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The Hand That Feeds You

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A brisk, autumn wind rolled through the streets of London, and Harry pulled his red Auror robes more tightly around his frame as he walked towards his destination. His dragonhide boots clicked against the pavement, the sound almost soothing even as anticipation built within him. He checked the street sign as he crossed and his heart skipped a beat. Two more blocks.

Despite the fact that he was heavily and expertly Glamoured, Harry couldn't help but check his surroundings as he approached the upscale grouping of flats. Given where he was going, he couldn't afford for anybody to recognise him, and he was constantly on the alert, even after all these years. After all, he hadn't become the one of the youngest Head Aurors in Britain's history for nothing. That kind of conditioning was hard to ignore. Letting go of it was part of what made the upcoming weekend so sweet.

The building in front of him was thoroughly Muggle, and he quickly keyed in the code to enter the lobby before stepping into the lift. He inserted his keycard into the slot and selected the penthouse, his hands shaking. During the first few years, he'd spent the slow ascent in the lift pretending he could talk himself out of what he was about to do, half-convincing himself that this would be the time that he'd turn right around and go home.

It never worked. Now, he merely stared at the door to the lift in antsy exhilaration, long since accepting that nothing was going to keep him from what was waiting at the top.

The entryway was dim when Harry exited the lift, but he'd been expecting that. Light shone from a partially open door at the end of the hallway to the right, the faint sound of classical music drifting out from within. Harry yearned to enter, but he wasn't ready, not yet.

As he always did when he first entered this particular flat, he went to a sparsely-decorated guest bedroom. Harry set his overnight bag on the bed before quickly divesting himself of his Auror uniform. He exchanged it for a pair of jeans and a white cotton shirt then folded and stowed his uniform in the bag. There was no room for Head Auror Potter here, only Harry.

There was a bottle of expensive cologne on the dresser, and he carefully dabbed some on his wrists before rubbing it behind his ears. It wasn't something Harry would have ever picked out to wear on his own, and the faintest whiff of it was enough to make his head woozy. He only wore it during these weekends—a gift from Draco during the early days of their arrangement—and his body had long since developed a kind of Pavlovian response to its particular scent. Harry was grateful that the cologne was custom made, lest he accidentally smell it when he was out in the world and have the overwhelming urge to drop to his knees.

He took a deep breath, letting the scent both calm and excite him. Harry was almost ready, but there was still one more thing to take care of. After fifteen years, the flicker of guilt was muted, though undeniably present, as he slid his wedding band from his finger. He slipped it into a secure pocket inside his bag before squaring his shoulders and heading to the study.

The image that greeted him when he stepped into the room was the same as always, but it still managed to make Harry's breath catch. The red and gold brocade of the large, wingback chair in the centre of Draco's study was ostentatious but regal, made more so by the fine figure of Draco Malfoy, lounging in it like a king. A cut crystal glass filled with whisky dangled from his left hand, and his expression was haughty and bored as he turned his head lazily in Harry's direction. What really held Harry's attention though, was the strap of black leather that rested almost innocently over Draco's knee. The silver ring and buckle glinted in the lamplight, and Harry's mouth went dry as he remembered what the cool metal felt like against the hollow of his throat.

With a heavy swallow Harry turned away, forcing himself to walk slowly to the bar and pour himself a drink. This first part was always the hardest—the transition from the Saviour who belonged to the world, into the man who belonged only to Draco. They both had long since learned that it was better to ease into Harry relinquishing his control, so Draco remained silent as Harry poured himself his own glass of whisky, before sitting in the slightly less opulent chair to Draco's right. He wouldn't be there long.

He sipped his whisky, savouring the burn and the flavour as it slid across his tongue and down his throat. Draco stared at him placidly, a faint flicker of hunger buried deep in his eyes. It fanned the flames of Harry's own need, which had already built to a fever-pitch from being far too long without. Six months had passed since their last time, and with each passing month, Harry had grown increasingly desperate.

It had been nearly fifteen years since their first time, though it had taken several more years after that for them to settle into the routine they'd now nearly perfected. One weekend, twice a year, for Harry to get exactly what he needed. It had taken years and years for Harry to accept this part of him, to get to the point where the guilt of what he had with Draco didn't choke him. He knew he was violating Ginny's trust, breaking his vows, but the truth was that this was something he needed, something only Draco could provide. Getting it from him gave Harry the strength to be a better father, a better husband, a better Auror, for the other three hundred and sixty-one days of the year. In the scheme of things, surely that wasn't such a terrible trade-off? The guilt and shame were always the worst part of their arrangement, the part Harry tried not to linger on, even though he knew that probably made him a coward. Soon, though, he could let it all drift away. He'd kneel for Draco, and Draco would take on his burdens, absolving him of his sins, of the blame and self-hatred that lurked deep within.

Harry tilted the glass against his lips, frowning when he realised it was empty. Setting the tumbler on the table next to his chair, Harry looked up and met Draco's gaze, its intensity causing him to immediately avert his eyes. Draco let out a small, satisfied sound—the first noise he'd made all night. It settled something in Harry's belly, the knowledge that he'd done something that pleased Draco.

Harry was ready.

With an ease borne from years of practice, Harry slid out of the chair and onto his knees, shuffling forward until he was kneeling between Draco's spread thighs. Keeping his eyes down, he tilted his head, baring his throat in clear invitation. Draco shifted slightly, his glass clicking as he set it on the table before he picked up the collar still resting on his knee. Gently, he circled Harry's neck, sliding the leather through the buckle and notching it tight. The heavy leather and metal seemed to envelope Harry, making him feel protected and owned—cared for. Every last bit of tension melted out of Harry as Draco hooked a finger through the D-ring, giving it a sharp, upward tug until Harry looked up at him.

"Good boy," Draco said, soft but firm, his expression fiercely possessive. Harry shuddered.

For the next forty-eight hours, Harry belonged to Draco.

- - -

A floorboard creaked outside of the room Harry was kneeling in, and his stomach flipped as he held his breath, wondering if the door was about to open. Silence, and then another creak—fainter this time, as the footsteps made their way down the corridor. Harry's breath left him in a whoosh, disappointment and relief mingling in his gut. There was still time to call this off. He could still do the right thing.

Was leaving the right thing, though? Harry might still be technically married, but after his and Ginny's last fight, he wasn't so sure he'd be staying that way for long. Things had been rough between them for months, the newlywed sheen long since faded. Harry hadn't even seen Ginny in a week, not since she'd stormed off to stay with Luna after their epic blow-up. She'd said she needed to think about whether their relationship was even working anymore, or if it was what she wanted. She'd suggested that he do the same. The whole mess had left him tangled up, confused and angry and hurting. The need that Harry had been ignoring and suppressing for years had come roaring to the surface at full force, until he could barely think from all the fuzziness in his head. He needed something to clear his mind, and Harry knew exactly what would do the trick.

Harry and Ginny hadn't got together right after the war had ended. Neither of them had been in a good place to start a relationship, and they'd agreed to give it some time. Without the threat of Voldemort hanging over his head, Harry had gone a little wild, going out and experiencing all the reckless, exhilarating things young adults were supposed to lose themselves in. He went drinking and dancing, bummed cigarettes off strangers, made eyes at pretty girls and boys. There'd been a club, hidden in Muggle London, that one of his new friends had introduced him to, where people could indulge in offerings a little less vanilla. It had been...inspiring, to say the least, a whole world of pain and submission and glorious mercy unveiled. He'd found something there, something he hadn't even realised he'd been looking for. What had started as a bit of fun had turned into something so much more, providing a space for Harry to let go of the pressure and expectation, the anger and sadness and guilt. When he was on his knees, he could just feel, without all the extra baggage that haunted his everyday life. The release he found there had been exceptional, unlike anything he'd ever experienced.

Eventually, though, that wild year had come to an end, and Harry felt like it was time for him to grow up and move on, to start working towards that glorious future everybody expected him to create. He got back together with Ginny, joined the Aurors, and slid seamlessly into the life he'd always pictured for himself. Harry didn't really miss the drinking or the partying, or the anonymous sex and bathroom hookups. But the submission…

He told himself he'd been experimenting, that it was only a phase, but as the years passed, Harry couldn't deny that something inside him ached with the loss of that strange freedom he'd found kneeling at another's feet. There'd been a point, not long into his marriage, that he'd tried it with Ginny, hoping he could get what he needed from his new wife. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that her heart wasn't in it, and that she wasn't interested in nor capable of pushing Harry as far as he needed to go. So he brushed the need aside, buried it down as deeply as he could.

Still, despite his best efforts, he couldn't banish the desire entirely. It dwelled inside him, a living thing, some small, persistent weed that wound its roots through the cracks in his willpower, as an insidious voice begged him to go after what he wanted, what he craved. It was that desire that urged him to see if that old club he used to frequent was still around, had convinced him to make an appointment, whispering that Ginny was already gone, that there was no longer any reason not to find the release he needed.

He'd made the appointment and filled out the required forms detailing what he wanted, even though he was half-certain he'd never actually show up. He must have changed his mind a dozen times, but in the end, nine o'clock had rolled around and he'd left the home he'd shared with Ginny, his insides a writhing mess of nerves as he Apparated to an alleyway near the club.

It was a Muggle club, but Harry had still cast his strongest Glamour, not wanting to take a chance that he'd be recognised. He'd been greeted in the entryway and, after confirming everything was in order, was escorted to one of the backrooms, where he'd been waiting now for fifteen minutes at least. That wasn't unexpected—Doms did love their power plays. The room was cool, especially given the fact that he was kneeling on the floor, clad only in a pair of tight, black pants. Harry considered casting a quick Warming Charm, but the discomfort was part of the experience.

Another creak sounded just outside his door, and this time the silent pause felt weighty and purposeful. His entire body tensed in anticipation as the door behind him swung open and the slow click of boots grew louder. The faint scent of cologne filled Harry's nostrils, musky and rich. It was undeniably masculine, and something about the fragrance struck a cord within Harry, plucking against an old memory. He brushed it aside, focusing on the other man as he circled Harry slowly before pausing directly in front of him. Harry fought the urge to look up, to see the face of the bloke who was going to give him what he wanted. Instead, he obediently kept his eyes lowered, and worked on cataloguing every detail of what he could see. Everything about the man's boots and trousers screamed money and class—well-made, clearly expensive, and likely tailored to his exact measurements. Harry's gaze lingered on the boots, and apprehension shot through him as he examined the material. He'd never been all that up-to-date on fashion, but the boots in front of him were almost certainly made of dragonhide, which meant that the bloke in front of him was very likely a wizard.

"Look at me," the man drawled, his voice a coolly effortless command. Harry froze. It had been years, but Harry recognised that voice. When he stayed still for too long, the man spoke again, displeasure crackling beneath his sharp words. "Now. Don't make me tell you a second time."

Harry debated calling a stop to everything right then and heading home. Surely this was a sign that he shouldn't be here, if against all odds, this was the man who was standing over him. But maybe he should at least confirm his suspicions before storming out. One quick peak, and then he could leave.

Slowly, he lifted his eyes, and even though he'd been expecting the sight, Harry's muscles still tensed as he locked gazes with Draco Malfoy.

Harry had seen Malfoy around, of course, at the Ministry or in Diagon Alley or at various functions, but this was the closest he'd been to him in years. He'd aged well, his hair styled loosely around his face, his pointed features creating a sharp-edged kind of beauty. When their gazes caught, something flashed in Malfoy's eyes, but it was gone before Harry could make sense of what he'd seen. Malfoy's focus slid away, his eyes flicking over Harry's body. Harry had Glamoured away the obvious marks, but had otherwise left himself unchanged, and he was surprised at the spark of pleasure he felt at Malfoy's clear appreciation of his form.

"I'm not interested in playing with subs who can't even follow the simplest of orders," Malfoy said after he'd finished looking Harry over. A flush of shame replaced Harry's earlier pleasure. He frowned, unsure if he liked how easily his body responded to Malfoy's commanding presence. He was planning to leave, wasn't he? Now that he knew for sure it was Malfoy, there was no way Harry could go through with it. Harry had been conflicted enough before, but there was no way he could submit to somebody like Malfoy, to somebody with whom he had such a tumultuous history. To do so would be madness, and surely Harry had more self-control than that. He didn't need this so badly that he'd stoop as low as letting Malfoy command him.

He opened his mouth to call everything off, but "I'm sorry, sir," came out instead. Malfoy stared at him, unblinking, and Harry felt a flush creep across his neck and cheeks. "It's been awhile," he added quietly, his voice rough.

Malfoy looked at him thoughtfully before reaching out and running a thumb along Harry's cheekbone. The thumb drifted upwards, rubbing almost reverently along the center of Harry's forehead, right where his scar would be, had he not Glamoured it away. Malfoy's eyes were dark and intense, and Harry shuddered beneath his gaze and the soft touch, and then shuddered again when Malfoy buried his hand in Harry's hair and pulled. Hard.

"If we're going to do this, I'll expect you to try harder," Draco said softly.

Tears pricked at the corners of Harry's eyes even as some of the stiffness began to leach from his muscles, a dreamy quiet stealing across his mind as he looked up at Malfoy. There was a strange quirk at the corner of Malfoy's mouth, as if he was privy to some joke that Harry wasn't in on. A tendril of desire wound its way around Harry's spine, and Harry's cock began to fatten. He blinked, his brain sluggishly reminding him that he should be leaving, that Malfoy wasn't somebody he should be trusting with this, that he shouldn't even be here in the first place, that he should be strong enough to go without, that his wife should be enough.

The thoughts weren't strong enough to drown out the growing need inside him. Harry looked up at Malfoy and he wanted, wanted so desperately to experience what Malfoy was offering. Malfoy's presence wasn't as off-putting as he might have anticipated, filling Harry instead with a burning curiosity. Malfoy was undeniably fit, exuding a commanding confidence that told Harry he was more than familiar with the scene. It was unexpected, and Harry wanted to know more, wanted to see what kind of Dom Malfoy was, if he had what it took to put Harry under. Harry was already here, was already on his knees, and he knew his Glamour had held. What did it matter if it was Malfoy who gave this to him, just this once? Nobody but Harry ever had to know.

"I will, sir," Harry answered, half-breathless with the knowledge that he'd made his choice. "I'll do better, I promise."

"I'm glad to hear that," Draco said with a smile, a slow, sharp thing that hit Harry right in the gut. "Now why don't you be a good boy for me and go brace yourself against the cross? We have some things to discuss, and then I have plans for you."

They quickly went over the basics of what Harry had included on his forms—limits, safe words, what he was interested in—before Malfoy got started on those plans of his. He worked Harry over hard, seeming to know exactly how much Harry could handle, exactly how far he could push. Harry was floating by the time Malfoy put him back on his knees, his mouth open and pliant while Malfoy fucked his throat until he spilled across Harry's tongue. Harry felt better than he had in months, in years, every last bit of tension and worry having bled out of him as he lay there, curled up on the bed. Malfoy's hand was surprisingly gentle as it slid up and down his spine, his other hand holding up a bottle of water for Harry to sip. Harry knew how important aftercare was following scenes like this, and it was clear that Malfoy wasn't a newbie, but somehow it still surprised Harry that Malfoy could touch him so tenderly. Of course, it wasn't as if Malfoy actually knew who he was. The thought struck a dissonant chord inside him but he pushed the feeling away, not ready to give up his newfound peace just yet.

Eventually, Harry's emotions began to settle and even out, and Malfoy extracted himself from the bed. With a sly look Harry's way, he slid out his wand, righting his appearance with a quick flick. He seemed to be waiting for some kind of reaction, but when Harry only blinked at him, his lips twisted into a self-satisfied smile that shouldn't have been nearly as attractive as it was. Malfoy's fingers twitched, as if he wanted to reach out, but he held himself back. Harry told himself he was glad for it.

"I hope you enjoyed yourself," Malfoy said. "I know I did. In fact, I wouldn't be opposed to a repeat performance. Feel free to send me an owl if you'd like to do this again." He paused, giving Harry an inscrutable look. "You know where to find me, Potter."

And then he was gone, slipping out of the room as Harry tugged on his clothes. He moved almost robotically, his mind still drifting in a sea of pleasured contentment as his shirt rubbed against the fresh marks on his back. Harry would have to heal those when he got home—he couldn't risk anybody catching sight of them—but for now he found solace in their presence. The guilt and shame were there, bubbling under the surface, but they weren't quite strong enough to override the blissful aftermath. Not yet, at least. Harry was sure he'd pay for this later, but right now, he didn't have it in him to regret it.

It wasn't until Harry had arrived back home, staring blankly at the letter that had appeared in the middle of the dining table in his absence, addressed to him in Ginny's looping script, that he registered the significance of those last few moments with Malfoy.

Malfoy pulling out his wand in a Muggle establishment. The mention of owls. Using magic in front of somebody that, for all Malfoy should have known, was an anonymous Muggle. Most damning of all was Malfoy's final sentence, the one that told Harry that somehow, Malfoy had managed to see past Harry's Glamour.

Malfoy had called him Potter.

+ + +

Harry's shoulders ached and his wrists twinged from where they were bound behind his back, but he barely registered the dull pain. His muscles and joints always rebelled a little at first, after going so long without, but it wasn't enough to pull his focus from the task at hand. It was hard to get proper leverage without the use of his hands and arms to steady himself, but that was all part of the game. He used his knees and abdominal muscles to ease forward, his mouth opening wide to swallow the thick length in front of him.

Harry sighed as he swallowed around Draco's cock, a deep, primal kind of satisfaction washing through him at the familiar, musky taste, the comforting way his jaw was already beginning to ache. It had been far too long since the last time Harry had this, and he was beyond desperate for it now, the taste of Draco on his tongue sending his need into overdrive. He spread his knees a bit wider on the hardwood floor, his own erection bobbing as he braced himself so he could take Draco deeper, faster. The heavy weight of Draco on his tongue was addictive, and the heady smell of his arousal made Harry's mind spin with dizzy euphoria. He wanted more, he wanted everything.

"Easy there," Draco said when Harry pushed himself a little too far, his throat muscles fluttering as he choked himself on Draco's cock. Draco's voice was heavy with amusement. Sure hands slid through Harry's hair, and Harry hummed in contentment, torn between wanting to push up into the pressure and his need to continue pleasuring Draco with his mouth. "So desperate for it, aren't you?" Draco hummed. He pulled Harry off his dick as Harry whimpered, looking up at Draco in consternation. Pleasure danced in Draco's eyes, even as they narrowed. He held Harry still with one hand while the other wrapped around his prick, Harry following the motion with his greedy gaze.

"Such a little slut for my cock," Draco said on a groan. "Is this what you want?" He tapped his shaft against Harry's cheek and chin, rubbing the tip against Harry's mouth, leaving precome dripping from his lips. "Want to choke yourself on my cock?" Harry looked up at him as he nodded and licked off the precome, the sharp flavour bursting across his tongue. Draco's smile was pure hunger. "I know it is, but don't forget, Harry. This isn't about what you want. It's about what I want."

Harry shuddered and went lax, his eyes going glassy as he looked up at Draco with an expression that probably wasn't far off from adoration. That was exactly it, that was right. Draco was the one that mattered here. All Harry needed to do was give Draco whatever he wanted.

"There we go, sweetheart," Draco murmured. "That's perfect." Harry's skin heated with the praise, a hot flush spreading over his skin. "Now open your mouth for me, nice and wide."

Harry did, tilting his head back and extending his tongue. Draco smiled down at him, so proud, before the solid length of him slowly slid inside. Both of Draco's hands wound their way through Harry's locks, gripping him tight as he began to pump his hips. Held still like this, with his head cradled in Draco's hands, there was nothing for Harry to do but take it. A small part of him rebelled against it, wanting to show Draco what he could do, wanting to make it good for him, but he wasn't the one calling the shots. Draco was, and this was what Draco wanted. Accepting that fact melted the last bit of Harry's resistance.

He stared into Draco's eyes as he kept his mouth open, doing his best to convey his desire, his acquiescence. Draco rewarded him by fucking into him faster, humping his face with focused purpose. The thick length of him pushed into Harry's throat over and over again, blocking his air a little longer each time, making Harry's head spin as dizzy arousal spiralled through him. His own cock pulsed and leaked all over Draco's shiny hardwood floors, and Harry wondered if Draco would let him come. He wanted it—oh, how he wanted it—but Harry knew that it wasn't his place to worry about coming. Draco would decide when it was time. Draco would take care of him.

Harry let go of the persistent need, his arousal settling into something steady but not overwhelming. He did his best to move his tongue as Draco thrust, wanting to make it as good for Draco as he could. Draco seemed to appreciate the effort, his eyes growing dark and his thrusts grinding deeper. He didn't bother warning Harry before he came, holding himself deep as he emptied himself down Harry's throat. Draco eased out of Harry's mouth slowly, leaving a sticky trail in his wake.

Harry swallowed him eagerly, gratefully, gazing up at Draco as he licked the salt of Draco's release from his lips.

- - -

Harry felt like he was going to explode.

The pressure had been building for a while, for months at least, maybe even years. Two years, in fact, a persistent voice whispered. Two years since Draco Malfoy last gave you what you need. Harry wasn't letting himself think of that, though. That had been a mistake, a horrible mistake that he'd vowed to never again repeat.

Harry had come back from their liaison to a letter from Ginny, telling him that she was pregnant, and that she wanted to try and make their relationship work. All Harry had ever wanted was a family, and the sudden deluge of guilt and fear that had overtaken him in that moment had been overwhelming. He wanted what Ginny was offering—a wife and a child, and a life free of complication, but what he'd just done could tear everything apart.

Draco Malfoy knew his secret.

Ginny had moved back in and Harry had held his breath. He waited for the other shoe to drop and desperately hoped that the faith he'd placed in Malfoy hadn't been misplaced. Days passed, weeks, months, and when no incriminating articles ended up in the Prophet, Harry finally began to relax. He threw himself into preparing for the birth of his son—his son!—prioritising the happiness and well-being of his wife and unborn child. Harry did his best to put Malfoy and his own burning need out of his mind. There was no room in his head for thoughts of his transgressions, no matter how amazing it had been to let everything go for a little while.

It was a mistake. It couldn't happen again.

He'd held strong for these past two years, even during his lowest and darkest moments, but lately...lately, Malfoy's parting words played in his brain on a constant, seductive loop, and it took every ounce of Harry's willpower to ignore them. He wasn't sure how much longer he could resist. He wasn't sure how much longer he wanted to resist.

"Feel free to send me an owl if you'd like to do this again. You know where to find me, Potter."

"Another late night at the office?" Ginny asked as Harry made his way into the living room. Harry fought the urge to bristle at the disapproving tone of her voice as he walked over to brush a kiss against her cheek. He knew her hormones were going a little crazy right now. She was sitting back in one of their oversized chairs, the swell of her stomach clearly visible in her sleep shirt.

"Sorry, Gin. I tried to get away, but Robards had me in meetings all day and I needed to finish several reports before I could duck out."

Ginny's mouth twisted. "You think there's truth to the rumours then? That he's getting ready to retire?"

"Maybe." Harry shrugged, anxiety and exhaustion sapping him of his strength. "Probably not for another year or two, but he's been offloading some of his responsibilities to me."

"Seems like he's preparing you to take over."

Harry shook his head in denial, though he had a sinking suspicion she was right. "He's not said anything, and that would be crazy, yeah? There are loads more qualified Aurors."

Ginny's eyes softened as she looked up at him. "But they're not you, Harry."

The words should have made Harry feel comforted, but instead they fell heavy on his shoulders. "I'm sorry about all the late nights. I know you've got your hands full with James, and you're going into your second trimester. I'm going to tell Robards I have to cut back a bit on all the extra hours."

Ginny sighed and flashed him a smile. "I won't lie and say it wouldn't be nice to have you around more. Even when you're here, you're wound up so tight it's like you're miles away. I know what you're doing is important, and that the Aurors need you, too. I just miss you, is all. James does, as well."

Guilt was a heavy stone in his gut. Merlin, he was so, so tired. He hated that he was disappointing his family, that he felt like he was barely keeping his head above water. Worse was the fact that he knew exactly what he needed to make it all the more manageable, and the thought of giving in was growing more and more tempting by the day. He knew it was awful and wrong, that he had vows and a commitment to Ginny that he'd be breaking if he succumbed to his desire, but wasn't he already letting her down? If a few hours was all it would take to make him a better husband and father, a better Auror and civil servant...maybe that was justification enough. Perhaps the ends could justify the means—the war had shown him that was sometimes true enough.

"You're right, Ginny," Harry said, leaning down again, this time for a proper kiss. When he pulled back, she was smiling. "I'll talk to Robards; find a better balance. I want to be here for you and James, and for baby Albus."

Ginny's brows rose. "You're mad if you think I'm letting you name this baby Albus."

"Little Albus Severus," Harry said solemnly. Ginny laughed.

"Not on your life!" She laughed again, and Harry grinned. He'd win her over, eventually. "Help me up, would you?" she asked. "I'm ready to turn in."

"I'll meet you up there in a second. I'm just going to grab a quick bite to eat."

She nodded before giving him a coy smile. "Don't be long."

"I won't be."

She made her way upstairs, and Harry walked to the kitchen, throwing together a sandwich as his heart thumped wildly. He downed the sandwich in several large bites—barely even tasting the dry bread and bland turkey—before heading to the study. His hands shook as he grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill, and he dashed out a quick message before he lost his nerve. He shouldn't be here, shouldn't be doing this, but despite the recriminations already bouncing around his head, he couldn't find it in himself to stop.

A post owl was sitting on a perch in the kitchen, a completely unremarkable bird, just like all the others they'd borrowed over the years. Harry hadn't been able to stomach getting another owl after Hedwig, but he couldn't argue with Ginny's logic that having an owl on hand was practically a wizarding necessity. They'd compromised by borrowing different owls from the owlpost every couple of months, which had the added benefit of anonymity, considering Harry's notoriety and Ginny's own Quidditch fame. It had certainly come in handy on more than one occasion, and Harry was even more grateful for it now.

Harry attached the letter to the owl's leg, holding on for a fraction too long before letting go and whispering the owl's destination. The owl seemed to look at him with something like judgement before taking off, winging through the night. Harry's pulse pounded, and he collapsed against the kitchen counter. He'd done it. He'd really done it. His entire body shook with nerves and adrenaline, and a part of him already desperately regretted his actions. Perhaps he wouldn't even get a response. A lot had changed in two years, after all, and the last Harry had heard, Malfoy had married some pure-blood witch, one who, according to the Prophet, was pregnant just like Ginny.

Harry tried to put it out of his mind as he climbed the stairs towards the bedroom he shared with his wife. It was done, and there was no point in thinking of it anymore. Not until next Friday, at least.

Malfoy,

I know it's been awhile, but I'd like to take you up on your offer. If you're interested, meet me next Friday, same time and place as before.

-P

+ + +

Harry blinked slowly, feeling slow and lazy despite having been awake for less than an hour. He was comfortably content on his knees by Draco's chair, Draco's Cushioning Charm softening the hard tile beneath him. Draco was at the dining table, eating breakfast and reading the Sports section out loud from the Daily Prophet, though Harry barely registered his voice as more than a comforting hum.

Slim fingers appeared before him, a bite of sausage roll pinched between, and Harry obediently leant forward to eat from Draco's hand. Flavour burst across his tongue, flaky, buttery pastry and juicy, spiced pork. He'd just managed to swallow the morsel before another offering was held out for him, this time a piece of melon, too big for Harry to comfortably eat in one bite. He bit through the flesh carefully, making sure not to capture Draco's fingers between his incisors, and sweet nectar burst forth, trickling down Draco's wrist. Harry followed the path with his tongue, licking up every sticky drop before taking the rest of the fruit into his mouth and chewing happily.

Harry lost track of how long they stayed like that, with Draco reading and eating his breakfast, while periodically holding out tidbits of fruit and buttery pastry and fatty fried bacon for Harry to nibble on. It was long enough for Harry to float in a sea of peacefulness, for his belly to fill and mind to clear. During these weekends, the only time Harry ate was if it was by Draco's hand, and though it had made him uncomfortable and self-conscious at first, he'd grown to love it. Somehow, food just seemed to taste better when Harry was eating it from Draco's fingertips, as if the salt of Draco's skin added a little something extra. Mealtimes were always a struggle, during that first week back home after their time together. The food seemed bland and boring when eaten from the cool, unyielding metal of a fork or spoon.

Draco held out another bite for Harry. This time, it was a piece of thick toast, slathered with butter and jam. Harry didn't hold back his moan of approval as Draco pressed it to his lips. For the past several years, Harry had been working on his diet, focusing on lean meats and vegetables, and sadly avoiding foods high in fats or carbohydrates. These days, he mostly sat behind a desk, and his metabolism was no longer as forgiving of a poor diet in his late thirties as it had been in his youth. He knew it was good for him, and he appreciated the benefits to his health and physique, but damn if he didn't miss being able to eat whatever the hell he wanted. During these weekends, though, he didn't concern himself with calories or carb counts. It wasn't his job to worry about what he was eating—that was Draco's responsibility. Instead, he let himself relish the rich flavours of full fat butter and sugary jam, and allowed Draco spoil him.

Draco's voice tapered off, though Harry could tell his gaze was still intent on the paper. He'd likely made it to the business section, which he always read with careful intensity. A hand slid through Harry's hair, and Harry all but purred, leaning to rest his cheek against the soft fabric of Draco's trousers. Even though neither of them would be leaving the flat this weekend, Draco was still dressed impeccably in perfectly-cut grey trousers and a crisp, white buttoned shirt. He looked so polished and put-together, like he was heading out for a meeting with one of his Muggle clients. In contrast, Harry was clad only in a pair of tight, black pants and Draco's collar. The dichotomy made him shiver with a thrum of arousal.

His cock was half-hard—it had been all morning—and Harry let the pleasure of it stretch through him, like a lazy cat in the sun. It was nice, experiencing the delicious buzz of lust without feeling overwhelmed by it. The feeling just fed into his general state of tranquility, secure in the knowledge that he was safe in Draco's hands. He rolled his shoulders and flexed his quads, ensuring proper blood flow without breaking position. His entire body ached in the best possible way, a constant reminder that every bit of him belonged to Draco entirely—his muscles, his skin, his pain. Harry arched his back slightly, just enough to tug at the welts he could still feel from last night's whipping, the brief flare of pain a bright shooting star across Harry's vision. It would be the work of a single spell to heal them entirely, but Harry liked the feel of them. They'd remain on Harry's skin until their forty-eight hours together were up, a constant physical reminder of Draco's claim.

The hand in Harry's hair drifted downwards, resting on Harry's shoulder. A finger stroked absent-mindedly across Harry's skin, rubbing back and forth over the edge of one of the raised welts. Harry shuddered and sighed, his thoughts bleeding away as he sank into sensation.

- - -

By the time Friday had rolled around, Harry had nearly talked himself out of showing up at the club. It had been wrong to send that owl, a terrible error, but Harry could fix it by not going at all. Besides, Malfoy likely wouldn't be there anyway, would probably be laughing to himself in that big, awful Manor of his while Harry waited and waited. In the end though, Harry had gone, unable to resist, and Malfoy had been there, just like Harry had always known deep down that he would be.

Harry collapsed onto the bed afterwards, his body buzzing and humming with endorphin-fueled adrenaline as his mind drifted on a cloud of contentment. His muscles and joints ached from having been suspended during their scene, the corded ropes bisecting his torso and legs and digging into his skin as Malfoy hung him from the ceiling. Harry wasn't sure how long Malfoy had kept him there, toying with him and teasing him, but it was long enough for Harry to sink blissfully into subspace, where everything was easy and brilliant. Malfoy had fucked him then, his cock long, hard, and thick as it pierced him, sinking right into his core. It had been years and years since he'd had a cock in his arse, and he'd forgotten how much he'd liked it, how good it felt to take somebody inside himself. He didn't even care that it was Malfoy, that he'd let his childhood enemy string him up and fuck him blind. It felt too good, too right. It had been two years since their last time, and yet Malfoy had known exactly what he needed, and hadn't hesitated to give it to him.

Harry knew this blissful high wouldn't last. The guilt would come, eating at him and crushing him beneath his weight. Last time, at least he had the excuse of not knowing beforehand who he would be submitting to, and of thinking he and Ginny would soon be over. Now they had a child together, and another on the way. This had been a betrayal, pure and simple. Harry couldn't think about that now, though, not when he was still drugged out on sex and subspace. Not when the marks from Malfoy's ropes were still imprinted on his skin, or when he could still feel the slow trickle of Malfoy's release sliding out of his arse.

"I don't think we should come back to this club again," Malfoy said softly. His hand stroked steadily up and down Harry's back, a grounding caress. Harry nodded, suppressing the flash of disappointment. Clearly, he and Malfoy were on the same page. This had to be the last time. "I know it's a Muggle club," Malfoy continued, "but we're hardly the only wizards who come here, and if I recognised you through your Glamour that first time, others might too. It's too great of a risk." The pleasant fuzziness in Harry's head disappeared in a flash, leaving a cold clarity in its wake as Draco continued. "Next time, we should—"

"There's not going to be a next time, Malfoy," Harry snapped, pushing himself off the bed and reaching for his wand. Malfoy flinched as Harry grabbed hold of it, but Harry only cleaned himself off and healed his skin of the remaining indentations. He ignored the small prickle of loss as he grabbed his clothes off the floor. "This was a mistake. We're both married. This can't happen again."

Malfoy laughed, clearly amused, and Harry glared at him. "Astoria and I have an arrangement," he said with a shrug and a smirk. "She doesn't care what I do with my prick, though I'm guessing the same isn't true of your lovely wife."

"Don't you dare talk about Ginny," Harry spat, anger beginning to pulse through his veins. He wanted to punch Malfoy right on his pointy nose, wanted to tackle him to the floor, wanted to fight and grapple with him until Malfoy got the upper hand, until Malfoy had Harry pinned and at his mercy. Maybe then Malfoy would spread Harry's legs wide and Vanish his clothes, leaving him naked and vulnerable. He'd force Harry to take his cock right there, and there'd be nothing Harry could do to stop it. He'd have to lie there and take it, take whatever Malfoy had to give him while Harry writhed with shame and pleasure.

Another chuckle pulled Harry from his fantasy. He realised he was panting, his cock half-hard and clearly visible through his tight pants. Harry flushed and growled, tugging on his trousers and doing his best to ignore the heat that crackled between them in a way that made his thoughts turn down dark and wicked paths. He shouldn't want what he wanted, and he definitely shouldn't want it from Malfoy.

"It seems as if parts of you are very interested in seeing me again," Malfoy purred, his voice a seductive rumble that vibrated through Harry's flesh and bones.

"I'm serious, Malfoy. This was a one-time deal. Never again."

"Just like last time?" Malfoy taunted. "Do you think you can go for another two years without? Forever? Face it, Potter; you need this. You crave it. You want something your perfect little wife can't give you. Stop fighting it."

"You're wrong, Malfoy," Harry replied, his body shaking with rage and something that felt a lot like fear. "You're dead wrong."

He turned and walked out of the room, anger and confusion and terror churning in his gut. Harry had the strangest urge to turn around as he left, to look back at Malfoy as he walked away, but he held strong. Giving in had been a mistake. One Harry wouldn't make again. One he couldn't make again.

Malfoy was wrong. He had to be.

+ + +

Harry sighed and wriggled further into the cradle of Draco's arms, letting himself relax completely against Draco's chest. Warm liquid lapped against him in a teasing caress, the water from the bath heating his skin and soothing the lingering soreness in his muscles.

Draco's bath was, expectedly, grand and opulent, large enough to fit two full-grown men comfortably with room to spare. The basin was made of smooth, cream-coloured stone laced with threads of gold, and Harry was sure it cost a small fortune, not that somebody with Draco's money would ever bat an eyelash at the price. Harry was aware that he was quite wealthy himself, but even with his inheritance and Ginny's lucrative Quidditch career, neither of them had ever been the type to indulge in such frivolities. This kind of decadence would have made Harry uncomfortable in his normal life, but there was no room for Harry's judgement here.

Draco loved his bath. He made it clear how much he enjoyed being surrounded by luxury and beautiful things, and here, in this safe space, Harry could admit that a part of him liked it too. He wouldn't have been capable of allowing himself such an extravagant bath if he had a choice in the matter, not when an economical shower would get the job done just fine, but these weekends weren't up to him. Draco liked the tub, liked spoiling Harry, and Harry...Harry liked what Draco liked, liked whatever it was that made Draco smile that pleased, little smile, the one that always lit up Harry's insides.

Here, sprawled between Draco's thighs, Harry let all his worry and anxiety slip away like water down a drain. That was what he loved about this—being able to give away his control, handing all his guilt and overthinking to Draco, while Draco took it all and let Harry's mind be quiet, absolving him of all responsibility, even if only for a little while. He didn't have to wonder why he so enjoyed soaking in a palatial bath with scented oils, Draco's body curled around his back. He didn't have to worry about how much he enjoyed being cared for and spoiled. What they did together was Draco's decision, and the burden of those choices belonged to him, not Harry.

Draco's hands slid over Harry's hips, pulling him snug against Draco's chest, his hard cock nestling in the small of Harry's back. Draco took Harry's cock in hand and began to wank him slowly, and the pleasure was warm treacle spreading sweetly through Harry's veins. His head lolled back onto Draco's shoulder and he turned, mouthing languidly at Draco's throat and the underside of his chin. Draco hummed in appreciation, tilting his head for more access, all while his hand maintain its easy rhythm, continuing to pump Harry with even strokes.

Draco teased him for what felt like forever, his hand providing a lovely friction that managed to key Harry up without ever being enough to push him over the edge. Harry could still feel Draco's prick thick along his lower back, and he wanted. He wanted Draco to take him right there in the bath, with the water sloshing out around them. He wanted Draco to make him fly. Harry wriggled against Draco, moaning as the base of Draco's cock nestled in the crease of his arse. Draco's breath hitched, and Harry thought, for a moment, that maybe he'd been successful with his plot. But then Draco looked down at him sternly, and Harry's body stilled. Draco didn't even have to say anything—his reproach was clear in his disapproving gaze. He would be the one to decide if he wanted to fuck Harry. Not Harry.

"Good boy," Draco murmured as Harry stopped his movements. "The question is, have you been good enough to come?" His hand squeezed tightly around Harry's erection—a promise of more, if Draco decided Harry deserved it. "Do you want to come, Harry?"

It was one of the few times when Harry was allowed to speak, limited to those instances in which he was asked a direct question, or when he was begging, or if he was asking for something that he needed. Harry's breath caught as Draco's thumb rubbed tight circles along his frenulum, his entire body shivering with shocks of pleasure. "Please, Draco. Please let me come. I need it."

"You need it?" Draco asked, his voice deceptively soft. His hand sped, working Harry faster and harder until he was right up against the edge, his orgasm a hair's breadth away. Draco stopped. "Hmm. No, I don't think you do. Maybe later."

Draco's hand slid away, coming to rest on Harry's thigh as Harry whined at the loss. Frustrated arousal buzzed through Harry, and his mouth opened and closed uselessly as he looked up at Draco. He wanted to come, dammit, wanted Draco to make him come. Harry stared up into Draco's eyes; when he saw the cool, implaccable control, a sudden calm washed through him. Draco had made his decision. It wasn't Harry's place to question it.

The frustration slipped away, leaving only arousal in its wake, present but manageable. Harry's body melted back against Draco's, accepting of his fate. Maybe Draco would let him come later, if he was good. Harry wanted to be good.

Draco hummed in clear appreciation and pressed a kiss against Harry's hair, his arms tightening around Harry's chest. Harry smiled drowsily, safe in Draco's embrace .

- - -

Six months had passed, and Harry still hadn't given in.

He should be glad for it—proud, even—but instead, all he felt was empty. It wasn't as if the desire had gone away. Every single day was a struggle, a battle. So far, he'd managed to resist temptation, but there was a part of him that hated himself for it, the part that was locked inside, the one that yearned to be set free.

It didn't help that life only seemed to be getting more intense and chaotic. James had fully embraced the terrible twos, and baby Albus had yet to sleep through an entire night. Not to mention the pressure Harry was under at work, now that Robards had officially announced his plan to retire within the next two years, and had unofficially informed Harry that he was planning to recommend that Harry take over once he left. Between the Auror Department and his home life, Harry barely had a minute to himself, barely had time to sleep and eat, let alone relax. He was holding on to his sanity by a thread—one that was rapidly fraying—but he had to be strong. People counted on him. Depended on him. He couldn't let them down.

Which was why he was clad in his finest and most uncomfortable dress robes, getting ready to spend the evening at some Ministry Charity Gala that was bound to be stuffy and boring as hell. Frankly, it was absolutely the last way he wanted to spend the first night he'd had off in ages, but there was nothing for it. Ginny had been looking forward to it for weeks, clearly excited to spend time around adults and to have the chance to properly socialise, and Robards had made it clear that a lot of important people would be at the gala, and that it was in Harry's best interest to schmooze.

"How do I look?" Ginny asked as she walked out of the bedroom. She did a little twirl, the gauzy maroon fabric fanning out around her knees.

"Beautiful," Harry replied truthfully. Her muscles weren't quite as defined as they had been before her pregnancy but her trim form had swiftly returned, and she fairly glowed in her evening gown. You wouldn't have known she'd had a baby only three months before, if it weren't for the fact that every paper in the country had trumpeted that news the moment baby Albus had arrived.

She smiled at him. "You look quite dashing yourself. Let me just Firecall mum to make sure she's got everything she needs for the kids, and then we'll go."

Harry nodded, keeping the resignation off his face. He'd rather have stayed home with Albus and James and let Ginny deal with gala on her own, but he knew that was never an option. Ginny's voice drifted out from the living room, and he took a deep, steadying breath. He was fine. He could make it through the gala. It was going to make Ginny happy and reflect well on his boss. Going was the right decision.

Impossibly, the tension twisting his muscles into knots managed to increase the moment they stepped into the grand ballroom. Hundreds of the most powerful and influential witches and wizards milled about, and Harry quickly snagged two flutes of champagne from a passing waiter, passing one off to Ginny while he wished for something stronger. His clothes felt too warm and too tight, and the beginnings of headache started to pulse behind his eyes, but he plastered on a smile and squared his shoulders as he followed Ginny into the swaying crowd.

He was speaking to the Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports when he caught something out of the corner of his eye, a flash of familiar, white-blond hair. Harry turned on instinct, his gaze scanning the crowd until it finally landed on one of the last people he was prepared to see. He wasn't sure why he was so surprised to see Draco Malfoy at this event—it was exactly the kind of thing Malfoy loved to be seen at. His stomach flipped as he took Malfoy in, greedily drinking in the impeccable cut of his robes, the way they flattered his form, accentuating his long, lean muscles. Harry watched Malfoy's hand delicately cradling a champagne flute, and tried not to remember what those fingers had felt like sliding over his skin.

"I wondered if they'd be here," Ginny said, pulling Harry from his thoughts.

"Hmm?"

She nodded towards Malfoy, clearly having noticed who'd captured Harry's attention. "Malfoy and his wife. Astoria had the baby only a month ago. A boy, I think."

It was only then that Harry noticed Malfoy wasn't alone. His wife was standing next to him, looking beautiful in green silk. She was speaking easily with Malfoy, though Harry thought their body language skewed more towards friends rather than lovers. He wondered what people thought of his and Ginny's body language, and then he scolded himself for even thinking about Malfoy's relationship at all. It wasn't any of his business. It wasn't something he should care about.

"I'm surprised they're not at home with their newborn son," Harry said, more harshly than was probably deserved, considering he and Ginny were here themselves.

Ginny snorted indelicately. "We only have two months on them, Harry. I hardly think we're ones to judge. In fact…" She flashed him a sly smile. "This means that Albus and Malfoy's son are going to be in the same year at Hogwarts. I wonder how that will turn out?"

Harry closed his eyes. He couldn't deal with this right now, couldn't think of the next generation of Potters and Malfoys, not when his relationship with the current Malfoy was so complicated and fucked up.

"Would you like to dance?" he asked Ginny instead, wanting to leave all thoughts of Malfoy in the dust.

Ginny's eyes lit up. "I'd love to."

Harry's dance skills had thankfully improved since fourth year, though only just, and he led Ginny onto the floor as a slow song began to play. Ginny pressed in close, her cheek resting along his shoulder, and Harry wondered what it felt like for her, being cradled in his arms. He felt a flash of envy, a desire to be in her place, but he did his best to squash it down.

He looked around the room at the other dancing couples as they swayed together, his gaze latching on to Malfoy and Astoria, who looked picture-perfect as they twirled. Harry tried not to stare, but he couldn't seem to drag his gaze away. So he had nobody but himself to blame when Malfoy looked up, staring straight into Harry's eyes.

Malfoy's gaze bore right through him, as if he were able to see all the way into Harry's very soul. Harry didn't know how Malfoy did it, how all it took was a simple look to make Harry's skin heat and his pulse race as he fought the overwhelming urge to drop to his knees. There was a promise there, lingering deep in Malfoy's eyes—a promise of release, of joy and pain and ecstasy, if only Harry would ask for it. Harry's hands began to tremble against Ginny's waist as too many emotions flooded his system.

"Are you all right, Harry?"

Ginny had pulled slightly away and was looking up at Harry in concern. It was enough to finally break the connection thrumming between him and Malfoy, and Harry tore his gaze away to focus on his wife. "You're looking a little flushed and you're shaking," Ginny continued in a low voice filled with worry.

Even though Harry wasn't looking at him, he could still sense Malfoy in the room, a weighty, almost tangible presence that was impossible to ignore. His entire body burned with need, for the things that Malfoy was offering, the things that Malfoy wanted to give. Certainty solidified in Harry's stomach, rising above the guilt and shame that churned beneath. He couldn't keep resisting. It might not be tonight or tomorrow, or even this week, but eventually—and Harry knew it would be soon—the need was going to become too great to suppress. No matter how hard he'd tried to fight it, something about their connection felt inevitable. Harry was going to owl Malfoy again, was going to let Malfoy do horrible, unspeakable, glorious things to his body, and thank him for it after.

"No, Gin," he whispered. "I don't think I'm all right at all."

+ + +

Draco worked in finance—something to do with trading and portfolios, and a bunch of other mind-numbing bullshit that Draco had explained to him over the years, but which Harry had never managed to fully grasp. What Harry did know was that it made Draco, who was already obscenely wealthy, even more obscenely wealthy, and that Draco didn't seem capable of going a full twenty-four hours without working. Sometimes, Harry wondered if Draco worked every weekend, or if it was just the ones he spent with Harry, adding yet another layer to the game they played. Harry supposed he'd never know. They didn't have the kind of relationship that allowed Harry to learn about Draco's private habits outside of their time together, even if Harry sometimes wished they did.

Draco's sat at the desk in his office, a Spell Screen shimmering in the air in front of him. Numbers scrolled on a loop as Draco frowned and scribbled on various sets of parchment. Harry was curled up on a conjured cushion at Draco's feet, flipping through a trashy wizarding romance novel about a dashing pure-blood heir and his forbidden love with a Muggle in the neighbouring village. It was ninety percent filth, ten percent unbelievable plot, but even under threat of a Cruciatus, Harry would never admit to how much he liked them. Draco knew, though, and every weekend there was a brand new book waiting for Harry to enjoy.

He flipped through it now, a quiet fog drifting over him. The book didn't require much brain function, which was ideal for these weekends, as Harry spent most of the time in a half-daze, his body and mind both gentle and relaxed. Harry had his own work to do, of course—case reports to read, quarterly budgets to approve, and proposals to sign-off on, since a Head Auror's work was never completely finished. Even so, Harry never brought his work with him on these weekends. Maybe if they had a real relationship instead of a few stolen days here and there, then things would be different. But with how infrequently Harry allowed himself this release, he needed to be taken down fast and hard. There wasn't room for Harry the Perfect Auror, not here. Who knew how work might affect his headspace? It wasn't something Harry would risk, and frankly, he wasn't sure Draco would have allowed it, anyway. Harry was more than content with his mindless romances.

Harry shifted on the cushion, the movement increasing the pressure on his full bladder, piercing through his haze. He'd had to piss for awhile now, but he'd been ignoring it, swatting the urge away like a persistent fly as he sank into his book. But the need had moved from annoying to urgent, and Harry knew he couldn't put it off much longer.

"Can I use the loo?" Harry asked, his voice a scratchy murmur. His throat was still a bit sore from the fucking Draco had given it that morning, and Harry relished the slight ache.

Draco ignored him for a moment, continuing with his furious writing, but Harry knew better than to ask again. He was allowed to speak only if he needed something or to vocalise his pleasure unless Draco permitted otherwise. But repeating a question would be pushing it, especially given just how attuned Draco had become to Harry's body and needs over the years. There wasn't any way Draco hadn't heard him.

A minute passed before Draco looked over at him, with a shrewd glint in his eyes. The tip of his black quill brushed against his lips and Harry's belly flipped, the pressure on his bladder making the burst of lust that much sweeter.

"Need to take a slash?" Draco asked.

"Yes, sir," Harry replied, and Draco hummed thoughtfully. Harry knew Draco was contemplating his request. Just because Harry was permitted to make his entreaties, didn't mean that Draco had to allow them. Nine times out of ten, he granted Harry's ask, but sometimes Draco liked to test the limits of the control that Harry had given him.

Harry shivered at the thought. A memory ghosted across his consciousness of the last time Draco had denied him, several years ago now, and the freedom and shocking euphoria that had followed. Harry knew that memory played a part in why he always waited until his bladder was uncomfortably full before asking to use the loo. He liked the tension of not knowing whether this would be the time when Draco would once again show him that even the most basic decisions belonged entirely to Draco.

The moment stretched long between them, full of tension and possibility, before the corner of Draco's mouth quirked up into a smile and he dipped his head. "Yes, Harry, you may use the loo."

Relief tinged with a hint of disappointment rushed through him. Harry nodded his thanks before pulling himself unsteadily to his feet. He turned to go, but Draco's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"When you're finished, I'd like you to make and bring me lunch."

The request wasn't unusual. If Draco wasn't calling on his elves to make them their meals, then it was Harry's responsibility to cook for them. "Would you like anything in particular, sir?"

"I've got a rich dinner planned for us tonight, so a sandwich should be fine for lunch. You know what I like."

"Yes, sir."

"Good boy," Draco murmured as Harry slipped out of the room. The words carried Harry to the loo on a cloud of endorphins.

He took a slash and washed his hands before making his way to the large kitchen. It was well-stocked—more so than one would expect, given that Draco didn't actually live here full-time. Harry pulled out the ingredients for a ham and cheese sandwich: extra ham, light mustard, cut into triangles, no crusts. He wasn't sure if Draco was in the mood for carrot sticks or crisps, so he added a small pile of both to the plate before putting everything away. He cleaned off the countertops with a flick of his wand, and headed back into the study.

Draco let out a small sound of acknowledgement but kept his eyes fixed on his work as Harry set down the plate on the desk and sank back down into the cushion. Harry took a few breaths to relax into his position, then opened his book and picked up where he'd left off. His head listed, and his cheek found Draco's thigh.

Harry sighed, a wave of contentment blanketing him as the scratch of Draco's trousers and the familiar scent of his detergent filled Harry's nostrils. There was the recognisable sound of eating, and then Draco's fingers appeared before him, a crisp pinched between his thumb and forefinger. Harry leant forward and took the bite from Draco's hand, licking the salt and oil from his fingertips.

When Draco had finished his meal, sharing bits of carrot and sandwich and crisps with Harry, he set back to work, recasting his Spell Screen and rustling his papers in what Harry was sure was a very important fashion. Every once in a while, though, he would reach down to slide his fingers through Harry's hair, scratching briefly at his scalp before resuming his writing.

Harry smiled and turned the page.

- - -

The hotel that Malfoy had picked for their third rendezvous was in Muggle Glasgow and just as opulent as Harry would have expected from somebody who'd grown up with Malfoy's money. Malfoy assured him that he'd bought out the top two floors of the hotel for the night, so even if their Silencing Charms wore off, they didn't have to worry about being overheard. Harry could be as loud as he wanted. He took full advantage of it.

"What's that look for?" Harry asked as they lay sated and sweaty afterwards in the big four-poster bed. They'd been lying side by side silently for a long while now, and Harry's mind was finally starting to settle back into his body. He'd turned to look at Malfoy, only to notice that Malfoy was looking back at him with a peculiar expression on his face.

"Nothing, Potter," he said, an insincere smile pulling at his lips. "Just waiting for you to angrily declare this was a mistake and that it won't happen again before you storm out." He looked at his bare wrist, as if checking the time. "Any second now, by my guess."

A flash of anger sizzled through Harry's veins but it burned out quickly, followed by a heavy resignation. Harry had realised something at that gala several weeks back. He couldn't keep fighting this. He didn't want to.

"You were right, Malfoy."

Malfoy's eyes widened a fraction, before he quickly schooled his expression. "I usually am, though you'll have to refresh my memory as to what exactly I was right about this time."

Harry bit his lip as his gaze slid to his wrists, taking in the faint red marks still circling them. "I need it," Harry whispered, still staring at his wrists, watching as the lines seemed to fade a little more with every second that passed. "I need this. It's killing me to pretend I don't."

There was a relief in finally saying it out loud—in admitting that he was going to give in again, that he wasn't going to keep trying to be strong. Malfoy satisfied a dark desire deep within him, and Harry didn't want to live without it. After each of their liaisons, Harry left feeling more centred and focused, and more aware and present in his life than he had before. He gave more to his wife, his family, his job...surely that counted for something, balancing out this one betrayal?

"So you're done pretending we're not going to end up here again?" Malfoy asked, his tone oozing satisfaction and something deeper that Harry couldn't quite place.

Harry sighed. "Yeah, I guess I am. Though maybe not here here. I think it might be a bit conspicuous if you rent out the top two floors of the same hotel more than once."

Malfoy laughed, and the sound shouldn't have made Harry's stomach clench. "I actually had another location in mind. One that's a little more...permanent."

Permanent. The word made Harry's body tense and his skin erupt in gooseflesh. "Oh?"

"I have a place in Muggle London. I stay there sometimes, when I'm working on a project that requires that I be more accessible than I am in Wiltshire. Nobody knows where it is, not even Astoria. Not that she'd care, one way or another."

"You want us to meet up at your flat?"

Malfoy shrugged. "It'd be easier, and we wouldn't need to involve anybody else. There'd be less likelihood of somebody recognising either one of us and spilling the beans."

"I—" Harry broke off. Doing what they did in Malfoy's flat instead of the club or a hotel felt different somehow, more real and intense. Then again, things were going to be different now that Harry had admitted this wasn't going to be the last time. Malfoy wasn't wrong that it would be safer, and there was a part of Harry that liked the thought of Malfoy taking him somewhere more personal. He shouldn't want to deepen what they had together, but Harry had already given in to Malfoy completely; he could hardly fall much further from grace.

"All right," Harry finally agreed.

"Good." Malfoy sounded pleased, smug, even, but Harry couldn't bring himself to feel annoyed. "You'll owl me when you want to meet up again. Maybe…" Draco trailed off, a slight frown on his face.

"Maybe what?" Harry prompted when Malfoy didn't continue.

Malfoy took a deep breath. "Maybe you could see if you'd be able to get away for longer next time. Perhaps for an entire day, or even a weekend. Then I could take my time with you; keep you down for longer than just an hour."

Harry's breath caught. He'd never let himself think about having more than an evening together, but now that Malfoy had mentioned it, his blood burned with desire. The things Malfoy could do with him in a day, in two days…

Harry's belly clenched and he nodded, looking into Malfoy's eyes to see the same want reflected back at him.

"I'll see what I can do."

+ + +

Harry gasped into the bedspread, his breath hot and damp against the fine linens as Draco pressed the vibrator down against his prostate. They'd been at it for what felt like hours—hell, it might have actually been hours, for all Harry knew. It wouldn't have been the first time. Draco had trussed Harry up like a feast, his wrists and ankles bound together, a spreader bar between his shins so he couldn't close his legs. He'd ended up on his knees, on the bed with his face pressed against the mattress as Draco worked a thick vibrator deep into his arse, teasing and playing with him until Harry's entire body felt overheated and sensitive.

"That's it, Harry; just like that. You're taking it so well for me."

Harry felt himself grow hot with the compliment, and if he'd been capable of it, he would have spread himself wider, given even more of himself up to Draco, just for the chance of hearing more of that sweet praise drip from Draco's lips. If he focused, Harry could register the ache in his neck and shoulders from being in this position for so long, his joints stiff and tense, but it was barely a blip in his awareness. More pressing was the throbbing in his arse, the way his rim felt hot and swollen, and the greedy need that swelled inside him, desperate for more. His cock hung thick and heavy between his thighs, and every once in awhile, Draco would reach down and give him a gentle stroke.

"What I'm I going to do with you, Harry, hmm?" Draco asked as he turned up the vibrations in the toy a notch, and Harry's bones threatened to liquify from the surge of pleasure. Harry whined and panted, but didn't answer. By now, Harry had learned how to determine when Draco's questions were rhetorical. "You look so pretty right now, Harry," Draco continued, his voice low and hypnotic. "Should I let you come, just like this? Fuck you with this toy until you make a mess of the bed?" Draco pressed the head of the fake cock right up against Harry's prostate, making small, tight circles over the nub that were clearly meant to drive Harry mad with need. The urge to come built and built, but Draco pulled back at the last minute, the vibrations dying down to a barely-perceptible hum as he toyed with the rim of Harry's arsehole. "But why should this bit of plastic get to have all the fun? Maybe I want to feel you for myself, feel your hot little arse clenching down around my cock." A slick fingertip rubbed along Harry's rim where it was stretched wide around the vibrator, further stimulating Harry's already over-sensitised nerve endings. It was too much, and not enough, and so damn good Harry felt like he might shake right out of his skin. It was always good with Draco—each time with him the best Harry'd ever had.

"Or maybe," Draco murmured in that sweet, seductive voice of his as his finger slid inside Harry's arse alongside the vibrator, causing sparks to shoot across Harry's vision, "maybe I don't have to choose, hmmm? Perhaps the vibrator and I can share, the both of us taking your arse at the same time, stretching you wide open. How does that sound, Harry?" It was another rhetorical question, but Harry still moaned out his enthusiastic response to the possibility. The last time they'd done that, Harry had come so hard he'd momentarily blacked out, and that was with a dildo about half the width of the vibrator that was currently buzzing merrily inside him. Merlin; Harry couldn't even imagine how intense it would be, now.

Draco played with him for a few more minutes, musing on all the dirty things he might do to Harry's very willing body as Harry lost himself to the sensation and pleasure. He was beginning to wonder if it was all talk, whether Draco was even going to let him come at all, when Draco asked him a proper question.

"You've been so good for me tonight, Harry. Just perfect. I think you deserve a treat. So what will it be? Do you want the toy? My cock? Both?" He punctuated each suggestion with a thrust and twist of the vibrator, making Harry's body twitch as spasms of pleasure shot through him. "Tell me what you want?"

"Want—" Harry gasped, doing his best to remember how to speak, knowing that Draco required a verbal answer. "Want whatever you want," he finally managed. "Want you to decide." Harry wanted to come desperately, but as far down as he was, Harry didn't want to determine how. Frankly, he wasn't even sure if he could. Decisions were Draco's domain, not his. Harry knew that Draco's choice would be perfect, if only because Draco was the one choosing it.

"Oh, Harry," Draco breathed, pleasure evident in his tone. "You really are so good for me. Such a perfect boy."

The vibrator slid out of Harry's arse, but Harry only had a moment to mourn its loss before the blunt pressure of Draco's cock was pressing in to take its place. His cock was a bit longer and thicker than the vibrator, and that extra stretch only enhanced the pleasure radiating out from Harry's arse. He loved it when Draco fucked him—loved the fullness and the way it made him fly, loved the sounds that Draco made, and the way he seemed to want it just as much as Harry.

"Shit," Draco hissed as he sunk all the way in. "You're always so goddamned tight. Even when I've spent hours fucking you open. You're still such a slut for it, aren't you? It's like you were made to take my cock."

Harry moaned and clenched down around Draco, wanting to make himself even tighter, to make fucking him even better. Draco swore in appreciation before he began fucking Harry in earnest, with sharp, hard strokes that took Harry right up to the edge. Draco's left hand dug tight into his waist, while his right made its way up Harry's back, sliding along his spine until his fingers hooked around the band of Harry's collar.

Draco tugged at it lightly, more as a possessive reminder of his weekend claim on Harry than a serious pressure against his throat. A part of Harry wanted him to pull harder, wanted Draco to steal the breath from his lungs. They'd done that a time or two before, and it always resulted in the kind of orgasm that Harry seemed to feel in his very soul.

Draco didn't tighten his grip, though. He just held on, sure and steady, the press of the leather against Harry's jugular a reminder that Draco could squeeze harder if he wanted to, that Harry was at his mercy.

As if Harry could ever forget.

Draco fucked Harry hard and long, and when he leaned over Harry's back and commanded in a calm, cool voice for Harry to come, Harry didn't hesitate to obey. His cock erupted, white and sticky all over the sheets while Draco maintained his wicked pace. He fucked Harry straight through an orgasm that seemed to last half an eternity, because despite all Draco's teasing that day, it was the first time he'd allowed Harry to come.

Bound as he was, Harry couldn't melt into the mattress post-orgasm as he would have liked. Instead, his body stayed splayed and spread out for Draco to use as he desired. Draco continued to thrust into Harry's fucked-out body until he finally found his own release, spilling deep inside Harry's arse.

- - -

Harry surreptitiously wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers as the lift slowly ascended, hoping the fabric was dark enough to hide the damp marks. Malfoy would probably notice anyway—he never seemed to miss a thing when it came to Harry.

It had been months since the last time he'd seen Malfoy—eight, in fact—outside the occasional glimpse around the Ministry. Despite the fact that he'd finally admitted that he would end up seeking Malfoy's assistance again, Harry had dragged his feet about actually following through. No matter how much he tried to rationalise it, he knew what they were doing was wrong. Surely if he could manage to resist, that was the best course of action, right? The fact that Ginny was pregnant once again, this time with a baby girl, certainly didn't help to alleviate the guilt weighing on his conscience.

But just as it always did, the pressure around and inside him had continued to build, and the need became harder and harder to ignore. Ginny had actually been the one to suggest that Harry take a weekend to himself—that he go to the beach or the countryside and recharge, because he clearly needed time away to recentre and refocus. He'd been powerless to resist the allure of her offer, the ready-made excuse that was handed to him on a silver platter.

Harry had owled Malfoy that very night.

Malfoy had replied with a slim Muggle keycard and the address to his flat in the city, along with the code to get into the building. Harry committed them both to memory before igniting the letter with a wave of his hand. It was probably more dramatic than was necessary, but Harry wasn't entirely sure what happened to items after they'd been Vanished. Burning the evidence to ash was probably the surest way to ensure nobody ever stumbled across their correspondence.

The lift dinged, telling him he'd reached his destination. He took a deep breath as the doors opened directly into the penthouse flat, revealing a richly decorated entryway. Harry hesitated, his rational mind telling him he could still go back down, go back to his wife.

Harry stepped inside. He could see a light shining out from the room just off of what appeared to be the living room, and he made his way towards it, excitement and nerves making a mess of his insides.

It was a dining room, with a rich, mahogany table and a beautiful, if ostentatious, chandelier. Malfoy was seated at the head of the table, with a plate of fruit and cheese in front of him and a glass of wine cradled in his hand. Next to the plate, there was a thick strip of black leather, its bright, silver buckle gleaming in the light from the chandelier. Harry's breath caught.

"Hello, Harry," Malfoy said, eyeing Harry with a casual possession as he lazily swirled the wine around his glass. Harry shivered. Malfoy had never called him that before. The thought must have been evident on his face, because Malfoy smiled in amusement. "A lot of things are going to change now, Harry. It's all going to be so much better."

Harry swallowed, and when he spoke, his voice was rough. "Is that so...Draco?" Draco's smile widened, clearly pleased, and he nodded. Harry continued, "And what else, exactly, is going to change?"

Draco set down his wine glass and picked up the collar. He fingered the leather lovingly for a moment before looking straight into Harry's eyes.

"If we're going to do this…if you're going to be mine for the weekend, then I want to make it a little more official. When you're here, you belong to me, and I want you to wear my collar."

"I—" Harry broke off, overcome with dizzying desire. He'd never thought, never imagined that he'd want such a thing, but once again, Draco seemed to know exactly what it was that Harry needed, deep down in the very depths of his soul. Harry could already feel the collar pressing against his throat, the leather expensive and butter-soft as it slid over his skin, its weight a perfect reminder of Draco's claim. He nodded.

"I need you to say it, Harry."

"Okay," Harry agreed, breathless and obviously eager. "I'll wear your collar."

The smile that Draco flashed his way was dazzling, and Harry blinked against its force. He didn't think he'd ever seen Draco smile like that, and suddenly he was desperate to see it again, to be the one who made Draco so happy and pleased, proud.

"I'm so glad," Draco murmured softly before picking up his wine glass and taking a sip, clearly savouring the rich flavour of the wine within. He eyed Harry for a long moment over the rim of his glass before lowering it with a small smile. "Strip for me, down to your pants. You can fold your clothes and place them on the chair at other end of the table."

Harry did as instructed, feeling Draco's gaze hot upon him as he removed each item of clothing and folded it carefully. When he was left in only in a tight pair of pants, he went to stand in front of Draco, waiting for further instruction.

"Come to the edge of my chair and kneel for me," Draco commanded.

Harry stepped closer, barely processing his desire to kneel before his knees folded and he was sinking to the ground. He looked up at Draco, his belly growing hot at the savage pride reflected in Draco's quicksilver eyes.

"Such a good boy for me, aren't you, Harry?" Draco murmured as he picked up the collar once more. "This weekend is going to be perfect."

Harry's body vibrated with tension as Draco reached forward and secured the collar around Harry's neck. The moment the clasp locked into place, it was as if a weight Harry hadn't even realised he'd been carrying had been lifted from his shoulders. He felt as light as a feather, grounded only by the steady pressure of the collar held secure to his throat.

"Salazar, that's just…" Draco trailed off, his expression wrecked with wild hunger. Harry didn't think he'd ever seen him so open before, so exposed. Harry was starting to get the feeling that Draco had been holding back in their previous scenes together, that he'd been locking parts of himself away. Now, it seemed, the mask had been lifted, and a thrill went through him as he thought about their upcoming weekend, and what Draco had in store for them.

"Are you hungry, pet?" Draco asked when he finally appeared to regain control. Judging by the thick erection ruining the line of his trousers, he hadn't managed it entirely. Harry couldn't help but feel a little smug.

Harry had eaten an early dinner before coming over, and though he wasn't exactly hungry—not for food, anyway—he wasn't stuffed, either. "I could eat, sir."

Draco ran a hand through Harry's hair, tousling the already-messy locks with a casual fondness that had Harry's cheeks flushing with pleasure. The hand disappeared, only to reappear a moment later with a large purple grape held between his fingers.

"Open up," Draco ordered. Harry's mouth opened obediently, and Draco pushed the grape into his mouth. Harry's lips instinctively closed around it, sucking briefly on Draco's fingers until Draco pulled them free.

Harry stared into Draco's burning eyes as he bit down on the grape, its sweet juice bursting across his tongue.

It tasted like absolution.

+ + +

The clock on the wall of Draco's study chimed six, and each bell-like peal seemed to reverberate deep inside Harry, shaking loose a little more of his calm. Draco's hand reached for him, and Harry couldn't entirely suppress his flinch as Draco's slim fingers rubbed over the clasp of his collar. It came off easily, too easily. Harry always felt a little betrayed by that, by the fact that the collar didn't seem to yearn for its place around Harry's neck in the same way Harry's neck yearned for it. It was just an inanimate object, Harry knew, but the way Harry felt about it, about what it symbolised...it seemed like that simple piece of leather should have known, known that it wasn't fulfilling its true purpose unless it was pressed snug against Harry's throat.

"Dinner should be here in fifteen minutes," Draco said neutrally, his tone lacking that silken quality of command that had infused every word over the past forty-eight hours. His tone was no less fine, but Harry found it grating nonetheless.

"All right," Harry replied, pulling himself up shakily as Draco slipped out of the study. Draco always left him alone for this part, likely just as unsure as Harry was on how to navigate the awkward transition period, even after all these years. Without his collar, Harry felt even more naked than he had all weekend, clad only in his pants. He supposed it was time to get dressed.

His things were still where he left them when he first arrived, and he pulled his clothes on slowly, the fabric almost unbearably rough and scratchy against his skin after two days of near-nudity. He sat on the edge of the bed when he'd finished, rolling his wedding ring between his fingers, the absence of the collar like a physical weight on Harry's chest. When fifteen minutes had passed, he made his way to the dining room and slipped the ring into his pocket.

Draco was there, transferring bits of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables onto his fine china with lazy flicks of his wand. Harry already missed the indulgent foods of the past weekend—rare marbled steak and rich foie gras and sticky treacle tart—but, much like Draco, they didn't have a place in Harry's real life. Harry the Head Auror ate low fat and high protein meals, and chewed his chicken and vegetables while suppressing his longing for fried rice and egg rolls. This change in diet was all part of the transition back to reality.

Draco set Harry's plate across from him, and Harry made his way to his seat on stiff legs. This was as much a part of their ritual as the rest of it, eating dinner together after the collar had come off to give Harry a chance to fully come back to himself before going out into the world once more. Even so, it never got any easier, sitting at the table instead of at Draco's feet. He picked up his silverware and began to eat, and Harry knew it wasn't just the relative blandness of the food that made the whole thing seem off. The fork felt large and unwieldy in his hand, and he hated the hard press of the tines against his lips and tongue. He missed the softness of Draco's skin, and the way the food tasted so much better when Harry was licking it off his fingers.

The two of them made small talk as they ate, absently discussing work and their children, the current Quidditch standings and the most recent political scandal. All the while, Harry's pulse raced and his mind whirred. Coming down was always a disorienting process, but this time it felt even worse than usual. Every time he met with Draco, it seemed like Harry needed it a little more, and the six months between visits were becoming harder to bear. Sometimes Harry felt like he was going mad, like these weekends with Draco were his real life, the real him, while all the other days were a lie. He was tired—tired of compartmentalising, tired of the near-constant weight on his shoulders grinding him to dust, of always, always, always wanting.

"Do you ever wonder what it would be like?" Harry found himself asking as he cut Draco off mid-sentence.

"Wonder what what would be like?" Draco asked slowly, his eyes hard. Draco was smart; he knew what Harry had meant, but he was giving him a chance to back away from the topic they'd never, ever discussed.

Harry didn't want to take it back. "What it would be like if we had more than just a weekend together every six months?"

Draco watched him for an impossibly long moment, his eyes a fathomless, storm-cloud grey before his mouth turned hard. "I already have a pet, Potter, that infuriating crup my son begged me for for years, and then promptly lost interest in two months later. I don't need another."

Harry might not belong to Draco when he wasn't wearing the collar, but something inside him still went hot and shivery at the thought of being Draco's pet—pampered and cared for, obeying Draco's every command, because that's what you did for owners whom you adored, who you wanted to make proud. Despite the sudden arousal, a part of Harry wanted to wilt at the harsh dismissal in Draco's tone. Harry wasn't the Head Auror for nothing, though. He knew how to read people, and Draco best of all.

Harry said nothing, just tilted his head and stared into Draco's eyes. There was something there, something wild and wanting, fierce and hungry and possessive, matching the craving in Harry's own breast. But then Harry blinked, and when he met Draco's eyes again, it was gone, shuttered away behind an empty politeness that made Harry ache.

Despite Draco's brush-off, Harry couldn't stop his mind from wandering down that path, wondering what it might be like to live this truth all the time, instead of stealing away for a brief, furtive moment. What would it be like to come home every night and kneel at Draco's feet, to shed his cares and responsibilities and let the world melt away until all that was left was Draco and his own desires? The idea of it—the magnitude of it—should probably have horrified Harry, but it didn't. What it did was make his very soul ache with an empty, ravenous hunger and suffuse his body with a bone-deep sense of loss and sadness for a life he didn't have, yet wanted with every fibre of his being.

"Why not, Draco?" Harry asked, his voice trembling, breaking on the last word. The part of him that had already sunk back into being Harry Potter, Saviour of the Wizarding World, was embarrassed about it, but the part that still belonged to Draco—that would always belong to Draco, even without the collar—knew he had nothing to be ashamed of.

Emotion spasmed across Draco's face, nearly painful to look at in its messy, complicated glory. It planted a kernel of hope in Harry's chest, even as Draco's mask slid back into place. It struck Harry, then, that Draco never employed that blank, polite expression whenever Harry wore the collar. For all that Draco was in control during their scenes, he never hid himself from Harry. He demanded that Harry give him everything, and he was no less generous in return.

"It's a pretty idea, Potter, but it would never work. You're still hyped up on adrenaline and endorphins from our weekend together, but there's a reason this is all we have." Draco's voice was even, almost bored, but Harry could hear a thread of something underneath, something that told him Draco wasn't nearly as unaffected as he wanted to appear. "I don't fit into your world. Harry Potter and his perfect family, and his perfect job, and his perfect life. Pretending otherwise is just a fantasy. Are you really going to give it all up for a hot fuck?" He sighed and flashed Harry an emotionless smile. "It's getting late. You should go back home, to your wife."

Harry stomach clenched, but he nodded and stood. He made his way towards the door, pausing as he reached the end of the table. Maybe Draco was right; Harry hadn't been willing to leave his comfortable life in all the years that they'd been meeting, and perhaps nothing had changed. But maybe it had; it felt like something had, like there'd been a shift deep inside him. He turned around and strode over to where Draco was still sitting, who then looked up at Harry with confusion and something resembling alarm. Harry didn't let that stop him from threading his fingers through Draco's hair and kissing Draco for all that he was worth.

They hardly ever kissed, and never without the collar, and Harry felt it tingling through him, from his lips down to the tips of his fingers and toes. Draco let out a small, hungry sound as his own hand came up to cup the back of Harry's neck, his fingernails scritching at the short hairs along the nape of Harry's neck. Harry shuddered at the sensation, at the passion that crackled between them, sparking and snapping like logs on a fire. Harry pulled back reluctantly, his breath ragged as he took in Draco's flushed cheeks and dark eyes. He looked just as wrecked as Harry felt, his neutral façade completely obliterated by the kiss. A part of Harry wanted to press his advantage, to goad Draco into looking him in the eye and telling him this was only just a game. But he knew that would only put Draco on the defensive, and he was aware that Draco hadn't been completely wrong in his earlier assessment. Harry may have wanted more than these short weekends with Draco, but fantasising about it was a whole lot different than actually trying to make it happen. There were so many other people involved—people who loved Harry, who depended on him and who looked up to him. Nothing was as simple or as easy as he wanted it to be out in the real world.

"Goodbye, Draco," he murmured softly, before straightening his spine and heading for the door. He picked up his overnight bag and left Draco's flat, taking several deep, steadying breaths as he stepped into the lift. From his pocket, Harry fished out his wedding band and slid it back onto his ring finger, the metal cool and impossibly heavy where it sat.

His house looked warm and cheery as he Apparated onto the doorstep. The lights were on, and the soft sound of music floated out of an open window. It was just Ginny at home—the kids were all at Hogwarts—and Harry found her curled up on the sofa, a glass of white wine in her hand as she flicked through the latest Seeker Weekly. Her red hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and she was already dressed for bed in a pair of joggers and a faded Harpies jersey from her first year on the team, back before they'd updated the uniforms. Something tugged in his chest as he looked at her, and for a moment, it was difficult to breathe.

He must have made some kind of noise, because she looked up from her magazine. Something sharp and bitter flashed in her eyes, but it was gone a moment later. Perhaps he was seeing things.

"You're back," she said softly. "How was your trip?"

"It was good," Harry said truthfully, though that felt like an understatement. "I'm knackered, though."

She smiled at him, with the same wry, darkly amused smile she always seemed to have when he returned from one of his 'trips.' It made Harry think she wasn't entirely unaware of why he needed to disappear a couple of times a year, though he doubted she'd ever let her mind fully wander down that path. Once she started pulling on that thread, Harry knew she wouldn't be able to stop herself until she discovered the truth, and Ginny wasn't the kind of person who would let that particular truth lie. If she suspected anything, it was only in the deepest recesses of her mind, and the fact that she'd never confronted him, never pushed the issue, told him just how desperately she didn't want to know the truth. It would hurt her if it all came out.

Harry didn't want that. He'd never wanted that.

He cleared his throat, feeling empty and awkward. "I'm going to go shower, then head to bed."

Ginny nodded. "All right, then. I probably won't be up for awhile." She held up her magazine and wine as justification. Harry suppressed his sigh of relief. He still hadn't settled back entirely into his skin, and the thought of being touched right now set him on edge. Some of what he felt must have shown on his face though, because Ginny's lips thinned, her eyes hardening before she took a visible breath and seemed to force herself to relax. "If I don't have a chance to talk to you before you leave for work tomorrow, remember that we're going to Ron and Hermione's for dinner. Hermione told me to remind you not to be late again."

"Yes, right. I'll be there," Harry confirmed, already feeling weary at the thought despite the fact that it had been far too long since he'd last hung out with his best mates. Ginny turned her attention back to her magazine, and Harry swallowed. "Right, then. Good night."

"Good night," Ginny murmured absently as Harry turned around and headed upstairs.

Harry stripped off quickly and stepped beneath the shower head, the water turned up as hot as he could bear. The spray stung, his skin reddening beneath the heat, and his body relaxed into the tinge of pain. Harry wished Draco hadn't needed to heal the marks on his skin before the collar had come off, wanting to ground himself in the sting and the ache of the welts that he was given. But he could hardly go back to his wife with Draco's marks all over his skin, and Harry had long since grown accustomed to the never-ending desire for things he could not allow himself to have.

But maybe...maybe he could have them, if he was brave enough to leave his old life behind, selfish enough to put what he wanted before everything else. Could he do it? Could he abandon Ginny, damage his relationships with his friends, his family, his children, and throw away his comfortable life, his reputation and good standing, all for a man who might not even want the same thing? How could he possibly do it? How could his relationship with Draco ever be worth what he'd inevitably lose?

Harry washed his hair and thought of Draco. He thought of Draco's hands on his skin, the command in his voice, the way he brought Harry to the edge over and over, shouldering Harry's burdens like he could actually bear their weight. Harry thought of that incendiary kiss they'd shared less than an hour ago, and the look in Draco's eyes afterwards as he'd stared at Harry, with a want and wonder and a buried hope that matched the one Harry carried deep inside. He thought of the freedom he'd felt in Draco's arms—safe and secure, clear of responsibility and judgement.

Harry never felt more centred and in control of his life than when he was giving that control to Draco, utterly and completely.

The water beat down upon his back, the hot droplets a faint echo of the lash of Draco's belt, a constant reminder of the marks he'd given up. His hand drifted upwards, curling around his throat, the pressure soothing, but not enough. Without Draco, it was never enough.

Draco made him feel incredible and invincible, and maybe Harry could do it, could leave it all behind, as long as he got Draco in the exchange.

Maybe.