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Life's Hidden Forces (can only be discovered by living)

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~ ~ ~ A Sunday in 2011 in the Potter house, Fulham, London ~ ~ ~

'How could you? And with him?!?' Ginny's voice was loud and shrill in Harry's ears, not unlike a dentist's drill. 'If you needed to fuck a man, why not one of the other three billion on Earth? Why him?'

'It's not that he's a man,' Harry tried, 'it's-'

'Yes, yes, it's about what you need.' She spat the last word, making it sound like a curse. 'You and your... your sick desires!'

The last part hurt him like a kick in the gut and made him feel physically ill. In the silence that followed her words, even the warm light from the autumn sun outside seemed false and yellow.

'Ginny, I...' Harry sighed. There was nothing he could say to her after that. Nothing that would work. After all, the feeling that this was wrong was exactly why he hadn't acted on it ages ago, and why he'd kept it secret for so long when he finally did.

'It was easier because it was him,' he said. What he didn't say was another matter, but at least he was speaking the truth; or more correctly the truth of how it had been at first, before the feelings developed. The feelings he was fighting now by telling her all of this, the whole sordid tale.

'But it's over now?' She fixed a sharp stare on him, clearly expecting the answer she wanted to hear, for the first time during this conversation.

'Err...' Harry had always been a horrible liar, at least to people he cared about. And she understood without needing words, his hesitation was enough. The shock was imminent, her eyes going wide and cold with fear; a fear Harry felt in himself as well, as sharp as a stab in the heart.

'I'm trying!' he said as quickly as he could, cursing himself for not weighing those words with more care. 'That's why I'm telling you.' He looked down, unable to face her as he all but whispered the last words. 'I need help.'

'You do.' She was unforgiving and unmovable like a steep mountain-side. 'But not from me. You're even breaking Muggle law. See someone who can cure you. I'm through with your needs.'

He should have known she'd see the help thing that way, but the insistence that he was sick, almost criminal, hurt so much that Harry couldn't take any more of it.

'I'm not sick!' he shouted, raising his voice for the first time so far. The surge of anger felt like his youth, not like who he was now. 'I wanted your help! You! My wife! I want to see the alternative, that I can live without this again and still be happy. This isn't fucking helping!'

The door slammed and Harry winced at the sound. He didn't think he'd ever heard a door slam that loud, but it fit with the fact that he'd never seen Ginny that angry before either. His eye was caught by a black-brown smear on the wallpaper just behind the door. Oil from the hinges. The first thought through his mind was that Ginny would be annoyed when she saw it.

She loved that wallpaper. It was one she'd picked out and insisted on getting when they had renovated the house after they bought it. He had a flash of memory of her, her movement inhibited by her pregnancy, still insisting on putting up the bloody wallpaper herself. The memory made him smile and that, in turn, gave him a sharp pang of painful guilt. She wouldn't care about the wallpaper now or that she'd ruined it, because all she'd care about was that he had ruined their marriage. He flopped into a chair and hid his face in his hands. Way to go, Harry.. Way to go.

It wasn't a new development, either; he hadn't just woken up one day and decided he needed to have an affair. Hadn't ever thought he would, but it had happened anyway. After Lily was born was when it had gone downhill fast. At first, Harry had blamed the fact that after three pregnancies in rapid succession, Ginny wasn't as interested in sex any more; to be honest, she hadn't been. Not that he blamed her. Lily's birth had been tough and the Healers had told her firmly that she shouldn't have more children. It had broken something in her to hear that.

Harry had seen it when it happened, some light in her eyes that died. No, Harry didn't blame her, just the circumstances. They had made it too easy to give in to his desires.

The main fault was his and it was more that there had always been something missing; something he had no words for. It wasn't so much the lack of intimacy as it was unexplained fantasies that showed up in wet dreams, thoughts that went through his head during sex or when he wanked something he did more and more after Lily's birth. He suspected that this in turn caused the fantasies to grow that much more until they were always there and impossible to ignore.




~ ~ ~ Three years earlier, Fulham, London ~ ~ ~

'Ow! Harry, take it easy!' Ginny's voice cut into Harry's thoughts and he realised he hadn't quite been there, with her.

'Sorry,' he mumbled, a flush spreading across his face. He stopped, though he stayed in her, and kissed her. 'I'm sorry,' he repeated. 'I just... liked it a lot.'

She kissed back, much to his relief. 'It's okay, darling,' she said, even smiling up at him now. 'I know I'm more sensitive since... you know... Lily was born. You forgot. It's understandable.'

'Are you sure you're okay?' He hated the thought that he'd hurt her, that it didn't feel good to be with him.

'Very sure. Just try to remember I don't like it rough.'

'I will. I promise.'

She put her hands on his hips and nudged him. 'Go on, then. Stopping now would be very bad form you know. It's your marital duty we're talking about.'

He laughed and kissed her again, but, as relieved as he was, it struck him as absurd how different her idea of "rough" was from his. Fucking a little harder than usual wasn't rough. If he ever did it rough he'd want it to be really rough, but an attempt at experimenting had taught him that Ginny didn't even like him holding her hands down when they made love. Not that it could keep him from enjoying their love-making he did enjoy it, very much but he kept feeling, no, knowing, that it could be better.

Ginny fell asleep after they finished, curled up against him, but Harry couldn't sleep. The thoughts of really rough sex were getting stronger and despite just having had sex he felt oddly unfulfilled.

It seemed almost like a hint from destiny when he found the flyer the day after.

Finding that piece of glossy paper at a Muggle caf had started it for real. It was like an epiphany, especially with the disappointment of the previous night still gnawing at him. Later Harry figured that he should have known there would be a lot more people like him. In a way, he'd always known there were some; things whispered and joked about in dorms, giggling teenagers and silly stories made up about people. But that there were so many and that they were out and proud hadn't really occurred to him.

Yet there it was, on a flyer, the paper shiny and promising, bold letters and a photograph that gave him a stirring feeling in his gut that quickly spread lower. A feeling he hadn't encountered in a while, not with this intensity.

Next stop had been a Muggle library and the huge book-shop on Picadilly that had something for everyone including photos that only fed his growing fantasies. It took months before he actually bought a book. It took longer before he started to find out where the clubs were and locations for events he read about on the flyers and the internet he went to cafs to use. Even more time to put together an outfit. And still he hesitated. He was only going to look, but it was still a line to cross.




~ ~ ~ Sunday, Present day, Fulham, London ~ ~ ~

Harry stared at the greasy spot on the wall and then he heard another door slam. The front door. He ran to the kitchen and looked out, his heart in his throat. It sank to his feet when he saw Ginny out there, marching the boys out of the drive-way, Lily in her arms. He threw open a window to call for her, but his voice failed him and all he could do was listen, terrified that he was losing all of them.

'Where are we going, mum?' James asked. 'Why are you mad? Did Al throw up on the carpet again?'

'Did not!' Al said with all the entitlement of a four-year-old scorned. Harry wanted to smile but the pain in his chest wouldn't let him. It was hard to breathe.

'We're just visiting your grandparents,' she said, ushering them into the car. 'I'm not mad. Just thinking.' Her tone made a liar of her.

As the engine started, Harry felt some measure of relief. At least she hadn't said anything to the kids and he knew she wouldn't when she cooled down. He didn't want to face Molly any time soon, though... If only Ginny would come back so they could talk. But of course she would. She had to, didn't she? Oh God, he hoped she did!


* * *

It turned out she didn't. It was Sunday when she left and on Monday, Harry called in sick at work and stayed home all day, waiting for them. He did the same on Tuesday, walking holes in the same carpet Al had thrown up on and where they'd finally got the stain out. On Wednesday he tried to work, gave up, and went home again, ignoring whispers about why he was acting this way and didn't he look terrible. The house was eerily quiet and the silence was invasive and reproachful. By nightfall he was going crazy and even he could see how ragged he looked, dark shades around his eyes and his hair even messier than usual.

He had to get out or he'd lose it. Problem was, he wasn't in a state where he should Apparate, and Ginny had the car not that he was in a state to drive either meaning that the only option was to walk. So he walked, alone in the dark, passing warm windows with people behind them, people smiling and having dinner with their families. After a while he found a bus and got on it. It only had a few people on it and they all looked as lonely as he felt. He got off again in Central London at a random point and started walking again.

It was a few minutes or maybe ten before he realised that he wasn't in a random place at all. He was in a very familiar place. It was probably his state of mind and what his mind circled around had caused him to go here.

But on Wednesday the club was deserted and closed, all signs gone save for a few frayed posters on the brick wall. And Harry desperately wanted to talk to him now, especially when Ginny wouldn't talk to him. He needed someone to talk to, but he had told Ginny he was trying to stop and he was. He couldn't cave now, couldn't give in to this mad desire and craving for this particular person. No matter how much he needed it. Besides, going to your lover and complaining that your wife is mad about your affair was ludicrous, even to him in this state.

The first time he had been here it had been easy. Or perhaps not easy, but it had been so eye-opening and life-changing and he'd been so much happier since. Right up until now. If only he could have that kind of insight again. If he just knew what he truly wanted.

Harry leaned his head against the cold brick and was surprised to realise that his eyes were wet and that he couldn't stop the tears he'd held back for days. God, he'd ruined everything. His marriage and this... thing... whatever it was, that he had. With Draco Malfoy, of all people.




~ ~ ~ Two years earlier, Soho, London ~ ~ ~

Walking through the doors to the club was like going into a different world or onto an alien planet. The music was loud in the main area, with a DJ standing on raised dais behind a counter with electronics on, revolving disks, blinking lights, lots of wires. And then there were the people. Some of them were truly alien, not to mention their activities, but that was why he was here and the excitement of it was getting palpable. The air seemed as thick of that as it was of scents he had no name for, all spiced with a touch of something deeply sexual.

The people, yes. They made him want to stare and ask questions and possibly touch, but they also scared him a little, which was a very shameful thought. In fact, shame was very prominent in all that he felt. Shame at being here at all, shame at staring, shame at knowing so little of why he was here and shame at wanting to be here in the first place. The last was the worst. He shouldn't want this and if he hadn't the rest of the issues wouldn't have existed in the first place.

A beautiful woman slipped past him, dressed in wine-red, shiny rubber. Harry gasped when that second skin of hers brushed against his own bare flesh. So smooth... Warm, too, despite the cool, almost sci-fi look. She flashed him a smile at the reaction and he returned it, charmed beyond what was reasonable for such a brief moment. She stood out against the predominant black of the crowd. At least Harry had got that part of the look right and didn't make a similar statement. He couldn't have done that; the last thing he wanted on his first time was to make a statement or stand out. Already his heart was beating faster than it had in years.

The room and the impressions were pressing in on him, making him dizzy, and Harry stepped back, almost bumped into a very tall guy dressed in studded, black leather, attempted to apologise, gave up because of the loud music and then found himself with his back to the wall. It was a bit too much. He quickly scanned the vicinity, but no one seemed to have noticed that there was a blundering fool of a newbie amongst them. They were still dancing and talking and the party was continuing. Thank goodness. It was good to be at a Muggle place with less risk of anyone knowing him; it meant it wasn't an immediate disaster if he fucked up.

After a few minutes of getting his bearings, Harry felt ready to take a walk around the club and get a closer look. He set off from his position close to the door (something that had contributed to make it feel safer) and headed further in, past the DJ and the dance floor. A lot of people were hanging out around that floor, looking at the dancers, but some were using the darker areas for other things. A few people were tied to furniture that seemed to belong in a medieval dungeon with other people doing things to them that again both scared and excited Harry and again the shame shot in and drowned both out, though he was unsure of which of the two feelings the shame was most strongly linked to.

As insecure and shameful as he felt, the curiosity drove him on as the place revealed wonders he'd never quite imagined, many of which he had no words for. There were more rooms, too, some with different functions. One was entirely blackened and labelled "Dark Room" he could only speculate what went on in there. Back here, away from the dance floor, the music was a lot more subdued and he reached a room that functioned as a surprisingly innocent-looking lounge with different, softer music. He landed in a chair and tried to absorb all he had seen. After a few minutes he decided that he needed to leave his seat for a moment and get a drink, when something caught his eye and he forgot all about drinks.

A woman walked in with a man and it was clear that they were not only together, but that they were a couple. Harry had seen other couples here show their dedication to each other, for example via leashes or other outward signs, but this pair didn't have that. Yet, all he had to do was take one look and know that right now, the man belonged to the woman, body and soul. It was the way they held themselves, the comfort between them, the casual way she expected him to be where he was supposed to be, and not least the pride with which they both held themselves.

Only when the woman smiled did Harry realise he'd probably been staring and he averted his eyes.

'Like what you see?'

Harry looked up again to see the woman leaning forward in her seat towards him. He smiled back at her, still a little embarrassed.

'Well, yes. You just look so... comfortable. The two of you.' He looked between them, the man was now seated on the floor with an air as if he were on a throne.

'Ah, so you weren't hoping to be third wheel.' She grinned at him, waggling her eyebrows. 'A lot of guys hope that.'

'No, sorry.' Harry shook his head. 'I couldn't. Not that any of you are unappealing. I'm just... here to get a bit of the atmosphere.'

'I see. First time, then.' She nodded wisely. 'Don't stare too much, it's bad form. It's better if you talk to someone at the same time if you do, then it seems you're not only focused on whomever it is you're ogling.'

'That easy to spot?' It did make Harry feel even more self-conscious, but then he realised that she was being nice. Helpful. And that he was still a little stunned at the impressive confidence she exuded.

'Yep, from a mile away.' She was clearly teasing now and he laughed again.

'Thanks for the tips,' he said. 'I appreciate it.'

'No worries. Want to stick around with us for a bit? We're just having a night out, not going to be doing anything special tonight.'

'Sure. I'd love to.'

'I'm Lena. My pet is David, but he won't answer for the moment, so just talk to me.' She held out her hand to him and Harry shook it.

'Harry. Pleased to meet you. Both.'

David gave him such a teasing grin that Harry couldn't help feeling it was a flirtation. It made him feel good somewhere deep inside. Like he was worth coming on to, even to someone who had enough strength to enjoy sitting on a floor, and he was incredibly proud of that feeling. For a second he knew just why Lena had that air about her and he envied her.

They chatted for a bit and David got them drinks. When they decided to make a round again, because Lena claimed that it was the time of night where most people would be "in action", Harry felt a lot more ready to face this strange world.

This time when he passed people they seemed a lot less alien to him, the smiles warmer and more friendly, and he was even relaxed enough to get vaguely turned on by some of the stuff going on in the play-areas. Several times, the three of them stopped and watched people play and Harry saw a good deal of things he'd never considered, despite his research and reading. Seeing things actually happen was very different from seeing pictures arranged by a photographer. This was so much more real and thought-provoking. Also less perfect and in that sense less intimidating. In fact, he was having a brilliant time, chatting, watching and getting lots of food for thought and... whatever else one did with highly sexual images. Right until they passed a man pressed up against a wall.

Harry had almost passed the man when the other made a sudden move and Harry turned his head. He gasped. The man looked at him, eyes wide with shock, but then they narrowed into calculating slits and his mouth slowly put on a very familiar smirk.

'Potter.' Malfoy was unmistakable; even the drawl was the same. 'Who would have known... Keeping good company, I see.'

Harry was about to retort, but then he noticed that Malfoy was wearing a collar and leash, and the surprise took the words from him. There was no-one at the other end of Malfoy's leash, though. Instead it was simply linked to a hook in the wall. Malfoy seemed very at home here, too. Definitely not his first time...

'Draco, don't taunt. You know what I say about that,' Lena cut in and Harry felt oddly betrayed that his new friends knew Malfoy and clearly had for a while.

'Ah, but you don't know this one yet.' Malfoy stabbed his finger in Harry's direction. 'I do. Should've known he'd have a dark side. Like being spanked, Potter? Just like your parents did when you were a naughty boy? Oh, right, they didn't, did they? They're dead. Besides,' he turned his attention back towards Lena, completely dismissing Harry, 'you never follow through on those threats, you tease.'

For once, Harry was stunned. He hadn't seen Malfoy in years. Seeing him was a surprise in itself, the circumstances unsettling, and to have him say something as hurtful as that and then dismiss it in favour of friendly banter with Lena was... outrageous!

'Because you don't want me to,' Lena said in what was clearly a reminder. 'It's only good enough for you if it has a dick and my strap-on isn't enough to do it for you. No...' She turned her gaze to Harry, having a sort of calculating look about her as well, though nowhere near as menacing as the one on Malfoy. 'Harry here ought to take care of you himself. God knows you deserve it! And he's earned it after what you just said.'

'Him?!?' Malfoy laughed. 'I may be on my hook here still, waiting for Mister Right to come by and whisk me away to whip me, but Potter is not him! Granted, he's got the dark hair, but apart from that he's hardly up to my standard. No tall, dark and dashing there.' He sniffed. 'I'd take the wall any day. And he hasn't the guts, the little do-gooder.'

Harry acted before he knew he had. Later he blamed Lena for making him feel welcome and confident and telling him it was okay. But in that moment all he knew was that he closed the three steps between himself and Malfoy and slapped the guy so hard the sound could be heard over the music.

'You... you have no right!' Malfoy's hand was at his cheek, which now bore the imprint of Harry's fingers, and his eyes were shooting daggers. 'I didn't say you could.'

'No. But that wasn't for fun, so it doesn't count.' Harry crossed his arms and glared back.

There was a subtle change in Malfoy's eyes and Harry felt Lena step up next to him.

'You didn't say he could, no, but you said I could and I gave it to him,' she said.

'Far fetched.' Malfoy was annoyed. 'You're just taking his side.'

'Of course. You were being horrid. And now you know he has it in him, Mister Right or not.'

Malfoy looked at Harry again. 'Yeah. But that was just the famous Potter temper talking. I bet he couldn't keep it up for a full session.'

'I bet he could,' Lena countered and held out her hand. 'A tenner. You on?'

Malfoy took it. 'That's too easy. He won't do a thing. On.'

'Hey!' Harry interjected. 'What if I don't want to, able or not?'

'Then Draco wins,' Lena said, 'and you don't want that, do you?'

Rock and a hard place. Harry glanced back and forth. Could he really do something like a session? Several hours of playing, from what he'd read. Of pain and pleasure and perhaps power-games... He'd never thought that far, actually considered what he'd do if he had someone like that. And with Malfoy? Yet, if he turned it down he might never get that good a chance again. This one was served on a silver platter. Fuck. He glanced at Malfoy again. At least the man still had his looks and Harry would enjoy hitting him even if he didn't get off on it. It was worth a try!

'I'll do it.'

'Good.' Lena grinned and handed him a card. 'Call me tomorrow afternoon and tell me about it. I wouldn't trust Draco's account but I have a good feeling about you.'

Harry took the card and pocketed it and unhooked Malfoy's leash from the wall. It wasn't quite like slapping him out of instinct, but Harry had a feeling in his gut that he had to take the initiative again and literally take possession.

'Come on, then.' He led Malfoy towards the door. 'We can't go to my place. I'm still married.' He could feel his cheeks flushing when he realised he had, for a few moments, completely forgot that he was.

'Of course. You're working to repopulate the Wizarding World,' Malfoy said. Harry figured he had consent now and slapped him again. 'Ow, what the hell was that for?'

'We can't have more children.' Harry was surprised at the bitterness in his own voice and even more at the brief regret in Malfoy's eyes.

'We'll go to my flat in London,' Malfoy declared, as if ignoring what he'd said to Harry would make it unsaid. 'It's my home away from home a Muggle place I bought to be able to get away from everything. No-one really knows about it. Come here, I'll take you on Side-Along.'

When Harry didn't move or seem inclined to let him do that, Malfoy sighed. 'You want to be allowed to hit me and you don't even trust me to Apparate you safely?' He gave Harry an 'are you stupid or what'-look. 'How do you expect to trust what I say to you, then?'

Harry couldn't argue with that. It was an aspect he hadn't truly considered before. It was obvious to him that a submissive would be placing a lot of trust in the Dominant part, but that the reverse applied too hadn't dawned on him. But it made a lot of sense. He might be responsible, but he couldn't make the right call if he didn't trust Malfoy's reactions. This was reciprocal in every way. He stepped closer and when Malfoy held out his arm, Harry let him put it around his waist and held on to Malfoy in turn.

Moments later they were standing in a dark room which, in the twilight condition of streetlights outside blinds, looked like a living room. Harry shook his head, shell-shocked from the Apparition and the sudden lack of sight and sound after the sensory overload of the club.

'You're not drunk, are you?' Malfoy sounded sceptical and just a touch worried.

'No. I had one drink a couple of hours ago. It's just the shock of silence.' That and the shock that he was actually here, doing this. He must be mad.

'All right. Because I will not have some drunken sod hit me. No matter what his last name is.' Hit him. Harry was going to do that. It was all he could do not to panic and back out. No matter how enticing it was some part of him still balked at the idea.

Malfoy finally let go of Harry's waist and flicked a light-switch, revealing that this was indeed a living room and a tastefully decorated one at that. Harry looked around, struck at how different it was from his home. Remembering home made him feel like a worm for doing this, but then he looked at Malfoy again, knowing this was it or never. He had to at least know what this was. If he wanted it as much when he did it or if it was just a silly fantasy. To find out he had to stop wavering, which meant pushing thoughts of home away once and for all along with any worries of what he could and couldn't do.

'Sit.' Malfoy indicated a chesterfield sofa and Harry took a seat, soon accompanied by Malfoy who sat down next to him. Harry looked at Malfoy for real now and for the first time in good light. He'd aged well. The air of arrogance had been replaced with something akin to being sure of oneself and a vibe of being comfortable in his own skin. It was very appealing. A few years more of physical development had suited Malfoy as well, transforming his pointy features into to something more likely to be called sharp. Harry liked what he saw.

'Ground rules,' Malfoy said, seeming to be pleased to have Harry's complete attention. 'My safe-word is 'fairy lights' and no, you may not ask why.' The glare that accompanied those last words kept Harry from expressing more than mild surprise. Inwardly he was laughing, but at least it was a good safe-word. No risk of mistaking that for anything else. He nodded his understanding, agreeing to stop if that word was spoken, and Malfoy continued. 'I have a box of toys upstairs that are mine. All of those can be used on me. Some I enjoy and some I don't, you'll likely discover the difference.' Again Harry nodded, this time suppressing an urge to squirm with the pleasure that those images conjured up.

'I hate nick-names,' Malfoy continued, 'both for me and my partner. So please avoid those unless you want a bad reaction. Dominance games and power-struggles are fun and I have a feeling that with you they'll happen no matter if we do or not. So this is mostly so you know you don't have to try and suppress them. Don't draw blood or make permanent marks, no body fluids except for the one that follows naturally from sex.' At this point he smirked and eyed Harry's crotch with a look that was so full of unadulterated lust that Harry had to swallow a moan. Being desired felt bloody good.

Malfoy was about to open his mouth again when Harry kissed him. It was a hard, demanding kiss and he was certain he heard a small, throaty moan when his tongue pushed into Malfoy's mouth. When he pulled away again, Malfoy's lips were red, his eyes wide and breathing shallow. 'Do you have more to tell me?' Harry asked. 'I'm not planning to do anything particularly fancy.'

Malfoy shook his head. 'There's a list of preferences in my bedside drawer, if you want to read it at some point...' He looked at Harry. 'What do I call you?'

'Since we don't approve of nick-names you'll have to call me Harry, won't you?'

'Yes. Harry.' It was an admission for Draco to say that word and they both knew it. The game was on. Now he had to stay ahead and keep in control.

'Show me this prefered playground of yours, then.' Harry stood up and Malfoy followed.

'This way.' Malfoy led the way upstairs to a very nice and large bedroom. It had a huge four-poster bed and the sheets were dark; Harry suspected they were either silk or a high-quality satin. The light was warm and not too bright, all of this giving him a feeling of comfort and quiet luxury. It was easy to feel at home here.

'Good. Undress and kneel on the bed.' Malfoy complied. He did it very slowly, but he did it and Harry let him have that small victory. In return he let Malfoy wait there while he looked around the room, took of his shirt, shoes and socks and had a look at those toys with many 'hm's and 'ah's. All without letting Malfoy know what he was reacting to.

Predictably enough, when he turned around, Malfoy was craning his neck to see and looking very impatient. Harry laughed softly and crossed to the drawer so he could read Malfoy's list. So far he'd been lucky, but really, all he'd done was pretend he was teasing someone. That wouldn't last him.

He looked at the list and there were loads of things that made him feel a very distinct stirring, his cock grew harder simply from reading the long row of likes and dislikes written by one who only signed himself as 'Draco'. Harry glanced at the, by now slightly disgruntled-looking, man on the bed.

Draco. He could just as well get used to calling him that. It was unfamiliar, but not that difficult. As opposed to how the fuck he was supposed to start this! All he knew was that he didn't want to lose face and come off as a complete idiot. It might be the first time he did this, but that didn't mean he wanted to fumble through it! It ought to be enough to be a virgin once.

Slowly he climbed up on the bed and looked at Draco, taking the time to appreciate the body in front of him. It was a very appealing sight, despite who it was. Draco was indeed an attractive man and he knew how to pose himself in a way that made him even more so. Harry forced himself to think the thought and the name, making the situation real instead of having that sense of it happening to someone else. He wasn't going to shy away from what he was doing or with whom.

'Turn around,' he said and was surprised at the tone of his own voice. It was soft but with a touch of something that could only be described as commanding. Like velvet around a steel rod. He'd never heard that exact combination before. When Draco turned without question he figured it must be a tone he used by some kind of instinct.

Again, he took his time; with running appreciating fingers down the pale, soft skin of Draco's back and to cup the rounding of his arse. The touch alone was enough to send a jolt to his cock, especially when he recalled one of the first things on the list he'd read: spanking. Moving closer, close enough for his chest to touch Draco's back, Harry breathed in the scent of Draco; slightly musky, but mostly sweet with a hint of spices. It made him breathe faster. He reached around Draco and ran searching fingers over his chest. It felt warm and as silky as his back with only a hint of hairs too white to be seen in the dim light of the bedroom. When Draco leaned back against him and pressed into the touch, Harry pinched both his nipples. Draco gasped and so did Harry. He'd done that before he knew he would. But it felt right and Draco seemed to think it was as well. His cock was thickening visibly when Harry looked down over the man's shoulder.

'Like it when I do that?' he whispered.

'What do you think? Are you blinder than I thought?'

Harry grinned as he pinched Draco harder. He'd all but forgotten the sharp tongue. But now it provided ample reason to apply pain and that made him almost appreciate it. Draco moaned and tried to arch away from the pinching fingers, which caused him to rub back against Harry and Harry's hard cock, still in his trousers.

'I expect you to answer my questions,' Harry said as he finally stopped. Draco's nipples were very red and slightly swollen. 'So once again: do you like it when I do that?'

'Yes.' There was still clear defiance in Draco's voice and he rubbed his arse against Harry again. 'So do you. Pervert.'

'As opposed to you? Is that it?' Harry growled and roughly pushed Draco forward. He landed face-first on the bed. 'Who's not only a pervert, but talks back, can't follow simple rules and act like a slut to boot.' Draco gave a surprised gasp and was about to get up when Harry held him down with a hand on his back and smacked Draco's arse firmly with the other.

'Ow. Brute. Think you can solve things wi- ow!' Harry smacked him again and this time he didn't give Draco time to recover but began to spank him hard.

It was liberating. Exhilarating and washing over him like a tidal-wave. As if Draco's provocation had made something snap in him and he was no longer afraid of doing what they both wanted. As he kept going, Draco's skin took on a flush that was very arousing to look at, not to mention what the sight of him squirming under Harry's hand was. The sounds were a story of their own. Moans and gasps, cut with half-hearted protests, all on the backdrop of flesh hitting flesh. It was a heady cocktail and one Harry wanted to drink from, drown in and never empty.

After that it got much easier. Each time Harry slowed down too much for Draco's liking he pushed one of those buttons he had had years practice in finding and Harry found it much easier to react to that than just do things for no particular reason. The faint hint of morning was lighting the sky before Harry called it quits. By then he'd managed to make Draco come twice, once he'd screamed when he did - something Harry was rather proud of. That, and he'd had the pleasure of fucking another man again not to mention the amazing blow-job he made Draco give him. He couldn't remember ever feeling this sated before. Nor could he recall anyone looking as pleased and relaxed as Draco did now.

'Don't you get uncomfortable like that? With all those bruises and shit?' he asked, tracing a particularly fierce red line on the back of Draco's shoulder.

'No. It stings and pulls, but it's in a good way. Like after a really tough game of Quidditch.'

Harry nodded his understanding. 'So. Can I take that to mean you had a good time?'

'Oh, yes. You're not bad at this, Harry Potter. Especially not for a first-timer. You almost fooled me.' Draco flashed him a smirk and Harry relaxed again, letting go of his worry that Draco mentioned that because he resented that Harry hadn't told him beforehand.

'Yeah? I'm glad. Though I suppose I should have told you first.'

'You should. Had you ever even fucked a man before?'

'Once. Years ago, before Ginny and I got back together after the war. I wanted to know what it was like, you know?'

'I don't really. To be honest, I never really wanted anyone but men. I got married out of sheer convenience and duty. Not that I regret that. But did you like it? Fucking a man, I mean?'

'Yeah. Enough to know I'd been right in suspecting that gender wasn't what attracted me to Ginny. It was her.'

This time Draco nodded. 'And this? Has this made you realise something?'

'Yes.' Harry leaned on one elbow and looked at Draco, who turned and looked up at him. 'I want to do this again.'




~ ~ ~ Wednesday, Present Day, Soho, London ~ ~ ~

After that night he'd never been the same and until now he hadn't regretted a thing. Perhaps he still didn't. As he stood there, leaning against the wall, Harry could still feel the stirring in his groin that he'd felt that night, the memory still as potent as ever. No, he didn't regret it as such. He regretted the consequences. To all involved. For once it might have been wrong to listen to Hermione.

Or perhaps that wasn't entirely fair. Harry had come to her for advice; she was his friend, the one he could trust in matters of this kind. Sure, he could trust Ron, too, but he wasn't as sensitive to other people's needs as Hermione and he had always had a stronger dislike of the Malfoys, so he probably wouldn't listen much further than hearing that part of the problem. So Hermione it had been.

She'd listened, much to Harry's relief. And she hadn't been judgemental. Not much, at least; less than Harry would have been had the roles been reversed. But she'd made him see that if he felt he needed to tell her about it, then it was because he had some bad feelings about what he was doing and that they needed to be resolved. She'd been right, of course. He'd felt like shit. But he felt worse now.

Strange how it was all about guilt and hurt. He'd started this because of a need to hurt and because he couldn't hurt the one he loved. Now he loved the one he hurt and his actions were potentially hurting all of them. Harry slid to the ground, squatting with his head in his hands. An unpleasant scent of urine felt oddly appropriate. He was such a fuck-up.

He'd made some crucial mistakes. Like thinking he could get over what he needed and what he had lived part of his life through for two years. That Ginny would be the key to solving it all, taking away his dilemma when it was his and he couldn't expect anyone else to fix it. That he could get over Draco.

That really was the problem. He didn't want to choose. It would have been easier to say that he couldn't choose, but he could if he was pressed hard enough. It was strange to realise that he wasn't pressed that hard yet. In spite of days of worry and pulling his hair and not sleeping he wasn't pressed enough yet and before he was, he wouldn't know what the choice would be.

He loved Draco too. Not just the boy he played with, but the man he slept with and shared half his life with. He loved him. It hadn't hit him that strongly before. He had to see Draco and not just for the comfort he'd craved since Ginny walked out, but to talk to him about this. He'd completely failed to do so and it wasn't fair. Draco was as much a part in this as he and Ginny. Harry had some more explaining and apologising to do. And then he'd have to find a solution to this.

Believing that there was no time like the present, Harry headed towards Draco's flat. If he, against habit, was back at the Manor, Harry would have to wait, but he spent every other week mostly in London unless there was something unusual going on or Asteria had to go out and every other at the Manor with Scorpius and Asteria. It was an arrangement both adults liked; they maintained their marriage, which was convenient for both, and had every second week away from each other to pursue other things. And people. All of this without hurting their son, which Harry had a feeling was the top priority for Draco.

A few minutes later, he was standing outside Draco's flat and looking at the bell he'd rung many times since that first night. So many nights. Days. A long weekend, once. No, he couldn't lose this.




~ ~ ~ One year earlier, Kensington, London ~ ~ ~

Draco's bed was large and soft and lying on it after coming felt like he had once imagined floating on clouds would be like. Though it was no angel floating next to him on the satin. At least not unless angels customarily had blissful expressions on tear-streaked faces, all caused by some very kinky sex. Harry leaned over and kissed Draco's cheek. The way he felt in these moments was overwhelming; feelings so strong he had no adequate words for them, though he'd tried to place them several times. Parts were pride. Some of it was care and protection. There was lust in there, but now, after the play itself, it was more something else. Like love, only it might even be stronger than that. Sometimes it scared him.

'How are you doing, my beautiful boy?' he whispered. He liked that nick-name and it was one of the few Draco would accept; his pride would never allow Harry to call him anything derogatory, but 'boy' was kind and, Harry suspected, made Draco feel younger. It also drew some threads to their school-boy past and as such felt very appropriate.

'So good...' Draco's speech was slurred and Harry grinned; he loved that sound, knowing it meant Draco was still floating half-way in that state of rush that endorphins induced and that this, in turn, meant that he felt better than ever.

'Thank you,' Harry murmured, nuzzling Draco's neck below the ear.

'Thank yourself,' Draco answered, a touch of his usual edge creeping back into his voice. 'You're the big boy, you know, the one with the whips and chains and the very nice cock.'

'I'm just a sex-toy to you,' Harry replied, mock-moping and causing a snort of laughter from Draco. Not surprising, since Harry had deliberately chosen a term he'd sometimes use to describe Draco during their play. Pleased at the result of his joke, Harry reached over and traced the edge of Draco's collar with his finger, watching as Draco, suddenly more aware of its presence, closed his eyes and felt the touch.

As he stopped, he was surprised that Draco moved closer. The surprisingly light, grey eyes fixed on Harry's for a few seconds, then closed as Draco set his head on Harry's shoulder. This was new. Harry put an arm casually around Draco and thumbed over his skin, enjoying the smooth feel of it, the shift in heat of areas he'd hit and those he'd not. His own eyes closed and his other arm went around Draco, too, holding him close, yet still casually.

'You asked how I feel,' Draco said. It sounded as if his voice came from far away.

Harry nodded. 'Yes.'

'Do you really want to know?'

'Yes.' It was easy to answer.

'I feel like I know I made the right choice when I told Asteria we would always have to have separate lives.' He looked up at Harry, who was now studying his face. The words were far more revealing than he'd imagined. 'We got married on that premise,' Draco continued. 'She knew what we were doing. No false pretense.'

Harry nodded again. 'I can respect that. I envy you that you knew what you needed already then.'

'I knew I couldn't be with a woman all my life. This...' Draco gestured around the room, scattered floggers and ropes explaining Draco's words, 'came later.'

'I knew I could enjoy sex with men as well before I got married,' Harry said. 'I wanted Ginny, though. I still do.'

'But it isn't enough, is it?' Those eyes were seeing through him now.

'No. It isn't. She doesn't need me as much any more. Not like that. Sex seems to remind her of not having more children and... something happened when Lily was born. She has... problems now. Sometimes she'll let me make it good for her, but mostly she doesn't really want me near her in that way.'

'How do you feel about that? I mean, it's easy enough for me. I'm fine. Asteria knows I sleep around but no details. I know she does under the same terms. But you..' He let the words hang between them.

'I try not to think about it.' Harry looked away. 'Most of the time it gets drowned out, too. Because I know I'd be hurting Ginny with this if she knew, but if I didn't... There'd still be hurt. And the relief is hurting you. It's so complicated!'

'Yes. But the hurt you give me is good. What I want. What we both want. It's very different.'

'I know, but it scares me that I can best love someone when I hurt them. It doesn't seem right, you know? That I do that. That it's what love means to me. Makes me feel like a rotten bastard, to be honest...' Harry ran his finger over one of the stripes on Draco's shoulder; it was a deep red and stood out against the pale skin. It was one of the strongest things Harry had ever seen: Draco taking the pain he dealt him and wanting more too.

'Think about how I feel, then' Draco looked up at him, his voice tinged with that ironic amusement Harry had never imagined he'd appreciate so much. 'I was brought up to be better than everyone else and here I am... kneeling, pleading. And loving it.' Draco pushed up into the touch, always wanting more - more pain, more pleasure, more of any kind of sensation - and laughed. It was a soft sound that was much like his cries in that both were schooled to perfection and sounded casual. Harry wanted those sounds in his ears as often as he could. Draco's cries and Draco's laughs.

'You don't do much of either, though,' Harry teased. 'Not unless I force you.'

'But that's how you like it.' Draco poked him in the side and kissed his cheek, another thing he very rarely did.

Harry smiled. 'Yes. That is how I like it. Gives me an excuse to give you those stripes you love so much.'

This time Draco was the one to grin. 'Guilty as charged. So, are you staying the night?'

The sudden change in subject didn't bother Harry as it had to begin with; he knew by now that it meant they'd reached an area Draco preferred not to get too far into like the fact that he fetishised his bruises and marks. He just answered.

'If you want. Ginny took the kids for a long weekend with her parents and we agreed it would be best if I stayed in London since I'm on call at work.'

'Of course I want to.' Draco shifted, getting comfortable and using Harry as a pillow. 'By the way... that whole "love best when I hurt" thing. Does that mean you love me?'




~ ~ ~ Wednesday, Present Day, Kensington, London ~ ~ ~

Harry took a deep breath and rang the bell. Draco opened the door, a very surprised look on his face.

'You look like shit.'

'I know, but thanks anyway.' Harry had found that sarcasm was a trait one developed in the company of Draco Malfoy. 'Going to let me in or are you going to dissect my appearance first?'

Draco stepped aside and Harry went inside, hanging his coat in the familiar hall-way, and he let Draco lead him to the downstairs sitting room where Harry was glad to accept a cup of tea. He hadn't really had anything to eat in a while - a rather long while, come to think of it.

'So. You don't look like you're here to give me a beating, so I assume you're here to talk?' Draco said when he'd poured a cup for Harry.

'I knew I could trust you to cut to the chase,' Harry mumbled and sipped his tea to stall for time. But there was no use doing that for long. 'I told Ginny.'

'You did what?!?'

'You heard me. She walked out. It's been three days now. I guess she's at her parents', but I don't know for sure. She took the kids.' Harry's face contorted. He'd said it. Out loud. To another person. Fuck, it made it so final to hear those words and he didn't want it to be! Especially not about the kids. He couldn't live without them.

'Harry.' There was a soft hand on his shoulder and another took his cup and set it on the table and then there were warm arms around him and Harry realised he was crying. On Draco's shoulder. That wasn't supposed to happen. But God, it was such a relief.

'I ought to kick you out instead of comforting you,' Draco said, though his voice was a lot softer than his words.

'Why?' The tears had stopped again, but Harry didn't want to move. Normally he didn't cry and when he did it was never in front of anyone else. This thing with Ginny had done it to him twice, now. He was rattled more than he wanted to admit to himself, and this kind of comfort was unusual in his experience. He didn't want it to stop.

'You told her, you big arse. And you said she left. So obviously you're here because you now have to chose and from your reaction I'm guessing you want her and the kids.' The bitterness in Draco's voice was very clear.

'I had to tell her, Draco. It was eating me up. But I should have talked to you before I did. I'm sorry.'

'Why? Break-ups are break-ups regardless of the timing.' Draco pushed Harry away and looked at him. 'So say it, then.'

'No. I wont. Because I want to save it. This. Us. All of us.'

Draco stared at him, then broke into incredulous laughter. 'Harry fucking Potter in a bloody nut-shell!' Harry didn't think he'd ever heard Draco swear that much before and perhaps that was why he remained quiet instead of protesting. 'You want to save us all, eh? You want to save your own arse, is what. You don't want to choose and you want it all. And they say I'm spoiled...' He rolled his eyes and Harry felt himself flush.

'But what if it can happen? What if... if she accepts that I need this. You. That there's something she can't give me.'

'God, you're nave!' Draco was starting to sound angry now. 'She won't, Harry. And even if she does, who says I would agree to that?'

'But there isn't a change, Draco. You already share me with her.' Harry truly hadn't anticipated that.

'I know. But I don't particularly care for that and I bloody well don't want to have to be with you on her terms! As some kind of favour! No, Harry, I won't do that.'

This was not at all going as he'd hoped. If Draco wasn't with him it would be hard to make a case to Ginny. Even if she ended up accepting he'd still have to convince Draco and both of them were equally stubborn. Though he'd never tell either that he saw any form of similarity between them.

'Draco. At least let me try? Okay? I mean, perhaps she wants a divorce already...' The thought alone was unbearable, but he had to think it. Face it. 'And if she doesn't... She might want me to choose as well. Or. I don't know. Just. Let me see what she says?'

Draco glared at him. 'Drink your tea. I'll think about it while you talk to her. Don't come back till I've owled you that you can.'

'Draco, I...'

'Don't, Harry. There's nothing you can say.'

There was no argument against that, so Harry drank his tea in silence. When he left he counted it as a blessing that Draco allowed a hug before he shut the door behind Harry. He had to find a way. The way Draco had acted - the comfort, tea, even the anger - made it clearer than ever that he couldn't lose this man. Provided he hadn't already. He had to make it work. Next stop would be to see Ginny.




~ ~ ~ Thursday, Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon ~ ~ ~

The previous day hadn't been a success and that boosted Harry's worries about seeing Ginny. The fact that he was going to have to face his in-laws to get to her even more so. It took all his resolve to walk up and knock on the door to The Burrow.

Molly opened, a very disapproving look on her face. 'Harry.' That was all she said. No greetings, no invitation to come inside and her look made him feel about thirteen years old and deserving of a scolding. At the very least.

'Molly, hello.' His voice was also much closer to that of a thirteen-year-old. Harry swallowed hard a few times. 'I'd like to speak to Ginny. Please.'

'I would hope that she has nothing to say to you, but I'll ask her.' She went inside again and closed the door, leaving Harry to wait on the doorstep. He went from thirteen-year-old to bug in the minutes he spent waiting. When the door opened again it was close to a deja v.

'Harry.' Ginny glared at him with arms crossed. Even her pose was copied from her mother and Harry shuddered.

'Ginny. We... we need to talk...' He looked at her, every fibre in him hoping she'd at least say yes to that. 'Please?' he added.

'We do, yes. But I'm not sure we agree on what we need to talk about.' She stood aside and waved him inside. The usually welcoming and warm kitchen at The Burrow felt dark and foreboding to Harry.

'Why don't you tell me what you want to talk about?' he suggested, figuring that there was a much better chance of her listening to him if he let her talk first.

'All right.' She gestured to a chair, which he took, and sat down across from him. Her eyes were red and tired, much like his were, and he felt awful for having done this to her. 'I don't want a divorce,' she said and Harry drew a deep sigh of relief.

'I don't either,' he said.

'Is it over, then? With him?'

This was what he was here to talk about, but he'd hoped to hear a bit more from her first. 'It might be, yes. I spoke to him yesterday. He... isn't pleased that I told you.'

She gave a bitter kind of laugh. 'How beautifully ironic. Your... your lover and your wife seem to both hate you. You should've kept it in your trousers.'

Harry could felt his temper build. He badly wanted to say something hurtful like that he shouldn't have fucked either of them, but he held it back. 'You might say so,' he said, words clipped as his jaw clenched.

'So. He ended it when you couldn't? Good for him. Then he won't have to be beaten up any more.' The glare was fixed at him again and Harry had a sudden rush of insight.

'Ginny... are you... more upset at what I do than the fact that I've... been unfaithful?' He couldn't quite believe that himself. It had never occurred to him that this might be it.

'Yes.' The word was close to a bark and with so much anger that he pulled back from it. 'I've given it a great deal of thought, Harry, and there's lots of time to think when you can't sleep. I think you know that.' She'd obviously noticed that he looked as worn as she did.

A million questions raced through Harry's mind and he tried desperately to figure out which one would be prudent to ask. Or not. Perhaps he should just shut up. His mouth made the decision and said something before he'd made up his mind.

'So... what about it bothers you?' He should trust his mouth. Not a bad idea, that one, especially not if he could convince her it wasn't as bad as all that. Depending on what 'it' was.

'It's disgusting!' The words flew out of Ginny in a way that made Harry feel she'd spoken before she thought as well. 'Not that he's a guy, though Merlin knows I don't want to know how you have sex, it's that you... you hit him! I found some books after I left. I had to know more. And... the things described there!' Her face was contorted in horror. 'That's not sex. Sex is supposed to be good for you and about showing care and love for each other. But that! How can that be good? Or sexy? Not to mention loving? Is that why you never asked me about it, because... because you... because it's not love if you do... that?'

That was a lot more complex than he'd anticipated. He was impressed that she'd researched it, not just rejected it flat-out. Though perhaps it would have been better if she hadn't. And there was that hope in her voice at the end of it and he knew what he'd have to answer to that. It was going to be so bloody hard.

'It's complicated,' he said, scratching the back of his neck. 'But it's not like that. At all.' He reached across the table and took her hand, relieved when she let him and didn't pull away. 'It is very caring and there are many layers. It's not just hitting someone for the hell of it. I guarantee you that people like Draco yell as loud as anyone else if they stub their toe or break an arm and that they take absolutely no pleasure from that.'

She watched him closely now; his face and expression and he made sure to meet her eyes. It was important that she knew he was being honest.

'Remember before Lily was born?' She wanted to shy away from that, he could tell, but she didn't and he squeezed her hand. She squeezed back. 'Before it starting hurting. We sometimes had rough sex.' He smiled at the memory. 'Remember the time at Charlie's birthday party where we did it on the counter in the bathroom?'

He could tell from her amused look and the sparkle in her eye that she did remember and that it was a good memory. Of a hard, fast fuck, born of nothing but need. She nodded.

'I remember. It hurt a little, but it was so good. Like it made it better.'

'Yes. Exactly!' Harry nodded with such enthusiasm that she chuckled, which he didn't mind at all, it was leagues better than any other reaction he could think of. 'So, what happens to Draco is just that same effect enhanced.'

There was a stunned look on her face and he mentally rewound that sentence to find out where he'd misstepped. Oh. The name. He chose to ignore it unless she asked. But it meant she would have realised, now, that they were closer than she'd probably imagined.

'What's in it for you, then?' she asked, more cautious now.

'I'm not sure,' he said with a sigh. This was the part that was really hard to explain. 'Control, I suppose. Or at least pretending I'm in control. See, the submissive can set terms and borders and so on and the Dominant has to stay inside those. It's about trust, really. It's mutual, because I have to trust him to be honest in his reactions and he trusts me to not hurt him.'

'Not hurt him? But... isn't that the point?' She was confused now and Harry wished he'd thought about this ahead so he could have been better prepared.

'Only in the good way. Like that time in the bathroom. It hurt in a good way. If... if we did that now... it would hurt you. In a bad way.'

That got her back on track. Unfortunately it also got her to bring up something else.

'I think I understand that part, but I can't really see what's in it for you. But... I guess I've always known you liked the rough times.' She smiled a bit. 'Would it have been different if I hadn't been... unable?'

'I... no. I don't think so.' This time he had to look down. 'You don't like that kind of thing. I know that. I've... tried. A bit. A few times. You don't even like it if I hold you too hard when we make love. And... this... I've been wanting it more and more. It won't go away. It just got worse all the time.'

Much to his surprise she stroked his hand. 'Harry. Look at me?' He did, meeting her eyes. 'I don't understand you,' she said, 'but that doesn't mean I would have hated you for wanting what you do. You could have told me. I would at least have known and had a chance to think about it instead of you going off without my knowledge. I think I deserved that.'

She was right. Painfully so. Harry simply hadn't thought it could be possible to discuss it with her like that. 'I'm sorry,' he whispered. 'You are right. It's just. I feel so bad about wanting it. I know what it looks like and even now, when I like it and do it with someone who wants it so much, I still hate myself for wanting to cause pain. For wanting to... to do something that's pretty humiliating sometimes.'

'You don't have to hate yourself for it. Heck, if you can explain it to me, given how I felt about it, you should be able to explain it to yourself. But you were never easy to convince, Harry.' She was smiling now and he smiled back, knowing the truth in that as well. The smile disappeared at her next question.

'So... you never answered the part about love. Not directly. And about stopping this. Can you, Harry? Can you stop and come back to me?' Her eyes were drilling holes in him and he squirmed under that intense scrutiny. This was what he'd truly come to discuss and what he'd thought would be the hard part. It probably still would be.

His eyes gave him away before he could say anything. Ginny gasped and pulled her hand away from his. 'Merlin... you love him!' She jumped up. 'How can you sit there pretending to want to make amends when you love him? Harry! Answer me!'

He didn't point out that she hadn't given him a chance to yet; he held back as he had the day she'd walked out. 'I love you too,' he said. 'That's the thing. I don't want to choose. That's why he was mad at me, too. Remember I told you?' His eyes implored her to give him a chance, to please understand. 'I hit him. Do... things to him very few people would want. And he wants me to do it. Me, above anyone else. How can I not have feelings for him after that? Please, Ginny, I don't want to lose any of you! I know it sounds unreasonable... but I just want us all to have something good in our lives.'

Apparently shock was a good way of keeping someone quiet. Ginny was staring at him, her mouth hanging open in disbelief. Harry stood up as well and went to her, held her by the shoulders.

'You said you don't want a divorce. I don't either. I love you and the kids so much I'd be cut in half if you weren't there. But I need him too. You can't be him and he can't be you.'

'He has a wife as well. What about her?' She sounded dazed, but at least she wasn't pulling away or punching him. He wouldn't have blamed her if she had. 'And he wasn't pleased about this either, was he?'

'They have an arrangement,' Harry explained. 'Marriage of convenience, something about him spending every second week at home.' He waved his hand, trying to dismiss that argument. 'And I'll convince him, if only you'll give it a chance. Please? For all of us?'

She fixed him with a stare. 'I am not thrilled about this, but I will give it a try. A short period, like a month. If I want it to stop after that it stops and you choose who you want to stay with.' Harry nodded. It was a month. He could make it work.

'One condition,' she added, her voice as sharp as a razor blade. 'I want to see you. Together. What you do to him. I want to know what it is I'm letting you do and how you treat him.'

He could tell this one couldn't be argued, so he nodded. 'Yes. I can agree to that. I'll ask Draco. Tomorrow.'

'Good. You can tell me what he says then. For now I think you should go talk to the kids and then go home. They miss you, Harry.'

He nodded, not about to argue with her now. Not if he could in any way avoid it. She was more accepting than he had hoped for, even though they weren't out of this crisis yet. 'You know there's nothing I'd rather do than see them,' he said.

'One last thing,' she said as she led him towards the sitting room, 'this can never, ever be allowed to hurt the kids in any way.'

'Of course not.' That was the easiest answer he'd ever given.




~ ~ ~ Friday, Present Day, Fulham & Kensington, London ~ ~ ~

Since Harry stepped through the Floo at The Burrow, he'd been thinking. About what Ginny had said and Draco had said before that. What would happen if Draco didn't agree to Ginny's terms? Or what if he simply broke it off instead? Or demanded that Harry chose? The last was a thing he didn't even want to consider and he used a lot of energy to push the thought back, just like he refused to truly think about what he'd do if Draco ended it. He could talk to Ginny, she might let him find another person to play with, but he'd realised now that he didn't want another person. He wanted Draco. Could he live without Ginny instead?

The thoughts finally drowned when he considered how the hell he'd get to talk to Draco when Draco had said not to contact him. All he could think of doing was owling and hope Draco would read it. To get a better chance, he used Ginny's owl for the delivery.

Draco,

I spoke to Ginny yesterday. There are new developments. Please let me talk to you? Name your time and place and I'll be there.

Yours truly,
Harry

He knew the way he signed himself would intrigue Draco. It might even be considered bait, but it was also a perfectly normal way of signing a letter, so he could write it off as such should Draco take offence. It also wasn't untrue. Part of him belonged with Draco.

It wasn't long before the owl returned with a letter, rolled up and sealed with a wax seal bearing the Malfoy crest. If Harry hadn't been Harry he might have been intimidated and if wasn't able to conjure up hundreds of images of Draco in highly compromising and not-at-all dignified situations he might have been annoyed. Now he was simply amused. But it did set a tone and the tone worried him a bit.

Harry,

I will grant you a chance to state your case. Given the fact that you spoke to the wronged wife, I suppose I should let you explain the state of matters to me. Though if you simply wish to end our liaison, please send word by owl instead.

If this is not the case you can meet me at my home in Kensington at three o'clock pm. Do not reply if you will be there under the terms stated above.

Sincerely,
Draco

Success. Harry felt a lot more optimistic now, despite Draco's attempt at holding him at bay through language. Convincing Draco would be nothing like convincing Ginny, but having partly managed with one made him more hopeful about the other. So long as they were in a room together it would be harder for Draco to say no. Or so he told himself.

At exactly three o'clock pm he rang the bell at Draco's house once more and this time there was no surprise on Draco's face when he let him in. No greeting either. Just a grim look on the face Harry loved so much.

'Come in. I have tea.' He turned his back the moment Harry was inside and disappeared into the sitting room, leaving Harry to close the door.

As he hung his coat on a peg, Harry wondered idly if the Malfoys' family link to the Weasleys was responsible for Draco's attempt to soothe unpleasant situations with tea. He decided never to bring that up with either of them. Instead he followed Draco and sat in the same sofa he'd occupied two days ago.

'So. Out with it,' Draco said after pouring the tea. 'You look too happy for her to have demanded a divorce and you don't have that 'there's something I have to tell you'-look either, so what is going on?' He was as suspicious as could be expected and trying to mask it with a brusque manner, but Harry wasn't fooled.

'I know you weren't fond of the idea the other day,' he said, 'but what if we could have an arrangement? A bit like what you and Asteria have?' Harry had decided he would have to fight Draco with arguments that this weren't as far from what he already did himself. Then they'd be equal instead of Draco making some sort of sacrifice as he'd seemed to think he was the other day.

'She'd do that?' Draco sounded honestly surprised and for the first time since Harry arrived, he actually looked straight at him.

'Yes. Only for a trial period first, but I am very sure it would work out. After a good deal of talking and explaining... it seems she doesn't mind as much. I'm not sure why. My guess is that it's because she knows it's something she can never do. Might even help that you're a man...' He should have asked Ginny about that, but he hadn't dared question her when she was offering something he hadn't truly thought she'd ever go for. 'Turned out it was what we did more than the fact that I was cheating. So... when she heard more about it and realised it wasn't as horrible as it sounds... she was mostly okay.'

'I am impressed. I have underestimated your lady wife, it seems.' Draco sent Harry one of his sarcastic smirks over the rim of his tea-cup. 'She has guts, it seems. Perhaps she realises that you have had a rough time with the no sex thing. And she wants to keep you at what most would consider high costs. I respect that. I have two questions, however. One, what does 'mostly' mean? And how do you feel about it?'

As Harry sipped his tea, he thought that perhaps that was why Draco liked to have it handy; for drinking while you thought about what to say next. It really worked well as a way of delaying an answer.

'To answer the last part first, I think I'm a lucky bastard. If this can work out it means I won't have to make a choice. And I really, really don't want to. I don't want to live without either of you.'

The choice to mention that first had the desired result; Draco's eyes widened a bit and he looked surprisingly soft especially for Draco at that unspoken declaration of love from Harry.

'I would prefer to find a way of continuing our liaison,' he said and Harry smiled, knowing full well that this was practically a declaration of its own. Especially coming from Draco.

'I'm glad you would,' he said. 'Because... she did have one term.' He sighed. This was the hard part.

'Oh? You look worried so why don't you spit it out before I think she wants me to father her next child or something.'

'She wants to see us. What we do. To understand better.'

Draco made a disgusted face. 'Despite what I pretend at the club, I'm no exhibitionist. I make a spectacle to be noticed but I never do anything there. You know that. She is no different from any other voyeur.'

'I know you don't and I am definitely not interested in public sex. But... if that's all she wants? Draco. It's better than losing you!'

'What about safety, though? If she's there, you'll be worried about her and her reactions, not mine. What if you miss a sign? Or your aim is affected? No, Harry, I don't like that idea.'

Draco's concerns were legitimate and Harry thought about it while he drank the rest of his tea. The room was absolutely quiet and he was very sure Draco was thinking too. The fact that it was a comfortable silence was very encouraging, though.

'What about a Pensieve?' Harry suggested. 'Would you let her see us in a Pensieve? My memory of it. Or yours, if you prefer.'

'You are not all that stupid, Potter.' Draco smiled, a slow smile that warmed his face in a way that made Harry's heart beat faster. 'I suggest the first time you made me cry. It would show her both something hard and why we do it.'

'Excellent choice!' Harry grinned at Draco. He hadn't considered that particular scene he'd thought about something a lot less shocking but he knew Draco was right. It was about showing her that it wasn't really about hurting. It was about love.

'My one term, though...'

'Yes?'

'I want to be there when she sees it.'




~ ~ ~ Sunday, Present Day, Fulham, London ~ ~ ~

Harry spent the following days going back and forth and figuring out details until he felt like a post-owl. If he never heard the phrase 'on one condition' again he'd be a very happy man. It was a tiresome job, this diplomatic stuff! He was glad that he was mostly spared that kind of work. Aurors didn't need to be that sensitive.

Finally, on Sunday, all three of them were to meet at his and Ginny's home in London. The kids were still with their grandparents, for which Harry was extremely grateful. Despite Molly's continuing glares each time he arrived to speak to Ginny. Although the looks had become less venomous after a while; he presumed Ginny had said something positive about his efforts.

Now, Harry would have been relieved that they had finally got to the point where they could move forward for real, but he'd not considered that he was dealing with two extremely strong-willed and opinionated people with some level of grudge against each other. Consequently their otherwise pleasant living room, where he'd lit a fire and, inspired by Draco, provided tea and cake, was filled with a tension so thick it seemed it would have to be cut with a chain saw.

'Malfoy.' Ginny greeted their guest as Harry brought him into the sitting room. She was wearing a very cool expression and the same crossed arms-posture that she'd used with Harry the other day. 'Welcome to our home.' She stressed the "our" just a bit, enough that Harry felt uncomfortable about it.

'Thank you.' Draco feigned ignorance as he looked around. 'It's not bad. I'd expected something more... quaint.'

Harry swallowed a groan. This was going to be a very long day if they kept this up, yet he couldn't see how he could stop it right now. They had to talk. And he really couldn't blame Ginny for wanting to take a few stabs at Draco. With a few gestures he got everyone seated by the coffee table.

'Thank you,' she replied. 'I'm glad you like our style. I find it has more personality like this, rather than being overly stylish.' She was guessing on that one, of course, but she was dead on. Harry started to feel strangely detached from the discussion, as if he were the referee.

Apparently Draco thought that this point was won (or lost) because he changed the subject. 'So, I understand you want to know more of the mechanics of kinky gay sex?' he said, much like one might say 'so I hear you are interested in knitting patterns'. Clearly he was hoping to throw her with the nonchalant manner.

'I think I know the mechanics just fine,' she said. 'There's nothing wrong with my imagination and I have little desire to see you taking it up the arse from my husband. I want to know what it is he claims he can't live without. And that soft side to it he keeps insisting is there.'

Draco clearly hadn't expected her to be that frank and Harry mentally gave that point to Ginny. To divert their attention he poured tea for all three of them.

'We should get down to the matter at hand,' he said softly, choosing to focus on his cup rather than any of them. It was time he cut through their sniping. 'I have borrowed a Pensieve from work,' he gestured to the counter at one side of the room where the beautifully carved basin stood, 'so we are ready on that count.'

'I think we should use Malfoy's memory,' Ginny said, much to the surprise of both men. They looked at her questioningly. 'Harry needs his while we're there so he'll be aware of what will happen. You'll be out here and won't need it for now. Besides, I know memories are supposedly neutral, but I do think it better if it doesn't belong to the one who's there with me.'

It made some sort of sense and Harry nodded slowly to her words. 'Draco? Is that all right with you?'

Draco didn't answer, but stepped over to the Pensieve and simply extracted a strand of memory and put it in there. 'The one we discussed,' he told Harry.

'Thank you,' Harry told him.

'No need to thank me.' Draco returned to his seat and gave the two of them a level, expectant look. He looked more at ease than he had any right to, though it was likely feigned.

'Why don't we go right ahead then?' Ginny said. 'I see no reason to sit here and exchange unpleasantries. I'd rather get it over with. We can always discuss it after.'

Harry glanced at Draco, got a nod from him and stood up. 'Let's do it.'

Despite knowing it might make things worse, Harry squeezed Draco's shoulder before he and Ginny went over to the Pensieve to go in. They might as well all get used to the fact if this was to work. In the same spirit, he held on to Ginny's hand as they walked. It dawned on him that if this were to work out without anyone hexing anyone else or worse it was largely up to him to make sure no-one felt slighted or overlooked. At least Draco not going into the memory with them had been an unanimous decision early on in the process; it would have caused arguments instead of possible understanding.

'Ready?' he asked and Ginny gave him a tight-lipped nod. Harry glanced over his shoulder and caught Draco's eye, glimpsing a touch of the nerves he felt himself. So much was riding on this. He plunged forward.

They landed, still hand in hand, in Draco's bedroom, so familiar to Harry that he didn't pay much attention. Ginny, however, looked around with curiosity.

'Where are we?' she asked. 'Is this the Malfoy place?'

'It's Draco's house in London,' Harry explained. 'He's there the weeks he's not at the Manor with his family.' The surprised look on Ginny's face reminded him of how many things the two of them didn't know about each other. He bit back a sigh, refusing to feel defeated now when he had a chance of winning everything.

If Ginny wanted to say anything else, she didn't get to do so before the door burst open and Draco stumbled through it, wearing nothing but tight latex shorts, leather boots and some characteristic stripes across his shoulders. Harry didn't need reminding, but if he had, the answer to what made them followed when he himself stepped through the door with a flogger in his hand.

Ginny gasped in alarm. 'Did he fall?'

'No.' Harry squeezed her hand and glanced at her when the realisation hit her that this meant Harry had pushed Draco.

'Oh,' she said and bit her lip. To Harry she felt like she was distant and getting cold. But there was more happening here and neither of them had time to think.

'Think you're big and strong with that whip in your hand, don't you?' Draco chided him, raising his chin in defiance. Even now, Harry could feel a stirring excitement at the look on his face. He still wanted to do exactly what he had done then. Pensieve-Harry slapped Draco, who smirked with satisfaction. 'You just proved me right, Potter.'

'Shut it, Draco.' Harry was surprised at the sound of his own voice. He was practically growling and Ginny shuddered in a way that suggested he sounded like that when he was genuinely angry. 'You're in big trouble and you know it.'

'What? Can't handle a bit of fun at your expense?'

'Not when we're out, no. You know that. Rules are rules.'

Ginny was looking very puzzled. 'Out? What's he talking about? And what rules?'

'We had been to a club that night,' Harry explained. 'Where other people with the same kind of inclinations go. We were only there to look around and talk and he insisted on making loud suggestions that I weren't all that. Sexually et cetera...' He could feel a faint flush in his cheeks at even having to repeat that. 'It's all part of the game. He wants me to get angry. Draco likes it when I do. He says... he says I hit better when I'm pissed off. And the rules are part of that too. They're there for fun. For him to follow and get praise or break and be punished.'

'So he wants to break them...?'

'Often, yes. But he likes the praise too. It soothes his ego.'

That comment got a giggle out of Ginny and Harry kissed her cheek, very happy to hear her laugh even now. Especially since his former self had just made Draco take off the remaining clothes under threat of something pretty vicious and Draco was now in the process of retrieving cuffs, sturdy and made of leather, for his wrists and putting them on. A length of rope was resting on the bed now. Harry knew it had come from the box Draco kept his toys in and that same Draco had pulled it seconds before when Harry told him to get it.

The pair watched in silence as Pensieve-Harry used the cuffs and rope to tie Draco to the bar at the top of the four-poster bed.

'Why do you let him hold on to the ropes?' Ginny cut in as Pensieve-Harry began to run his hands over Draco's exposed body, found his hardening cock and stroked it.

'It's for safety,' Harry answered, tearing his eyes away from the sight in front of them. 'If he loses his footing he might injure himself, but if he holds on to the ropes he'll keep his balance much better and can catch himself.' Harry was glad she'd asked. It was important that she know it was all planned and a lot more calculated than it probably looked. And it meant she was open-minded about it all.

This time the interruption was the unmistakable sound of flesh being struck and both their heads whipped back to look at the two at the bed. Pensieve-Harry was using the flogger now and each lash made Draco gasp or cry out, his back arching like a bow. A couple of times Harry stopped and touched Draco, running gentle fingers over the marks he made or kissing his neck. Once he stroked Draco's cock as well, causing him to moan loud in obvious pleasure.

'Why do you touch him? Isn't it supposed to be a punishment?' Ginny asked.

'It is. But it feels so much better when it's mixed. He can handle more pain if I please him, too, and the pleasure is stronger like that, when I'm also hurting him.' Almost exactly as he said that, the Harry over there stopped again and stepped closer to Draco. A hand curled around his cock and Draco cried out. When Harry pinched his nipple so hard it made Draco yell it was obvious that he nearly came from it. The spectacle pretty much proved Harry's point.

'I see that...' Ginny chewed her lip, not entirely convinced, but she didn't say anything else, simply watched as the whipping resumed, this time focusing on Draco's arse for a while before returning to his shoulders.

To Harry this was a unique experience. He could see the face of his lover when he was being whipped and he could see just how much Draco loved it.; the way his face was contorting with both pain and something else, something that got more and more clear and approached ecstasy. It was enrapturing to see and for a few moments Harry completely forgot that Ginny was there. Until he felt her eyes on him.

'You... you really do get off on this...' It was like she hadn't truly realised this before. 'Even now. You look at him like that and...' She glanced back at the two memory-people. 'It's. Wrong.'

Harry pulled her into a hug. He didn't know what else to do. She was seeing her husband whipping someone so hard they were crying out and it must be terrifying. Draco was clearly going to be bruised and marked afterwards and he, Harry, was doing that. For fun. As he held her, words started to form, words of explanation. He held her a foot or so away and caught her eye.

'Don't look at that. Look here. At me. Now.' His voice was no more than a whisper. 'You need to know a few things.' He should have thought of this before. Or there ought to be a pause button in a memory. 'He can stop me any time. He has that power. He's the one who set down the real rules, the important ones, about what I can do and what I can't. We pretend they don't exist, but they do and they're far more important than any we make up for fun. We even have some of it in writing. It's what he wants.'

She nodded, looking a bit less like a deer in a headlight. She even gave a short nod.

'What you want, too.'

'Yes.' Harry was not going to lie. 'What I want too. But it's not just pain. Give it a little longer. Just a bit. You'll see.'

She was slow to turn and look again, not that he could blame her, and when she did the sight that met her wasn't exactly comforting. Though she seemed to have steeled herself for far worse, because she relaxed when she saw that the scene hadn't changed much. Only now, Draco had tears streaming down his face. Harry forced the fascination he felt, coupled with lust and love, into the background so he could concentrate on Ginny.

He put his arm around Ginny, knowing she'd need it. It was just in time, because two seconds after, Draco gave one, loud scream and Pensieve-Harry dropped the whip. Ginny gasped, apparently fearing that Harry was about to do something worse; he could feel her tense.

But then Pensieve-Harry stepped up close behind Draco and put his arms around him and nuzzled his neck.

'What..?' Ginny was baffled. 'Are you whispering? What are you saying?'

Instead of answering, Harry led her a little closer. Now they could see the angry, red marks on Draco's back and the purple areas where bruises were starting to form. And they could hear Harry's whispers.

'Beautiful boy,' he whispered. 'You were so brave.' He stepped behind Draco, one arm firmly around his waist as he carefully untied the ropes. Draco sagged against him and Harry kissed his wet cheek.

'Is it okay now?' Draco asked, only a little more controlled than a sob. 'Forgive me for making fun of you?'

Harry hugged him gently and led him around the corner of the bed and helped him sit down. He was still standing when he took Draco's face between his hands and kissed him.

'You know the rule,' he said, and it was clear now that there was love in those words, 'punishment means forgiveness.'

'May I?' Draco fiddled with Harry's belt-buckle.

'Yes.'

'Will you fuck me and let me come? Please?' Draco's eyes were wide and open. Vulnerable and pleading. Ginny's hand went to her mouth as she muffled a gasp.

'Yes.'

Harry didn't see any of what happened after, because Ginny pulled his sleeve.

'Let's go. I- I can't see this. It would be wrong. Too intimate.' Her voice was so urgent that he knew it was important.

'All right.' He stepped back, pulling her with him, and they tumbled backwards onto the floor of their own living room.


* * *

It was a while before Ginny was ready to talk. Harry was surprised that Draco was very solicitous of her and made sure she had tea and was comfortable. He felt strangely out of the loop, as if the two suddenly shared something he couldn't be in on - which was even stranger since whatever it was, it had to do with him. Perhaps was him. But he wasn't all that surprised when Ginny looked up at Draco.

'I would like to talk to you, please? Alone?'

Draco nodded. 'I thought you might,' he said. 'I have no problem with that. If Harry will wait outside?'

The looks in the two pair of eyes turned at him were similar, almost eerily so, but Harry nodded despite his misgivings. If they connected it was good. As long as they didn't decide they could do without him.

'I'll be right outside if you need me,' he said and got up, still holding his teacup. This time he touched neither of them on the way out.

As the door closed behind him, Harry wasted no time. He put his cup on the small cabinet in the hall and rushed upstairs to his study, opened a desk drawer, grabbed a small box and hurried downstairs again. He might be shut out, but he wanted to know what they were saying. This was too important not to. And so he unfolded an old pair of Extendable Ears and hoped to any power in the world that they hadn't somehow deteriorated over the last five or so years.

'-in it for you?' Ginny said inside the living room. Harry let out a sigh of relief and reached for his tea. No need to let it go to waste now that he could listen, too.

'Which part?' Draco asked. 'The part where he beats me because I want it or the part where I don't mind that he's married to you and loves us both?' Trust Draco to be blunt when he felt it was needed. Harry smiled to himself.

'Well. Since you put it that way: both.' Harry could practically hear Ginny's hands on her hips.

'What's in it for you? Sharing him with me?'

'Don't play tricks with me, Malfoy.'

'Draco. Your husband fucks me. Call me Draco.'

'And your lover is married to me. Don't play tricks with me. Draco.'

'All right. To answer the last part first. I have very little to lose in this. He gives me something I need and he's been married to you all the time. What I stand to win, however, is a lover who's a lot happier and doesn't feel guilty for being with me. One who can feel free to love me and be loved back without that being a slow poison between us. Because he can't just leave his family. I know him. So do you. He can't leave. If one of you ends this marriage, it's going to be you.'

'How dare you-'

'Hear me out, Ginny. It's not meant as a critique of either of you. It's who you are. It's his strength and your strength. You're strong enough to not compromise yourself and he's strong enough to stick with what he believes in.'

There was a long silence. Harry was impressed. With Draco, mostly, and he felt a strong urge to kiss both of the people in there. He loved them so much and as Draco spoke he finally let himself feel that love. It was too soon, because if this didn't work out it would hurt more, but he couldn't hold it back any longer. How it was possible to love two people like that he'd never understand, but there it was.

'And the other...?' Ginny sounded impressed too and at least like she was considering this very carefully.

'I think you've seen enough to know that,' Draco answered and his voice had taken on a much softer note now. 'To me, as odd as it may seem, it feels good. Not that it doesn't hurt, what you saw, it does, but it makes the pleasure so much stronger, too. It allows me to let go. I can't think when he takes over and I know it's okay because he takes care of me. I can relax. Completely. I bet he's like that in bed with you as well. Just without all the pain.'

'I suppose...' There was a break again and Harry imagined Ginny chewing on her lip as she tended to do when she was deep in thought. 'He does take care of me. Makes sure I get everything I need.'

'That's what I mean. He takes care of both us, the way we need it. Being driven to the edge is what gives me my kicks. What you saw before, that was the first time he managed to make me cry. I don't do that easily. And he knew what it was. That it was a gift I gave him. He let me know it was appreciated and gave something back to me. Each time I let him hurt me, it's a gift. In return he takes all of it away from me. All the things I don't want to have been. Mistakes I made. Wrongs I've committed. It's all right again when he's done with me and I've paid for it.'

'But... I thought you just broke rules that were for fun?'

'I do. That doesn't mean that the relief isn't real. It is. Very much so. And for your sake I'm sorry you can't enjoy it, because even small bits of pain really does enhance the pleasure. You'd get a hell of an orgasm.'

Ginny laughed in there. 'I already do. With him.'

Harry flushed and yanked the ear back to him. He'd heard enough and it was best if he didn't hear any more of this. He had a feeling it wouldn't stop at that. As he pocketed the Ear a cry of laughter from both of them seeped under the door and he knew he'd been right. So he sipped his tea and tried not to imagine what they were saying or what embarrassing details about him they were bonding over.

A while after, the door opened again and a smiling Ginny asked him to come back inside. As Harry walked into the living room he was almost shocked at the change in the atmosphere. From being tense and filled with an almost tangible shadow, the room now felt bright and pleasant as always. Even more than usual, in fact. Because both Ginny and Draco were smiling at him.

'We found a few common grounds,' Ginny explained and there was a shared look between them that, again, made Harry wonder if he'd got more out of this than he'd bargained for. He didn't have long to think, though, because Draco rose from his seat as well and joined them.

'We've agreed on a time-share scheme,' he explained. 'Including me being a house-guest here when we all feel like it.'

'Oh.' Harry looked from one to the other. They were clearly amused at his confusion and surprise. Now he had one on either side. 'Do I get a say?'

'A little,' Ginny said. 'You still do get to say no. To sex. The rest... We'll see about that. You started this mess, and now you're getting what you wanted, so you'll have to live with it.'

'Just don't expect Ginny and I to touch intimately. I do have a strict "no girls" policy,' Draco added.

'I know.' Harry felt a bit dazed. That they'd even think he might suggest that. God. Were they all going to sleep in the same bed, now?

'You are staying here with me tonight,' Ginny said. 'We're picking up the kids and in a few days Draco will come over and they can meet our friend. Just our friend. Then you and he can have some time. We've worked it all out. Draco will explain to Asteria, as well. And I want to meet her if she's willing. We must have something in common.'

All Harry could think to do was nod. Then Ginny kissed him. 'I'm going back to my parents now,' she said. 'Meet me there in twenty minutes. That's enough time for me to prepare mum for not having to skin you alive after all.'

She was out the door before he could answer and a few moments after he heard the Floo in the kitchen. Then he realised that Draco's arm was still around his waist and another kiss was pressed to his lips. That one he had time to respond to, so he returned it in full. Seconds later, when the kiss finally broke, he looked closely at Draco.

'So. You are now best friends with my wife, eh?'

Draco gave a derisive snort. 'As if. We've come to a truce. We don't want to lose you and the only way we can have you and not break you at the same time is if we share you. At least try for this month. And she's not that bad...'

'No, she isn't.' Harry kissed him again. 'As opposed to someone else who's always bad.'

'Of course. If I weren't, you wouldn't punish me properly.' Draco rubbed against him in that shameless manner that never failed to drive Harry crazy.

'Twenty minutes is enough to bend you over the couch and give you a good beating with my belt,' Harry warned him.

'Is that a promise?' Draco started fiddling with Harry's belt. 'And you'll fuck me too?'

'You're entirely too demanding.'

'So teach me not to be.'

Twenty minutes would be enough.




~ ~ ~ Seven years later, King's Cross Station, London ~ ~ ~

Platform 9 3/4 was as busy and crowded as ever and it was hard to find the Weasley family in the smoke. The kids were joking around, Hermione was scolding Ron for House-supremacy and then, in the middle of it all, Ron pointed out Draco across the platform. He was wearing a black, buttoned coat and his hair pulled back from his face, making it look sharper than usual. In a flash, Harry imagined pulling that hair, messing it up. He remembered the marks he knew were hidden under that coat and the bracelet around Draco's wrist that bound him to Harry. Imagined crushing his lips against Draco before-. No. Not going in that direction, not here. He didn't fancy being aroused in a public place. It was bad enough that all the kids and most of the parents were staring at him.

He gave Draco a short nod and received one back. Draco's son Scorpius was going this year as well. Same age as Al. The comparison was easy to make and Harry wondered if the two would get along better than their fathers had. He hoped so. Not that either child knew the extent of their parents' friendship at all, but just knowing they were friendly might make a difference.

As the children all boarded the train, Harry told Al the secret of the Sorting Hat, the importance of choice, and when he told his son that no matter which House he was in it wouldn't make a difference, he meant every word. Thanks to Draco.

The train disappeared and he was left standing there with Ginny and Lily. He glanced over at Draco who looked almost lost. There was no doubt he would miss Scorpius awfully. Harry made a mental note to talk to him about it next week when he came to stay.

Next year all their children would be away at Hogwarts and they already had plans for when they had the complete run of the house.

'He'll be all right,' Ginny murmured and Harry wondered if she meant Al or Draco or both.

'I know,' he said and kissed her cheek. The only pain in his life was the kind Draco asked for. All was well.