's the case?"

"Oh...er," Potter seemed flummoxed, his eyes darting to the floor and back. "I can't really talk about it. Active case. You know."

It wasn't like Potter to be so jittery. Draco peered at the vial again. "Do you want me to look at it now?"

"If you're not busy."

"I was," Draco said. "But someone forced me to find a stopping point."

A spread of pink highlighted Potter's cheeks and Draco barely contained his smirk. It was nice for their roles to be reversed, and it was a rather fetching look on Potter...

Draco stamped down quickly on that thought.

"Wait here," Draco said, and tore himself away to head back to his lab. Only Potter's footsteps followed right behind. Draco glanced over his shoulder.

"Do you have trouble following simple instructions?"

Potter lips quirked. "Maybe. All right if I come with?"

"Why?"

"I'd like to see where you work."

He smiled sheepishly and a strange mixture of irritation and giddiness welled up inside Draco. He had several good reasons to deny Potter's request, the least of which were the two Skele-Gro potions in mid-brew under a stasis charm. Still...

"Just don't touch anything," Draco huffed.

As soon as they reached the bottom of the stairs, Potter roamed freely, though as promised, kept his hands to himself. It felt oddly intimate, watching Potter's gaze sweep over his cupboard full of ingredients, his work station, the bundles of orders waiting to go out with the next day's owl.

Draco had planned on bringing Teddy down when he was old enough to start brewing simple potions—perhaps in the next year—but otherwise, no one had ever come into his lab before. Not even his own mother.

"You're Pepper Potions?" Potter asked when his eyes fell upon several empty vials waiting to be filled, each etched with Draco's company logo. "I use your pain salves all the time. I should have known. That first day I came over."

Draco failed to notice Potter walking towards him as he spoke until he stopped short of just bumping into him. Draco smoothed down the front of his apron over his round stomach in an effort not to fidget. He badly wanted to take a step back, but his feet froze in place.

"Most pain salves smell of menthol," he said.

"Yes, but..." Potter's voice dropped low. "None of them work as well as yours."

"Potter," Draco said. He felt dizzy, unfocused and yet warm from Potter's compliment. His thoughts refused to line up in order. "You can't tell that from the smell. You're not making any sense."

Potter licked his lips. His eyes gleamed under the low hanging light. His fingers brushed against Draco's wrist, right above where his hand was currently clenched around Potter's potion.

The vial. He needed to check the potion. For Potter.

"I should start my analysis." Swallowing, he darted around Potter and headed to his spare cauldron.

Potter groaned. "Anyone ever tell you you're a very frustrating man?"

"Aunt Andromeda, all the time, now quiet. I need to concentrate." Draco was proud how little his voice shook.

Draco tried to put the last few moments out of his mind as he uncorked the vial and poured the white liquid into his cauldron. His hand jerked and he nearly splashed a few drops over the side. Damn Potter. Damn his teasing. Or whatever that was. Draco didn't have a clue and he wasn't certain he wanted to figure it out.

Immediately chocolate assaulted his senses. Warm melted chocolate mixed with his mother's roses and....something else. Something new. Freshly scrubbed skin and maybe a faint sheen of sweat. It was so familiar....

And it only intensified when Potter came up behind him and peeked over his shoulder.

Merlin. It smelled like Potter.

"Did you figure it out?" Potter asked, his hot breath ghosting over Draco's cheek. Draco's eyes fell closed and he breathed deep, intoxicated by Potter's scent. Trembling, he leaned back, ever so slightly.

What do you smell? The question was on the tip of his tongue, but before Draco could find his voice, footsteps overhead jerked him back to reality. The tell-tale click of his mother's heels, Teddy's thunderous footsteps, Andromeda's more docile thudding all followed one by one.

"Draco!" Teddy yelled through the door. "Come upstairs, Harry will be here soon!"

Potter took a step back. "I'm already here, kiddo! We'll be right up."

Draco wanted to growl in frustration even as he flooded with relief. He forced a deep breath, then two, then three, on and on, until each exhale was steadier than his last. He procured his wand, siphoned up the potion back into the vial and set it next to his cauldron.

He couldn't bring himself to hand it back to Potter.

"It's just Amortentia. Not particularly potent."

He stepped into the small alcove by his work station and stripped off his apron.

He couldn't even look at Potter.

"Tell Teddy I'll join you both shortly."

It was a clear dismissal, but Potter hovered for what seemed like ages, and Draco closed his eyes and wished with all his might that he'd just go away. Just give him a few minutes peace, at least.

Finally, he said quietly, "Thanks, Malfoy." His footsteps retreated, but it wasn't until Draco heard the door open and shut again that he allowed himself to breathe.

~ ~ ~

When Draco ascended from his lab, freshly Scourgified and goggle-free, Potter was already in the back garden with Teddy. Draco arrived just in time to see them take off, both on the same broom, Teddy snug against Potter's chest.

A pang of longing Draco couldn't quantify shot through him. He watched as they hovered mid-air, Potter showing Teddy the sturdiest grip for beginners.

"Draco! Look! I'm flying!" Teddy called down. He waved one arm frantically before Potter quickly snagged it and encouraged him to hold the broom again.

"Well done, Teddy," Draco called back.

"Come on, Malfoy. Join us." Potter shot him a toothy smile. His eyes sparkled in the mid-afternoon sun.

It terrified Draco, Potter's smile. He blocked it out by turning to the remaining broom propped against the side of the house. He hadn't flown for ages—not since they'd moved in with Andromeda. He wasn't even certain he still could—not with his pudgy stomach and his weak, unused muscles, and even if he somehow managed to find his balance, he'd look like a fool. A fat fool.

And Potter—with his lean body and perfect form, zipping around on a broom like he was still Gryffindor's star Seeker—would see.

Draco swallowed thickly. He forced a smile he didn't feel. "I'll just watch this time. You're doing great, Teddy."

"Are you sure?" The light dimmed in Potter's eyes and his smile began to fade. It disappeared completely when Draco nodded in assent.

Potter didn't look at him again for the rest of the afternoon.

~ ~ ~

They flew—never higher than six or eight feet off the ground—Teddy whooping in delight as Potter taught him how to move his body to turn. Draco sank into a deck chair next to his aunt and watched them fly in swift circles until the sun dipped low into the sky and his mother called them in for dinner.

"Can't believe I let Harry talk me into that," Andromeda muttered, her eyes never leaving Teddy until they landed.

"He's hard to say no to," Draco murmured.

He stood when Potter and Teddy walked back towards the house, Teddy radiating excitement, asking Potter when they could go up again—and when he'd be able fly on a broom by himself. Draco waited for Potter to glance at him, look at him, give Draco one of his infamous Potter smiles, and when it didn't happen, when Potter stayed completely focused on Teddy like the wonderful godfather he was, a knife twisted into Draco's gut.

Tension tightened his muscles, seeping deep, all the way to his bones, until it was all too much.

"Potter!" he practically shouted. Potter raised his eyes, met his gaze coolly, and Draco waited for the ground to swallow him up whole.

What a stupid fool he was.

But the ground didn't open and Potter was waiting, and Draco didn't think "I wanted you to look at me," was the smartest thing to say to explain his outburst. Scrambling for words—for anything, he blurted out, "Did you remember your potion?"

Potter patted his pocket. "Got it."

"Come here," Andromeda was saying to Teddy. She examined every inch of him, looking for scrapes and bruises no doubt, and Potter just stared at Draco for a moment, his expression inscrutable, until he bent down to reassure Andromeda that Teddy was fine.

"You're more than welcome to stay for dinner, Harry," Narcissa said from the doorway.

"Thank you, Mrs Malfoy," he said, straightening, "but it's late. I really should be going."

Draco's stomach sank. He should have invited Potter to stay for dinner, not that Potter would have likely accepted his invitation either.

"Another time, perhaps. And please, call me Narcissa."

"Another time," Potter agreed, but it was perfunctory, Draco could tell. "Good evening, Narcissa."

With hugs for Teddy and only a brief, "See you, Malfoy," as part of his goodbyes, Potter was gone.

~ ~ ~

Dinner turned out to be baked ziti, one of Draco's favorites, but it might as well have been ash for all that Draco tasted of it. He was the last to finish, with nearly half of it left on his plate, so he volunteered to do the washing up in hopes that his mother wouldn't notice.

He should have known better.

While he filled the sink with sudsy warm water and cast the appropriate spells on the sponge, his mother came to his side.

"You invited Harry into your lab today?"

Draco shook his head. "He just needed help with a potion for a case."

"I seem to recall a NEWT-level Potions requirement for prospective Aurors."

Draco shrugged. Several moments passed as he watched the sponge scrub circles against a plate, then pause to heave in the soapy water before moving on to the next dish.

"Did something happen between you two?"

"No," Draco choked, but he could barely get the word out. He glanced at his mother and suddenly just wanted to curl up into her chest and cry, and let her pet his hair like he was four again. He managed to restrain himself, but only just. Her soft gaze felt like it was peering into his soul.

"Give yourself permission to be happy, Draco."

"Mum?"

"You deserve happiness." She smiled sadly at him and squeezed his hand. "Don't be afraid to accept it, when it comes."

She left him then, but her words remained swirling inside him, long after the dishes were cleaned and set to dry.

~ ~ ~

The week went by painfully slow. Draco tried to keep busy, helping Teddy with his school work, weeding his mother's garden, stuffing himself full of biscuits and scones and tarts. He felt restless and weak, and most often found himself pacing in his lab, desperate to do something even if he had no idea what that something could be.

Something to make Potter smile at him again.

On Friday he received an order for a half-dozen jars of pain salve and his heart leapt in his throat. But the form was signed J. Black, not Potter. Never Potter.

His mother's words lingered, never far from his mind. Happiness. He wasn't even sure what that felt like anymore. Maybe he'd never known.

By Monday night his only plan was to make certain he'd be invited along to whatever outing Potter had cooked up for he and Teddy. He doubted Potter would invite him, but Draco wasn't above bribing Teddy for a favor or two. But Teddy went to bed with a headache and woke up queasy and feverish, and Draco's stomach dropped out for the dozenth time since Potter had walked back into his life.

He spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon brewing a fever-reducing pain potion, wishing that by the time he finished, somehow Teddy would miraculously be well. But his hopes were dashed as soon as he brought it to Teddy's room. The sweat sat thick on Teddy's forehead and he was bundled up with at least five different blankets.

Still, Draco hesitated as he perched on the bed beside Teddy.

Brushing damp hair off of Teddy's forehead, Draco said, "If you take this, you'll get very sleepy and won't get to spend the afternoon with Pot—Harry."

"Harry's coming today?" Teddy asked, voice-weak. And Draco felt like an enormous git. He wasn't above pleading if a situation called for it, but manipulating his sick cousin? That was beyond the pale, even for him, and he immediately regretted it.

"Never mind, Teddy. The potion will make you feel better and you should take it."

"No." Teddy struggled against the weight of his blankets to sit up. "I wanna see Harry."

"You will, I promise. And he'll have loads of fun things planned to do once you get better. I'm certain of it."

"He will," came a voice from behind him, and Draco craned his neck to find Potter propped against the doorway, sleeves half-way rolled up, his arms crossed over his chest. Draco's eyes were drawn to Potter's forearms against his will before he managed to tear his gaze away.

He bit back asking just exactly how long Potter had been standing there and rose from the bed when Potter crossed into the room.

"Harry!" Teddy exclaimed, then promptly had a coughing fit.

"There, there," Potter murmured. He took Draco's place at Teddy's side and stroked his back. "The potion?"

It wasn't until his arm stretched out, palm open and waiting, that Draco realised Potter had directed the question to him. He turned over the green vial while Teddy sank back down into the bed.

"Don't wanna take it," Teddy whined, his lower lip trembling.

"I promise I'll come back as soon as you feel better, Teddy. But you need to take this, all right?"

"Even if it's not a Tuesday?"

Potter smiled softly. "Even if it's not a Tuesday."

Mollified, Teddy swallowed down the potion without further complaint. Complete adoration was written all over Potter's face, and something broke apart inside Draco.

He left Teddy's bedroom, but hovered uselessly in the hallway, listening to Potter's quiet murmurs until he stepped outside himself and shut the door quietly behind him.

"He should be better by tomorrow," Draco said, if only to give a plausible explanation for why he was hanging about, waiting for Potter. Potter stared at him as if Draco were a particularly tricky puzzle he was trying to solve. It made Draco feel uneasy and he nearly walked away, when Potter finally spoke.

"I heard what you said, earlier."

"What?"

"Something about the potion making Teddy too sleepy to spend time with me?"

Draco fidgeted with the hem of his shirt. "I just...I was simply making certain that Teddy wasn't faking his illness. To...to get out of his school work."

"Oh?" Potter raised an eyebrow.

"My mother is an awfully strict tutor. I'd been known to do it from time to time. In my youth."

"I can't imagine," Potter said dryly. But his lips twitched. A kernel of hope came with those twitching lips and Draco grasped onto it.

"And Teddy, well, he's a metamorphmagus, isn't he? That would give him fairly good odds on getting away with it."

"Draco," Potter said, his exasperation clearly exaggerated. "He's eight."

Draco. Potter had called him Draco.

"He's nearly eight. Still seven," Draco corrected, though he was smiling vacantly. It was ridiculous to have such a reaction to simply hearing his name from Potter's lips in Potter's voice. But it was the only thing to explain why Draco couldn't wipe the bloody smile off his face, even when Potter wrinkled his brow and thumped him on the shoulder.

"Proving my point for me, are you?"

"Yes, yes, whatever." Draco's words came too quickly and without thought. "You wouldn't want to go out anyway, would you? Since you're here and..."

Draco's own words caught up to him and the rush of embarrassment was like a burning smack to his face. What in the bloody fuck possessed him to ask Potter—who just stood there and stared with an inscrutable expression—to go out with him? And yet despite Draco's complete mortification, he just couldn't keep his mouth shut.

"I didn't mean go out as in a date or anything! You don't have to...look at me like that."

"Oh?" A hint of a smile came to Potter's lips. "Not a date, then?"

Humiliation complete, Draco went for his best withering look, but knew he failed in the execution. "Sod off. I was trying to be nice, since you came all this way, but—"

"Where do you want to go?"

"What?" Draco was just working up to a nice long tirade when Potter, predictably, took the wind out of his sails.

"This non-date? What did you have in mind?"

Oh. Draco hadn't exactly thought that far ahead. He shifted his weight and shrugged his shoulders. "Er..."

Potter shook his head, laughter clear in his sparkling green eyes. "Come on, Malfoy. Let's go to the pub."

~ ~ ~

The pub, The White Lion, as Draco discovered, was only four winding blocks away from his home. Four winding blocks where Draco could think of nothing to say so he just stared straight ahead, listened to Potter's quiet breaths and the thud of his boots on the pavement, and wondered, again, if he should have insisted on changing before they left. But he was wearing his most flattering outfit, a blue v-neck and grey trousers that were a tad on the tight side, but the cut of them helped hide the pudge of his stomach. They'd have to do.

They ordered their drinks from a lovely woman with ginger hair and a low-cut top, whom Draco immediately and irrationally despised when Potter smiled at her as he paid. But instead of hexing her on sight, Draco simply grabbed his ale and headed to a table in the back, Potter following in his wake.

"How do you know this place?" Draco asked.

"I didn't." Potter shrugged. "But walk far enough and you're bound to come across a pub. You really don't get out much, do you?"

"I get out," Draco said defensively. He had lunch out with his mother at least twice a month, and occasionally went along on the shopping trips with the rest of the family. Not to mention his own excursions into Diagon Alley. But he had the feeling that wasn't exactly what Potter was talking about so he kept it to himself. No need to look more pathetic than he already did.

"I simply don't frequent pubs all too often." Or ever.

"I just thought—maybe Parkinson...or Zabini."

"They fucked off to France years ago." Draco waved his hand dismissively. "Eloped or some such rot. Arseholes."

Draco was half-afraid Potter would go through the whole list of his school friends, most of whom, like Pansy and Blaise, had left the country or otherwise distanced themselves from Draco and the Malfoy name. But Potter just took a swallow of his drink, then propped his head up with one hand.

"Always thought you and Pansy would've gotten married. I know, just because you two—at school..." Potter made a little swirly motion with his fingers that Draco assumed was to indicate dating, even though Draco had only snogged her once early on in sixth year, confirming his preferences lay strictly with the male population.

"Silly reason to think so, isn't it? But then I saw the announcement of your engagement to Astoria Greengrass in the Prophet."

"You got the Prophet in America?"

"Oh...well, no." Potter's cheeks reddened like he was half-drunk already. "Just...Hermione would send me clips of things every now and then. Stuff she thought I'd be interested in."

"Like my engagement?" Draco raised an eyebrow. He barely stifled a smirk.

"Oh sod off," Potter said, laughing. "She probably just thought you'd invite me to the wedding and I should clear my schedule."

"Well, no need for that." Draco hid a smile behind his pint.

"So you're not..."

"Definitely not. That was an arrangement made by my father. It died when he did, fortunately."

A frown tugged at Potter's lips and Draco felt like an arse for souring the mood. He didn't like to think of his father, but trust him to ruin things from even beyond the grave.

"You miss him, don't you," Potter said quietly.

"Fuck, no," Draco spat, more vehemently than he intended. "He was a controlling, power-hungry bastard that nearly got my mother and me killed." Exhaling a shaky breath, Draco turned his head toward the window. "Sorry. It's not as if that was news to you."

"No," Potter agreed, in that same quiet voice. Draco didn't realise his fist was clenched on the table until he felt the warmth of Potter's hand cover it.

Shit.

"Still all right to miss him, though. What he once was to you."

Draco blinked. The afternoon sun streamed in through the window. He thought of his father's office, the warm rich leather chairs, his first taste of brandy the day he received his Hogwarts letter.

"Sometimes... I miss who he was sometimes. Who he could have been."

Potter squeezed his hand and Draco wanted to luxuriate in his quiet warmth, but he reluctantly pulled away and forced a smile, however bittersweet.

"At least I don't have to pretend to be straight any longer. Mother isn't so obsessed with an heir."

"Glass half-full, then," Potter said, tipping his pint before taking a swallow. Draco followed, but it wasn't until he set the pint back on the table that he realised what he'd done.

He'd come out to Harry Potter.

Harry Potter, who didn't seem the least bit phased by the admission, thankfully, and it wasn't as if it was a great big secret or anything. Draco felt unaccountably relieved, even if a bit annoyed with his own big mouth. He must have been spending too much time with Aunt Andromeda. He scrambled to change the subject before Potter decided to inquire about his love life. Or lack thereof.

"What about you and the Weaselette? Aren't you two supposed to be ensconced in domestic bliss? With a bushel of ginger children afoot?"

Potter laughed, the sound deep and throaty, and it made Draco warm all over.

"That was the plan, yes. Turns out I didn't exactly have the right equipment for Ginny. But it's for the best. She didn't have the right equipment for me, either."

Ginny Weasley was a lesbian? Draco's eyebrows shot up. So many of the boys in Slytherin dorm would've been disappointed had they known.

"Oh come on. That can't have been a surprise. You must have known I'm gay. Hence the whole 'non-date' disclaimer, yeah?" Potter waggled his eyebrows and Draco didn't know what the fuck he was talking about until suddenly, Potter's confession echoed in his head.

She didn't have the right equipment for me either.

Potter was gay. Gay, gay, gay, gay. Not even bi. Gay.

It was a never-ending chant that Draco couldn't shut out of his brain. He picked up his pint and guzzled half of it down in one go.

"Do you have some sort of problem with it?"

Potter frowned at him, jaw tight, eyes narrowing rapidly.

"No! Merlin, no—yeah, of course you're a poof. I'm a poof, you're a poof, why would I have a problem with that?" Draco sputtered, inwardly cringing at how manic he must have sounded.

"All right...why'd you go all mental then?"

"Just..." Draco scrambled and blurted out the first thing he thought of. "Weasley—lesbian. It's a shock. Blaise used to beat off thinking of her."

Blaise's Hogwarts masturbation habits? That's what he'd come up with? Draco wanted to dart under the table and hide until Potter left, but Draco doubted that plan would work. Potter would no doubt notice and probably crawl down after him—he was a stubborn git, after all.

Potter's lips twitched madly. "Do I want to ask how you know Zabini's wank fantasies?"

"No. You do not," Draco said firmly. He hoped that would be the end to this particular line of conversation, but as usual with Potter, he just couldn't let up.

"You overheard him in the dorms at night, didn't you?"

"No." Draco scowled and shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

"It's not as if we all haven't done it." Potter took a sip of his ale, then licked his lips.

"We're not all a bunch of perverts like you Gryffindorks."

"You're telling me you never wanked in the dorms once? Never heard any of your dorm mates bang one out?"

Potter idly stroked a finger through the condensation on his pint glass and Draco's eyes followed the movement helplessly. An image of Potter spread out over a small twin bed sprung up in his mind, unbidden. Only it wasn't the Potter of his youth, it was the Potter that sat before him, naked with the sheets pushed down at his feet, fist around his cock, pumping slowly, his eyes glittering as if he knew Draco was there watching him, listening to him.

Draco's cheeks burned hot and his trousers were suddenly unbearably tight.

"There is such a thing as privacy charms," he finally managed to say.

"Yeah, but we didn't learn those until what? Sixth year? Come off it, Malfoy." Potter drained his pint and set it back on the table with a dull thud. "You want another?"

Relieved that it seemed as if Potter was finally going to drop it, Draco gave a quick nod. "I'll just run to the men's right quick."

With a half-smile, Potter got up and headed to the bar. Draco waited until his back was completely turned before standing himself and quickly making his way down the narrow hallway.

He headed directly into a stall and shut and latched the door before sinking against one wall, breathing heavily.

What the bloody fuck was that?

Thankfully, his erection had died down a bit, but he had to wait a full five minutes thinking of Ginny and her annoying freckled face before he grew soft enough to take a piss. And still, it was only a pathetic little dribble.

Before he could help himself, Draco began to ponder the possibilities of Potter having a similar experience as Draco'd had with Blaise—becoming aroused just by listening to another boy wank in the bed next to him. The fantasy of watching or perhaps taking over...perhaps letting that boy touch him in return. Until Blaise had called out Ginny's name one night, then Draco had quickly grown tired of that game.

Could it have been Weasley? Eugh no. Ginger and freckles weren't an attractive combination if you asked him, but....

Was it Thomas? Finnigan? Longbottom—definitely not Longbottom. He hadn't gotten fit until seventh year and spent most of his time at Hogwarts round and pudgy.

An uncomfortable twist tightened in Draco's chest. He tucked himself into his pants and started to pull the zip up when it stopped mid-way, right over his belly.

"Come on," Draco muttered. He held his breath, sucked his stomach in tight, and still it refused to budge. "Fuck." He'd had to lay flat on his bed to do up his trousers that morning.

Out of desperation, Draco yanked out his wand and pointed it at the blasted zipper. The slider trembled before shooting up, then flew free from the teeth, landing out of sight with a clink on the tiled floor.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck." Tears prickled at the corners of his eyes and he squeezed his lids shut, desperately fighting against them.

The door to the men's swung open.

"Malfoy? You all right in here?"

"Oh, Merlin's—fucking—" Draco hissed under his breath before Potter hesitantly called his name again.

"I'm fine! Just...give me a minute, all right?"

"Yeah, yeah, 'course."

The door swung shut with a quiet snick.

Draco wondered if he could quickly Disapparate home, switch out his trousers, and Apparate directly back, without Potter noticing he'd changed his bloody clothes or...

He straightened, tugged his shirt as far down as it would go over his half-undone trousers and cast a temporary sticking charm on the hem. It would have to do.

When he returned from the toilets, walking slow and careful, Harry was back at the table with two fresh pints.

"All set?"

'No,' Draco spat in his head. He looked despairingly at the full glasses and Potter's hopeful upturned gaze.

"I have to go, Potter. I'm sorry."

"What? Why?"

"I'll pay you for the pint," he said, but when he reached for his pocket he realised there was no way to get to his money without undoing the sticking charm. Fuck.

"Sod the pint," Potter said. "Is something wrong?"

"No...I. I'm not feeling well."

"Is it what Teddy has?" Potter asked, mouth tugged into a frown. He stood up and placed his palm on Draco's forehead. Draco sucked in a breath. "You don't have a fever."

"You don't believe me?" Draco yanked his head back.

"No! I mean, yes, of course I believe you," Harry floundered. He gave Draco one of his twitchy half-smiles as he ran a hand through his hair, messing it up further. "Not like you're trying to skive off school, yeah?"

"No." Draco said, sullen. He wanted to smile at Potter's stupid joke and tease him about his stupid hair, but he felt utterly, utterly ridiculous.

Potter frowned again, though it was tinged with concern. "Come on then, let's get you home."

"I can manage—you should stay. Finish your drink."

"Rubbish." Brokering no further argument, Potter lightly grabbed his elbow and led Draco out of the pub.

Draco let him leave his hand there far too long. Potter seemed content, and his touch soothed something jagged and raw inside Draco that he was reluctant to pull away. But he had to, before Potter noticed. Before Potter wondered why.

But when he did, Potter's grip tightened, holding his arm still.

"I can walk on my own," Draco said, trying to pitch his voice light. "Or are you arresting me?"

"Oh—Christ, sorry." Potter pulled his hand back as if it had been burned and Draco felt stupid all over again. He pressed his arms down to his sides just in case his trousers started to fall. Lucky for him, his body was large enough for the trousers to stay in place, and eventually Draco relaxed his gait.

The rest of their walk passed in silence, as it had on their way to the pub, only the quiet felt more oppressive, the blocks longer, and by the time Draco's home came into view, he was tense all over, his legs aching. They rounded to the stairs, and Draco stopped to say his goodbyes—he had no wish for Potter to actually see him inside—when Potter snagged his wrist and held it loosely within the circle of his fingers.

"Do you need anything? Something from your lab? Or I could pop over to the Apothecary in Diagon?" Potter's eyes shone with sincerity and guilt filled Draco, guilt from his lie; his chest knotted up tight and he felt at any moment he would break into pieces all over the pavement.

"Why are you being so bloody nice to me? Since that first day? Trying to include me? Smiling at me?" Annoyingly, the git began to smile right then and it made Draco want to scream. "You're supposed to hate me, you impossible, stupid, idiotic—"

"Scarhead?" Potter offered, his smile widening.

"Wanker. You utter wanker."

"You really haven't a clue, have you?"

Potter stepped close, too close, like in the lab that one afternoon, but this time, he brushed his fingers through Draco's hair, and this time, Draco felt Potter's hot breath over his lips. Potter angled his head, his nose grazing against Draco's softly, delicately, and his fingers slid to cup Draco's jaw.

And he whispered, "I don't hate you."

Draco knew then Potter was going to kiss him. He barely had time for the realisation to set in before Potter brushed their lips together lightly, almost hesitantly, giving Draco a chance to stop things, a chance to run away. He pressed his palm flat against Potter's chest, feeling the heat of him, feeling him so warm and alive and thrumming with energy.

Draco closed his eyes. He parted his lips. He might have whimpered a little. And as if helplessly drawn to Potter's heat, he shifted closer and kissed him back. Potter's lips tasted of ale, but they were soft and pliant and gone far too soon as Potter pulled back after mere moments, breathing softly against Draco's mouth.

"I should let you rest," he murmured, lips skimming over Draco's with his words. Draco nearly whined in protest before he remembered. He was ill. He was supposed to be ill.

Merlin's fucking tits.

Potter withdrew with a quiet, damp-lipped smile, and Draco immediately craved his touch once it was gone.

"I'll see you next week?"

"Perhaps sooner?" Draco blurted, then inwardly cringed. "Because of Teddy. Your promise to him, of course."

"Of course," Potter said, eyes glinting in the setting sun. "Feel better, Draco."

"Thanks," Draco said feeling like an idiot, but pulsing with too much wonderful to care a whole lot. He floated up the steps, opened the front door, and when he turned to close it, he found Potter still standing at the front walk, smiling at him.

Draco shut the door and leaned back into it with a sigh.

Potter kissed him.

Draco wandered over into the kitchen and sank down in a chair. He barely noticed the empty cooling rack, normally teaming with warm biscuits this time of day. He found he didn't much care there weren't any to steal.

He propped his head up with one hand and sighed quietly again.

"Where've you been?" Andromeda's voice stole away his thoughts. Draco promptly straightened.

"Is it Teddy? Did the potion—?"

"Teddy's asleep. The potion is doing its job." Soup bubbled up on the stovetop. Andromeda cursed under her breath and hurried to turn down the heat.

A hand landed on Draco's shoulder, startling him. "Did you have a nice time with Harry, dear?"

Draco blinked up to find his mum smiling down at him.

"Harry came? I owled him this morning to cancel. Teddy is in no state for visitors," Andromeda harrumphed. "Boy needs to read his post."

"She's still sullen about the flying lesson," his mum murmured quietly, before moving to the stove to smell the soup. "Perhaps it wasn't just Teddy whom Harry came to visit."

"Well it certainly wasn't me," Andromeda groused. "Didn't even bother to say hello, did he?"

"Excuse me," Draco said, pushing back from the table. He stood on slightly shaky legs and managed to leave the kitchen before a smile erupted over his face.

~ ~ ~

Draco's smile didn't fade until he reached his bedroom, tried to strip off his shirt and it stayed stubbornly in place.

"Fuck," Draco cursed under his breath. He directed his wand to cut through his sticking charms, but accidentally sliced through the hem at his hip in the process.

"Bloody fuck."

His shirt, now freed, rolled up to his waist, revealing the open platt of his trousers and his stomach pudging out in the gap.

He'd forgotten for a moment. He'd forgotten that he was fat. That he'd just walked home with undone trousers because he was so fat, he couldn't fasten them. He'd just stood there and let Potter cup his flabby cheeks, kiss him with his fat stomach poking out, believing that Potter could possibly...

A hoarse scream ripped from his throat as he yanked off his ruined shirt and his too tight trousers and threw them to the corner of his room. The pulse of anger left almost as quickly as it had come, and Draco just stood there panting, staring at himself in the mirror. The waistband of his boxers rode low, stretched across his stomach. His chest was soft, unremarkable, with spates of dark blond hair peppered here and there.

He was disgusted with himself.

A soft knock sounded at his door.

"Draco? Can I come in?" his mother called.

"Hold on," he gritted out. He squeezed his eyes shut. He ran a hand through his hair. He took a deep breath.

Then he grabbed a dressing gown, pulled it on, and sat on the edge of his bed. "All right," he said.

When his mum entered the room, Draco saw her eyes take in the state of things, lingering on his ripped clothes in the corner. He ducked his head and stared at his knees.

The bed dipped beside him. "I see you've had one of your fits," she said, plainly but without judgement.

Draco grunted noncommittally.

"You seemed quite at peace in the kitchen."

"So?" Draco knew he sounded like a pouty child, but couldn't find it within himself to care. His mother sighed and placed her hand over his.

"Perhaps I should just skip to the part where I say I'm not leaving this room until you've told me what happened?"

"Potter kissed me."

"And?"

"Potter kissed me!" Draco yanked his hand from her grasp and stood up, suddenly thrumming with energy. "We went to the pub. We had a nice time. I—" Draco couldn't bring himself to reveal his humiliating experience in the loo. "He walked me home. And then he kissed me."

"I'm not hearing anything that is worth a fit."

Draco wanted to growl in frustration, but instead he paused his pacing, standing before his mother, and threw his arms out.

"He kissed me when—he couldn't possibly—look at me!"

"He couldn't possibly what?"

He dropped his arms. He couldn't face his mother's gaze, all confused and filled with concern. It was too much like Potter's. He stared at the floor instead, chin to his chest.

"He couldn't possibly be attracted to me," he said quietly.

"Did he say such a thing?"

"No....but—Mother." Draco deflated back onto the bed and couldn't bring himself to struggle when she put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close.

"It sounds as if he's quite attracted to you," she murmured. "Who wouldn't be?"

"Mum," Draco sighed. She had to say things like that. She was his mum. "You don't understand."

"I think I understand quite a bit better than you do," she admonished. "I'll leave now, and let you sulk until dinner, but I expect that when you come out of this room, you'll have come to your senses."

"Yes, Mum," Draco said dully. It was useless to argue, so he let her brush a kiss over his temple before she rose to leave. He waited for the door to shut closed behind her before he fell face first into the bed and punched his pillow.

~ ~ ~

The owl came two days later.

Two days of replaying that kiss over and over in his head until Draco had convinced himself that either Potter was cruelly toying with him or else couldn't hold his alcohol and one pint had severely compromised his judgement.

Two days of caring for Teddy, bringing him soup and potions, and reading him to sleep until he was healthy enough to be out of bed. Then he simply followed Draco around and nagged him about when Harry was coming back.

Two days of his mother's considered looks. Two days of trying to avoid them.

Two days until a fluffy white and brown owl with a heart-shaped face and black beady eyes swept in through the open kitchen window and landed directly in the middle of Draco's lunch. It stuck out its leg; Draco freed its message, then it stole a bite of chicken off Draco's plate and hopped to the windowsill to eat it.

Draco told himself not to get his hopes up; it was likely a potions order or other potions-related business. But still his hands trembled as he unfolded the parchment, his eyes immediately darting to the bottom to find Harry's scrawled signature.

"Who's it from?" Teddy asked, and Draco caught his mother's keen look out of the corner of his eye.

"Just an order. Excuse me."

Ignoring the guilt he felt from Teddy's deflated expression, Draco slipped out of the kitchen, the owl flying behind him to follow. When Draco sank into a chair in the sitting room, it perched on the arm and bent its head as if craning for a look at what its master had written.

"You're quite rude, you know that?" Of course Potter's owl would make a nuisance of itself. It fluffed its feathers before bending down to peck Draco's fingers lightly. "All right, all right. I'm reading."

Draco,

How is Teddy? I hope you've both recovered by now.

If you're up to it, what do you say to dinner? Tomorrow night? Eight?

- Harry

Draco's pulse quickened. He reread the note three times. Potter's owl hooted softly.

"I suppose you've been instructed to wait for a reply?" Draco asked, though he still hadn't the faintest idea what to say.

His mother would tell him to just say yes. Teddy would beg to come along. Andromeda would...Draco hadn't a clue what Andromeda would say—probably tell him to make certain he didn't smell of menthol or some such.

Draco stared at Potter's owl. The owl blinked at him. No help whatsoever. Stupid bird.

"Fine, fine," Draco grumbled. He summoned a self-inking quill and bore down on his knees.

We're both quite well, but I'm afraid that eight o'clock at night would be far too late to take Teddy to dinner.

You should teach your owl some manners.

- Draco

Before he could even reread his reply, the owl swooped down, snatched it from his lap and flew back towards the kitchen.

It wasn't even an hour before the bird was back, this time finding Draco in the garden. It sunk its talons into Draco's arm for lack of another place to land, and Draco hissed at the sting.

"Bloody bird."

The owl stuck out its foot demandingly and hooted. But this time, as soon as Draco slid the message free, it took off without even waiting for a treat.

Draco unfurled the scroll.

I meant you. As you well know.

And since you're well enough to tussle with Sybil, I'll be by at eight tomorrow night to pick you up.

Tell Teddy I'll be by Saturday to see him if that works for you lot.

- Harry

Draco balled up the note in his fist and simmered.

"Problem, dear?" his mum asked, drifting over from a rose bush.

"Apparently Potter is taking me to dinner whether I like it or not."

To Draco's consternation, instead of being outraged, his mother just gave him a small secretive smile. "He's very perceptive, isn't he?"

"What?"

"Nothing, dear. I'm certain you two will have a wonderful time."

"Hmph." Draco stomped back into the house, grabbed the nearest piece of parchment and quill and scribbled, I won't be available until eight-thirty.

His annoyance only partially abated, Draco coaxed Persephone—a lovely owl who didn't go around hooting all the time or steal bits of food from people's plates—down from her perch and sent her off with his missive.

If Potter showed up at eight anyway, he'd just have to wait.

~ ~ ~

The hours bled together one after another, passing as quickly as water rushed down a drain. But that night, they slowed to a trickle as Draco lay in his bed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep until close to dawn when he fell into restless dreams: Potter kissing him; Potter sliding his hands over Draco's flat stomach and tight buttocks; Potter spread over the bed, whispering, panting, "Fuck me, Draco. Fuck me, please..."

Draco woke up panting and drenched in sweat. Draco woke up hard.

The images lingered, taunting him, and he slipped his hand down beneath the sheets, then froze when he slid over his belly fat.

"Fuck." His mouth tasted bitter. Draco pressed his head into the pillow and groaned. He couldn't even enjoy a quick wank without the reminder: his dream self was a fantasy, his body from long ago.

He shoved down the disappointment with his bedcovers and ignored his erection until it grew soft.

After pulling on his dressing gown, he headed to the kitchen and found Teddy bright-eyed and alert, unusual for this time of day, and his mother serving breakfast. She was in high-spirits, humming softly under her breath, pausing to ruffle to Teddy's hair as she filled his plate; she didn't even scold him when he ducked his head and stuck his tongue out at her.

"'Dromeda's having a lie-in this morning," she said as Draco joined them at the table.

"Does she need more salve for her arthritis?"

"Oh no. I made certain she was well stocked. She wouldn't want you to have to brew for her today, regardless."

"Why not?"

"Draco," she said fondly, though with an exasperated sigh.

"Draco and Harry are going on a date!" Teddy sang in a jaunty little rhythm. He pushed his fork through his beans, swishing them this way and that to match the beat of his chant. "Draco and Harry are going on date. Draco and Harry are—"

"Teddy," Narcissa lay a quelling hand on Teddy's arm. "That's enough, dear."

"It's not a date," Draco muttered, heat flaring briefly on his cheeks. "It's just...dinner."

"Nuh uh. Harry said so. He said you were going on a date. Auntie Cissy and I got an owl from him this morning. He said I couldn't come 'cause it was a date, but we'd all be together on Saturday. Are you going to snog him? Because snogging is gross."

"I'll remind you of that in a few years," Narcissa murmured.

Potter's brief kiss flashed through Draco's mind before he could help it and he averted his eyes away from his mother's knowing gaze. His irritation did nothing the damper the explosion of doxies in his stomach, though. Potter had owled. Had informed everyone, clearly. Draco wouldn't be surprised to see an advert in the Daily Prophet.

This was a date.

"Did Potter say anything else?" Draco asked, doing his best to sound uninterested, though his mother's mouth curved up informing him he'd failed.

"Why do you call him Potter?" Teddy's nose scrunched up. "His name is Harry."

"Yes, dear," his mother added with a twinkle in her eye. "If you two are dating, it wouldn't be amiss to use his given name."

"We aren't dating. This is just one date. One. And...it's just dinner," Draco said. "Potter can't just go and claim that we are dating when we haven't actually gone out on a date and this isn't a date, besides. I never agreed to a date!"

His mother schooled her expression, though wasn't able to fully hide the amused sheen in her eyes. Teddy just looked perplexed.

"Oookay," Teddy said.

"Yes, dear." His mother nodded.

Draco stifled a frustrated huff and rose from the table. "Excuse me. I must get to work."

~ ~ ~

The doorbell rang at precisely eight thirty-one. Draco had been pacing since at least eight, pausing to dash back to his bedroom twice to double-check his appearance. He'd changed his jumper once, then switched it back out again. There was no convincing Teddy to head to bed early, so he'd sat on the sofa, kicking his legs against the front while Draco wore out the floorboards. He'd asked why Draco was acting so funny, but Draco threatened to make him wait in the kitchen and that put an end to that.

Truthfully, Draco was grateful Teddy was there, especially when he ran to the door to open it and gave Draco a moment to compose a suitably calm and unbothered expression...

...which failed completely as soon as Potter rounded the corner with Teddy on his heels. Draco didn't have time to be embarrassed as Potter blatantly let his eyes roam over Draco's appearance; Draco was too busy soaking up Potter's. From his well-fitted jeans to a creamy tan jumper that hugged his body pulled over a crisp white button-up...even his hair had been styled, looking more as if he'd just come post-shag rather than post-wrestling with a wild boar.

"You clean up nicely," Draco found himself saying. Potter gave him a slanted smile, and Draco quickly added, "Not that it's a compliment. I'm simply surprised an uncouth oaf like you has any taste in fashion."

Potter laughed, the sound pleasantly rolling down Draco's spine. "Hermione dressed me. I'll pass your thanks to her."

"See that you do," Draco said, tiny goosebumps erupting down his arms beneath his jumper. Potter had wanted to make a good impression—as if he didn't naturally do so with whatever he'd thrown on for their usual Tuesday outings—but this time Potter had asked Granger. Granger knew. And she hadn't dashed over to hex Draco's eyebrows off either.

Granger had sent Potter a clipping of the announcement to his engagement.

Draco didn't know how to process the information swirling in his brain. He didn't have time because Potter stepped forward, tipping his head, and his voice dropped to a murmur.

"You interrupted me before I could tell you the same." Potter's breath smelled like peppermint candies and Draco involuntarily strained closer.

"What, that I'm an uncouth oaf as well?" Draco whispered.

"No," Potter breathed. He was so close his face was blurry and Draco could practically taste him on his lips already. "I was about to say—"

"Are you going to snog now?" Teddy asked petulantly. Potter's lips quirked, and Draco—Draco had forgotten all about his cousin and his horrible timing. He expected Potter to step back, but Potter held still, and Draco couldn't bring himself to move away.

"Yes," Potter said, his eyes never leaving Draco's. "Is that all right with you?"

"I suppose." Teddy sighed, but Draco had no time to care about his pouting, because Potter brought their mouths together with a sweet teasing brush of his lips.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?" he said. He was grinning now, pulling back ever so slightly and his sparking green eyes came into focus.

"I guess not," Teddy grumbled.

"Teddy, come on dear. It's time for your bath. Tell the boys goodnight."

Draco barely acknowledged his mother's sudden presence nor did Teddy's sullen, "Have a good time," break through his fog. He watched Potter ruffle Teddy's hair and wish him goodnight and promise he'd be over bright and early in the morning.

"Though perhaps not too early," he murmured after Draco's mother managed to drag Teddy away. Draco swallowed thickly.

"Ready?" Potter asked, all smiles. Potter had a dimple in his left cheek Draco had never noticed before. Draco had the overwhelming urge to....

No, he most certainly did not.

"Draco?"

"Hmm?"

"Dinner?"

"Yes, yes. Let's get on with this," Draco said. He pulled down his jumper for lack of anything better to do with his hands.

"That anxious, are we?"

Draco glowered, but that only made Potter's smile grow wider. He hated it when Potter kissed him; it made him go all blurry in the head like his brain had gone on holiday, leaving him feeling floaty and dizzy and all out of sorts.

That must be why Potter kept doing it.

Potter offered his elbow and it took a moment for Draco to realise that Potter expected him to take it.

"So I can Side-Along you? Unless you've someplace in mind you'd like to go?"

"Did you ask me on a da—dinner and not make suitable arrangements?"

"Of course I did, I just thought—if you, well, I was trying to be—" Potter's words fumbled out of his mouth, one on top of the other, and Draco had the sudden realisation: Potter was nervous. It calmed Draco's jumpy stomach and he slipped his arm into Potter's crooked elbow, fingers wrapped lightly around his bicep.

"Shut it and Apparate us, then."

Merlin, Potter really was all muscle beneath his jumper; Draco only had a moment to soak up the feel of Potter hard against his palm, when with a quick quirk of Potter's lips, the world squeezed down to just the two of them and whooshed away.

~ ~ ~

The restaurant sat in a little out of the way corner in a neighborhood Draco didn't recognise, its doorway cramped with overflowing greenery and a chalkboard sign announcing the night's special: Benito's Baked Ziti.

"Italian?" Draco said as his stomach rumbled with the scent of garlic wafting over him.

"That all right with you?"

Draco shrugged. "I suppose." Potter didn't need to know it was his favourite.

It wasn't until Potter reached for the door that Draco realised he was still clutching Potter's arm from their Side-Along; he dropped it and snatched the handle just in front of Potter's grasp.

"After you," he said, smirking.

"Always a competition with you, isn't it?" Potter said. He gave Draco a long considered look that made Draco want to preen. Finally, he stepped through the doorway and Draco let his eyes wander in return, taking in the tight cut of Potter's trousers.

His mouth watered.

A stern grandmotherly-type appeared seemingly out of nowhere, her black and silver hair balled up in a tight bun, but her face broke out into a wrinkled smile as soon as she laid eyes on Potter.

"Harry!" she exclaimed, grabbing his shoulders and kissing him on the cheeks three times. "So good to see you, and look at this, you've finally brought in your handsome young man."

To Draco's complete mortification, she cupped his cheeks, pinching them between her thumb and forefinger. "You are simply adorable."

"Anita, this is Draco." Potter's lips quirked but he had the good sense to look apologetic. He mouthed 'sorry' as soon as Anita released Draco's face, tempering Draco's glare. Just a bit.

"Draco, Anita."

"Pleasure," Draco managed. Despite his embarrassment, Draco's manners compelled him to take her hand and brush his lips over her knuckles.

Anita fluttered her eyelashes at him. "And so charming!"

"He can be," Potter said, "when it suits him."

"I am always charming," Draco said with a grin.

"Come, come!" Anita clapped her hands. "Your usual table, yes?"

Draco glanced around the cramped restaurant, stuffed with so many tables and chairs that even Potter would have had trouble making his way through them, but to his relief, when Potter nodded, Anita led them down a narrow passageway and bypassed the open shunt of the kitchen galley before the walls spread out into a sunken dining room.

It was darker here, lit with flickering candlelight from the sparsely populated tables. They reached a wooden booth jutting out from the back wall, the open back door right next to it, letting in the cool night breeze.

"No, none of this for you," Anita snatched the menus off the table and hugged them to her chest before either of them had even sat down. "I will bring you tonight's special, yes? A large plate to share, I think, and a bottle of red, no? Good, good."

She dashed away, and Draco watched her small feet carry her towards the kitchen before shaking his head.

"Is she always this..."

"Pushy?" Potter said, sliding into the booth. Draco sat opposite, scooting over in the tight space. "She's a bit more excitable tonight, but...yeah."

"I take it you come here often."

"Often enough, but she pretty much acted like my mum from the first visit on. I'm sorry about before—I didn't realise she'd—"

"It's fine," Draco said quickly, grateful that the dim light most likely hid the stain on his cheeks. The memory of her hands squeezing his face was something he'd rather forget.

... your handsome young man...

"Do you usually come here with—"

"Ron and Hermione mostly," Potter quickly cut in. Draco felt an unexplainable sense of relief. "Sometimes alone. My flat's right around the corner."

It hit Draco then: Potter had traipsed all over his home, even through his lab in the cellar, and Draco hadn't even had a clue where Potter lived. He vaguely regretted not taking a closer look around after they'd Apparated, but... It's not as if he cared, particularly. It was just only natural to be curious.

"Anita kept trying to set me up with one of her nieces so I told her I was dating someone. A man." Potter fiddled with a vase of small obviously fabricated yellow flowers that sat centre on the table.

"Ah."

"Which she assumed was..."

"Yes, I follow, Potter."

"You'll save me a lot of harassment in the future, so thank you for that." Potter shot him a quick smile, which only served to stoke Draco's sudden irritation.

"Glad to be of service," Draco said, voice clipped.

Potter frowned. His hand twitched like he wanted to reach out, and Draco slid both his hands to his lap.

"I didn't mean—"

A server dressed in a nondescript white dress shirt and black trousers appeared with wine. She presented the bottle, Potter leaned back with a sigh, and she poured them each a glass before leaving the rest at the table. Draco didn't even bother looking at the label before snatching his glass and taking a gulp.

"Draco. I honestly didn't bring you here because of...that. All right? Just making a joke. A lousy one, clearly."

"You're not very funny," Draco said, though he knew he was being extra petulant in a way Potter didn't deserve. Potter who currently looked like a kicked puppy. Draco blew out a breath. "Maybe sometimes."

"Sometimes?" Potter gave him a hesitant smile, a bit of light coming back into his eyes.

"I'm certain there are exceptions. There always are with you."

Potter's smile turned soft, and Draco returned it automatically before averting his eyes.

It would have been nice to have a menu to look over, but Anita had taken away the easiest distraction, so instead, Draco straightened the cutlery until it perfectly lined up with the grain of the wood, then caught Potter staring at him out of the corner of his eye.

"What?"

Potter shook his head. "Nothing. Just...glad you're here."

"You didn't give me much choice," Draco said, though there was no heat to his words. Potter's soft smile still lingered and it made Draco want to squirm as much as he wanted to lie down before it and soak up Potter's warmth like the sun's rays.

"You could have gotten out of it had you really wanted to."

"And risk being pecked to death by your feral owl? No thanks."

Potter laughed. "Don't insult my owl. Sybil is just very spirited."

"And stubborn."

"And stubborn," Potter agreed.

"Reminds me of her owner."

"Oh?" Potter gazed at him over the dim candlelight. There was a certain gleam to his eye, a certain pull to his lazy smile, and Draco leaned back and toyed with the stem of his wine glass. He recognized that look now. He felt giddy with it, almost drunk with it.

Draco tried not to look smug, but it was hard to school his expression knowing Potter wanted to kiss him again.

"Yes... she's stubborn. Annoying. Always just takes what she wants."

"And you think I'm like that? Just taking what I want?" Potter said. A hint of amusement danced in his smile, but the deep rumble in his voice hinted at something else entirely. It sent Draco shivering.

"Don't you?" Draco said, breathless. He licked his lips. Potter's eyes darkened. A thrill shot down Draco's spine.

And a heaping bowl of pasta landed on the table, breaking their eye contact. He looked up to find Anita with her hands clasped at her chest, beaming. "Young love."

She patted both of their cheeks in turn before going off to fetch the extra plates, and Draco's confidence evaporated like the steam wafting up over the dish.

Potter sat back, shaking himself like he'd been caught in a daze. Draco itched to run a hand through his hair but didn't want to disrupt the charm work holding it in place. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed.

"Horrible timing, yeah?"

And predictably Potter wanted to talk about it. Of course.

"I don't know what you mean," Draco said, going for an unaffected tone. Potter just stared at him, puzzled, his lips tugged into a frown.

Scrambling for a change of subject, Draco grasped on to the first thing that popped into his head. "Did you ever wrap up that case? With the potion?"

"Hmm? Potion?"

"The Amortentia? That you brought to me for analysis? Though I still wonder what kind of Aurors you've got over there if none of you can identify a simple love potion," Draco said pointedly.

"Oh...right." Potter's cheeks turned an attractive pink. He took a sip of wine. He tugged at his collar.

"Still can't discuss it?" Draco guessed, though that didn't explain why Potter acted so squirrelly. He'd been the same before, when he'd asked for Draco's help with it in the first place.

"No, it's not that. I... I just. Well, I have a confession to make."

"Oh?" Draco raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah. Well." Potter coughed. "The reason I brought you the Amortentia—"

A loud buzz interrupted Potter's words. He grimaced in apology and dug around in his pocket until he pulled out a small black angular case. "Sorry—it's work. I have to take this."

He turned toward the wall and Draco leaned over the table to get a closer look as he flipped open the case. A miniature ghostly jaguar—a mini Patronus Draco realised—formed and began to speak, though strain as he might, Draco couldn't make out any words. Potter's expression tightened and turned grim.

"I understand. I'll be there shortly," he said before he flipped the case closed and stuck it back in his pocket.

"You have to go?" Disappointment came sudden and swift, only mollified slightly when Draco saw the same reflected in Potter's eyes.

"Yeah. Fuck. I'm really sorry, Draco. It's just—there's a suspect we've been trying to track down for weeks and they've just popped up."

"Can't someone else go?"

"A lot of someone elses are going," Potter said. His words took a moment to sink in, and Draco realised, this wasn't just a typical arrest. Not for Potter to be called back late on a Friday evening. Not for a whole squad of Aurors to be sent out on the hunt.

"This suspect. He's dangerous."

"It's a she, actually... and yeah. We've tried to capture her before and..."

Draco swallowed thickly. Potter suddenly clasped Draco's hand on the table. "Believe me, if I didn't have to—"

"You should go, Potter. Just... be careful, all right?" A frown pulled at Draco's lips. "Don't take any unnecessary risks."

Potter smiled. "Come on. Would I do that?"

Draco snorted, but he turned his palm up within Potter's grasp and squeezed. Potter's eyes flashed with something unidentifiable and Draco's heart thumped a bit faster in his chest.

"If this gets wrapped up fairly quickly, maybe I could firecall you after? If it's not too late?"

Throat suddenly closed up, Draco could only nod. But when Potter stood, Draco tightened his hold, stilling Potter at the edge of the booth. "Even if it's late, Potter."

Potter glanced at their joined hands. He raised his gaze. Then swift as if catching a snitch, bent over and captured Draco's lips for a quick, but hard kiss. "I promise," he whispered.

Then he straightened, and Draco let him go.

~ ~ ~

Laden with a paper bag filled with more baked ziti than he could possibly eat in one sitting, Draco left the restaurant and wandered down the block. The street spilled out into row houses, stacks of steps dotted with white columns leading to shadowed front doors, one after another. Draco let his gaze rake over them all until he realised he was looking for Potter's house. One among many and there was no way to tell which was his. It wasn't as if Potter'd hang a giant sign out a window, and even if Draco had known, what would be his grand plan? Sit on the front stoop and stuff himself with ziti until Potter appeared on the steps? Home. Safe. Unharmed.

"Ridiculous," Draco muttered under his breath. At the corner, Draco turned, ducked into an alleyway and Disapparated into his back garden.

He found his mother in the kitchen, a spread of hastily scrawled parchments before her on the table and a tea cup at her side.

"Home already?" she asked mildly. He plopped the paper bag on the table and sank into a chair opposite her with a sigh.

"Harry was called into work. Some emergency." Though Draco was deliberately being vague, his chest tightened just thinking of Potter's grim expression when he'd received the summons.

"Harry, is it now?" she smiled.

"Mum," Draco sighed. "I meant—whatever."

She stood and took the bag, inhaling the leftovers of dinner—which was in fact the whole of their meal as Draco hadn't been able to eat a thing after Potter had left and felt rather stupid sitting in that booth alone with it laid out on the table as if he'd ordered it all for himself.

"Have some, if you like," he said.

"It'll keep until tomorrow, certainly," she said. She slid it into the Muggle icebox in the corner—it still struck Draco as odd how quickly his mother had adapted to Aunt Andromeda's Muggle kitchen—and squeezed his shoulder on her way back to the table.

"He'll be fine," she murmured.

"I'm not worried," Draco lied. She smiled at him indulgently, and he shrugged. "He said he'd firecall."

His mother nodded. "Would you like to help me mark Teddy's school work while you wait?"

"I'm not waiting," Draco protested, but he accepted the offered pages she slid across the table.

"Of course not, dear," she said. She bent her head down and Draco began to work.

Two hours later, Draco had only gotten through five of Teddy's sketchy illustrations of the twelve uses of dragon's blood, his own cup of tea stone cold and untouched at his elbow. His mother offered a fresh one before she went to bed, but he declined, wished her goodnight, and set upon tidying up to give his hands something to do.

He wasn't worried, per se. He told himself it was likely that Potter had just gotten tied up in some Ministry paperwork or some such or more still, had headed home, exhausted, and forgotten all about his promise to Draco and gone straight to bed.

And so Draco should do the same, but when Draco went back to his bedroom and started to strip off his jumper, he couldn't shut out the image of Potter laid up in a St. Mungo's hospital bed with glassy eyes...blood spilt over his tunic...

"Gah!" Draco hit his head with the flat of his hand, as if it would somehow free him from the terrible vision. He pulled back on his jumper, grabbed his favourite blue fluffy dressing gown, and shrugged it on over his clothes, cinching the belt tight around his waist. Soft velvet brushed against his cheeks and his neck, somehow calming him enough to take slow even breaths. He'd go out to the sitting room, he decided, maybe flip on the Wireless, quietly. Have a glass of wine. It wasn't as if any of these actions were unusual for him. And if it resulted in his close proximity to the Floo, well that was just a coincidence and nothing more.

Draco was just passing by the fireplace on his way to the kitchen when the Floo roared to life, startling him so much he nearly jumped. Potter's face, formed in green licking flames, popped through. His eyes caught on Draco and he grinned.

"Good, you're still awake. Nice dressing gown."

"Nice dressing gown?" Draco crossed his arms over his chest and frowned at Potter. "That's all you have to say to me?"

"Er...do you want to come over?"

"What?"

"If you're not tired. I know it's late, but I got take-out? If you want?"

"You got take-out?"

"An Indian place right around the corner—they were closing, but it's fresh, promise. Sorry, I'm famished. Oh, I forgot. How was the ziti?"

"Fine," Draco said, though he hadn't had a bite of it. He tugged on the knot at the front of his dressing gown, but his hands were shaking too much to get it loose. Stupid Potter. Stopping to get food. Didn't he know he was supposed to come straight home and Floo Draco and reassure him that he was fine? Draco had half a mind to give him what for and slam the Floo connection closed, but he took a deep breath. He wasn't some worried mother hen. He wasn't even Potter's...whatever. It didn't matter.

"You can save the stripping for over here if you like," Potter said teasingly. Draco shot him a glare.

"Just... get out of the way, would you?"

"Yes, sir," Potter said, flashing a grin before his head disappeared.

Belt finally untied, Draco shrugged off his dressing gown and Banished it to his room. After Summoning parchment and quill, he left a quick note for his mother (At Potter's, making certain he isn't too damaged the stupid sod. Will possibly be forced to eat curry. Love, D) and left it on the kitchen table. He smoothed down the front of his jumper, patted his hair, and when he could think of no other reasonable delay, stepped into the emerald green flames.

He arrived in a puff of smoke, coughing and covered in dust—more than usual. After a quick Scourgify, he opened his mouth to lecture Potter on proper Floo maintenance, when his eyes landed on Potter and his voice caught in his throat. A hastily healed gash lined his cheekbone, a purplish-red bruise bloomed on his jaw. His trousers were sliced open in two places, on his knee and thigh—his tunic, already shed and draped over the sofa behind him, looked to be in similar shape.

"Merlin, Potter."

In two long strides, wand at the ready, Draco stood before him and took Potter's jaw gingerly within one hand, and ran the tip of his wand over the cut with the other. Potter winced, but didn't pull away.

"Hello to you, too."

"Shhh. Hold still." The tip of his wand glowed white until Potter's skin stitched itself back together. Draco sighed, dropping his arm. "Did you even let a mediwizard look you over?"

"I wanted to get home. It's nothing serious."

Draco huffed. Nothing serious. Of course Potter would think so. He gazed at Potter's cheek again, brushing a fingertip lightly over the newly (and more expertly, he might add) healed skin, which was soft to his touch. Potter inhaled sharply.

"Does it hurt? We should put some dittany on it so there won't be a scar."

"Mmm. Doesn't hurt," Potter said. His soft voice drew Draco's gaze and it was only then that he realised how closely they stood together. Potter wasn't wearing his glasses. His eyes seemed larger, more round, taking up the whole of Draco's vision.

"Dittany?" Draco asked.

"It won't scar." Potter's whisper rolled down Draco's spine and his skin tingled all over. "Apparently I've an excellent healer who does house calls."

"I'm very expensive," Draco murmured. He ran the flat of his fingers over Potter's bruised jaw, just lightly, and Potter's eyelids fluttered closed. "It'll cost you."

"I can afford it." Potter's lips pulled to a small smile. His hand found Draco's wrist, thumb brushing over Draco's pulse point, which beat rapidly beneath Potter's light touch. Draco's breath came short. He swiped his thumb just beneath Potter's lower lip and Potter's mouth parted like he couldn't help himself.

"We should put some salve on this bruise," Draco said.

"Later." Potter peeked at Draco beneath his lowered lids, wetting his lips with a slow slide of his tongue, and a growl rose up inside Draco's chest; he barely managed to stifle it in time. Potter's mouth called to him like a siren's song and he angled his head, inching closer. Potter trembled.

"And the rest of you?" Draco whispered.

"God, Malfoy, just please—"

"Please, what?"

"Kiss me," Potter groaned, all hot breath and pleading and Draco nearly fell apart with the force of it. His fingers slid into Potter's messy black hair, and he tightened his grip, and closed that final gap between their lips.

This wasn't like their first two kisses: brief, soft, hesitant. Potter demanded more, and yet let Draco be in control, letting Draco take what he needed. His lips parted easily letting Draco's tongue thrust inside, and Potter let out a muffled moan.

Draco dropped his wand. Arousal coursed deeply through him, thrumming with Potter's low moans and helpless whimpers. He wanted his hands everywhere, in Potter's hair and tugging at his filthy shirt. His fingers sought skin within the open vee of Potter's collar, and he pulled the top two buttons free, finally able to touch those perfect collarbones. He wanted his mouth on them and reluctantly he pulled free from Potter's lips and kissed lightly over his bruised jaw and down his neck, pausing to suck at the hollow of his throat.

Potter groaned and the power of it made Draco shiver with want. His arms snaked around Draco's waist, palms splayed over Draco's back, holding him close. The heat of his touch burned through Draco's jumper. Draco's lips brushed just inside Potter's shirt and he slipped his tongue out, following the dip above his collarbone. Potter's skin was soft and glistening with sweat and it made Draco feel out of control, like his insides were shattered and he was being made whole again with the taste of Potter's skin.

"Christ, Draco—" Potter whispered, voice hitching. He stroked Draco's back, tugging on Draco's jumper until his hands finally met skin, then slid back around Draco's waist, fingers coasting over the soft, flabby curve of it. Draco's chest seized up in sudden panic.

"Don't—" Draco said brokenly. He jerked up, nearly banging his forehead on Potter's chin and took two hasty steps backwards, ripping himself from Potter's embrace.

Potter's expression was a mess of confusion and desire rolled into one, hands still outstretched like they hadn't quite got the picture that Draco wasn't there any longer to touch.

Draco stood in place, panting. He averted his eyes. He straightened his jumper, pulling it down over his belt as far as it would stretch.

"What just happened?" Potter finally said.

"You're hungry. You should eat your take-out." Draco focused on Potter's scuffed up boots, but even that was too close to actually looking at Potter, so she shifted to a small dark spot on the front of Potter's couch.

"What?"

"And rest." Draco nodded. "I should let you rest."

"Draco? Hey...look at me."

Reluctantly, Draco raised his gaze, though it cost him everything he had to do so. Concern had erased the desire in Potter's eyes—though maybe Draco, in his lust-infused fog, had only imagined it in the first place.

"What happened? Did I do something?"

"Did you do something?" Draco's laugh held a bitter edge. He folded his arms over his stomach. "Are you fucking with me, Potter?"

"Fucking with you? What the bloody hell are you talking about?" A flash of anger lit up in Potter's eyes, but it was tempered a moment later. Draco wanted that anger back—the anger made sense. This concern—almost like pity—it was too much.

"You're actually going to make me say it? You would, wouldn't you? All part of your plan?"

"Malfoy—you're not making sense."

"This—" Draco thrust his arms wide. "This!"

"What?" Potter still acted as if he hadn't a clue what Draco was talking about and in a fit of desperation, Draco ripped off his jumper and threw it to the ground.

He immediately regretted it as the cool air hit his skin, no longer warmed by Potter's hands, by the close hug of Potter's body. He forced his arms to remain at his sides though, lifted his chin, and fought off the trembles that threatened to overwhelm him. Potter's gaze went hungry for a moment—maybe he wouldn't be satisfied until Draco stood naked before him.

"It can't have escaped your attention that I'm fat, Potter. So have your laugh and then I'll be going."

Potter's eyes widened. Realisation dawned over his features as if Draco had informed him of something he hadn't actually noticed. Impossible, Draco inwardly scoffed. But as Potter's gaze swept downward, across his chest, over his protruding stomach, Draco wasn't so certain any longer. He shivered, and finally gave in to temptation and hugged his arms over his chest. Potter's gaze snapped up again.

"Draco," he said softly. "Come here." But Potter took two steps forward before Draco could even think about complying and gently eased Draco's arms to his sides again. Goosebumps erupted all over Draco's skin. He turned his head, trying to escape Potter's gaze, but Potter gently urged him back with a finger to Draco's chin. Draco felt helpless, trapped.

"Do you know what I thought when I first saw you again in your aunt's kitchen?" he asked in that same quiet, but firm voice. Draco shook his head minutely. "I wanted you to rip off my clothes and fuck me over the table. God, you've no idea, do you?"

"What?" Draco whispered. A jolt of arousal shot through him—he couldn't help it—but he tamped it down and searched Potter's gaze for a hint of a lie. Any hint of false sincerity.

"I dreamt about you, your stupid apron and those goggles and you dragging me down to your lab and bending me over your work table—but it's not just that." Potter swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. "I like you, Draco—you're so good to Teddy and he adores you and you're bloody hilarious, and... There's always been something with you. You get under my skin." He raked a hand through his wild black hair. "Christ, I even risked getting sacked and swiped evidence because..."

Potter paused, red blooming on his cheeks.

"Because?" Draco asked, breathless.

"I had to know. I wanted to know what you smelled."

"The Amortentia?"

"I was logging it in and sniffed it... and I smelled all the usual things. Treacle tart. Broomsticks. But there was something new."

"Something new?" Draco felt like an idiot, just repeating Potter's words, but Potter had gone quiet, gaze sharp, intense. His fingers brushed over Draco's jaw, thumb skidding over the corner of Draco's lips.

"Menthol," he said. "Your pain salve."

"That could have been anyone's..." Draco protested weakly, but Potter wasn't hearing it. He shook his head.

"No. There's something else in yours, a sweetness....it's yours. I knew it then, and that day in your lab confirmed it."

"Menthol," Draco said. He tried to smile, but Potter ever so hesitantly pressed an open palm to his bare stomach and Draco began to tremble, deep within his core. "You're mental, Potter."

"Maybe," Potter said. He quirked his lips. He didn't move his hand, just left it resting there as Draco fought not to squirm away. "What did you smell?"

"Potter..."

"Come on...I risked my career to find out."

"They'd be foolish to sack you," Draco said, stalling.

"Draco. Please?" His fingers curled around Draco's jaw. Draco's heart thudded so loudly he was certain Potter could hear it.

In the end, it was Potter's palm, steady and warm against Draco's stomach, thumb moving in slow circles over his skin, that coaxed Draco's answer free.

He swallowed, hard, gazed into Potter's eyes and whispered, "I smelled you."

"Yeah?" Potter whispered. His lips came closer and Draco's automatically parted, inviting him in, and with that soft brush of Potter's mouth, warmth bloomed inside Draco's stomach and rapidly spread up through his chest, down through his legs. Even his toes tingled as if he'd been caught in a spell. Potter's spell.

Potter smiled against his mouth. "You really smelled me?" he murmured as if he couldn't quite believe it.

"Your sweat, more accurately."

"My sweat?" Potter's laugh warmed Draco's mouth, then Potter kissed him again, parting Draco's lips with a gentle thrust of his tongue and Draco went dizzy with the taste of him, with the heat of Potter's palm sliding down his neck, his other hand coasting over the swell of Draco's stomach.

But Draco grabbed it, stilling Potter's hand on his belly, and pulled back mere inches until Potter's eyes came into focus. Potter looked confused again, frowning at him, but a tiny knot still tightened Draco's chest. He had to be certain.

"You want me... all of me?"

It could only have been seconds, but the moment seemed to stretch an eternity as Potter's eyes darkened and his fingers curled around Draco's neck. Pulse pounding, Draco was helpless but to stare into Potter's eyes. His grip on Potter's wrist gave way and Potter growled, the sound jolting Draco's arousal. Potter tugged Draco close, spreading his fingers over Draco's stomach as far as he could reach with his hand trapped between them.

"Yes—fuck, Draco. Yes," Potter rasped, their mouths brushing together.

"Harry." His name fell from Draco's lips without thought. Potter's eyes went wide, his body trembled, and then he kissed Draco, hard, stealing Draco's breath away with the force of it.

Draco closed his eyes and finally let himself fall.

~ ~ ~

Everything after happened all in a rush. Draco tore through Potter's shirt as if it were tissue, then with greedy hands, soaked up the breadth of Potter's chest, the warmth of his skin. He couldn't get enough, and each time his fingers coasted over Potter's raised stiff nipples, Potter growled into his mouth, his own hands exploring Draco's hips and his stomach and the dip of Draco's back. And Draco let him—Draco wanted him to—needed Potter's hands everywhere.

But all too quickly, as if governed by the racing beat of Draco's heart, his hands fell to Potter's waistband and he began to tug on the laces. Potter reached for Draco's in turn, fumbling the clasp of Draco's belt, their hands tangling in competition, as if they were battling it out over the Snitch once more. Draco won by a fraction of a second, but before he could properly celebrate his victory and claim his prize, Potter, with one last scrape of his teeth over Draco's lower lip, shoved Draco's opened trousers and pants to the floor.

Potter stepped back, his gaze burning into Draco as his eyes raked up and down. The last tiny spark of insecurity flared briefly inside Draco, but the desire in Potter's eyes shone, unguarded, pure, finally snuffing it out.

"Take them off," Potter panted, dark and desperate. Draco barely managed to kick off his shoes and step out of the tangle of his clothes before Potter pushed him to the sofa, and Draco landed in the middle, knees spread, his cock bobbing and dribbling with pre-come already.

"God," Potter groaned. "I want to suck you, but I can't wait that long."

Draco's cock gave a helpless jerk; just the thought of Potter's mouth, Potter's lips stretched over his dick made Draco feel as if he might come at any moment. He resisted giving himself a stroke—barely—but the temptation became too much when Potter yanked off his own loosened trousers and pants and kicked them to one side. His long cock, slightly curved and flushed bright red at the tip, bounced free and Draco's mouth went dry. He wrapped his fist around his own length and groaned.

"Come here. Now." Draco said, breath hitching. He patted his thigh with his free hand and Potter's eyes gleamed.

"Yes, sir," he said, and Draco barely bit back his whimper in time.

Potter practically jumped onto Draco's lap, knees tucked tight on either side of Draco's thighs. Draco released his cock in favor of Potter's hips, hands coasting around to his taut arse cheeks and squeezing. Potter's eyes fluttered closed for a moment and he rocked his hips forward; the first touch of his cock against Draco's sent a shattering pulse of need throughout his body.

"Fuck me," Potter whispered. Draco watched, enraptured, as Potter shifted his hips forward, his cock sliding now against Draco's belly, his mouth falling open as he moaned. He gazed down with hooded eyes. "Please, Draco. Fuck me."

Breathless, Draco slid a finger down the line of Potter's cleft, through the tight clench of his arse cheeks until his fingertip kissed Potter's soft wrinkled rim. His cock reared up, skimming along Potter's buttocks as if it had a mind of its own and knew exactly where it needed to be.

"Lube?" Draco whispered. Potter shut his eyes, held out one hand, and Draco felt a rush of power flow through him as a small pot sailed directly into Potter's palm.

"Fuck, Potter..." Draco's cock jerked helplessly.

"Wandless magic," Potter said, his words punctuated by a small gasp as Draco dipped two fingers into the pot before snaking back down between Potter's cheeks once more. "It comes in handy sometimes."

Potter slathered his own fingers slick before Banishing the pot, then reached behind and grasped Draco's cock. Draco tried to ignore the sensation, but Potter's palm was calloused and on the perfect side of rough, and when his thumb brushed just under the head, Draco squeezed his eyes shut and said, "Enough—Merlin, don't make me come yet."

"You can handle it," Potter breathed, and Draco opened his eyes to find a twist to Potter's lips, his eyes glittering. Even with the awkward angle, Potter stroked him expertly, holding Draco's cock snug against his buttocks, smearing Draco's pre-come into his skin.

"Thought you were dying for me to fuck you," Draco said. His fingers had gone slack under Potter's sweet torture, but he focused on Potter's tight heat once more, sliding one slick finger around Potter's rim before dipping inside. Potter's chest and thighs went tight, his grip faltered, but the quiet welling of pride was nothing compared to the pure want radiating throughout Draco's body. He couldn't tear his eyes away from Potter's face as he pushed further inside and then slipped a second finger in beside the first. Potter whimpered, both hands back on Draco's shoulders in a bruising grip. A small tremor rippled down Potter's stomach and his cock throbbed against Draco's belly.

"That's enough," Potter rasped. He pressed his forehead to Draco's and Draco couldn't help but thrust his fingers in one more time, just to feel the heat of Potter's gasp over his lips.

"Afraid you'll come?" Draco whispered.

"No...I just—I want to feel you. I need you, Draco."

Draco shuddered violently. He withdrew his fingers, pressed his palm to the small of Potter's back and kissed him roughly, drinking down Potter's stifled moans as his cock slid between Potter's cheeks and rubbed against his entrance. And then time slowed to a crawl as Potter straightened, his green eyes boring into Draco as he reached behind himself once more and grasped Draco's cock, lining it up.

He sank down, slowly, and Draco's breath hitched as he breached Potter's tight ring of muscle. And then all of his breath stayed locked up in his chest until he was fully encased in Potter's heat, Potter clamped like a vice around him. Potter let out a low moan, damp lips parted, his thighs quivering. Draco couldn't stop touching him, palming his back and his hips and down around the curve of his arse. He squeezed Potter's cheeks open and snuck one finger down to the place where they were joined together.

"Harry," he breathed. He felt Potter shudder.

"Fuck—say it again," Potter moaned. He rose up and sank back down and they both groaned together. "Please," he said and Draco couldn't deny him.

"Harry," Draco whimpered. Potter's fingers dug into Draco's shoulders, and he began to ride him, slow and sure. Draco found Potter's rhythm, bucking his hips up each time Potter slid down hard. Draco's breath came in a short staccato beat until Potter dipped down and captured Draco's lips in a messy kiss. He ground into Draco, hands falling to Draco's chest, fingers curled against Draco's skin. Fire burned through Draco's veins, his whole body wound tight. And they panted together, mouths skimming against one another with each thrust.

Draco couldn't last—wouldn't last much longer. He wrapped his fist around Potter's silky hard length, but just held him for a moment and felt Potter throb. Potter arched his back and Draco began to pull him off in quick short jerks. Pre-come dribbled out of his slit and Draco swiped his thumb through it and smeared it across the head.

"Draco—God—" Potter's hands dropped to Draco's stomach and his cock twitched violently, and then he came, spilling himself in spurts of white, mouth dropped open in a silent scream. His entire body quivered and Draco thrust and thrust, Potter pulsing impossibly tight around him.

Potter sagged; Draco could already see the absolute bliss taking over in Potter's slackening arms and heaving chest. Draco slowed and just stared at Potter, something breaking open deep inside. He released Potter's softening cock and placed his palm on Potter's forearm, needing to touch him somehow, needing his hands pressed against Potter's sweat-slicked skin. Potter rolled his hips—he never stilled. But he gazed at Draco, eyes bright and shining, and cupped Draco's cheek.

"Come on, Draco," he said, voice draped in his ragged breaths. "Come inside me. Fill me up."

With a strength Draco never knew he possessed, he lifted Potter and twisted them until Potter fell flat on his back against the couch. Potter's legs immediately wrapped around Draco's waist, hands tugging at him, whispering something Draco couldn't hear over the roaring in his ears. Draco snapped his hips and slammed inside Potter, thrusting and thrusting until his balls drew up tight and the world dropped away and there was only Potter and his green eyes and his damp lips and so much heat. Draco's orgasm ripped through him in a fury and with one final thrust, he came hard and dropped into Potter's waiting, willing arms.

~ ~ ~

He must have blacked out; the next thing Draco knew, his face was pressed into the warm recess of Potter's neck and Potter's palm stroked the curve of his back in a lazy rhythm. Potter's legs went slack, knees falling open and Draco managed to push himself up before Potter grabbed him and urged him flat against his chest once more.

"I must be crushing you," Draco said quietly.

"Mmm, no. This is nice," Potter murmured.

"Potter..."

"I like it better when you call me Harry."

Draco looked up and found Potter's lazy blissed-out smile, and he couldn't help himself. He brushed their lips together. Potter curled his fingers into Draco's hair and held him there, and what was meant to just be a soft quick kiss turned into several, mouths moving languidly against one another until Potter flinched and pulled back, pain flickering across his features.

"Your jaw?"

"Yeah," he admitted. "It's a bit sore, but—" his lips quirked up, eyes sparkling, "I can ignore it."

Draco frowned, gently disentangling himself from Potter's embrace, however reluctantly. "I have a few jars of salve—I'll go get one."

"No need. You filled an order for me a few days ago."

Potter held out one hand again, though despite how he concentrated, nothing happened.

"I could just stand up and retrieve one for you," Draco said, lips quirking. "Might be quicker."

"Oh shut it, I'm just tired. You've worn me out." Potter grabbed the back of Draco's thigh just below his arse and squeezed, holding him still. "And I don't want you going anywhere."

"I think you just like to show off," Draco said, despite the way his skin tingled with Potter's words.

"Maybe." Potter quirked his lips, then tried once more. And then Draco felt the magic build and thrum through Potter everywhere they touched, and a jar zinged through the air into Potter's waiting palm.

A thrill went through Draco, and his cock, though still soft, gave a little helpless twitch against Potter's thigh.

"Or maybe I just like your reaction," Potter said lowly.

A rush of heat flushed Draco's cheeks before he could stop it, though he told himself he was being ridiculous. He lay half-draped over Potter's naked body—his cock had just been up Potter's arse, for Merlin's sake—and so what if Potter's magic turned him on. It was a stupid thing to be embarrassed over. But still he muttered, "Shut it," and grabbed the salve from Potter's hand, averting his eyes.

The label, tied with a thin band of twine around the top, read J.Black in Draco's elegant script.

Draco raised an eyebrow. "Your alias?"

"Guess I'm not too clever. Probably saw right through it, yeah?"

"Obviously," Draco said. Potter grinned up at him as if he knew Draco's claim was complete bollocks but didn't call him out on it anyway.

Draco straightened, kneeling between Potter's legs as he gently applied the salve until the bruise faded beneath his touch. But his fingers lingered far longer than necessary when Potter's eyes fluttered closed and he let out a soft contented sigh.

Something warm unfurled in Draco's chest.

"Harry," he murmured unknowingly. Potter's lips curled into a small smile.

"Yeah?"

Draco promptly flushed and patted Potter's jaw as if he'd just finished up. "All done," he said, breezily. Tearing himself away, he scooted back on the couch intent on extracting himself from the tangle of Potter's legs, but Potter grabbed his arm, propping himself up on one elbow.

"Where are you going?"

"If we don't get cleaned up we're likely to stick together."

"Ah. You're probably right."

Potter stood up in one smooth motion, muscles flexing as he stretched. Draco tried not to stare as he bent over to retrieve his wand, but it was hard to ignore the light tan skin stretched over Potter's tight firm buttocks and that thin dark crack that now Draco knew intimately. Potter caught his eye as he straightened though, and Draco quickly moved off the couch towards his scattered clothes to search for his own wand. He felt the heat of Potter's gaze and wished then that he had brought his blue dressing gown—or that Potter had a handy blanket to cover up with. Instead, after a quick and barely adequate Scourgify, Draco located his boxers and slid them on.

"No need to get dressed," Potter said with a teasing lilt. Draco glanced at him, raking his gaze up and down as Potter stood there, completely unashamed of his own nakedness.

"I should get going," he said, voice rough. His stomach chose that moment to rumble loudly. Mortified, Draco crossed his arms over his belly.

"At least stay for take-out?" Potter patted his own flat stomach. "I'm famished, too."

"I—all right." Draco swallowed.

"Brilliant." Potter's eyes lit up and he cocked his head toward the small kitchen just off the front room, then headed that way. Draco followed, his eyes dropping down the curve of Potter's back until he managed to force his eyes to a proper place. Like the back of Potter's head and the tangled mess of his black hair. Draco's fingers itched to slide through it, but he kept his arms at his side.

"Shouldn't we get dressed before we eat?"

"Oh is it not proper to eat while naked?" Potter grinned. There was a short square table jammed into the corner, and a plastic bag full of to-go cartons sat in the middle. Potter began to dole them out, one by one, casting warming charms as he went. "Though you did call me...what was it? An uncouth oaf?"

"Clearly you're set on proving my point," Draco said.

Potter hummed in agreement, lips curled in a smile. "Or we could be even more improper and eat in bed? Under the covers?"

"Potter, I...I can't stay long. I left a note for my mother, but I—I said I'd be back shortly." Draco felt all of twelve years old, using his mum as an excuse, and Potter's eyes dimmed ever so slightly and a knot formed in Draco's stomach. He shifted, feeling more naked than ever, even though at least he had on his boxers.

"I think your mum will figure it out. Unless you really don't want to stay?" Potter abandoned the cartons and pressed his hand to Draco's arm, thumb moving up and down in a slow soothing path. Draco blew out a breath, trying to shake his nerves, but failing utterly.

You deserve happiness, his mum's voice rang out clearly in his head. Don't be afraid to accept it, when it comes.

Draco swallowed. "I do. Want to stay."

"Good," Potter said quietly. He squeezed Draco's arm. "Oh...and speaking of your mum—"

"Could you not? When you're..." Draco motioned up and down and Potter laughed.

"Starkers?"

"Yes."

"I was only going to say, I have some of her biscuits. Maybe for dessert?" He waggled his eyebrows, then left Draco to dig into his pantry.

"That was weeks ago," Draco said. "They have to be stale by now."

"Oh no...she or Andromeda owl me a fresh batch every week. You didn't know?"

Draco shook his head. Clearly he needed to have a long talk with his meddling mother.

"You should be careful with those," Draco said as Potter added a bagful to the stack of food. "It's how I ended up like this." Draco tried to keep his voice light, but when Potter looked at him, Draco's smile faltered and he went to pull his jumper down only he wasn't wearing a jumper, only flimsy boxers that couldn't hide anything and he felt utterly ridiculous as it didn't much matter—Potter had seen everything in the bright light of his sitting room and here in his kitchen, and yet still, Draco's shoulders went tense and his stomach trembled. But Potter stepped close. He pressed an open palm to Draco's belly. His gaze held Draco in place.

"I like you like this," Potter whispered. "Thought I made that clear."

"Just making a joke," Draco mumbled.

"No you weren't," Potter said. But he smiled softly, and his hand moved over Draco's waist to his back and he held Draco close. "It's all right. I'm happy to keep proving it to you."

"You are?" Draco said, breathless.

"Yeah," Potter said. He brushed their lips together and the tension in Draco's body melted.

"I think I can handle that," Draco said, mouth grazing over Potter's.

"Good. Food now?" Potter smiled against him and Draco couldn't help but mirror it.

"Yes," Draco said. Potter kissed him once more, stealing his breath away, then slipped his hand into Draco's, interlocking their fingers.

"Bedroom's this way." Potter began to lead Draco out of the kitchen, but Draco squeezed his hand.

"Forgetting something?"

"Oh, right." Potter smiled sheepishly and Draco had to bite back his grin. With a flick of Potter's wand, the cartons and biscuits stacked themselves neatly back into the plastic bag and jumped off the table into Draco's waiting hand.

"Glad you remembered, otherwise, I'd only have you to satisfy my hunger," Potter added with a wink.

"You wish, Potter," Draco huffed, chin stuck out, but he couldn't hide his smile.

"Maybe after?" he asked hopefully.

"We'll see," Draco hummed noncommittally, though he knew Potter wasn't fooled in the least, especially when his grin lit up the whole room. He walked backwards, leading Draco down a hallway by their joined hands, and Draco's eyes were invariably drawn to Potter's mostly soft cock as it jiggled with each step. His gaze swept up over faded criss-cross scars on his hip and a locket shaped mark, barely visible, over Potter's heart. He'd not noticed it before, and Draco stifled the urge to kiss it right then and there in Potter's hallway.

Potter stopped short in front of a closed door and drew close.

"I'm glad you came over," he said softly.

"Me too, Harry," Draco said. He hadn't meant to say Potter's name, but when Potter's eyes brightened, he couldn't regret it. Potter pulled Draco into the bedroom wearing a big wide smile and nothing else, and Draco slammed the door shut behind them.

~ the end ~