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When You Kiss Me (What A Lovely Way To Burn)

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The first red lipstick Draco remembers is his grandmother's. Slick and scarlet across her thin lips, it left marks on his cheek when she leaned down to kiss him, ones that she had to scrub away with her thumb, laughing as she did so. It smelled waxy beneath the scent of her mints and the roses of her perfume, and a five-year-old Draco once asked his mother why his lips weren't as bright and happy as Grandmother Black's. Narcissa had just frowned at him whilst putting on her own pale pink lippie, saying, "Boys' mouths are fine just as they are, darling, and don't you have a lovely one, anyway?"

But still Draco watched his grandmother's lips in fascination, even as she grew older and the red lipstick began to feather into the tiny wrinkles around her lips, the once sharply defined line softening, diffusing, as if he were seeing his grandmother through a rain-streaked window pane.

And then Grandmother died, far too young by wizarding standards, but Draco thought perhaps the years of living with Grandfather Black and his stern scowl had taken their toll. He heard whispers from other people--never his mother--that his grandmother had died of a broken heart, but no one could ever decide whether it was from his grandfather's philandering ways or the fact that she missed her youngest daughter, who'd done something terrible, it seems. Draco was almost in Hogwarts before anyone mentioned her name to him. Andromeda. He'd rolled the name around his tongue, testing it out, and he'd wondered about her, curious if she were as mad as Aunt Bella, whom Mother only spoke about when Father was angry at the dinner table, ranting about his friends who'd been put in Azkaban. Frankly, Draco'd thought his mother was afraid of her older sister, by the way she flinched when Father brought her up, but at least she spoke of Bellatrix. Andromeda was different, and when he'd asked Mother about her, she'd just gone pale, sitting at her vanity with a tube of lipstick in her hand, and told him not to speak that name again.

And so he hadn't. Not for many years.

His mother started wearing red lipstick after Grandmother died. It surprised Draco when he stepped off the Hogwarts Express at the end of first year, and she was waiting for him alongside his father, her lips full and crimson instead of the rosy pink she'd worn as long as Draco could recall. Draco didn't like it at first; he thought the colour too harsh for his mother's face, and he told her so, but Narcissa had just laughed and touched his cheek, telling him boys never understood cosmetics anyway.

Still, Draco knows he was right. The red'd been a bit too orange for his mother's fair skin, and he'd been surprised when he'd realised, watching her put it on one day, that it was the same lipstick that his grandmother had used, the one that had looked beautiful on her sallow face. And Draco had started to watch women's lips then, to study the colours and how they worked with the shade of their skin, their hair, to look at how the creamy pigments sat on their mouths, shaping them in different ways.

Pansy had worn red lipstick. It'd been a Muggle brand, one she'd picked up in Paris during Easter hols fifth year, and he'd known she'd chosen it deliberately to annoy her mother. The tube was black and silver, and when she swiveled the lippie up out of it, Dior was carved into the blue-red wax, and it smelled sweet like a good wine. It'd stained her mouth crimson the first time she'd sucked his prick--the first time anyone had, if Draco's honest--and Draco sometimes still thinks about that moment and the way her lips had stretched around his cock, wide and oh so red, and how the lipstick had smeared along his shaft, across her skin and his, thin red streaks that had disappeared with each press of her mouth down until he was shaking, his thighs trembling, his hands tangled in her thick, dark hair. And when she'd pulled back, his spunk sliding from the corner of her lips, the lipstick had been smudged across her pale chin.

And Draco had wanted to be her, to look like that, eyes blown wide, hair mussed, all of him so bloody filthy. He'd kissed her, but only because he'd wanted to taste himself and her lipstick on his tongue, to feel the slick stickiness of it across his lips.

Perhaps he ought to have known then he was bent, Draco thinks, and he looks at himself in the cracked mirror. The fairy lights hanging from the corners shine on his perfectly beat face, the contours elegant beneath his cheekbones, down the sides of his nose, beginning the change from an angular, awkward man into graceful femininity. His lashes are long and lush tonight, the mascara blending the pale gold length of his own with the luxurious false ones, curving them up to make his grey eyes look enormous and wide. Draco likes the way he looks tonight, the shimmering highlight across his cheeks, along the upper curve of his still bare lip. His hair is taped back beneath the wig cap; his eyebrows have been hidden with purple glue and foundation, then redrawn on again with a steady, graceful hand, the arches mirroring his mother's, the way she'd groomed hers whilst he watched from her side as a child, waiting for her to finish, to look at herself with a faint smile and a nod and one final sweep of her powder brush across her cheek before she reached for her perfume and sprayed it in the air towards her breasts before spritzing just a bit above Draco's head.

Draco can still remember the scent of the tiny droplets settling on his skin, roses and violets and something just a little bit darker beneath.

He licks his bare lip. There are only ten, perhaps fifteen minutes left before he'll be called out to the stage. Draco ignores the bustle behind him in the tiny dressing room, the handful other queens still sliding into their dresses, laughing as they balance in their high heels, all of them waiting for their curtain. His sisters are blurs of sparkles and bright colours in the mirror behind him; the first time he'd walked into this Midtown Muggle club, hidden away in one of the side streets off Times Square, Draco had known he'd found his place in this unfamiliar, unsettling city. He'd watched them, week after week, on the club's stage, envied them their freedom, the way they never seemed to care what others thought of them. And then one night, after the last number had faded and the stage lights had been switched off, Emilia had walked off the stage, in her glittering gown, dark curls piled on top of her head, her brown skin shimmering, and she'd stopped in front of Draco, studying him for a long moment.

"You'll do," she'd said, and she'd held out her hand, her fingers long and graceful, the nails painted a soft pink. Draco hadn't hesitated to take it, to let her pull him from his seat, leave behind the remnants of the three vodka gimlets he'd knocked back in the past hour. Emilia'd led him back to this room, to the other queens, who'd been waiting for them, who'd clapped and shouted when Emilia brought him in, announced he'd be part of the family. They'd taken him under their wings, made him feel one of them, recognised him even in his drab, broken plumage.

Draco will always be grateful for that.

His gaze sweeps across the mess of cosmetics scattered across the battered table in front of him. Pots of creams and eyeliners, blushes and mascaras, all spread out in front of him. He looks at his reflection again, at the smudged, smokey eyeshadow that brightens his eyes, at the carefully blended foundations that soften his face. He looks like his mother, Draco thinks, and he wonders how furious his father would be about that. It doesn't matter, really. He's in New York because his father had disowned him, thrown him out of the Manor when he'd discovered Draco on his knees in the library, sucking Theo Nott off. Perhaps it might have been different if Draco had been the one with his prick in Theo's mouth, or perhaps if Draco hadn't been so obviously enjoying making Theo moan, relishing the way Theo had been pulling his hair, telling Draco to suck him, that he wanted to sully a goddamned Malfoy mouth.

Lucius hadn't been able to handle the humiliation. It seems having a bent son was more embarrassing to him than the two years he'd spent in Azkaban after the war. Those he could live down. Draco, on the other hand, had to be publicly renounced. He tells himself he hadn't cared, that he still doesn't, but deep down inside, Draco knows he's lying. But what had hurt the most was the way his mother had looked away from him, the way she'd refused to defy his father, to stand up for her son. Draco knows his mother's been beaten down over the years by Lucius' arrogance, but he hadn't expected her to stand silently by as his father ripped him apart.

The most Narcissa had done was slip money into his hand when he'd come down from his room, his packed luggage floating behind him. That and tell him to go to his aunt, that Andromeda would take him in, she knew she would.

His mother hadn't been wrong. Andromeda had taken care of him, had given Draco a place to sleep, a home in which to lick his wounds, and Draco will forever be grateful to her. She'd saved his life, and when she'd decided to leave London, to escape the weight of her daughter's death, and her husband's and her son-in-law's, Draco had come with her and Teddy. There hadn't been anything left in London for him. Only Pansy had answered his owls, and even she'd been pressured by her parents to stop. Not that she would. Pansy would never walk away from Draco. The way the others had.

Therese leans over his shoulder. "Better finish beating that pretty face, girl," she says, a tumble of ginger curls falling over her shoulder. "Or you'll be bumping and grinding in nothing but hip pads and no titties." Therese will be ending the show, and Draco's half-envious of that, of her sharp, vicious wit and the way she commands a stage. She makes them all laugh out there, and even when she's eviscerating some poor bloke sat in the front tables, the bastard's clapping along, eager to be taken down by the Queen of Mean.

Draco reaches for the tube of Ruby Woo. It's his favourite red lippie now, a deep blue-red that makes his full lips stand out against his pale skin. He uses a brush to line the curves of his mouth, then he fills the rest in carefully, blotting with a tissue before sliding a finger between his lips and pulling it out to make certain no lipstick stains his white teeth.

"Ooh, girl, look at her," Angel says from across the room. Draco's gaze flicks up to her reflection; Angel's settling her perfectly styled, dark brown wig on her forehead. The smile she gives Draco is a flash of rosy pink. "Practicing some for one of those boys of yours tonight? Getting her a little something-something between those sexy lips?"

"I wish." Draco wipes his lipstick-stained finger on another tissue, then stands up. He's already tucked and padded, his prick hidden between his legs and beneath a pair spangled black knickers. He has sheer black stockings on as well, the lacy edges going halfway up his thigh, just enough to be seen beneath the tall, black patent leather boots he's wearing, with the three inch heels that make him tower above some of the other girls. Thank Merlin he has brilliant legs. It makes showing them off so much easier. "You know I don't shag anyone out there." He can hear the shouts and applause from the stage; Pepper's lip-synching to something fast and loud. The boys must love it.

Therese takes his place at the mirror, leaning towards it and frowning as she settles her tits, then reaches for a powder brush. She needs a bit more chest contouring, Draco thinks. Therese hates looking flat-chested. Draco's never really minded all that much. Small tits make it easier to fit in the clothes he likes. "Baby," Therese says, looking back over her shoulder at him, "you missing out on some spectacular dick then."

Angel mm-hmms over from her corner, and Nikki, who's sat on a bench, taking off her wig post-performance, nods at him. "Tuesday night, let me tell you. That sweet piece of ass down by the bar? You see that?"

"Tall, gorgeous, and a good nine-inches, judging from that bulge in his pants?" Angel gives Nikki a long, pointed look. "Yeah, girl. I ain't no fool. I saw that."

Draco rolls his eyes and slips into his black, glittery bra, leaning forward and reaching back behind him to clasp it as tight as he can so he gets a hint of cleavage. It's hard to breathe for a moment as the elastic band digs into his ribs, but it settles and he smoothes his hands down over the padded cups before picking up his black corset, embroidered with silver serpents. It's a recent splurge, and he's enchanted it to lace itself, as tightly as he can stand, but only when the others aren't watching.

Nikki stretches, pulls her wig cap off and throws it down onto the bench beside her. She runs her fingers through her short, dark hair. "Might have been a bit over nine inches, because, baby doll, it took a good ten minutes for him to get all up in this." She slaps her padded hip. "Know what I mean?"

"I think we all know what you mean," Therese says from the mirror. She turns just enough to eye her tits in her reflection. "But our little Miss Thang over there--" She points the powder brush Draco's way. "She needs a good fuck, I think. How long has it been?"

Draco takes a shallow breath against the boning of the corset. "Not that long." He knows by the sceptical look Therese gives him that she doesn't believe him. And she probably shouldn't. Draco hasn't gone home with anyone for a month or two. Maybe longer. He can't really remember. The last time had been a drunken blow job in another club's loo with a man with sour breath and dark green eyes. It hadn't been awful, but it hadn't been that memorable either, Draco thinks. All he remembers is the man seeing his Dark Mark as Draco'd reached up to grab the sides of the stall, and pulling his mouth away from Draco's prick to tell him his tattoo looked hot. It'd nearly made Draco go soft against the bastard's lips. He doesn't like anyone noticing the Mark; he covers it with Dermablend and a discreet concealing charm anytime he goes on stage. The Mark's a reminder of how stupid he'd been as a teenager. Now that he's twenty-five, he doesn't like remembering the mistakes he's made. It's one of the reasons he left London, after all. His aunt had understood that when he'd begged her to take him to New York with her.

"Girl," Nikki says, unzipping the back of her short green dress, "You need a goddamn fuck or twenty. I'd offer, but spreading my legs for you feels a bit too…" She wrinkles her nose.

"Incestous?" Draco says with a faint smile.

Nikki shrugs. "I don't fuck my sisters, if I can help it. Did it once, back when I first started out, and it went bad fast." She shakes her head, stands, letting her dress slide off her narrow hips. "Couldn't work with her for a whole damn year, and you know how that goes around here." She looks disgusted, her darkly sketched eyebrows drawing together in annoyance. "It's bad news, baby. Hella bad news."

Angel snaps her fingers. "I hear you, mama. Don't fuck with your sisters or your sisters' fucks, am I right?"

"Unless a sister sets you up with her fuck," Therese says. She glances over at Draco. "I've got one I'm nearly done with if you want me to pass him on." She brushes a ginger curl back behind her shoulder. "He'll be all over that sweet little English accent of yours."

"I'll manage on my own, thanks," Draco says--firmly, because he knows full well the others won't leave him be if they think there's any chance of him wavering. Therese just shrugs and turns back to the mirror, as does Angel.

Nikki gives him a long look. "Whatever you say, baby." She hangs her dress on one of the racks at the side of the room, zipping it into a garment bag. The backs of her heels are bleeding a bit through his stockings, and Draco frowns. He'd told Nikki those shoes she wanted to wear were too sodding tight. Still, none of his business. A queen wears what a queen wants to wear, he's learnt that these past few years. Draco's just grateful he has the option of cushioning charms in his heels. He doesn't know how the Muggle girls stand it.

Draco slips into the black tulle robe he's made for himself, based off one he remembers his mother wearing. This one's far more suggestive, though, buttoning over the small swell of his tits, then hanging free, the yards of sheer ruffles swirling around his hips, down his thighs, over his boots. It looks amazing on him, the arms fitted to his elbows, then belling out in more ruffles that fall to the tips of his fingers, his neatly trimmed, neatly shaped nails polished in the same pale pink that Emilia wears. It's his tribute to her, and tonight his outfit incorporates both of his mothers, birth and drag. Draco's happy about that. He feels good with how he looks, as he picks his wig up, the blonde curls twisted into a loose chignon at the nape. He slides it on, and when the others are looking away, he takes his wand out of his satchel on the bench across the room and casts a temporary sticking charm. He tries not to use too much magic in his drag--it undermines the artistry of it all otherwise--but when it comes to making certain his hair stays in place, Draco has no compunctions. He looks in a mirror, makes sure his lacefront is in place, then reaches over Therese to hide it with a sponge of foundation and a sweep of powder.

The woman looking back at him from the mirror is beautiful. Delicate and almost ethereal, elegant and sexy, even. Draco feels her take him over, feels her settle into his body, feels himself shifting, changing even the way he stands.

"Cissy?" Therese says, looking up at Draco, and Draco exhales, quirks one hip, sinks into Cissy. "You good, girl?"

Draco nods, and Cissy does with him, a faint smile curving her crimson lips in the mirror. "Brilliant," they both say in one voice, lighter, breathier than Draco's. He can feel the difference, and he laughs, full and throaty, stretching his neck, turning to look at himself in the mirror, catching sight of the strip of pale skin between the edge of the corset and the lace of his knickers. His hip bone juts out beneath the tulle robe; he definitely looks fuckable.

Maybe his sisters are right. Maybe he needs a good shag tonight. It wouldn't hurt to leave his options open, to bend his rules a little. Would it?

There's a rap on the door, a voice that calls, "Cissy, you're up next."

"Break a leg," Angel says, as Draco turns from the mirror. She air-kisses Draco's cheek. "You'll be fabulous, baby, like always."

Draco's not so sure. These are the moments he hates the most. The pounding of his heart as he follows the stagehand down the narrow, filthy hallway. The one toilet backstage is out of order; it reeks as they pass by, but there's something oddly grounding about the earthiness of the stench. It's part of the magic of New York, Draco thinks, the way the city smells and feels, the rumble of the trains as they pass by underground, the buzz of the city itself, sparking across his skin. London had never felt this way. Its magic was older, more settled. Not as exciting and new and fierce and bold. He breathes in, tries to gather the magic in the pit of his belly, tries to feel it pulse through him. It sets Draco on edge, but in a good way, as if it's something he can harness, can bring onto the stage with him. Maybe he can.

Pepper passes him at the edge of the stage, smiling widely. "They're all yours, girl," she says, and she smacks Draco's hip. "Slay, baby."

Just past the black backdrop, Draco can catch a glimpse of the audience, filling the tables near the stage and spilling over into the benches that line the sides of the room, all the way back to the bar. On dance nights, the tables are gone, and the space is filled with half-naked bodies pressed against each other. Draco stays away those nights. When he wants to dance he goes somewhere else. Somewhere classier than this shithole bar that he loves for its very grittiness.

He can hear Emilia on stage, working the crowd the way only she can. Mami's taught him much over the years, but Draco knows he has more to learn from her. The ease with which she can tease the audience, leaving the hanging on to her every word, commanding their attention with a silent look. She's drag royalty, a nearly thirty-year veteran of the art, coming of age when the balls ruled the nightlife, when the Houses walked off against each other, competing for the huge trophies that gave them bragging rights. Emilia'd been an Xtravaganza, had cut her baby gay teeth on runway and realness. Draco'd heard the stories from his very first night under Mami Emilia's tutelage, and sometimes he wishes he could have been there to see how fierce she'd been back then.

And then he hears Emilia call his name--"Miss Cissy Malafides!"--and he's moving, striding forward on his high heels, his robe swirling around him, fluffy and fabulous, and the crowd's roaring, shouting Cissy over and over again, their feet stomping the floor almost enough to rattle the stage.

Draco stands in the floodlights for a moment, taking it all in, feeling the waves of energy that are washing his way from the raucous crowd. It's almost too much, and there's part of him that wants to turn, to run away, but Cissy won't let him. She breathes in, and Draco relaxes. This is what they love, he and Cissy both, this is why they do this, why Draco dresses up, beats his face, turns himself into Cissy. There's nothing better than to be adored, to be watched, to be seen like this, not as Draco Malfoy but as Cissy Malafides, and he lets himself melt into Cissy, lets her raise his hands, waiting for the crowd to settle.

They finally do.

"Well, isn't that a delightful welcome," Cissy says, and she smiles out at the crowd. "And here I was wondering if maybe Pepper mightn't have stolen all the love from you lot." There are whistles and shrieks from the back of the room, and Cissy laughs, low and soft into the microphone Emilia hands her. "Well, as most of you know, I can't dance like Pepper." There's a whoop from a table, and Cissy raises an elegant eyebrow. "We hear from one of my former partners right now, I think." She sweeps across the stage, and she knows every eye is on her, and she loves it, loves the feeling of having the entire room looking at her, waiting to see what she might do. She turns her back to them all, then looks over her shoulder. The front tables are smiling, their necks craned. The lights are hot, and Draco can feel the first sweat droplet roll down the back of his neck, disappearing into the chignon at Cissy's nape. "And I'm not as amusing as Mami Emilia, which is quite the shame. I'd rather like to have a mouth like hers." She lets her eyebrow go higher. "She does put it to such good use."

More laughter and claps, and Cissy has them in the palm of her hand. She turns back around, sharply enough so that her robe swirls open, giving a quick glimpse of lace thigh-highs and rhinestoned knickers. "But what I can do, my lovelies, is sing." The music starts off behind her, soft at first. "And maybe," she says, touching her thigh, dragging her fingers up over the lace edge of her stocking, over her pale skin, letting them dip between her legs. "Maybe if you show yours…" She drags her fingertips over the front of her knickers. "I'll show mine?" A quick flick of the elastic edge against her skin, pulling the knickers down just enough to give the appearance of showing a bit of pussy, and the crowd's shouting again, fists pumping in the air. Cissy gives them all a coy smile as the music grows louder, steady snaps of fingers and the thrum of bass strings rising up over the noise from the tables. "You have a bit of fever, babes?" she asks, her voice echoing through the microphone, and they go wild, pounding against the table, the floor, anything that makes noise. "Because let me tell you, I bloody well do."

Cissy holds her hand up and they settle. Draco loves this part, loves the way they fall in line, loves how their clapping starts to mimic the rhythm of the finger snaps of the background track and Cissy's own, sharp and staccato. There's no lip-syncing for Cissy. Draco's always loved to sing, from the lullabies his mother had settled him with as a child to Celestina Warbeck on the WWN to the Weird Sisters as loud as he could get them in his dormitory at Hogwarts. And here he can indulge this love, can sing to heart's content, his voice weaving a spell of its own on the entire room. He knows a few of his sisters are stepping out of the stage wings, flanking him, their finger snaps falling into line with Cissy's.

And Cissy takes a soft breath, then sings, "Never knew how much I love you; never knew how much I cared…" She walks to the edge of the stage, leans over, gives the first table a good view of her tits. "When you put your arms around me, I got a fever that's so hard to bear--you give me fever--" The crowd shrieks; a bloke stands up and shoves a twenty in her bra. "When you kiss me; fever when you hold me tight. Fever--" A jerk of her lips; she glances back over her shoulder. "In the morning…" She walks over to the other end of the stage, lets a leg slide out from the swirl of tulle, then sinks into a squat. "Fever all through the night." Her booted knees are spread wide; she flashes her shiny knickers at the crowd. Light sparkles off the rhinestones when she glances down, pretending to hide behind a curl of her hair that's intentionally loose.

"Sun lights up the daytime," she sings, letting her body roll back up into a standing position. "Moon lights up the night. I light up when you call my name--"

"Cissy!" someone shouts from the bar, and Cissy just smiles, and points towards the voice.

"And you know I'm going to treat you right." Cissy quirks a finger, and the crowd goes wild. "You give me fever--" She dips backwards almost enough to do a full bend. "When you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight."

Cissy sings her way down the steps at the front of the stage, her sisters finger-snapping as they move forward from the sides to the edges of the stage. She stops at one of the tables to run her fingers through the thick, dark hair of a bloke who pulls her against him, tucks another bill in the other cup of her bra before she slaps the back of his head lightly and slides out of his grasp. "Everybody's got the fever--" She swings around, her fingers unbuttoning her robe. "That is something you all know." The robe slides from her shoulders, pooling at her feet. "Fever isn't such a new thing…"

Another turn and she's facing a new table, this one with a solitary figure sat at it, a man her own age, with messy dark hair and round, wire-framed glasses.

Harry bloody sodding Potter.

"Fever started long ago." Cissy only stumbles once, catching herself on the edge of Potter's table. He's watching her, with those bright green eyes of his, his face unreadable, and Draco won't fuck this up, won't let Cissy falter because he wasn't expecting to turn around and face Harry Potter in this shithole of a club. Cissy takes a deep breath, meets Potter's gaze as she lets her arms stretch up, showing off her small tits to her best advantage.

"Romeo loved Juliet," she sings, and she lets herself lean back across Potter's table, lets her hands slide down her breasts, over the embroidered corset that's making her waist tiny, across the sharp jut of her hipbones beneath the rhinestoned satin of her knickers. "Juliet felt the same." She pulls herself up, twists to straddle Potter, one boot on either side of his chair, her knees wide. Potter's gaze flicks down to her knickers, and Cissy lets her hand cup herself, fingers sliding back towards her taint before leaning forward and draping her wrists over Potter's shoulders. "When he put his arms around her, he said, Julie baby, you're my flame." Potter's lips part just a bit, and Cissy pulls back, kicking one leg up over Potter's head as she slides back off the table.

"You giveth fever." She lets Potter have a good look at her arse when she rolls her hips, her arms up in the air. "When you kiss me. Fever with your flaming youth."

Her sisters on stage throw their hands up. "Fever," they shout as Cissy makes her way back through the tables, dipping down to grab her robe. "I'm on fire."

Cissy stops on the steps, looking back over her shoulder. "Fever, I burn forsooth." Potter's still watching her as she strides back on stage. Her hands are shaking; she has no idea how she makes it through the rest of the song. Her legs are trembling, but her voice stays clear and on pitch, and she holds her head up high as she dances with her sisters, falling into a death drop, splaying herself across the stage, as her sisters sing, "What a lovely way to burn," behind her.

The applause is thunderous as she clambers back up. Most of the room is on their feet, whistling and shouting, and Cissy blows a kiss to them all, going to the edge of the stage to gather the bills that are being thrust out at her. When she looks back at Potter's table, he's watching her. He lifts his glass of whisky, almost as if in a salute, his head dipping forward in a nod, and Draco feels a flutter deep in his stomach as he retreats from the stage, snatching the wig off as soon as he gets into the hallway. He doesn't have another number tonight, thank Merlin. He's not certain he could make it through it. Of all people he ever thought he'd perform in front of, Harry Potter's never been one of them.

Angel passes him in the hallway, then stops, looking back at him. "Baby girl," she says, her hand on Draco's bare arm, "you all right?"

Draco just nods because he's no idea what he can say. Angel narrows her eyes at him, looking him up and down with that sharp, dark-eyed gaze of hers, then says, "Cissy, honey, did someone do something out there? Because, hand to God, girl, if they did, I'll go right out there and cut their goddamn dick off for you--"

"I'm fine," Draco manages to get out, and he gives Angel a wan smile. She doesn't look convinced, but the stagehand's tugging on her elbow, so she lets go of his arm reluctantly.

'You better be, baby," Angel says, and her perfectly drawn on brows furrow. "I'll kick someone's ass for you. You know that, Cissy. I swear,"

And Draco does. Angel's been by his side since Emilia first brought him backstage. She'd been the one who'd shown him how to tuck himself, how to wax his prick and bollocks first to make sure the tape didn't stick to pubic hair, then work his bollocks one at a time up into those hollows above his cock before pulling his prick back between his legs and taping it down. For the most part, Draco's moved past tape now and on to gaff knickers to hold his cock down, except for those times when he wants a truly tight tuck like tonight for these knickers. It's easier to tape it and use the loose skin of his scrotum to make a twat, or at least something that looks close enough beneath the tight satin. Even Angel's been impressed by how much he's grown as a queen from those first uneasy steps in heels and the multiple times he'd nicked his bollocks in the beginning whilst trying to shave them clean.

He catches Angel's hand as she turns away. "Thank you," he says, and Angel looks back at him, her face softening. Angel was the first person here Draco'd told about his father throwing him out. She'd known what it felt like; her Puerto Rican grandfather had spit in her face when he'd found out she walked around Brooklyn dressed, as he put it, like a fucking puta callejera. She'd lost her family too, even if her mother still came by to see her when she could. Angel's not just a drag queen; she refuses to let anyone call her a man. She's a lady, she says, and she'll damn well be treated like one. Draco loves that about her. He squeezes her fingers. "And if you get any shit out there tonight, I'll put my boot right up someone's arse for you."

Angel winks at him, her fingers sliding away from his. "Better be careful who you offer that to, girl. There's some out there who'd like that a bit too much, wouldn't they?" Her laughter trails back down the hall after Draco, settling his uneasiness, at least a little bit.

It doesn't take him long to slide out of his drag. He cleans his face with makeup wipes, then packs away his wig and wig cap before undressing with a deep sigh of relief at the loosening of his corset. He hangs up his outfit, then counts out the bills he'd been given, folding them together. A hundred and fifty dollars. Not a bad take, all things considered, for a three minute song and dance. He slides it into his satchel, in the pocket that has a Notice-Me-Not charm on it. He loves his sisters, but he doesn't trust anyone backstage. Not when it comes to dosh. Untucking is a bit more painful; he winces as the tape sticks to his sweaty skin, but a good tug gets his prick loose, and he wipes himself down before pulling on clean y-fronts and a pair of faded, comfortable jeans. Fingers through his hair give it a touselled look, and Draco doesn't mind that not all the eyeliner's come off. The faint smudge around his top lashes looks good, he thinks, and his lips are stained still from the red lipstick. He's still flushed from the stage lights, so he pulls on a heathered grey t-shirt, leaving his jacket behind on the rack with his clothes from tonight and shoving his feet into a pair of loafers. He needs a stiff drink, maybe two, and Andy behind the bar has a heavy hand with the vodka. He's made more than enough tips tonight to splurge on one, and if he's lucky maybe some gorgeous bloke will buy him another.

Angel's just finished her set as Draco makes his way out of the side entrance and into the club, which means Therese is on next. He slips almost unnoticed to the bar and orders a gimlet. Andy's just pushed it across to him when Draco's aware of someone beside him, someone who smells like vervain and whisky.

"Whisky, please." Potter's voice is low and husky, and it sends a shiver down Draco's spine. Andy nods and turns away; Draco thinks about doing the same when Potter rests an elbow against the bar and looks over at him. "Malfoy. Didn't think I'd find you here."

Draco lifts the gimlet to his lips, takes a long, steadying swig. He doesn't glance at Potter. "Rather think I'm more likely to be in a Midtown drag club than you are." His hand barely shakes as he sets his glass back down on the scratched-up wooden surface of the bar. "Aren't you supposed to be in London Auroring or something?" He flicks his hand dismissively in the air.

Potter turns, leans back against the bar's edge. Draco can hear Therese behind him, cackling as she works the crowd up. Her voice is sharp and harsh, and she's berating some poor fool for wearing a floral shirt to the club. He's probably eating it up, Draco thinks. Therese has that effect on people, making them want her to go after them. Draco's even told her to read him from time to time, partially because he wants to learn from her and partially because she's bloody brilliant at throwing shade without hitting the spots that are too painfully tender in his psyche. Nikki, on the other hand, is shit at it all. Draco's had to walk out of the room before, doing his best not to hex her. None of them know he's a wizard, after all. He doesn't want to have to explain that to any of them.

"I'm consulting with MACUSA," Potter says after a moment, and Draco looks over at him. "Just got in today, and I thought I'd try to adjust to time zones by staying up late. This seemed like an entertaining idea. I didn't realise I'd find--what do you call yourself?" His eyebrow goes up behind those ridiculous glasses of his. "Cissy Mal-what?"

"Malafides." Draco rubs his finger over the rim of his glass, pushing the lime off the edge and into the vodka. "It means bad faith in Latin, you cretin."

Potter snorts. "Because everyone knows Latin."

Draco picks up his drink again. "It's not a bad skill to have."

"You've acquired a few unexpected skills," Potter says after a moment, and the look he gives Draco is curious, thoughtful even. Andy sets a whisky down next to him and Potter nods, then glances back at Draco. "At least since the last time we met."

That makes Draco's face heat. It's been five years since that night, and he'd hoped Potter had forgotten it. Draco'd been young and foolish, and far too drunk at his cousin Luna's party. He doesn't even remember why he'd gone, but he thinks it had something to do with Blaise and some Gryffindor he wanted to have a leg over with. That'd been back when Blaise was speaking to him, at least. Potter'd been there, standing outside Luna's flat in the garden alone, and Draco'd been completely sozzled when he'd made his way outside. He's not certain exactly what happened, but he does remember quite clearly the fact that he'd kissed Potter beneath his cousin's potted Wiggentree, and that when he'd pulled back, Potter'd been looking at him, almost horrified.

So Draco had run, and he'd left Blaise there, somehow managing to Floo back to the Manor without getting lost in the network, but he'd sicked up on the tile beside the hearth when he'd arrived. He'd never told anyone about that drunken kiss. Not even Pansy. It was too humiliating, Draco throwing himself at a very straight, very taken Potter, and to be honest, Draco'd been expecting to be set upon by the entirety of the Weasley clan every time he stepped out for the next fortnight. But Potter must have kept his secret as well because no gingers appeared to beat the shite out of him, and Draco's always been grateful for that. He'd left England two months later, and it'd been a relief, really, in a way Draco isn't certain he wants to admit. Still, he's thought of that kiss from time to time, remembering how soft and warm Potter's lips had been, how sweet they'd tasted.

And now Potter's stood beside him, tall and broad-shouldered in a tailored black suit that reeks of money, the collar of his crisp white shirt open, his dark hair curling over it. There's just enough dark scruff on his squared jaw to make Draco want to lean over and nip his throat, to feel the scrape of Potter's stubble against his cheek as he does.

"Fucking bell-end," Draco murmurs, not certain he means himself or Potter, if he's honest, and he thinks he's said it beneath his breath until the corner of Potter's mouth tugs up. Draco wants to deck him, that familiar curl of contempt twisting through his stomach, urging him to shove Potter away, to make a bloody scene. The whole club would come to his defence, Draco knows that. This is his place, not Potter's. These people belong to him. But he keeps his tongue, looks away, exhales. A laugh ripples through the crowd around him at something Therese has said, and Potter shifts beside Draco, his attention going to the stage which annoys Draco to no sodding end.

"Does the Weaselette know you're at this sort of establishment?" Draco asks, a bit too sharply, and Potter glances back at him.

"The sort where someone like you tries to lap dance me in front of the whole club?" Potter's smiling again, and his eyes crinkle at the corners. He's no right to be so bloody attractive, Draco thinks, and he frowns as he looks away again, his face heating up. He tells himself it's the warmth of the club and all the bodies pressed into this small space, but when he catches Andy's gaze, Andy's eyebrow goes up, his eyes flicking towards Potter, then back at Draco.

Merlin. Draco rubs a hand over his face, then sighs. "It's part of the act, Potter. I do it every night I perform." He doesn't, but Potter won't know that, even if Andy does. Draco ignores the bartender's faint snort in the background in favour of picking up his drink and swallowing it down. The vodka and lime burns, but he can feel the rush of the alcohol going to his head already. He hasn't eaten since noon and it's half-ten already.

Potter's just watching him, and when did he get so damned attractive, Draco wonders. He remembers Potter being gangly and awkward. Nothing like this. Especially not when Potter laughs softly, his fingers knocking against Draco's as he shifts again, turning back to the bar. "Ginny and I split," he says. "But I suppose you wouldn't know that, being here. We're not the sort to make the pages of the New York Ghost."

On the contrary, Draco thinks. And it's the wizarding paper's own damned fault if they didn't follow Potter's love life. But then, Pansy hadn't mentioned it either in any of her recent firecalls. Of course, why would she? She's caught up in the drama of her relationship with Tony Goldstein at the moment and how much their mothers loathe each other. Besides, Draco'd made it perfectly clear since first year how much he despised Potter, and he'd only complained more when it'd been Potter who'd wrangled an early release from Azkaban for Draco's father. The only time Draco had asked why, his mother told him it was Potter's way of paying off a life debt. Draco thinks that rubbish, but he'd never pressed the matter. He'd never bloody cared that much.

At least that's what he'd like everyone to think. When it comes to Potter, Draco cares far more than he should. He always has, after all.

He looks away, sets his empty glass back on the bar. "My sympathies," he says after a moment, and he means it. Potter'd been joined at the hip with the Weasley family for as long as Draco could remember. It must have been difficult for him to walk away from Ginevra.

"It's not that terrible," Potter says. He picks up his whisky, turning it in his hand. It gleams amber in the glass, catching the shine of the stage lights at a certain angle. "We wanted different things." He shrugs. "Life happens."

Draco watches as Potter takes a sip of his whisky, then sets the glass down. His mouth is wet, and when he drags the tip of his tongue along the swell of his upper lip, Draco has to look away, has to grip the edge of the bar tightly. Circe but it's been too long since he's had a shag. Angel and Therese are right about that. His whole body feels unsettled, gooseflesh prickles across his skin, and he feels the cold burn of something in his chest that catches his breath, makes him want to press himself against Potter of all bloody people.

This is ridiculous, Draco thinks, but he remembers what it'd felt like as Cissy to stretch himself out in front of Potter, to put himself on display. He doesn't know why he did that. It'd just seemed right at the moment, a chance to do something he never would have done as Draco. It's what Cissy gives him, that chance to be sexy, to push boundaries, to make someone want him.

And Potter had. Draco can tell that by the way Potter's looking at him now, letting his gaze drift down Draco's body then back up again, lingering for just the slightest moment on Draco's mouth. His eyes are heated, curious, and Potter's fingers curl around the whisky glass, his thumb stroking along the side, slow and careful as he studies Draco, a faint smile on his face. "I'm not entirely straight, you know," Potter says finally.

"Oh." Draco doesn't know what else to say, so he leans against the bar. "Congratulations?"

Potter's laugh is loud and bright, and it turns heads towards them. Therese will be furious, Draco thinks, but he doesn't really care. Not with Potter looking at him that way.

"Not so much," Potter says after a moment. "It's not that easy being bi in London." His smile's wry. "Not with the Prophet following my every move." He looks away, an odd expression crossing his face. "And I don't really want the drama of coming out, I suppose. It's no one's business who I date." He glances back over at Draco, his mouth tightening for just a moment, before easing back into that charming smile of his. "Or fuck, either."

Draco gives him a droll look. "Hence the clubbing in New York." He's been in that position. The safety of anonymous sex, the relief of knowing you don't have to share any part of yourself with the person you're inside, that it's just about getting off for both of you. "No strings, no expectations."

"Something like that, yeah." Potter takes another sip of his whisky. His fingers are broad and thick around the glass, and Draco wonders if his prick is as well.

He could have Potter, Draco realises. If he played his cards right, Potter could be on his knees for Draco, and the thought of that is almost overwhelming. Draco wonders what Potter's mouth would taste like now, if his lips would be as soft.

Draco wants to. He wants to lean in, wants to rest his hand on Potter's hip, to see the way Potter's eyes would flutter closed, to feel the soft huff of Potter's breath against his mouth. They're here in New York. No one knows who Potter is. His friends here would just think he'd scored a hot fuck, and they wouldn't be wrong. Not entirely.

But it doesn't feel right. And Draco doesn't want to be the one that Potter tells tales on back in England, sharing with all of his friends what it was like to shag Malfoy. How'd you keep his gob shut? Draco imagines Weasley saying whilst Longbottom laughs. Strangle him with your prick, did you?

Draco looks away, a bitter taste in the back of his throat. He pushes his empty glass back across the bar. "Put it on my tab," he says to Andy, who nods. Draco glances back at Potter. "Look," he says a bit harshly, but he doesn't care. Not really. "If you're looking for a decent shag, try Rory over there in the back corner. He's a good time and willing to do anything. Clean as well, so you won't have to worry about that. He's a stickler for condoms." Draco doesn't tell Potter that Rory's cousin died in the AIDS epidemic, so he's scrupulous about safety. He pushes himself back from the bar; he tries not to notice the way Potter's face falls. "Have fun," he says, "but don't go back to his place. He has a fifth-floor walk-up on Christopher Street, and it's a complete tip. Better off taking him to yours. He doesn't mind being kicked out when you're done with him." Draco knows this from Nikki, not from his own experience, but Potter doesn't need to find that out.

"Malfoy," Potter starts to say, but Draco doesn't look back at him. He can't. He's far too tempted to give in to whatever Potter might have on offer. But he's not going to do that, not going to be that sort of fool. He's already humiliated himself once in front of Potter. Draco's not idiot enough to do that again. He's not going to be Potter's New York fling, hidden away from the British press.

However much he might want to.

And so Draco walks away, his legs trembling, his mind filled with the memory of a drunken, ridiculous kiss. When he glances back, from the steps to the backstage door, Potter's still watching him, his face drawn into a faint scowl. And then Potter raises his whisky glass again, the way he had before, and Draco exhales a raw and ragged breath, his fingers tightening around the doorknob. It takes everything he has to open the door, to walk through, to close it behind him with a soft thunk.

"You sodding twat," Draco says to himself, leaning against the worn wood of the door. "You utter sodding, stupid, stupendously idiotic twat."

He breathes out again. There's a half-open bottle of wine back at home, and Merlin help him if his aunt's finished it off already. He needs a goddamned drink.

Draco pushes himself away from the door. He's young, and he's foolish, and he's a bloody New Yorker now, thanks ever so. There's only one choice left to him: to get as bladdered as possible, and to hell with the hangover tomorrow.

But before that, he thinks, eyeing the out-of-order loo, he needs a first-class wank. Merlin only knows he deserves it after all this.

No one even notices when he locks the door behind him, his fingers already pulling at the zip of his jeans.

This is all Potter's fault, Draco thinks with a soft, uneven sigh, and his shoulders settle against the subway-tiled wall. He curls his fingers around his swelling prick, his thumb dipping beneath the ruffle of his foreskin. Absolutely Potter's fault. He bites his lip, rolls the heaviness of his bollocks across his palm, his memory lingering on the wetness of Potter's mouth, the pinkness of his tongue. His thumb drags along the thickness of his shaft, slowly, agonisingly.

Potter. That bloody bastard wanker.

And with a quiet groan and shaky fingers, Draco gives in once more to thoughts of Potter watching him, to a fantasy of Potter spread out beneath Draco's gaze, naked, wanting, needing. It's the same mastubatory dream he's wanked over for five bloody years, since Draco had stupidly, idiotically, irreversibly kissed Potter.

It's quick and fast, Draco's hips bucking up with each stroke of his fingers. He watches himself in the mirror over the sink, sees the flush that rises up over his cheeks as he gets harder, as his fingers tug at his foreskin, rolling it over the slick tip of his prick. He thinks of Potter touching him, of Potter watching as he does this, and Draco pushes his fingers beneath his t-shirt, ruching it up around his wrist as he pinches his pink nipple. He wants to be wanton, wants to see Potter's face, wants to come across Potter's skin.

And it's the thought of that, of seeing his spunk splattered across Potter's belly, across his chest, that makes Draco's body jerk, makes him ache, his sore prick jumping against his palm, and with one strong tug, he's coming across his fist, thick spurts of spunk that smear over his fingers, that leave Draco gasping and shaking with the suddenness of it all.

Draco slumps against the wall, spent and unsteady, his hair falling across his forehead. It's dirty, sweaty. He needs a shower, the way he always does after he's been in drag. Draco tries to calm the wild beat of his heart in his chest, tries to draw in a rough, uneven breath, tries to pull himself back together as he cleans himself off, washes the stickiness from his hands and prick, zips himself back into his jeans.

He looks at himself in the mirror.

Slag, Draco thinks viciously, and he wants to slam his fist against the silvered glass, wants to shatter it into a million pieces, wants to break it the way he feels broken.

Instead he closes his eyes, steps backwards. Draco slides down the wall, his shoulders hunching forward.

He presses his forehead against his knees and just breathes.

***

Andromeda's still awake when Draco Apparates in. The Cobble Hill flat is small by Manor standards, but it's two storeys of a brownstone with access to the back garden, and Draco's grown fond of it in the years he's lived here with his aunt and Teddy.

The undercounter lights are on in the kitchen, casting a warm golden glow across the white cabinetry and gleaming black granite counters. Draco walks in and drops his satchel and garment bag on the bench at the wide wooden table in the bay window that overlooks the garden. His aunt's at the hob, stirring a pot of warm milk. She looks up at him with a small smile, her grey-streaked hair loose around her shoulders, her deep blue silk dressing gown hanging open over her pyjamas. "I'm making hot chocolate," she says, "if you want some."

It's warm outside, even for a late spring night, but Draco nods, sliding onto one of the stools at the centre island. He'd rather the open bottle of wine, but he doesn't want to drink with Andromeda. Not tonight at least., and anyway, his wank's taken some of the edge off. He leans his elbows on the countertop and watches her as she stirs in the drinking chocolate.

"How was the club tonight?" Andromeda asks. She's always been supportive of Draco's drag; her own daughter had dated men and women before settling down with Lupin. If it could be called that, really, given how things had gone at the end. They'd married during a war, and Draco wonders if his cousin had really known what she was doing. She'd been just about his age when she'd died, and he doesn't think he'd have been able to know what he wanted, not with everything they'd gone through back then. He barely knows now, and he wonders if Nymphadora and Lupin had survived whether they'd be happy now. He's not certain they would, even with Teddy.

Draco shrugs, rubbing his thumb over a crack in the granite. "The usual." He hesitates, then adds, "With the exception of Harry Potter showing up unexpectedly." He looks at his aunt, who just keeps stirring the hot chocolate, seeming utterly unsurprised. "Andromeda?" Draco knows she keeps in touch with Potter, and that packages arrive for Teddy from his godfather every so often. Still, it's a subject they've never discussed. Draco doesn't know why.

Andromeda sighs, moves the pot off the burner. She takes two mugs from the cupboard and sets them on the counter, pouring hot chocolate into each one. She doesn't say anything, not until she hands a mug to Draco. She leans against the island, cupping the other mug between her hands. "I wondered if he'd go," she says after a moment.

"You told him to go?" Draco frowns at her. "Why would you?"

His aunt looks down into her mug, watching the steam curl up from it. She looks young, Draco thinks, even with the grey in her hair. His mother looks older than Andromeda, despite being the youngest of the Black sisters; Draco thinks that's the strain of living under the Dark Lord. Or perhaps his father. He's not certain which would be worse. Andromeda sighs, pushes her hair back behind one ear. "I thought Harry'd enjoy it," she says finally, and she glances up at Draco. "It's not easy for him to do things like that in London."

Bollocks, Draco wants to say, but he just presses his lips together. "I'm fairly certain," he says after a moment, "that whatever the great Harry Potter wants to do or be or see, no one's going to give him grief. He's the bloody Saviour of the Wizarding World, didn't you know?"

Andromeda rolls her eyes, takes a sip of her hot chocolate. "Keep your voice down," she says. "I'd rather not have Teddy awake. He has school tomorrow."

Draco thinks about swearing, but it wouldn't annoy his aunt. He huffs instead, and he presses his knuckles against his mouth, falling silent.

His aunt watches him over the rim of her mug before she sets it down again. "I didn't think it would be an issue." At that, Draco gives her a furious glare, and she raises her hands up. "All right. I was wrong."

"Wretchedly so." Draco feels stretched tight, his nerves frayed. It's like this sometimes when he comes off stage, when the thrill of performing wears away. The vulnerability sets in then, that realisation of how he's been on display, showing himself off in front of anyone who walks into the club, and whilst it's a rush on stage, afterwards, Draco's never entirely become used to the drop, to the way, an hour or so off-stage, he wonders if he'd been good enough, if he'd held their attention the way he ought to have, if he hadn't just made himself a right tit in front of half of the judgiest queers in Manhattan--and the occasional bitchy straight who wanders in. Mami Emilia keeps telling him they all have that feeling at times, once the endorphins wear off. It's exhaustion, she says, in her husky voice, waving around a cigarette, and that voz estúpida in every queen's head that makes her think she doesn't deserve the adulation, isn't worth the applause. Fuck that shit, baby girl, Emilia would say with a laugh. You owned that goddamn stage, flashing those gorgeous legs of yours, and you know it. And she'd be right. He had, and Draco knows the post-performance uncertainty fades soon enough, usually after a good night's sleep. Or a glass or two of wine.

But tonight feels different. Rawer in a way that Draco can't explain, but he's certain it has to do with Potter. Maybe it might have been different if he'd been prepared to see the prat.

He hadn't been. Draco thinks about how he'd been spread out in front of Potter, how he'd touched himself so openly, his fingers dragging down the flat planes of his belly, and his face heats which only makes him angrier. Cissy dances like that all the time, and Draco revels in it, lets himself express his sexuality through her like he never could any other way. And now he feels exposed. Raw. His skin feels sandblasted by Potter's gaze, and he's been left fragile and soft, those ways of hiding himself behind his drag persona stripped roughly away from him. It'd almost been as if Potter had been able to see through Cissy, right into the very depths of Draco's being.

Draco hates that. Almost as much as he wants it.

"You're thinking a bit loudly," Andromeda says, and she reaches across the island to touch Draco's hand. He breathes out, shifts on the stool. His body still aches a bit, his bollocks and prick sore from being tucked and then wanked, his ribs from the corset stays. He'll have a bruise or two in the morning from how tightly he'd cinched, but it'd been worth it, he thinks. He'd looked bloody incredible, and that thought makes him feel better. At least Potter hadn't caught him in a ratty wig and one of those awful dresses he'd first started out in.

He looks over at his aunt. Her face is kind, warm, and Draco wonders again why his mother insists on keeping them both at arm's length. His father can't be worth all that, but his mother's made her choice--or is too stubborn to admit she's been wrong. She comes from a family of headstrong women, and whilst Draco's grateful for that, given he's inherited more than his fair share of both his mother and his aunt''s obstinance and contrariness, he still wishes Narcissa would see what she's given up for Lucius sodding Malfoy. He loves his mother. If he didn't, he wouldn't have used her childhood nickname on stage. It ties him to her, even all these miles away, even though he knows she'd be horrified by what he does.

By who he is.

"I just didn't expect," Draco says slowly, turning his cup of hot chocolate between his palms, "to have that part of my life thrust in my face again. I thought I'd left London behind." He chews on his lip; he can still almost taste the faint traces of the lipstick he'd scrubbed away. To be honest, Draco's not certain he can make his aunt understand. He's free here in New York, in a way he never could have been in England. No one cares that he's a Malfoy; his name carries no weight to the Muggles here--or to the wizards, really. Even though he'd had to register his wand with MACUSA, he hasn't mingled much with magical community, although his aunt has made friends with a few witches and wizards, making Draco accompany her to the occasional dinner party when she thinks he's becoming a little too isolated. Draco's happy with his life in New York. He loves wandering the streets of Brooklyn, getting lost in the neighbourhoods, riding the clacking rails of the subway. He can be himself, and he's found a family in the drag clubs of Manhattan.

Andromeda's silent for a moment. Draco can hear the house settling around them, the faint creak of wooden floors as his aunt shifts from one foot to another, the quiet splatter of the drinking fountain for their cat, Beedle. Teddy had named the tiny scrap of calico fur they'd found on the doorstep one morning, telling Draco he was rude when he'd pointed out Beedle the Bard had been a man whilst the kitten was most definitely female, and Beedy is Teddy's familiar now, always by his side. She's probably curled up on his pillow at the moment, Draco thinks, pawing at Teddy's turquoise hair as she sleeps, and that thought makes Draco smile. Teddy's brilliant--he always has been--and Draco's glad that he's had the chance to know his little cousin. He only wishes he could have met Nymphadora properly. He thinks he might have liked her. Rather a lot, actually.

His father has a great deal to answer for.

"I'm sorry," Andromeda says finally, and when Draco looks up at her, he can see the fine lines around her mouth, her eyes. His aunt's fifty-three now, he realises, and perhaps once that would have seemed old to him, but he's a few months away from his twenty-sixth birthday now. At his age his mother had already given birth to him. Draco doesn't know how she'd done it; he doesn't feel qualified to bring another human being into the world and keep it safe. The very thought terrifies him. His aunt's studying him, and Draco tries to meet her gaze, but he can't.

Andromeda sighs and she straightens up. "The thing is," she says slowly, thoughtfully, "Harry's only just coming out. Part of the reason he's in New York is because the papers in London have been particularly vicious about his breakup with Ginny." And that surprises Draco, makes him frown over at his aunt. Her eyebrow goes up in that familiar way that Draco'd seen his mother do all his life. "You didn't know."

"He said they ended things." Draco's frown deepens. "But it sounded as if it'd been ages back."

"They ended their engagement three months ago," Andromeda says. "Or something along those lines. They'd kept it out of the press until Ginny was seen with Viktor Krum last week. It's been a madhouse ever since. Gawain Robards arranged this consulting assignment for Harry because the poor thing couldn't even walk through the Ministry without being followed by reporters." She shakes her head, turns back to the hob to pick up the pot and rinse it out in the sink. "Harry says it hasn't been this bad since the end of the war."

Draco's quiet. He lifts his mug of hot chocolate and takes a sip. It's warm and sweet and comforting. His aunt had made it for him almost every night after Lucius had thrown him out of the Manor, bringing it to him before bed, sitting on the edge of the mattress and stroking his hair back from his forehead as he cried. Draco exhales, looks up at her. "So you thought you'd send him to me?"

Andromeda picks up a damp sponge, drags it across the hob burners. The clock on the wall behind Draco ticks loudly, marking off the seconds until his aunt turns back to him. "He needs people around him. People who've been through what he's dealing with." She holds up the sponge, pointing it towards Draco. "You know how hard it is to do this, to be something the world doesn't want you to be. Imagine what it's like for Harry. Imagine what he's facing. He broke off his engagement because he didn't want to lie any more--"

"He's lying to the whole world!" Draco can't stop the flare of anger that twist through him. "He's running away--"

"Because he doesn't feel safe." Andromeda's voice is sharp, and when Draco looks up at her, she's scowling at him. "You know what that's like, at least at first. Give him time, for Merlin's sake; he needs to adjust, to understand what he's in for." Her mouth trembles, just a bit. "If Dora had that…" She looks away from him, and Draco knows that she's thinking about her daughter, wondering what her life might have been like if it'd been easier to be out eight years ago, if wizarding society hadn't looked askance at her for her relationship with Penny Haywood. Penny'd walked away, unable to take her parents' disapproval, and, according to Andromeda, Nymphadora had rebounded into a relationship with Lupin. At least that had ended with Teddy, Draco thinks. That little bastard had been the best thing to come out of his cousin's short life, and he knows his aunt agrees.

Draco sighs, looks down at his mug. He rubs a thumb over the handle. He knows Andromeda's right, knows that it's still not easy to be openly queer, even in 2006, and especially not if you're someone like Harry Potter, whom wizarding society seems to think it owns. Maybe Potter's not ready for the world to be watching him like that, to be thinking of what he might be doing in bed any time he takes a man to dinner. Draco hates that himself, hates the way he's watched when he's out with his girls, the way people step out of their way, look askance at them, as if they think they might drop down in the middle of the sodding street and start fucking. To be bluntly honest, Draco's seen more straight couples closer to doing that than queer ones. The gays have better sense, Draco thinks. It's one thing to have anonymous sex in the loo at Metropolitan where everyone knows a quirk of the head in the right direction can lead to being brilliantly blown by a hot twink, and something totally different to be grinding up on each other in bright daylight in front of the tourists milling around the Circle Line pier.

"Maybe you're right," Draco says after a long moment.

Andromeda walks around the corner of the island. She sits on one of the stools, her heel on the rung. "He needs friends." Her fingers brush the inside of Draco's wrist, just above the Mark. "What would you have done here without Emilia and Angel and Therese?"

Draco sighs. "And Pepper and Nikki." And all the rest of the queens in the club circuit, even the ones that get beneath Draco's skin. Still, they'd all taken him in. Given him a home, an identity. Something he could hold onto when life felt too much.

"And Pepper and Nikki," Andromeda agrees. Her hand moves; Draco misses her soft touch. It's comforting. Careful.

He bites his lip again, runs his hand through his hair. He needs a shower before he falls into bed. It has to be nearly one in the morning by now. "Tell him to come to the late show tomorrow," Draco says finally. "If he wants to, we'll talk." To be honest, he hopes Potter's taken his advice and gone home with Rory. The man's gagging for a good shag; Draco can tell. And he won't be the one to give it to him.

At least that's what Draco tells himself.

Draco lifts his mug and drains the last half of his chocolate in one swallow before wiping his wrist against his mouth. "I'm tired," he says, exhaustion seeping through him. "I've work tomorrow. I need to sleep."

His aunt leans in, kisses his cheek. "You're a good man, Draco," she whispers into his ear, and Draco hates the faint thrum of pleasure that goes through him. He doesn't want to be good, not when Potter's in play.

It's all going to go terribly. Draco knows this. But as he looks back at his aunt from the kitchen doorway, watches her smile as she rinses their mugs then sends them flying into the sink with a snap of her fingers, Draco doesn't care how it all ends. He's doing this for his aunt because she'd taken him in, because she'd loved him, because she hadn't turned her back on him for being gay or for being Marked. Talking to Potter's the least he can do for her. However excruciating it might be.

Draco turns, walks down the hallway to his small bedroom at the back of the flat. It's dark; he doesn't bother to cast a Lumos, doesn't bother to undress. He just falls onto his bed, his face half-buried into the pillow. He closes his eyes. Exhales.

He falls asleep to the thought of Potter's mouth, warm and soft, stained red by Draco's kisses.

***

Potter's in the front row on Friday night, at the early show and the late one as well. Draco tries not to notice him, but that's next to impossible, particularly when he's sprawled in front of the prat during the death-drop portion of Lady Marmalade that he closes the show with, alongside Therese and Nikki. Pepper should be there too, but she's off on a date tonight, the fourth one in a row with the same attractive bastard, and they're all pretending not to be jealous of her. At one point, he thinks Potter's left between shows, but he walks back in just before Emilia starts off the half-ten set.

"Ooh, Cissy, girl," Angel says when they come off the stage at the end, her short, red-spangled skirt swirling around her narrow hips, "did you see that papi looking at you?" She nudges Draco with one shoulder. "He was giving you the eye, yeah?"

Draco has a fistful of tips that he's counting as he walks into the dressing room. "He's just a friend of my aunt's." There's far too much history there for Draco to even try explaining it.

"Well, he can stop by anytime, can't he, baby?" Angel waves a fifty-dollar bill in front of Draco's face. "Look at what Mr Big Spender tucked in my titties." She does a graceful pirouette in her silver heels, her dark curls spinning out around her shoulders. "You better lock that one up, girl, or I'm thinking about seeing if he'd like a little Angel dust on him, you know what I mean?"

Therese walks in behind her and slaps Angel's arse. "The whole world knows what you mean, Angie, so put those tits away. Don't go scaring off the only man I've ever seen Cissy forget to sing in front of." She turns a glare Draco's way. "Twice. In the same song."

Draco tucks his tips into his strapless bra, lacy and black, looking in the mirror as he arranges his tits again. His dress is red, almost as deeply crimson as his lips, the boatneck collar showing off his collarbones. There's a faint sheen of glitter across his bare shoulders, and his blond wig hangs loose and long down his back. He checks the sticking charm. Still perfect, which is the only way it managed to stay on his head tonight. He'll never use magic for his makeup, but shoes and hair? Without a doubt. He looks over at Therese. "I didn't forget." And he hadn't. Not exactly. He'd just been so distracted by the way Potter was watching him that he'd missed his cue, but he'd caught up again.

The look Therese gives him is sceptical. "Didn't forget, my ass," she says, but it's mostly under her breath, so Draco can ignore it.

He's just reached for the makeup wipes when Emilia walks in and says, "Cissy, there's a man out front who wants to talk to you."

Draco sets the wipes back down as his sisters hoot at him. It's Potter, of course, but he feels his face heat up as Angel rolls her hips his way. "Stop it," he says. "It's not like that."

"It could be, baby," Angel says, and she's slipping out of her costume, her small, round tits on display in the mirror. She's only just started estrogen this year, but she's already proud of her body. Draco thinks she ought to be. She looks back at him over her shoulder. "If you wanted it. That papi couldn't take his eyes off you. Bitch." She throws her head back and laughs.

Emilia's catches Draco's arm as he passes. "Be careful," she says, her voice quiet. "Andy's still out there, so if he tries anything…" Emilia's brow is furrowed; Draco knows she's worried. There've been girls hurt before, even here. It's not always easy being a queen.

Draco gives her a faint smile. "I'll be fine." He doesn't know how to tell her that he trusts Potter more than most people, that Potter's the least likely to hurt Draco. Physically, at least. Still, he touches Emilia's hip. "Don't worry, Mami," he says, and she smiles at the term of endearment that Draco so seldom uses. "If he tries anything, he'll get a stiletto in the bollocks, all right?"

"You do that, baby." Emilia touches his cheek, and Draco catches a whiff of the rose perfume she favours. It's so much like his own mother's scent, and he has to close his eyes for a moment, steady himself as Emilia pulls away, already slipping her wig off her head.

Draco wonders if he should change before he goes out, but he doesn't want to. He needs to keep Cissy part of him right now, so he tucks his long locks behind his ears, checks his teeth for lipstick in the mirror right beside the door. Even after sweating beneath the stage lights, his makeup's perfect, all long thick lashes and careful contour, blended up into his hairline. Fishy, Therese always calls him, because his drag looks realistic, almost as if he could walk the streets and be taken for a woman. It's not, really. Or not entirely. Draco's not like Angel, whose face has softened because of the hormones. But he knows he walks the line, and he likes thinking that he could go out in drag, that he could pass if he wanted to.

Maybe one day he will.

Draco walks down the hallway, out onto the stage. The club's nearly empty now; the bouncers have most of the audience moved out onto the street, although Draco can hear some of them still laughing in the anteroom. Andy's behind the bar, and he watches as Draco walks down the steps in four-inch heels, the slit of his sparkling dress opening with each stretch of his black-stockinged leg.

Potter's at the front table. His jacket's off, his shirt unbuttoned at the collar and the sleeves, his cuffs rolled up his forearms. His hair's a mess, all rumpled and dark, and his eyes are bright and curious as Draco walks his way.

"Mind if I sit?" Draco keeps his voice airy, light, the way Cissy speaks. Almost him, and yet not. He rests his hand on the back of a chair, waiting for Potter's nod before he pulls it back, sits down. There are three glasses on the table in front of Potter, each one empty, save for the remnants of the whisky that's pooled in their bottoms. Draco eyes them. "Thirsty?"

"Something like that." Potter watches him. "You look nice," he adds after a moment, and Draco smiles.

"Thanks." Draco rests an arm on the table. He lets his gaze slide down Potter's body just because he can. The white shirt's wrinkled a little, but it's cut well, and Draco can tell Potter's muscular and firm beneath it. "You came back."

Potter's mouth quirks to one side. "Someone told me I might want to."

"Andromeda did make you sound pitifully pathetic." Draco studies Potter for a long moment, then he glances at the glasses on the table. "Is that all you've had to drink?"

"I might have had another in the hotel bar before I Apparated over," Potter admits. "But I'm not pissed, if that's what you're asking."

Draco's not so certain, but Potter does appear to be upright and alert. Still he lets his eyebrow slide up, and Potter laughs, a warm, throaty rumble that makes Draco's heart skip just a bit.

"Auror, remember?" Potter leans forward, and Draco can catch a whiff of cigarette beneath the whisky. "We drink hard. I've built my tolerance up."

"Lovely." Draco wrinkles his nose at Potter. "Is that why you broke things off with your fiancée?" He gives Potter an even look. "I had a little talk with my aunt last night. Seems you weren't exactly forthcoming when we talked before."

Potter's silent for a long moment, and then he heaves a soft sigh. "The drinking was part of it, yes." He looks over at Draco. "But it was mostly because I told her I wasn't happy. With her." He runs a hand through his hair, his jaw tightening. "With me, more, though."

"The bent thing?" Draco's voice is quiet, and Potter nods.

"I couldn't stop thinking about it," he says finally. "I was noticing men. And women. It's not…" He hesitates, then chews his lip, exhaling slowly. "I like both. It's not--" He breaks off again, looks away. "Sex with Ginny was good. I liked it."

"You don't have to be one or the other, Potter." Draco watches him. "There's a lot of space out here." He waves his hand, gesturing around them. "You can be who you need to be. Who you want to be. That's what I learned in this club." Emilia had taught him that, gave him permission to be free, in whatever way he needed to. It'd been the most liberating experience Draco'd had in his life. And now he thinks Potter needs the same, needs to break free from that heroic Auror persona he's been trapped in for years.

Potter breathes out. "It's not that easy."

"It should be," Draco says. He knows Potter's right. He'd struggled with it himself, after his father discovered him with Theo, then again when he'd first stepped on this stage. Sometimes he's still not certain who he is, what he's meant to be. Maybe he doesn't have to know yet, though. Maybe that's what his life's for, those uncertain twists and turns Draco's taken, the ones that were expected and the ones that weren't, all of which have revealed some intrinsic part of himself in the process.

"Maybe," Potter says, and he falls silent, his hand settling around the base of one of the empty glasses. He twists it in his fingers; it catches the light from the stage, glinting in the shadows of the room. The club looks different like this, Draco thinks. A bit rattier, a bit more run-down. There are scuff marks against the black floor of the stage, left by queens for decades now. The bright pink walls need to be repainted; they're peeling in spots, but the photos of queens who've performed here that are hung down two sides are splashes of colour and life that Draco's always loved. His portrait's down near the bar; he likes the fact that it'll still be here long after he's gone.

They sit together, Draco and Potter, the war hero and the Marked drag queen, and Draco wonders at how oddly companionable it feels.

"So," he says at last, "how'd you tell her? Did she find you in bed with someone else?"

Potter laughs, then looks away. "She couldn't, since I haven't…' He trails off, shrugs.

"Oh." Draco's surprised by that. "You've never…" He licks his lip, tastes the faint sweetness of the Ruby Woo lippie, feels the dry matte of it on his skin. He can't imagine Potter not being with someone else, if he's honest. Potter could have anyone he wanted, Draco's certain of that.

"Never," Potter says, and he glances back at Draco. There's a faint flush on his tanned cheeks. "Well, maybe a blow job or two after we broke up, but…" He swallows; Draco's mesmerised by the faint clench of his jaw when he does. "That doesn't really count, does it? I mean, it's not sex, you know?"

"Don't be so bloody heteronormative," Draco snaps before he can stop himself. He scowls, even though he knows he's ruining the line of his brows. "Penetrative sex isn't the only way you can be intimate with someone." And oh, God, now he sounds like some sort of queer prude. He huffs a sigh. "I mean, a blow job can be just as much sex as being fucked up the arse."

Potter's blush spreads. "Well, I haven't been." He stops, then adds, "Fucked up the arse, I mean."

And bloody hell but that makes Draco shiver, and he has to look away, has to breathe out because the worst thing that could happen is that he gets hard whilst he's tucked. He's saved by the sound of footsteps crossing the stage. Emilia's there, in her boy clothes, jeans and a tight, striped t-shirt that shows off her brown, muscled arms. Her hair's cut short, almost close-cropped, and Draco almost laughs when Potter looks at her with a frown, obviously not recognising her.

"Hey, baby," Emilia says to Draco, walking down the steps, her gait still elegant even in knock-off Gucci flats she'd bought on Canal Street. "Everything all right out here?"

"We're good, Mami," Draco says, and Emilia lets her haughty gaze sweep over to Potter, her eyes narrowing. "I promise."

Emilia nods, rests her hand on Draco's shoulder. "Well, you need anything, Cissy, you know my number. Don't want to find you floating in the goddamn East River tomorrow morning, 'cause if we do, I'll know who to send New York's fucking Finest after."

Draco lays his hand over hers, squeezes it lightly. "It's all right."

"Other girls said that before, girl." Emilia's still watching Potter, and Draco can feel her tension. "Don't mean it stays true."

"He's safe with me," Potter says, and Draco flinches as Emilia's hand strikes out, slapping Potter's cheek.

"She better be," Emilia snaps. She looks back at Draco. "You gotta train him right, baby. Teach him some goddamn respect for us girls."

Draco sighs. "He didn't know, Mami. But don't worry. I'll give him the lesson." He waves her off; she's still glaring at Potter as she shouts good night to Andy.

Potter rubs his cheek. "What the hell was that for?"

"It's about respect, you idiot." Draco eyes Potter. Emilia has a hard slap; Draco'd learned that the first week he'd put on heels. "Queens are never he when we're dressed. Sometimes when we're in boy clothes too, but that's personal preference. To Emilia, you disrepected me when you called me he instead of she, since I'm still…" He waves a hand towards his dress. "It's just not done, that's all."

"Right." Potter gives him a chagrined look. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Draco shrugs. "It'll be fine. Although I'd suggest the next time you plan to stop by here, you might want to bring a good bottle of wine for Mami as an apology." He glances at Potter, who's giving him an odd look. "What?"

"Why do you call her Mami?" Potter asks. "Isn't she Emilia?"

"She's my drag mother." At Potter's blank look, Draco smiles faintly. "Emilia taught me how to do this. We're a family backstage, all of us. The other girls? They're my sisters. Sometimes we hate each other; sometimes we're inseparable. Mami's our mother. She watches over us; she brought us into drag, made us who we are. Without her Cissy Malafides wouldn't exist." Draco's throat tightens, he glances away. "I don't have my own mother any longer. Emilia's a bloody good stand-in."

Potter's quiet for a moment. "I'm glad," he says, his voice soft, and Draco thinks he actually means it. His chest hurts; he rubs a thumb over the edge of the table.

"Come on," Draco says after a moment, and he stands. Potter just looks up at him, his brow furrowed, and Draco huffs an annoyed breath before holding out a hand. "Come backstage with me. I need to get out of this waist cincher before it cuts me in half."

For a moment he thinks Potter's going to refuse, and then Potter reaches out, takes his hand, his fingers, broad and warm, curling around Draco's as he stands, gathers his jacket from the back of the chair. Draco doesn't let go as they walk up the steps of the stage. He knows Andy's watching them from the bar. He'll be the gossip of the club, if not the whole circuit, by morning, he's certain, but he doesn't care. Not with Potter's hand heavy in his.

Draco leads Potter down the hallway to the dressing room. It's empty, thank Merlin. The other girls must have gone out the back. Draco waves Potter towards the bench. "Sit down," he says. "And be grateful. A lot of queens don't like to be seen getting in or out of drag."

Potter sits, tosses his jacket down beside him, and Draco misses the warmth of his fingers. Potter's knees are spread wide; he leans against the wall. "So is this your job?" he asks, and Draco laughs as he runs his fingers through his wig, undoing the sticking charm as he lifts it off.

"Not likely." Draco sets the wig aside, and looks back at Potter. "Hand me that satchel beside you, please?" He takes it from Potter's hand, rummages in it until he finds his wand. A flick of it towards the wig shrinks it enough for Draco to wrap it in a square of silk, then fold it up and put it back in one of the pockets of the satchel. He watches Potter in the mirror as he removes his wig cap, touselling his pale hair with his fingers as he does. "This is decent money, but not enough. I thought about working in one of the wizarding shops for a while, but…" He shrugs, takes his earrings off, drops them into the satchel. He's glad he pierced his ears a year ago. It's much easier than having the clip-ons pinching his lobes.

"You didn't think about MACUSA?" Potter asks.

Draco gives him an incredulous look. "They wouldn't take a Marked Death Eater, you idiot."

Potter flushes again, and Draco catches the way his gaze goes down to Draco's left forearm. Draco reaches for a makeup wipe and rubs it across his skin, taking off the Dermablend. A murmured counterspell, and the glamour falls off too. His Mark is there, in all of its dark grimness, and Potter's mouth twists ever so slightly. Draco turns back to the mirror, the tightness in his chest growing. He exhales carefully; the waist cincher and the bra are starting to dig into his flesh.

"Unzip me," Draco says, watching Potter's reflection, and Potter hesitates, then stands, walking over to pull down the zip on the back of Draco's dress. The front gapes open; the shoulders slide down Draco's bare arms. "I work as a barista," Draco says finally. "In a Muggle coffee shop. It pays enough to keep me in drag, and the hours are flexible, which is all that matters, really."

"All this is that important to you?" Potter sounds sceptical. Their eyes meet in the mirror, and Draco knows what this must look like to Potter. A little boy playing in his mother's closet--the way Draco had done when he was five or six, his mother laughing as he clumped around her bedroom in her heels.

Draco kicks off his heels and stands, and Potter stumbles back at the suddenness of it. Draco lets the dress slide off him; he catches it before it hits the floor. "This keeps me alive," Draco says, and his voice is a bare whisper in the silence of the room. He doesn't look at Potter as he folds the dress, sets it in the satchel. He takes the tip money out of his bra, throws it on top of the dress before unhooking the bra. Draco takes a deeper breath, letting his lungs expand a bit more. He looks at Potter. "These people? My sisters? They showed me who I could be. They made me proud of myself, made me see that I didn't have to define myself as a boy or a girl. I could just be me, Potter. Sometimes I want to walk around Manhattan looking like a man. And sometimes I want to put on the tightest little black dress you've ever seen and the highest heels I can find and have straight men turn their heads when I walk by because I'm the perfect model of femininity and they want me. And sometimes--most of the time, really--I want to be somewhere in between. Not a man. Not a woman. Just me."

He bites his lip, turns back to the mirror. He looks at himself in it, at the way the waist cincher pulls his body into the hint of an hourglass shape, the way the gaff beneath keeps his tuck down, makes him look as if he has the flattest belly, the smallest twat. Pansy would be terribly jealous. Draco wonders if he'll ever tell her he does this. It's mad, he thinks, that she doesn't know. She'd love it, really, but he's been terrified to show her who he is. To show her what he can be.

The bra's left marks on his skin, pink against the paleness of his chest. His hair's mussed from the wig cap, but his makeup is flawless. He wonders what Potter sees when he looks at Draco. A fool, perhaps? Or someone entirely confident in himself, in how he wants to present himself to the world?

"Do you want to be a woman?" Potter asks, and when Draco looks back at him, he holds up his hands. "I only ask because it seems like your Angel does."

"She doesn't want to be one." Draco's voice is rough, a bit angry. "Angel is a woman, whatever anyone else might say." He stares down Potter, daring him to defy him. But Potter doesn't. He just sits back on the bench, his elbows on his knees, looking up at Draco. Waiting. Draco turns away. He peels the lashes from his eyes, going slowly so he doesn't pull out his own. "I don't," he says finally, and he looks at Potter in the mirror. "It's never been about that for me. Not like it is for Angel, at least."

Potter shifts; the bench creaks beneath his thighs. "Then why?" He sounds interested, actually, and not as if he's judging Draco.

Draco doesn't answer at first. He starts to wipe away his makeup, starting at his forehead, looking in the mirror as his real eyebrows appear. He switches out wipes, rubs at the contour of his nose. "Because," he says after a moment, slowly, thoughtfully, "it's always been part of me. My father hated it when I was younger. When he found out I was bent, he shouted at Mother, told her it must have been because she let me play with her clothes, dabble in her makeup. I don't know how he knew about that. I never told him, but perhaps Mother had at some point." He falls silent, looking at his half-clean reflection. There were so many things that his father had known. Sometimes Draco thinks it must have been the elves. He'd never really been able to keep a secret from Lucius. Not even Theo.

He turns towards Potter. "It's not about being a boy or a girl. It's about walking out on that stage and feeling as if part of me is being recognised after all these years. It's about sitting here with my sisters before and after a show, and knowing that they don't care if some days I want to be a bit butcher and other days I want to femme it up." He catches his lip between his teeth. "But maybe that's not something someone like you understands."

"It's hard," Potter admits. "I don't know what it's like to want to wear a dress." He studies Draco's face. "But I can see why someone might," he says after a moment. "And I think she's beautiful in whatever he wears."

Something flutters deep inside of Draco, warm and unexpected. He has to look away, but he feels the warmth of a blush cross his cheeks as he turns back around. He picks up another wipe, starts to press it to his lips.

"Don't," Potter says, and Draco looks up at him in the mirror. Potter's watching him, and there's a heat in his gaze that makes that fluttering in Draco's belly explode. "Leave the lipstick on?"

Draco moves the wipe, drags it along his jawline, over his throat, down to the shadow cleavage he'd drawn on earlier in the evening. His heart's pounding slightly, his skin's prickling beneath Potter's gaze. But he leaves the lipstick on.

It looks bloody brilliant, even without a full face.

He stands, and he keeps his back to Potter as he unlaces the waist cincher. It loosens, and he can breathe again, fully, deeply. There are marks on his chest, his waist where the boning's dug into his body. Draco rubs at them; they sting ever so slightly.

"Does that hurt?" Potter asks, and Draco looks over his shoulder.

"No beauty without pain," Draco says, lightly.

Potter frowns at him. "That sounds like misogynistic bullshit."

"Granger's been lecturing you again, has she?" Draco folds the waist cincher, puts it back in his satchel. He digs out his jeans and a black cashmere jumper, almost paper thin in weight. He'd splurged on it at Barneys sale one afternoon when work at the coffee shop had been awful.

Potter doesn't say anything, and Draco looks up at him in surprise. There's an odd look on Potter's face, and then he says, "We haven't talked lately." He looks down at his hands, his fingers twisting together. "Ron's upset about the wedding being off. It would have been this June…" He trails off, and Draco understands.

"It's not just about Ginevera, is it?" Draco asks. Potter doesn't look at him. Draco sighs, and he walks over in his stockinged feet, sits beside Potter. "Was he the reason you broke it off?" Draco doesn't want to ask, but he thinks Potter needs to talk about whatever this is.

That makes Potter laugh, but he still doesn't glance at Draco. "No," he says after a moment. His head thuds lightly against the wall. He falls silent.

"Potter," Draco starts to say, almost hesitantly.

"It was you." Potter's head turns towards Draco. His eyes are sharp, bright, and Draco's forgotten how to breathe for a moment, the way Potter's looking at him. It takes him a moment to realise what Potter's said.

"Me?" Draco doesn't know how that could be. "I've been in New York for five years--"

"And you kissed me five years ago," Potter says, his voice quiet. "Standing beneath Luna's bloody potted Wiggentree…" He laughs, but it's harsh, and a bit angry. "You kissed me, and you were pissed out of your mind, but I've never forgotten that, even if you have." He leans forward, his elbows pressing into his thighs, his head lowered. "I dreamed about it for five years, Malfoy. Five goddamned years, and I tried to put it out of my mind. Tried to love Ginny, and I did love her. I wanted to marry her. But the closer we got to the wedding, the more I dreamed about you, and about that kiss, and all these fucking feelings started coming out of nowhere, and then here I was at twenty-five fucking years old having some sort of sexuality crisis--" He breaks off, stands up, walks across the room, his back to Draco, his shoulders tight.

Draco doesn't know what to say. He watches Potter, too stunned to move, too stunned to breathe.

"I told Ginny about the dreams," Potter says after a long moment. His shirt is stretched across his shoulders, his arms folded over his chest. He's still not looking at Draco. "I didn't tell her who they were about, but when she asked me if I was attracted to other men, I didn't lie. We fought about it. She didn't understand. She thought I wanted to cheat with a man, but I didn't. I wanted to marry her, but she couldn't believe that, not after I admitted…" He trails off, exhales.

"Admitted what?" Draco asks, and his voice is soft. Careful.

Potter looks back at him then. "I had to know." He runs a hand through his hair. "I had to know if I was just going mad or if I really was bent." He turns around, leans against one of the vanities on the other side of the dressing room. "I kissed a man. Nothing more. It was a Muggle, no one anyone would know. But I kissed him, and…" He bites his lip. Draco just waits. Potter sighs. "It made me feel things. And I knew I had to be bent or bi or something." He looks over at Draco. "But it didn't stop me dreaming about you."

"Oh," is all that Draco can get out. He stands up, and he pulls his gaff down, then the stockings, one by one. He's stood there in nothing but his grey y-fronts, and he can feel his bollocks sliding out of his body, one by one. He hadn't bothered with a tight tuck tonight and he's grateful he hadn't had to tape himself; the dress hadn't required it. He turns, his back to Potter, and he adjusts himself in his pants, feeling strangely awkward as he does. And then he takes his jeans, pulls them on, then follows them with the jumper before he turns around again, looking at Potter.

"I'm sorry," Potter says, and he won't meet Draco's eye. "I'll go."

Draco stops him before he reaches the door, his hand catching Potter's arm. "You could, you know. If you want to."

Potter looks at him. A muscle in his throat twitches. "Could what?"

"Kiss me again," Draco says, and gooseflesh breaks out across his arms when he says the words. But he doesn't look away from Potter. He can't.

And Potter's looking at him as if he's mad. Maybe he is, Draco thinks, but he can't let Potter walk out of this room without kissing him. He won't. He'd never forgive himself. Draco knows that all too well.

"You want me to…" Potter trails off, and then he huffs a soft laugh. "I'm not a pity case, Malfoy."

"I never said you were." Draco moves closer to Potter. "But you're not the only one who's been dreaming about that kiss for five years." He can't look up at Potter, can't see the rejection on Potter's face if it's there. He focuses his gaze on Potter's lips, on the way they press together, then open ever so slightly when Potter breathes out.

"Merlin," Potter says, and then he's reaching for Draco, pulling him close, and Draco can barely believe that Potter's hands are on his hips, sliding up his back, holding him still as their lips meet, a quick, featherlight brush at first, and then it deepens, and Potter's glasses are digging into Draco's cheek as he kisses Draco, long and slow and oh so goddamned sweet. When he pulls away, there's a smudge of red against his bottom lip, but Potter's looking at Draco as if he hung the bloody moon.

And Draco's not sure he hasn't.

His knees are a bit wobbly, and he clings to Potter, his hands curled around Potter's biceps.

"That was…" Potter trails off.

"Yeah," Draco says, and he sounds like a damned fool, he knows. But he can't stop staring at Potter's mouth, can't stop wondering what it would be like to taste it again, to feel it against his skin, to give himself up entirely to the need that's roiling inside of him.

They stand together for a moment, the only sound in the room the soft rasp of their breath, and then Potter says, "Come back to my hotel with me."

It's a terrible idea, and Draco doesn't do terrible ideas. Except maybe he does, because he's looking up at Potter, and he's nodding. "All right," he says. He steps away, picks up his satchel. He throws his makeup bag in, even though he could leave it here if he wanted. Still, Angel's been threatening to steal his favourite blush, and Draco doesn't trust the cow, sister or not. He shoves his bare feet in his loafers, not even bothering with the socks he'd packed.

And then Potter's reaching for him, his hand warm against Draco's shoulder blades as he pulls Draco tight against him. He smells delicious--sweaty from the club, with hints of whisky, vervain, and cigarettes. Draco turns his mouth to avoid smearing red lipstick across the white cotton of Potter's shirt. Ruby Woo is fairly stable as a lippie, but it's a bitch to get out of clothing if it smears into the fibres. He's learned that the hard way.

"Where are we going?" Draco's fringe has fallen in his eyes, but he doesn't want to reach up and break the bond between their bodies.

"Millenium Hilton," Potter says. "Forty-eighth floor."

"Lovely." Draco shifts just enough to press more tightly against Potter, his bag clutched in his hand. He's not sure about this adventure, he's not sure he should be here with Potter, now, going to his hotel, but Potter makes his blood sing and the quick beat of Potter's pulse suggests he's not unaffected. Not to mention the swell of his prick against Draco's hip, of course. That would be another reliable indicator.

He holds on to Potter as they Apparate, and it's been a long time since Draco's been part of a Side-Along Apparition. He'd forgotten how oddly adrift it makes him, how his head swims as he swirls through the shadows, his only orientation Potter's touch, Potter's body.

They land with a soft thump of shoes against carpet. Potter presses Draco closer for a moment, Draco's cheek against his collarbone, then he lets him go. It takes Draco a moment to get his bearings, and when he does, his breath catches. He looks over Potter's shoulder to the view of the city and the river below. It's staggeringly beautiful--the lights of Manhattan and New Jersey winking in the dark blue of the May night, water dark like a ribbon of deep steel grey, shimmering beneath the full moon.

"Nice room," Draco says, setting his bag of drag down gently on the low upholstered chair. He needs to clean his clothes and his makeup kit should be fairly sturdy, but he doesn't want to lose it or have it stepped on. That's hundreds of dollars worth of product and clothing and wigs in there, and on his weekly pay packet, he can't afford to replace any of it. "I didn't know the Ministry was so generous with its staff travel perks."

"Well, it's not too far to the Woolworth Building." Potter rubs the back of his neck. "And I think I got an upgrade, courtesy of MACUSA."

Of course he bloody did, Draco thinks, but the sting of his usual bitterness is gone. He steps past Potter to the window beyond, almost pressing his nose to the glass. It's vertigo-inducing, being this high up, and Draco has the odd sensation of almost flying. He lets himself breathe, looking out over the lights of his adopted city to ground himself, almost weightless with anticipation, the jangle of possibility bright across his nerves. Draco's never seen New York from this high up; the city looks like diamonds scattered across black velvet.

"Would you like a drink?" Potter's at the desk, turning on a lamp. The dull gold of the light shines reflected in the deep blue-black of the window.

"No, thanks." Draco shifts, rubbing a hand along the soft black cashmere of his jumper sleeve, pushing it down reflexively. It doesn't matter that Potter's already seen the Mark. Draco's still self-conscious about it, even around his aunt. Teddy's a different matter; Draco's let Teddy colour the mark in with markers before, and it surprises him how Teddy could make beautiful something so horrible, something that's such an awful memory of the boy Draco once was, the man he hopes he'll never be again. Draco takes a deep breath. He can see his own dull outline in the glass, his hair a smear of silver-gilt in the reflection, and then the city below. Potter comes up behind him--Draco can see his white shirt in the window, the breadth of his shoulders. He feels Potter's warmth, and then Potter's lips are on Draco's neck, raising shivers that shudder through Draco's body.

Potter's mouth brushes the back of Draco's neck, and Draco lets him kiss across his nape for a moment, losing himself in the sensation as the view takes his breath away. Then he turns, his shoulders against the cool glass and Potter's insistent, exciting warmth against him.

"Fuck, but you look amazing in red lipstick." Potter grazes a thumb over Draco's bottom lip. Draco opens his mouth, and Potter's eyes are dark as his thumb sinks in Draco's mouth. Draco sucks on it, keeping his eyes locked on Potter's. Potter closes his eyes, his hips bucking just a little. "Shit."

Draco lets Potter pull his thumb away, but only after he's nipped it. He's fully hard now in his jeans, his swollen prick still tingling a little and sensitive from being tucked all evening. Merlin, but Potter must have been gagging for this as well, given the way he swallows before opening those brilliant green eyes behind those ridiculous wire-rimmed glasses.

"All right?" Draco asks, and Potter smiles.

"Not bad." Potter crowds Draco against the glass, bracketing his shoulders with his arms. "But I might like an actual taste, if you'll let me?"

Draco's entire body is thrumming. He wants this, so badly. He has since that first stupidly drunken kiss. No one's been able to compare to that, even after five years, and Draco wonders how pathetically idiotic that makes him. Still he doesn't look away from Potter. "I might," he murmurs, and he breathes out as Potter leans closer.

Their lips meet, and it's long and slow again, the way it'd been in the dressing room, the way it's been in Draco's fantasies. Draco's hands catch Potter's hips, holding him still, and Potter deepens the kiss, his teeth scraping lightly across Draco's lip. Draco slides his tongue into Potter's mouth and Potter moans, accepting it. This is the kind of kiss Draco's longed for, the kind that makes his toes curl inside of his loafers, his body rock forward, pressing against the hard length of Potter's. And as Potter breaks away, his mouth moving from Draco's, Draco wants to protest, wants to hold him against him, wants to beg him not to go.

When Potter pulls back, there's a smear of red across his mouth.

"Now you have lipstick as well." Draco reaches to wipe it off.

"Leave it," Potter says, his pupils wide in the moon-dark brightness of the city, and Draco knows he needs to feel Potter, needs to make Potter tremble against him, needs to see Potter come undone. Potter's fingers fumble with his shirt, and Draco pushes them away.

"Here, let me." Draco unbuttons Potter's shirt slowly, feeling the play of Potter's skin. He slides down, undoing Potter's flies. "You might want to brace yourself," Draco says, and Potter catches himself on his forearms against the window, his body bowing forward as Draco reaches in, takes Potter's cock out of his y-fronts. It's nice and thick and already hard. Draco runs a thumb along Potter's foreskin, pushing it back and forth across the head of Potter's prick as Potter gasps above him. Draco tries not to smile. He's missed this in the land of cut cocks; there's nothing Draco likes more than a bit of foreskin play. And when Potter bites his lip as Draco slips the tip of his thumb into his slit, wiggling it just so to make it weep, Draco feels as if he's king of the goddamned world, especially when Potter raises himself up a little above Draco, looking down as Draco licks the wet head of his cock. Potter inhales sharply as Draco sinks down onto his prick, lets Potter's shaft slide down his throat, inch by inch, deep and achingly good. Draco almost gags around it, his throat working on Potter's girth. It's lovely. He's always loved sucking cock; there's nothing like looking up at a man who's falling apart because of what Draco's doing to him.

"Fuck, how you look." Potter's voice is broken, raw. "With that pretty red mouth of yours stretched around me."

Draco glances up then, catching Potter's gaze as he sucks Potter down even further and Potter groans, hips pumping forward, his hands splayed against the glass of the window. Draco wonders if anyone can see them from the other buildings, if they're watching Potter as he fucks Draco's throat, if they can see the way Draco holds Potter steady with his left hand, letting Potter get a good look as he works up and down Potter's shaft, using his right hand to grip the base.

Potter's shaking now. "Oh, Merlin. Oh, Malfoy." The tone of his voice is reverential, and Draco feels powerful here, on his knees, sucking Harry Potter off in front of the lights of New York city. Anyone could see them, and Draco feels a sense of abandon that makes him smile around Potter's prick.

Draco sucks Potter off slowly, but it still doesn't last long. He makes Potter watch, his lipstick-stained lips working over Potter's head, then almost down to the root of his prick where the hairs are dark and curly and coarse. He cups Potter's bollocks, rolling them between his fingers, and he knows the moment Potter clenches what's coming. Potter tries to pull away, but Draco grabs his hips, holding him still, his mouth and throat working around Potter's prick as Potter shudders wordlessly, silent save for a soft, groaning sigh, his body jerking forward, his come filling Draco's mouth. Draco swallows, nearly gagging, but he loves the feel of Potter's prick softening between his lips, and he slides away slowly, Potter's cock slipping slowly out of his mouth with a quiet pop.

When Draco stands up, Potter's face is a disaster, his lips bitten, his hair a mess. Draco doesn't know how one person can look so ruined after a bloody blow job, and suddenly Draco wants to take Potter apart even more, wants to see what he looks like when his whole body's shuddering beneath Draco's.

"Can I fuck you?" Draco's voice is low, gravelly. He'll have to use a throat charm in the morning, he thinks, and have tea with honey. The likelihood of him hiding that from his sharp-eyed aunt is almost nil. He doesn't care. It's worth it for the look on Potter's face.

Potter bites his swollen lip. "Yeah. But like I said, I've not done this part of it. I mean, had it done to me." He looks away, and Draco's prick jerks in his jeans. The thought of fucking a virgin Potter sends gooseflesh across his body. It's surreal, he thinks, this moment, at least. This is everything he's wanked to for five bloody years. More, if he's honest. It's always been Potter, hasn't it? From the very first time he realised he liked the look and feel of pricks. Potter's always been there, right in the back of Draco's mind. And now he has Potter here with him; now he's swallowed Potter's come in front of a fucking picture window. Draco feels like he's in some sort of enchanted sex fairytale, except it's real and it's in New York.

He waits, lets Potter work through it. He doesn't want to press, of course, but he's also about to come just from thinking about Potter beneath him. He swallows, waits a bit more.

"Yeah," Potter says finally, meeting Draco's gaze. "I'd really like that. I used to--"

When he breaks off, Draco shoots him a raised eyebrow. "What? It can't be that bad." Or maybe it can, Draco thinks. Potter's a Gryffindor, after all.

"I used to wank." Potter's face is flushed. "I used to imagine what it would be like. With you, I mean."

And Draco's own wank fantasies come flooding back to him, those years of Potter, and yeah, there were rather a lot of them. But he'll be damned if he's telling Potter that right now. He places a hand dramatically against the black cashmere on his chest. "Me? I'm flattered."

"Fuck off," Potter says, but he's smiling a little now, and Draco's rock hard in his jeans. He hopes he can last.

"Do you know how to cast prep spells?" Draco asks, and Merlin, Draco hopes he does. He's not entirely certain he wants to get into a discussion right now with Potter about anal sex and cleaning the pipes, so to speak, to prevent a shitty incident.

"Yeah," Potter says, and then he immediately adds, "I mean, I've done it with Ginny." The embarrassment on Potter's face is glorious. "To Ginny, that is." Potter clears his throat. "We've had anal sex before. Just not with me...you know." His face is red, and Draco's delighted by it. "Do you want me to..." He motions towards towards the en suite.

Draco quirks his eyebrows, smiling, hoping it settles Potter's nerves. Particularly given his own nerves are a complete mess. It's been too long since he's done this with anyone else. Topping, at least. Most of the men he meets are far more interested in getting into Draco's arse, and Draco's not opposed to that. Still, he loves fucking someone else, and the idea of him being Potter's first...well. That's a schoolboy fantasy come to life. He waves Potter towards the en suite. "If you mean, do I want you to strip that delicious body of yours and get ready in the bath, Potter, well, then yes, I would rather like that."

"Okay," Potter walks across the room, then turns back, his hand on the door handle. He looks almost hesitant. "But maybe you could put on more lipstick?"

"Aren't you a kinky sod?" Draco turns away with a laugh. A moment later the door clicks shut and Draco goes over to the chair, opening the zipper of his bag. He pops open a compact mirror, trying not to grimace when he sees how frightfully dark the bags under his eyes are. Makeup's a glorious thing, and perhaps he shouldn't have removed all of it back in the dressing room. He graves the lipstick from the makeup kit, takes the cap off and swivels the tube of Ruby Woo up, giving his mouth a lush, renewed red coat with a practiced hand. Then he smoothes his hair and resists doing anything further. It's nearly one in the morning, after all, and Potter's going to have to take him as is at this hour. Draco sits on the edge of the bed to wait.

When Potter reappears, he's gorgeous naked, all solid muscle and bronzed skin, and Draco's never seen anything as beautiful as an uncertain Harry Potter coming to bed for him.

The moment Potter's eyes see the Mark, Draco's stomach flips. Like a bloody idiot, he'd pushed his sleeve up to reapply his lippie and forgotten. When Potter stills, his lip caught between his teeth, Draco tries to reason with himself. He's had a great time, this is already a top ten memorable night. If he has to go now, he will. He poises for flight, ready, tense.

Potter's gaze flicks back up to Draco's face. "What next?"

And Draco exhales the breath that he didn't know he was holding. He watches Potter. "Why don't you help me get as naked as you are?"

Potter moves closer, his fingers brushing the skin of Draco's back, lifting the edge of his cashmere jumper and pulling it over his head, settling it carefully on the back of the chair. And when Potter kneels to unbutton Draco's jeans, Draco trembles, the sight of Potter in front of him like this almost too much. The back of Potter's hand grazes the hardness of Draco's erection as he strips them off and then settles them on the chair. Draco puts his knees together, lets Potter slowly slide his grey and black y-fronts down.

"You're so fucking beautiful," Potter says, his hand tracing on Draco's thighs. He pulls the fabric down, steps Draco's feet out carefully, then leans back on his haunches, his prick semi-stiff again. "I don't think I've ever wanted anyone as much as I want you. Especially in that fucking lipstick."

"Then come here." Draco extends a hand, and Potter takes it, letting himself be pulled up onto the bed, next to and touching Draco. They kiss again, slow and heated, their bodies moving together, their pricks brushing against one another, and when they pull apart, breathless, Potter's mouth is smeared red with Ruby Woo. It looks amazing and Draco's amazed at how possessive he feels, like he's marked Potter, like Potter's his now.

Draco trails a hand over Potter's chest, marvelling that the Aurors must be doing something right if this is what is under Potter's fancy suiting. His eyes catch Potter's. "I'm going to say a lube spell and then finger you, if that's okay. You can tell me to stop whenever you'd like."

Potter inhales, nods.

Draco rolls Potter onto his stomach and then Potter's got his arse in the air, thighs spread. Merlin, Potter's so eager for it, Draco thinks, and Draco can barely hold himself back. He rolls off the bed, grabs his wand, and then comes back. He casts the lube spell, then tosses his wand aside, letting the conjured slick warm in his hand for a moment as he looks at the shy, pink pucker of Potter's hole and imagines his prick thrust up inside. He closes his eyes, takes a breath, and then puts his hand to Potter's arse.

"Get comfortable," Draco says, working a finger smoothly into the rim of muscle, teasing Potter, letting him get used to it. Potter braces on his forearms, then stretches them up, pillowing his head.

Draco takes his time, even though after everything they've already done, his body's begging for release. He works Potter open, pressing in, fingering him, teasing, rubbing, until he's got three fingers deep inside Potter and Potter's gasping and not tensing any longer.

"Fuck," Potter's voice is muffled against the sheets. "Malfoy, come on."

Draco slides his fingers out, wiping the slick against the sheet covering the bedspread. He stops then, looking at the alluring clench of Potter's hole, and then leans down to lick it because he can't help himself. Potter goes absolutely wild, shifting, moaning, keening, tearing at the sheets as Draco tongue-fucks him, his own prick hard and wet, dragging across the white coverlet.

Finally Draco stops because he's too close, and he wants to be inside Potter. He kisses his way up the knobby ridge of Potter's spine, his fingers drifting down to open Potter's arse again, his mouth moving across Potter' shoulder blades. "Are you ready?" He's left behind a trail of red lip marks, and they look incredible across Potter's golden skin.

"Jesus fuck yes," Potter's gasping, his arse loose around Draco's fingers. Draco reaches for his wand again and conjures more slick just in case, smearing it on Potter's loosened hole and on his own slick length. He can't touch himself too much; he's so sensitive. It's almost too much already.

Draco grabs Potter by the hips, pulling him up into a position he likes, then lines his prick up. "This might take some getting used to."

When Draco presses inside, he moans as Potter does. It's so tight, hot, and Draco's wild for it. Still, he bites down on his lip, thinks of color palettes and how the dressing room smells like everyone's filthy bollocks in February to keep himself from going off too early. He slides into Potter, and it's slow, and it's careful and Draco's sweating and trembling already, and Potter's having a hard time taking him. Draco's trying to respond each moment to Potter's tension, soothing him, telling him how good he is, how his arse is made for taking cock. Draco thinks for a moment or so they might not make it, but then Potter's stiff body relaxes and Draco slides in until he's fully seated.

'Fuck, that's a lot," Potter chokes out.

"Let yourself get used to it." Draco rests against Potter, his hands on either side of him. He doesn't want to start until Potter says it's all right. "You're doing brilliant, yeah?"

Potter breathes out, nods.

Draco closes his eyes. "Right. Tell me when I can move."

Potter shifts, deeply connected with Draco. "Okay, give me a second." He exhales again, and Draco feels the heat of his body, the breath moving in and out of them both. Potter rolls his hips back. "Now."

And at that, Draco fucks Potter slowly, his fingers digging into Potter's hips, Potter keening beneath him, and Potter's hands knotting in the sheets with each careful thrust of Draco's hips. It's liquid and it's sweet and Draco wishes it could go on for hours, it's so good. He already knows he has to have this again, has to have Potter begging and pleading, his thighs spread wide for Draco, his arse split by Draco's thick prick.

"Oh, fuck, oh." Potter's braced on his forearms, pushing back against Draco. "I'm going to come." He throws his head back. "Christ, Malfoy. You're going to make me come again."

He sounds amazed, and Draco reaches down, pulling at Potter's prick, fucking him in tandem with the slide of his palm on Potter's length. Potter's swearing and gasping, his body pliant and so open for Draco. And then Draco fucks him harder, giving in to a blood-deep animal need to make Potter his, to take him and to merge with him as fully and as fiercely as he can.

Draco's body arches, the electricity of his climax making him shudder uncontrollably. His hand clenches around Potter's prick, and Potter's coming as the aftershocks hit Draco and Potter's crying his name into the night as a thousand lights flicker against the night sky.

When he's come back to his senses, Draco pulls out. Potter's gasping for breath still, sprawled beneath Draco, against the mussed sheets. Draco goes on unsteady feet to the en suite, finding a hotel flannel and cleaning himself up. He takes a fresh one out to Potter, helps him get cleaned up, then walks to throw the flannel on the floor of the bath.

When he reaches for the puddle of black cashmere on the chair, he hears Potter's voice. "Stay."

"Potter, you don't have to ask me to spend the night. It's fine." Draco's trying to reassemble his protective shell, trying to sort out what just happened. He has Potter so far under his skin, he can barely breathe from it. "First thing to learn about being bent--one hour stands are perfectly acceptable."

Potter rolls out of bed then, gorgeous and naked and completely shagged out, his body looser, more limber. "But I want you to stay. I'd hoped to fuck you in the morning."

His sheer bloody confidence makes Draco's knees feel a bit weak. Sodding Harry Potter and his Gryffindor brass balls. Draco wants to deny him, he does. But he doesn't really. He hears himself say, "We'll see."

Which means yes, and they both know it.

Potter reaches for Draco. "Come back to bed, you twat." And Draco lets him pull him back beneath the rumpled coverlet, both of them curled together in the middle of the giant bed. Draco knows he's going to leave lipstick smeared across the pillow by morning, but he doesn't have it in him to go back into the en suite and wipe it off. Potter snaps his fingers, mumbles, "Nox" against Draco's shoulder, and the desk lamp goes out, leaving them bathed in the shimmering light of the city.

They lie silently, Potter's arm heavy over Draco's waist, the warmth of Potter's breath against Draco's skin.

"I could get used to this," Potter murmurs.

A much as he hates to admit it, Draco could too.

They fall asleep together, tangled in the sheets, the lights of New York shining around them.

***

"Draco," Teddy shouts as Draco comes in from work a week later. He comes running out of the kitchen, and Draco catches him, swings him around, nearly knocking Andromeda's favourite vase off the sideboard in the process.

"How was school?" Draco asks. He ruffles Teddy's now purple hair. That's never a good sign. Teddy only goes off turquoise when he's annoyed.

Teddy wrinkles his nose. "Awful," he says as Beedy twines herself between their legs, trying to trip them both as they make their way into the kitchen. "History of Magic's the worst." He rolls his eyes. "So boring, and Miss Kestrel's tests are the hardest."

Really, Draco can't disagree. Miss Kestrel, from what he can tell, makes Binns look utterly brilliant. "You'd best keep up with it," he says. "You know you're going to need it for Ilvermorny or Hogwarts." Andromeda still hasn't decided where she wants to send Teddy for school. He's been going to the wizarding primary in Brooklyn since he was five, and he's already leaps and bounds ahead of his classmates, the little swot.

"Maybe I'll just go apprentice with somebody," Teddy says, skipping ahead of Draco. "I don't have to go to school."

The hell he doesn't, Draco thinks, but that's an argument for his grandmother to make.

Andromeda looks up when the come in. The kitchen smells like baking, and Draco's not surprised to see a wire rack of chocolate biscuits cooling on the counter. His aunt smacks Teddy's hand away when he reaches for one. "Not before homework, young man," she says, and Teddy groans as if the world's ending around him. Andromeda just rolls her eyes. "Now," she says firmly, and Teddy stomps off to the table where a stack of school books are waiting for him. Andromeda leans in and kisses Draco's cheek. "How was the coffee business today?"

"The usual." Draco sits on one of the island stools. "Terribly entitled arseholes letting me know exactly how I've failed them by not procuring their coffee in half-an-instant." He props his chin on his fist. "It'd be easier if I could use magic, you know."

"I'd rather not have MACUSA after you." Andromeda pushes a white owl post envelope towards him. "This came for you this afternoon." Her eyebrow goes up. "I'm assuming you don't want to tell me why?"

Draco frowns at the envelope. His name's written across it in spiky black handwriting, almost illegible in the scrawl. "I wouldn't know," he says, but he opens it up, tilts it over the counter.

A tube of lipstick falls out. He picks it up, pulling the cap off. It's a brilliant blue-red, perfect for Draco's complexion.

There's a note caught inside the envelope. Draco pulls it out, unfolds it.

Fancy visiting Paris next week, Malfoy? I've a room in the Hôtel Mathis on Friday night, if your sisters will let you slip away, and I've been told the Champs-Élysées is fantastic in late May. Let me know if you're interested--I'm holding a Portkey in your name just in case.

If you're up for it, I wouldn't mind seeing you wearing nothing but a bit of red lippie. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought this would look brilliant on you. Cissy too, if she likes it.

HJP

A small smile curves Draco's mouth.

"Everything all right?" Andromeda asks, and Draco looks up at her. She's watching him, but her face is soft, warm. He wonders how much she knows. Probably more than he'd like.

But his smile widens when he glances back down at the note, his fingertip tracing Potter's initials. "Everything's brilliant," he says, and for the first time in years, he actually believes it might be.

Draco's fingers curl around the lipstick, the tube cool and solid against his fingers.

He's going to Paris. Red lips and all.