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One and Only

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He’s survived Voldemort. Wrestled with his demons. Pushed past the condemnation of the Wizengamot and the public. But it’s Albus Severus Potter who will be the death of him.

Draco crosses his legs in the space of the cramped booth, his gaze fixed on the dance floor. Even if it weren’t his job, he doesn’t think he’d be able to keep his eyes off the guest of honour. Albus moves with a sinuous grace, his lanky frame ripe with the energy of youth, his hips swaying with a knowledge far greater than someone his age should possess. His fingers are sinfully long, their teasing shapes fueling wicked thoughts in Draco’s mind. And his arse—Merlin, that arse, encased in jeans so form-fitting they almost looks like buttered leather, its shape perfect for hands to grip and bruise…

Draco takes a deep breath and shifts, his trousers uncomfortably tight.

“Budge over, Draco,” Blaise grunts wearily, taking up the space beside him.

Draco grumbles at the thought, especially given his current condition, but he does so for his friend after a quick check to make sure his spare wand remains hidden at his hip.

“Can’t go on for too much longer,” Blaise comments. “The club shuts down at four.”

“You know that doesn’t mean anything when it’s Harry’s kids.” Draco digs out the lemon wedge from the sparkling water in front of him and takes a sip.

Blaise’s face softens. “It’s Al’s eighteenth birthday. We would’ve been doing the same. We did, in fact.”

Draco thinks back to those days after Hogwarts, when he had burned through Galleons, potions, and partners like they were going out of style. Even the haze of sex and drugs couldn’t mask his self-loathing, however, and it soon became clear that his choice was either to continue on the same path, spiralling faster and lower until there was nothing left of him to be miserable about, or to clean himself up and make something of his life.

He chose the latter. Although, to be fair, it had taken Blaise’s tough love, an embarrassing arrest by Harry, and innumerable Mind-Healing sessions for Draco to sober up, both literally and figuratively.

By all rights, he shouldn’t even be here. Not just physically, on this earth, but here. It’s been over twenty years since Harry had taken him into custody, and it’s been years of proving his worth over and over (to Harry, the public, and himself) and now he’s somehow in the position of guarding one of Harry’s most cherished possessions.

“That was a long time ago. Too old for this, now,” Draco mutters.

“You’re forty-four,” Blaise snorts. “You were closer to having one foot in the grave at twenty than you are now.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that. James doesn’t test the limits of your patience every day.” Wisely, Draco leaves out the bit about his own self-control.

Blaise doesn’t contradict him. Despite James’ lineage, rugged good looks, and rising Quidditch stardom, he’s surprisingly easy-going and down-to-earth. There’s no hint of scandal, even with the number of groupies who wait by the locker room, hoping to catch a glimpse of him after one of his matches. James calls Blaise ‘Mr Zabini’, and in the thirteen years since Blaise has been his bodyguard, has stayed pretty much out of trouble, surprising even Harry himself.

Albus, on the other hand…

Albus was cute at five; insolent at twelve; and is a handful and a half at eighteen. He has a wild streak a mile long, lives to test the boundaries of his father’s patience, and thumbs his nose at authority. It’s never been Mr Malfoy, but Draco for as long as Draco can remember. The address may have started as the test of a young child (one which Draco, being too grateful for his new job, had failed miserably), but has since grown laden with an undercurrent of meaning that would make any budding Lolita green with envy.

And while James draws people to him with his open and sunny personality, Albus courts attention of an entirely different kind. Perhaps it’s his physical resemblance to Harry (although, truth be told, Draco has never remembered Harry’s mouth to be quite so lush or foul, cheeks so sharp, or hair so soft). But for whatever reason, Albus makes it so you can’t look away. It makes no difference that he has the famous last name, or is the Minister for Magic’s son, or is unfairly fit in his own right. He’s like a sinful dessert that you know you shouldn’t taste, but have to try, and end up coming back for more.

“Wild oats. Although I’ll admit; Al’s definitely sowing a lot of them.”

“It’s not just that,” Draco complains. “He invites trouble along with it.” He thinks about the number of times he’s had to pull Albus out of situations that would create an even bigger scandal—the night last month when Albus seemed determined to show and not just tell the Prophet about his pansexuality comes to mind—and wonders just how old one has to be to consider retirement.

“Harry offered to hire an additional person as Al’s security detail,” Blaise reminds him.

Draco swallows. All the other Potter children have just one. “I can do this, Blaise. I graduated from the Academy with top marks in Defence. Potter chose me for a reason.”

“And you demonstrated that he made the right choice when you saved Al from that stalker. You don’t have to keep proving yourself, Draco. Al’s always invited more attention than James or Lily. You are his bodyguard—not his parent, nor his moral conscience. There is only so much that one man can do, and it is certainly not a failure of character if you need to share that responsibility with someone else.” He hesitates. “In fact, it might be the most selfless thing you could do for Al.”

“What do you mean?” Draco asks, his voice sharp.

“What I mean is, try to take your pride and need to atone for your past out of this decision for once. If Al were your child, what would you want for him?”

“For him to be safe to live the life he truly wants,” Draco answers automatically. “Whether he were my child or not, that’s all I’ve ever wanted for him.” His eyes move back to the dance floor. “I’ll tell Harry I’ll accept his offer for another partner tomorrow.”

Draco knows there’s no possible way that Albus could have heard him above the pounding bass and the mass of writhing bodies that stands between them, but suddenly there’s a pair of green eyes that are honing in on Draco’s grim expression. They flash mischievously, then Albus turns ever so slightly, angling his body so Draco can see the lovely arch of his lower back, the swell of that delicious bum, and the unmistakable shape of his prick—which appears to be nicely aroused from all the bumping and grinding the scoundrel’s done all night.

Albus' lips look red and wet under the flashing lights. “Come over here,” he mouths.

Draco shakes his head. He’s not Albus’ friend, and the lines of their relationship need to be kept clear. For his sake, as much as Albus’.

Those lips pout, curling into a shape that unfortunately makes Draco think about what they would look like wrapped around his dick. Draco rolls his eyes and tries to think of something less pleasant.

“Huh. Never saw that drink before,” Blaise muses as he points to a concoction the waitress is carrying.

Draco’s eyes narrow. He racks his brain; he and his team had met with the owners of the club earlier this week in preparation, reviewing everything including the foods and drinks available. He can’t see much through the glassware, which happens to be blatantly phallic in shape, but when he casts a discreet Revelio charm, there’s a strange, blue glow beneath the safety of the plastic.

“Back me up, Blaise,” he says as he clicks on the earpiece connected with a transmitter on Albus’ jacket and unsheathes his wand from its holster.

“For me?” Albus is asking the waitress with a saucy grin. Draco moves as quickly as he can without causing a scene. The last thing he wants is to create a disturbance that’s going to make reaching Albus’ side more difficult.

“Albus Potter?”

“The one and only.”

“Good thing, then, since this is for the birthday boy himself. Compliments of a secret admirer.”

“That could be anybody here,” one of Albus’ friends chortles as James gives Albus a good-natured nudge against his shoulder.

The waitress’ smile thins. “I’m sure.” She turns to Albus and gingerly places the drink in his hand. “Careful, love. I’ve been told it’s quite potent.”

“Sounds perfect, then,” Albus says, his smile widening. He brings the drink to his lips as Draco closes in, near enough to catch the anticipatory gleam that flashes across the waitress’ eyes.

Draco doesn’t think twice. “Albus, wait!” he cries. He casts a barely legal Stupefy at the girl then sprints towards Albus, whose eyes go wide with confusion. Draco lunges forward to bridge the remaining distance, the momentum causing him to collide with his charge, knocking them both to the floor.

The cup which Albus has been holding tilts as he lands, splashing the drink all over. Drops splatter into Draco’s hair, and he discovers too late that it must have landed on his face as well, because there are droplets falling down from where they hang on the tip of his nose.

Albus looks dazed; his pupils are dilated and slightly glazed, and it’s possible that he might have been concussed from the fall. “Wow,” he whispers as he wriggles beneath Draco, the slide of their clothes, now sticky and wet, causing Draco to groan. “I guess birthday wishes do come true. I just never thought it’d happen in front of a couple hundred people and on the floor of a club.” A goofy smile lights up his face, one that makes him look young and open, and before Draco realises what’s happening, Albus leans forward and has his lips pressed against Draco’s.

They’re soft and pliant, the remnants of the drink leaving a hint of something sweet and citrusy along the edges. Albus sighs against Draco’s mouth, and it’s so full of yearning that Draco nearly gives in to the urge to deepen the kiss. But before he can humiliate himself any further, there’s a shrill scream, and someone else is tugging at the back of Draco’s waistcoat, pulling them apart.

“Aww, you’re no fun, Blaise,” Albus pouts, right before his head falls back to the ground and he passes out.

][][][][

The wait is grating, and if Draco doesn’t get some answers soon, he’s going to hex everyone and everything within sight.

“Calm down, Draco,” Blaise hisses. “You’re not doing Albus or anyone else any favours.” He casts a nervous glance at the parade of Healers and Unspeakables who have been marching in and out of Albus’ room, their expressions grim.

“Merlin’s balls, Blaise. Do you think I give a fuck what people think about me right now? All I want to know is what was in that fucking drink, and whether Albus is all right.”

“Get something to eat. Get some water on your face; get a change of clothes.” Blaise wrinkles his nose. “You still reek of smoke and booze, and you look like you’ve been trampled ten times over.”

Draco certainly feels that way, too. “What if they have some news about Albus while I’m gone—”

“I’ll call you,” Blaise says gently. Draco knows that Blaise has been there for him, always—through Draco’s awakening regarding his sexuality, through the disgrace of being disowned, through the downs and ups, and everything in between. It’s the same bond of friendship that causes Blaise to remain outside Albus’ door with Draco, even though there’s no requirement for him to do so.

Sometimes, Draco doesn’t know what he’s ever done to deserve Blaise’s friendship.

“I’ll be back in ten. Thank you.”

Blaise nods. He looks exhausted as well, but at least he’s had the chance to change into something comfortable and clean. He leans back against the wall and closes his eyes, effectively telling Draco that their conversation is over and to go.

Draco makes his way outside, past the security of the wards of the Minister’s residence and Disapparates. When he enters his flat, he passes by the mirror above the table in the entrance hall. His reflection stares back at him, nearly unrecognisable; no wonder Blaise forced him to go home. His normally well-groomed hair is stringy and matted and stained an unbecoming greenish-blue, while the circles under his eyes remind him of the days in Hogwarts when he was wracked with sleeplessness and guilt. He tears off his clothes on his way to the shower, but still has the presence of mind to put his waistcoat, shirt, and trousers in a bag, casting a stasis charm then sealing it for evidence, if needed.

The shower is hotter than normal. Unlike most days, when Draco enjoys the fragrance of his shampoo along with the slide of soap against his body and the benefit of a leisurely morning wank, he approaches getting clean as something fast, utilitarian, and angry. As if he can scrub away his shame and failure, firstly for allowing Albus to come face-to-face with danger, but also for not keeping his own desires in check.

Merlin, when Albus kissed him on the mouth…

Draco scrubs a little harder, then shuts off the water and dries himself, perhaps a bit more vigorously than normal.

He finds a pair of trousers that are respectable, yet comfortable, and a simple, soft grey shirt that he leaves open at the collar. He’s not sure how long things will take, or how long he’ll be needed, but he’s prepared for the long haul.

By the time he Apparates back to the Minister’s residence and makes his way through security and up to the third floor, Blaise is still leaning by the doorway wearing the same, tired expression.

He looks at Draco, his eyes darting down to the bag of clothes clutched in his hands and his freshly-showered appearance. “Much better. And in under ten minutes. It’s like you never left.”

Draco bristles at the quiet rebuke in Blaise’s tone. “It would be worse for me to be at home,” he starts, but the rest of his argument is cut off when an aide comes trotting down the hall.

“Mr Malfoy? Ms Granger-Weasley would like to see you now.”

][][][][

“He was given what?”

Hermione addresses Draco with a sad smile. “Albus was given a high-potency bonding potion. Thankfully, it’s not one that requires...” she turns her head and gives a delicate cough, “that requires Albus to engage in an act of a sexual nature to survive. It just makes it uncomfortable for him if he doesn’t.”

“So what you’re saying is that this is not a ‘fuck or die’ situation, but a ‘fuck or you’ll feel like dying’ one.”

Hermione purses her lips. “I wouldn’t have put it that way, but in essence, yes.”

Draco’s mouth draws into a grim line. “The waitress. Was she the one responsible?”

“As far as we know, Miss Richardson was one of two people involved. Her roommate, a Miss Charlotte Poole, is a bartender at the club. Ms Poole had developed quite the infatuation with Albus, especially after the article in Teen Celebrity came out.”

Draco knows the exact article that Hermione is referencing. The entire wizarding populace probably knows, if not for the article’s revelation that the middle Potter child is an out and proud pansexual, then for the suggestive photos of Albus sandwiched in the middle of a group of models of varying genders. Albus has drawn both praise and condemnation for his honesty as well as his fair share of stalkers, which caused Harry to tighten the security detail for Albus as a result.

“So they’re both in custody? And what exactly is the potion supposed to do? And how is Albus right now, and is there any discussion about an antidote?”

Hermione raises a brow at Draco’s impatient tone. “From the information we’ve gathered from the suspects as well as our own research, the potion shares certain similarities to Amortentia, but it is not the same. Since Amortentia cannot create true love, Ms Poole was not satisfied with the idea of a simple infatuation. She hoped to create a potion which simulated a bond, rationalising that her feelings for Albus would be transmitted across the bond, be reciprocated, and develop from there. The consummation of their affection, in her mind, was inevitable once the bond was complete,” she finishes, her face colouring.

The thought of Albus’ emotions being manipulated in such as way causes Draco to see red. Something protective and instinctive pools deep inside his belly. “But surely there is an antidote—”

“We are working on it. Ms Poole is cooperating with the investigation—” Hermione holds up her hand at Draco’s furious expression, “—and we have confiscated her notebooks with the instructions for making the potion from her flat. I can guarantee that whatever bargain she strikes with the Wizengamot, it will not be lenient. Whether Harry’s child or anyone else’s, she strove to create a situation where Albus’ ability to consent to such an act was affected, and will be charged with, at a minimum, attempted sexual assault.”

Draco takes a deep breath. “Does Albus know?”

The hesitation in Hermione’s typically smooth demeanour puts Draco immediately on notice. “In part. But only because we’re not entirely sure of the whole story ourselves.” She glances at Draco, who is doing his best to rein in his impatience. “The good news is that when you tried to stop Albus from drinking the potion, most of it spilled. So we don’t think he consumed enough for the effects to be long-lasting; three, perhaps four days at the most.”

“And do you know what these effects are?”

If possible, Hermione turns even redder. “The presence of the bond, even in its temporary and partial state, means that Albus will crave the proximity of his bondmate. Time away from them will be painful, and because of the potion’s similarity to Amortentia, there will be a heightened sexual urgency. In addition, the bond allows emotions to be felt between the two people involved.”

“Fuck,” Draco swears under his breath. “So Miss Poole is being held in custody, and now Albus is suffering because of the separation?” He frowns; he can’t imagine that Harry will allow Albus anywhere near his assailant, no matter how painful his symptoms.

“Actually...” Hermione says slowly.

Draco’s gaze snaps up, and he berates himself for not realising it sooner. “You mentioned ‘good news’. What’s the bad?”

“Draco, the bonding potion required a final act for its completion. It was Miss Poole’s way of ensuring that Albus would be bonded to her, and no one else.” She looks at Draco, her brown eyes sympathetic, and Draco swears she must be able to hear the way his heart is pounding out of his chest. “She was standing beside her friend, ready to give Albus a ‘birthday kiss’. The kiss was her way of sealing the bond. But when you both fell, and Albus kissed you instead…”

“No,” Draco breathes.

“I’m sorry, Draco. But we believe that you are now the one whom Albus is bonded to.”

][][][][

The green eyes that stare back at him are open and pleading.

“I’m sorry,” Harry says, his face filled with guilt. “I know that what I’m asking is beyond anything that’s required of your job. And I would never demand that you do this; if you choose not to, and Albus grows too...uncomfortable, we can always take him to St Mungo’s to be sedated for as long as the potion is in his system.”

“And the Healers deem that to be safe?”

Harry blinks and looks away. “They can’t be one-hundred percent sure,” he admits as he regains his composure and faces Draco once more. “Given the uniqueness of the potion, the Healers would prefer that Albus is not under any additional influences, especially since they’re not sure if there will be unexpected side effects, or even how long the potion will remain in his system. But that is none of your concern—”

“How can you say that?” Draco is both touched and angry at Harry’s words. “I know you want me to be comfortable with whatever decision I make, but the honest truth is, none of the options are ideal. Decisions don’t exist in a vacuum. For you to think that I wouldn’t take Albus’ well-being into consideration, or my role in what happened, or everything that you’ve done for me over the years...Harry, I’ve watched over Albus since he was five. If I had a son…” Draco’s throat closes; he’s assaulted with the image of Albus frightened and alone in his room, and suddenly, Harry’s arms are around him, their foreheads touching, as if the pain of what’s happened can be more easily shouldered by them both.

Draco is the first to step back. “I will speak with Albus. And then I’ll let you know my decision.”

“Thank you.” There’s a reluctance in Harry’s posture; he shuffles, and at times like this, he resembles the Harry who Draco used to know as a child, uncertain but putting up a brave front. He used to think it was bluster mixed with self-righteousness and immodesty, but now—after the War and the years of working in close proximity to Harry—he realises that it stems from the belief that one can only live life with the best of intentions and effort, and that there are situations that are beyond anyone’s control.

It’s a difficult life lesson for Draco. He depends so heavily on control, because he remembers what it was like not to have any.

“Erm...I’ll wait for you over there,” Harry adds, pointing to the small settee at the end of the hall. “It’s as much for your well-being as Albus’.” He gives Draco a small smile. “I know my son can be quite single-minded when he sets his sights on something.”

Draco nods. “I’ll let you know as soon as we’ve finished talking.” He takes a breath and tries to slow the rapid beating of his heart as he opens the door and lets himself in.

Albus’ room is perhaps more well-appointed than a normal teen’s given the nature of their current residence, although it is not as formal as Draco’s old bedroom at the Manor. There are also reminders that Albus has just turned eighteen not twenty-four hours earlier—posters of several wizarding and Muggle rock bands adorn the walls, as do pictures of James and his teammates, and a signed Wasps jersey.

But what steals Draco’s breath is the sight of Albus sitting in the middle of his bed, the coverlet lowered over his legs. He’s wearing an old T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Slytherins do it best’, his pyjama pants riding low around his hips. His hands twist the bed linens nervously, and his shoulders, surprisingly broad for someone that lithe, are set in a tense line. He looks up at Draco with eyes that are vulnerable and green, and it’s all Draco can do to stop himself from gathering Albus into his arms.

Draco pulls up a chair alongside the bed instead. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Albus seems to relax as Draco draws near, the pain and tension bleeding away from his face for a bit. He gives Draco a small grin, but then it suddenly wobbles. “I really fucked up, didn’t I?”

“How can you say that?” Draco reaches out to hold Albus’ hand, and is surprised at how tightly Albus latches on to it. “This has nothing to do with you. It makes no difference whether you were at a club, or at a four-star restaurant. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had five drinks or none. Charlotte was guilty of a potion-facilitated sexual assault, and nothing you’ve ever done or said, whether on that night or before, makes it okay for someone to do that to you.”

The grip on Draco’s hand grows tighter. “I know...that’s not what I meant.” All of a sudden, Albus loosens his hand and flops back on his bed with one arm bent and covering his eyes. It’s overly dramatic, but it also has the unfortunate effect of causing his T-shirt to ride up, showcasing a lean stomach and the faint hint of a happy trail.

Draco swallows. “What did you mean, then?” he asks, his voice slightly strangled.

“Ugh, this is so embarrassing.” The part of Albus’ face which Draco can still see is tinged pink. “It’s my fault you’re in this situation. I kissed you—without your permission—and now you’re stuck in this bond with me until the potion wears off. And if that’s not humiliating enough, Aunt Hermione says that the potion may cause ‘increased amorous feelings’, as if my lifelong crush on you weren’t bad enough.” Albus picks up a nearby pillow and covers his head.

Draco lifts the corner of the pillow. “Lifelong crush?” he can’t resist saying.

Albus throws the pillow back against the headboard and rolls his eyes. “Worst kept secret in the world. You must have known.”

“I—” The truth is, Draco hadn’t known, not exactly. He was too busy trying to avoid his own inappropriate feelings, and waved away Albus’ displays of affection as part of his charismatic personality. “I didn’t.”

Albus stares at him disbelievingly. His expression eventually grows resigned. “Well, it doesn’t matter, now. You would’ve known how I felt sooner or later, because of the bond.”

“I don’t want to be privy to your thoughts. Not because they might involve me,” he hastily adds, “but because they’re yours unless you choose to share. By the same token, I’d like my thoughts to be my own as well.” Draco taps his fingers along the arm of the chair. “There may be a way to do that,” he says, uncrossing his legs. “Perhaps if we utilise some Occlumency. It might not be completely effective, but it could definitely help protect those things which...well, need protecting.”

“Occlumency was never my strong suit.”

Like father, like son. “I could teach you.”

Albus lets out a long sigh, then sits up. He still wears a faint blush along his cheeks, but his eyes seem hopeful. “I’d like to try.”

“Then that will be one of the first things we do tonight.” Draco hesitates, trying to keep his voice and presence calm and steady. “There’s one more thing I need to talk to you about. Did either of your parents or the Healers talk to you about their suggestion? To reduce the distress that the bond might create, until the potion wears off?”

The pink deepens on Albus’ cheeks once more, spreading down his neck and above his collarbone. Draco drags his eyes away, but not quickly enough as Albus’ pupils dilate in response. “To have you stay in my rooms with me? Yeah.” He peeps up at Draco from under his long lashes. “Is that okay with you?”

“That remains to be seen,” Draco says honestly. “I want to make this as easy for you as possible, Albus, and Salazar knows, you don’t deserve any of this. And from what I understand, because the bond works both ways, it’ll likely be of some benefit to me as well.” He bites his lower lip, then stops when he notices Albus’ gaze drawn to the movement. “I just don’t want to make an uncomfortable situation worse.”

Albus lets out a small shudder. “You’re not, at least not for me. Just the sound of your voice helps ground me for a bit. The smell of you, even more, and then when you touch me—” He lets out an involuntary moan, and the sound of it shoots straight down to Draco’s prick. Draco moves back, flinching, and unmistakable hurt settles over Albus’ face. “Sorry,” he mumbles. “I know you don’t feel the same way. I’m tough; worst case scenario, Mum says they can give me some potions to help me through it if things get really bad.”

Guilt wells inside Draco, as well as a need to soothe. “Putting yet another potion into your body is the absolute last resort. Let’s see how things go. I just...my goal is to get us through this with our affection and respect for one another intact. If I feel either of those things are being compromised, we’ll look for another option. Otherwise, I’m here for the duration; we just need to keep the lines of communication open. Sound like a plan?”

“Yeah. I mean, if it’s all right with you. Definitely.”

“I need to let your father and the rest of the team know that I’ll be staying with you in your rooms, at least for tonight. Then I’ll need to pick up some things from my flat. Will you be okay? I shouldn’t be gone for more than an hour.”

“I think so.” Albus starts worrying to corner of his sheets again, so much so that Draco fears for their very existence. “Before you leave...would it be okay if you touched me once more? I think it’d help get me through it while you’re gone.”

“Of course.” Albus looks so relieved that Draco ends up pulling him into his arms. The gesture is meant to be friendly and reassuring, but when Albus goes pliant against him, with his smaller frame pressing against Draco’s wiry and more muscular form, his nose scenting the curve of Draco’s neck with the happiest of sighs, Draco realises just how much Albus needs this.

What he wasn’t prepared for was how much he needs it himself.

][][][][

One of the perks of being the Minister for Magic’s son is that Albus essentially has an entire—albeit small—apartment as his bedroom. They need to share the bathroom, but there’s a separate living space whose couch has now been transfigured into a decently comfortable bed, complete with a Muggle television and a surprisingly varied collection of books ranging from rare treatises to Knut-store novels to the classics.

Perhaps the most important thing, however, is the fact that there’s a wall that separates Draco from Albus’ bedroom. Nearly six inches of separation that makes all the difference in the world.

“I like the glasses,” Albus says as he plops down in the armchair across from Draco. He sits with his legs spread casually apart, but it’s studied. Even if Albus’ body language hadn’t given it away, Draco can feel the waves of anxiety pulsing through their bond.

“Relax,” Draco says soothingly, and just like that, Albus starts to loosen up. “You've practised Occlumency countless times before.”

“But it’s always been to keep out others. Never you, Draco.”

Draco tries not to think about how the words could be interpreted to mean something different. “And I promise that I would never willingly do anything to violate your privacy or trust. But...the bond.” He lets out a long sigh, forceful enough to blow back the fringe of hair that’s started to droop over his forehead. “No one knows how strong this potion is, what exactly it is meant to do, or how long it’s going to last. I’ve been doing some reading,” he adds, indicating the book in his lap. “Depending on the type of bond, there are several things the bonded may be feeling. Sometimes people describe it as if they’re seeing colours. Others say there’s a hint of underlying emotion: comfort, anxiety, or love, for example. But in the strongest of bonds—soul bonds, for instance—there can be the communication of actual thoughts. In those rare instances, it’s described as a natural occurrence, a sixth sense. If there’s anything like that between us, I want to be prepared for it.” He waits for Albus’ reaction, and to his surprise, he’s nervous.

“Okay.” Albus grins, his expression soft, and it is exactly what Draco needs to let go of his nervousness. He looks so... Albus in that moment, so open and carefree, that Draco can’t believe how much he misses it. “Does this mean I get to practise on you as well?”

“You can try,” Draco smirks. His Aunt Bella was a good teacher, if nothing else. “Ready?”

“Yup.” Albus sets back, his face guileless and filled with anticipation.

Draco takes off his glasses and moves in closer. He’s been told that his eyes are particularly mesmerising...grey, with flecks of gold that can deepen or lighten, depending on his mercurial moods. Albus’ eyes widen, and Draco sees himself reflected in the shine of Albus’ pupils, like the aperture of a camera lens that widens to let in the light right before it shutters closed.

“Legilimens.” There’s a slight push, and then he’s in. His goal is to take things slowly at first; he knows it’s against Albus’ nature to be closed off to begin with, that Albus craves the company and comfort of others. So he lets himself skate around the edges of Albus’ memories, allowing Albus to get used to the pressure and slight intrusion of a foreign presence before he gently lets himself in.

The first memory he encounters is recent and safe. It’s from earlier this month, when they were deciding on a venue for Albus’ birthday:

“You think your father would approve of a place called ‘Bend and Pull’? It’s the most unfortunate name for a nightclub, ever.”

“That’s part of the fun, Draco!”

“It’s Mr Malfoy. And it’s a ‘no’, so try again.” Draco looks through the wrinkled parchment scribbled with the shortlist of possibilities. “What about this one?”

“‘The Portmanteau?’ Eww, no. I mean, that’s like for old people. They couldn’t even be bothered to come up with one instead of labelling it as such.”

“Oh, really?” Draco arches a brow. “You think you could come up with something better?”

“Like, say I were to make one up for us. We’d be ‘Dralbus’.” Albus nudges Draco and gives him a saucy wink.

Draco snorts. “That’s ridiculous.”

“I don’t know. I kinda like it.”

Even in the memory, Draco can see the flirtation that comes so naturally in Albus’ body language, the way he seems drawn to Draco’s every move. Perhaps he was too caught up in his own inappropriate feelings to realise they were reciprocated, at least on some level. There’s something there, more than just the teasing looks and double entendres that Albus lobs at the public as part of his persona. Something drives Draco to pursue it further, but when he pushes ahead and turns the corner, Albus slams the door closed.

Draco pulls out. “Good job,” he says after he’s had the chance to steady his breaths. “Want to try again?”

“Definitely. Do your best; I’m ready.”

“‘Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall’,” Draco chides.

“I’m pretty sure you’d be there to catch me if I did,” Albus says in parting as he closes his eyes and leans in. When Draco enters, he hears the afterthought: Just like you always do.

This time, Draco has to work harder. Albus does a good job of closing off most of the doors; the ones that are available for Draco’s perusal are things that aren’t worth hanging on to: the foods Albus ate at breakfast; the latest Quidditch scores and James’ travel schedule; a reminder to check out the toy section at the newest adult store on Diagon Alley.

(Okay; that piece of information might make it into Draco’s wanking fantasy a bit later).

He flies through the areas which are too accessible, and a rush of pride washes through him at the knowledge that Albus is purposefully putting things in his way to throw him off scent. It’s the equivalent of throwing down the gauntlet in a literal mind game, and he feels a burst of excitement at the challenge.

After half a minute, he burrows a bit deeper. The memories here aren’t quite as sharp, some of them tangled with others or muddled by time and emotion. There’s one that’s not quite at the surface, suggesting that Albus may have neglected it in favour of others, but it intrigues Draco so he pushes in.

It’s...definitely the Slytherin dorms. He sits back, waiting to see what Albus’ memories show:

“Did you get it?”

Albus pulls out something from a brown paper bag. “Yeah. In two different flavours, too. Apple and strawberry.”

His companion makes a face. “Gross. Why would they make it flavoured?”

Despite the darkness in the room, there’s no mistaking the flush on Albus’ face.

“I mean, I guess if you do other stuff? I’ve see pictures in mags where, uh, you can use your mouth with the lube to help get things ready. On both witches and wizards.”

The other boy wrinkles his nose. “We’ll just stick to wanking each other off tonight, ‘kay?”

Draco’s face is probably as red as Albus’. This feels intensely private, the early fumblings of a schoolboy intent on exploring his sexuality, and he’s not sure if Albus invited him in intentionally, or if it was an issue of carelessness. As the scene unfolds, he can’t help the protectiveness that wells up inside him, or worse, the hint of arousal. It’s not the actual scene that’s heightening his sexual response, though; instead, it’s something that’s flowing through their bond, this idea that his connection with Albus is layering into something deeper and more personal. He’s caught between the thrum of the bond as the memory progresses, and the hope that Albus will do what’s necessary to close the remainder of this memory away. 

“Fuck, like that,” Albus groans as he wraps his fingers around both their pricks. The sound of lube, sloppy at wet, and the slapping of skin and their increasing grunts echo loudly through the chamber. “God, yeah.”

The other boy’s eyes are trained down to where both their cockheads disappear then reappear above the circle of Albus’ fist. “Oh, god. Fuck….Al…” He squeezes his eyes tight, his forehead dropping onto Albus’ as he whines. “Fuck, oh fuck, I’m going to come…”

Suddenly, Draco is thrown out of the memory forcefully. It disorients him, the shift between the darkness of the dorm room and the bright light in the corridors of Albus’ mind, and he makes his way back and extricates himself slowly.

When he finally makes his way out, he finds himself back in Albus’ living room, where Albus is staring at him red-faced and with a completely sheepish expression.

“Yeah. I forgot about that one.”

Draco coughs. “You got to it eventually.”

Albus lets out a wry laugh. “I was too busy hiding the rest of the memories. Sixth year was...um, let’s just say that I learned a lot that year, and it definitely wasn’t just from the professors.”

“So that’s what you were up to behind school wards.”

“I had the libido of a very sexually aware and very willing-to-experiment sixteen year old boy.”

Draco hadn’t seen much of Albus that year. His presence was required only when Albus had to travel off school grounds. Harry wanted his children to have as normal of a school experience as possible, knowing very well what it was like to be labelled as someone ‘different’. The Headmistress McGonagall had also agreed; after all, if the protective wards around Hogwarts had been sufficient for Harry during one of the most volatile periods in wizarding history, then it was certainly adequate for the Potter children, no matter their rambunctious nature.

“I would have given anything for a second chance at childhood, and to feel those things that a sixteen-year old should,” Draco admits softly. “Although I tried to make up for the lack of experiences afterwards. And not always in the best of ways.”

It was a shocking admission, a part of his past that Draco doesn’t like to talk about. Few people know how truly low he had sunk, with perhaps the exception of Blaise and Harry. He’s not sure if it’s because of the bond, or because he was just privy to a memory of Albus’ that was so incredibly intimate, but he finds that in this situation, he’s willing to share.

Albus seems to realise it was well, because his entire demeanour softens. “Shall we go again?”

Draco hesitates. “You’re tired. Perhaps we should resume tomorrow—”

“Draco. Please. Just once more.”

There’s no way Draco can resist that pleading tone. “Fine,” he grumbles. “But if I feel it’s too much, I’m going to end the session myself.”

Albus takes Draco’s hand as Draco says “Legilimens.” It throws him off temporarily; it’s not unheard of to touch someone during Legilimency, but in addition to Albus’ certain fatigue, the added contact causes emotions to bleed to the surface more easily, thereby making Occlumency harder to perform.

Draco wanders about slowly, not wanting to push Albus too hard. Something stirs inside Albus’ mind; it feels almost impatient, drawing Draco right instead of left towards a memory that’s lodged somewhere in time between the two previous ones, beckoning to him through the bond.

It’s a scene that Draco remembers all too well, the thunderous boom as the team of Aurors descend into the alleyway, the acrid stink of hexes and several explosions still clouding the air. He’s surprised to see the state of his clothes—torn and bloodied as the result of several Severing Charms.  

“Al! Are you okay?” Draco whirls towards the sound of the panicking voice, his body still hovering over Albus’ cowering one. James’ face is ashen, and his tears free-flowing. “Is he going to be okay, Mr Malfoy?”

Draco turns back to Albus, who releases his hand from Draco’s lapel to give James a tremulous thumbs up. Relief washes over Draco’s face, and he answers James with a nod. “We’ll get him over to St Mungo’s and debrief everyone there. But yes; I believe he’ll be fine.”

“Nine lives,” Albus croaks.

“That’s good,” James says, wiping away his tears. “Because you’ll need to be alive so I can pummel some sense into you. What the fuck were you thinking, coming out to the Prophet like that? That fucking guy had pictures of you plastered all over the place.”

“I can only be me, Jamie,” Albus says as Draco casts a Lightening Charm, then gathers Albus into his arms. “Gotta be true to myself.”

“Al…”

Despite his attempts at a lighter tone, Draco can tell that Albus is badly shaken. “Later, James. Once the Healers clear him, you can act the big brother all you want.”

James looks as if he’s about to protest, but there’s a growing commotion nearby, followed by the loud crack of Apparition as both Harry and Ginny burst onto the scene.

“Al!” Harry shouts, running towards Albus and Draco, Ginny close behind. Draco holds onto Albus a bit tighter, knowing that soon, there will be Healers and detectives, and Aurors and reporters, and a cavalcade of people demanding statements and time and a piece of Albus, all over again.

Perhaps he senses Draco’s reluctance to let go, but Albus raises his hand to Draco’s cheek, his eyes clear and touch soft as his chapped lips croak out two words before the rest of the world rushes in.

“Thank you.” 

Something bursts inside Draco’s chest, unwilling to be ignored as he takes himself out of the scene.

“You let me in there purposefully,” he accuses Albus, who’s sitting there, not denying the statement. “Why?”

“I knew you’d protect me,” Albus says simply.

“Of course I would,” Draco says angrily, his world tilting around the edges for a reason he doesn’t quite yet acknowledge. “That’s my job.”

“It is. But it’s more than that.” Albus stands and stretches, and Draco has to look away as the bond encourages him to reach out and touch. “You protected me, even after the immediate danger was gone. You understood what I needed, and gave it to me in that moment. And the things is, for as long as I remember, you’ve always done that.” Albus takes a step forward then hesitates, stepping back. “I just wanted you to know. Good night, Draco.”

“Good night, Albus.” Draco watches as Albus shuffles off to his room and waits for the door to snick shut. “Fuck,” he whispers hoarsely, running his hands through his hair. For the first time in a long time, he craves the comfort and potency of alcohol. But he has a suspicion that even the strongest whisky won’t take away the shocking revelation of Albus’ last memory.

Draco didn’t feel the need to protect Albus out of a desire to prove himself, or because it was his duty.

Merlin help him. Somewhere along the line, he’d fallen in love with Albus Potter.

][][][][

The sunlight is streaming through the window on the right side, not the left, and the bed is overly soft. It takes several seconds for Draco to blink away the morning sleepiness and realise where he is.

Oh, yes. And to realise that he’s also uncomfortably hard.

This is more than a simple case of morning wood. Draco lowers his hand, letting out a painful hiss as his thumb brushes lightly over the tip of his prick. He’s unusually sensitive; this isn’t a situation that calls for a nice, leisurely wank. His dick is throbbing and his balls are full and tight, as if he’s been stimulated and edged over the past hour. He doesn’t remember dreaming about anything that would have put him in such a situation—he didn’t even think about Albus sexually when he went to bed the night before. His self-admission of love was enough to shock the lust out of his system, at least at that moment.

The sound of a whine in the next room causes Draco’s prick to throb harder.

The walls may have prevented any direct contact, but they’re shit when it comes to holding back sounds. Albus is making these broken, panting noises, and it’s like they have a direct line to Draco’s prick. Too late, he remembers that the headboard of Albus’ bed lies flush against the same wall as his, and what Draco doesn’t get through sound, he feels doubly from their bond. Whatever Albus is fantasising about as he wanks is doing a right job on Draco’s body, because he feels a crawling heat that’s insistent along his perineum, his lower back, and his arse.

His cock jumps and leaks pre-come without any direct stimulation...something no forty-four year old man, free of potions, should be able to do. Unable to help himself, he curls his fingers over his shaft and strokes it lightly. The touch causes pleasure to spark in all directions, the intensity of it causing him to curse out loud, which then sets Albus off, as he moans even louder from the bedroom.

There is a loud creaking of the bed frame along with some springs—one would think that the Ministry could afford mid- to upper-line mattresses—before Albus’ voice shifts direction, coming up from somewhere higher.

Draco’s heart races. Salazar’s hairy arse; Albus must have repositioned himself onto his hands and knees…

“Oh, god,” Albus moans, the words and sounds causing Draco’s hips to twitch. “Yes, Draco; gods, fuck…”

He’s theoretically alone in bed, and although Draco’s sexual appetite might not be quite up to that of a teen’s, it’s still very much intact. Draco starts to stroke himself harder and, if anything, it seems to spur Albus to become even more involved. The mattress creaks again, and then there’s a drawn out moan that starts off soft and low, before rising in pitch and volume until it’s undeniably filthy and obscene. And if that’s not bad enough, Albus seems to have taken to shouting Draco’s name after every third or fourth word:

“Fuck, yeah, Draco, just like that...oh my god, Draco, fuck me, Draco, fuuck…”

Draco’s cock has never been harder, and the ache is unbearable. His hand flies in time with the creaking on the other side of the wall, his wrist twisting to every curse or lewd phrase that leaves Albus’ mouth. The bond also joins in as it sings happily, the pleasure between them intensifying as they both give in to its pull.

Suddenly, Albus’ cries are punctuated with images shared through the bond—pictures of Draco taking him from behind, Draco’s fingers gripping tightly against those slim hips, Albus’ beautiful arsehole slick and shiny as it sucks in Draco’s pistoning cock.

Draco’s stomach clenches in response. His toes curl under, his forearm muscles tightening as he wanks himself furiously. When he spills, the come explodes out of him, painting the back of his hand, his groin, and his belly, the entirety of his body shuddering as Albus cries out his name.

[]

Draco casts a quick Tempus, then throws a messy handful of Floo powder into the flames. His foot is tapping an impatient and angry rhythm as he waits for an answer.

“Draco?” Blaise takes a look at Draco from behind the curtain of green flames, the confusion on his face growing greater as he takes in Draco’s surroundings. “What are you doing back at your flat? I thought you were trying to stay close to Al until the potion wears off.”

“I told him I forgot a change of clothes and some other essentials.”

“And he believed you? Draco, you’re the most meticulous person I know; you have lists for your lists.”

“That’s not the point. I need your help, and I only have about fifteen more minutes before I have to get back—” Draco stops, suddenly aware of Blaise’s seemingly naked state. “Fuck; did I interrupt something between you and Pansy?”

“Just sleep.” Blaise laughs at Draco’s look of disbelief. “Trust me; it was just sleep. Pansy came home from her mother’s with a hangover and a headache. If we were doing anything else and I stopped to take your call, you would’ve had more than just Al as your roommate.” His eyes narrow. “Wait...why fifteen minutes?”

Draco lets out a long sigh. “It’s the bond. It’s growing stronger; it’s painful to stay away, even for me, and I’ve been subjected to things that Albus thankfully has never had to experience in his young life. Half an hour is probably the most time we can be apart from one another without the separation becoming unbearable.”

Blaise sucks in a deep breath. “What does the bond want?”

Draco’s eyes turn flinty as he fixes Blaise with an impenetrable stare. “What do you think?”

“Okay, let me put it another way. What do you want?”

Draco looks down at his feet. He needs to talk to someone about his conflicting emotions, and Blaise has seen him at his lowest. Still, it’s embarrassing, and he hopes his best friend won’t think of him as morally reprehensible. “I crave him, Blaise. I heard him tossing off this morning in the next room, and it took everything for me not to barge in and finish the job for him. I feel like a schoolboy with his first crush; I hang on to his every word, and then I feel like a dirty old man, because when I watch his lips, I want to see him down on his knees, sucking my cock.”

Blaise, bless him, doesn’t comment on the last, although he does make a slightly strangled sound. “But it’s not you; it’s the effects of the potion and the bond. It’s like saying you’re going to drink a bottle of whisky, then berating yourself for feeling drunk.”

“But it’s not just the potion or the bond.”

“It’s not?” Blaise’s brow furrows, then his eyes go wide with understanding. “Oh,” he says, letting out a whoosh of breath. “Does Al have any idea of how you feel?”

Draco shakes his head. “I don’t think so. At least, I don’t think I’ve given him any reason to think that I’m harbouring inappropriate feelings for him. But what makes it worse is that he’s practically throwing himself at me. Not so much physically; it’s the way he begs with his eyes, or the things he says as he wanks, or when the separation grows too great and he asks to touch. He’s even confessed that he’s had a crush on me.”

“Look at you, Draco. You’re still one of the fittest blokes around—second to me, of course.” Blaise lets out a laugh as Draco rolls his eyes, but the levity helps diffuse some of Draco’s embarrassment and tension. “You know it; on the rare instances when you do go to a club, you’ve no problem in finding a willing partner to pull. So if Al desires you, and has so before the accident with the potion, then there might be something there.”

“He’s only eighteen, Blaise. Just eighteen, might I remind you.”

“And has been of the legal age to consent for two years now.”

“I can’t, Blaise. You know how hard I worked, what I went through to straighten out my life and earn this job. The thought of censure...not just from the public, but from Harry, or you...”

“Not from me, Draco, not with this. If anything were to happen between you and Al, you’d be entering into the relationship with honourable intentions and after giving it much thought. I agree that public opinion won’t be as kind—and, unfortunately, Albus finds himself in the limelight often, which will make it all that much harder for you—but only you and Albus can truly say whether taking the next step is the right decision for you both.”

“The potion...Blaise, the whole situation is difficult enough as it is, without the question of whether either Albus or I can make the decision with a clear head.”

Blaise nods sympathetically. “Do the Healers have any idea how much longer the potion will remain in your system?”

Draco rubs his nose and sighs. “Someone comes in twice a day and performs a spell to check for its residue. They’re estimating one and a half more days; maybe two, at the most.”

“Can you keep your libido in check for that long?”

“Fuck, Blaise, it’s not just that,” Draco growls. “Yeah, I have fantasies of taking Albus and fucking him into the mattress. But it’s more than that; he makes me laugh. He tests my preconceived notions and makes me think. I admire him for holding so true to his principles, far more at his age than I ever did in my twenties. And...as tough as it’s been to be around him with the bond in place, I think it’d be worse without him in my life.” He looks at Blaise helplessly. “I’d rather be with him from afar, than not at all. Which is a surety if I ever made my feelings known.” Perhaps it was the thought of being without Albus, or the separation, but Draco suddenly gasps and doubles up in pain.

“Go,” Blaise urges. “But remember this: when it comes down to it, only you and Albus can determine what’s right for you both.”

[]

“Oh my god,” Albus sighs, his eyes doing that ridiculous thing where they flutter nearly closed, their long lashes sweeping down along the curve of his cheek, just enough to allow a fleeting glimpse of his unfairly green irises. His fingers brush against the residue that’s collected at the corner of his lips, wiping it clean. “That was incredible.”

Draco nods. “Millicent always did make the best banoffee pie. Now that’s a portmanteau that’s worthy of its name.”

“Mmm.” Albus’ grin slides off his face. “It’s not the first time she’s made it for us, though. I don’t remember it ever being quite this good.”

“That’s because you and James have well-known sweet tooths and a more than passing fondness for her desserts. Normally, Millicent flambees the bananas with rum. It wouldn’t do to have the Minister for Magic’s chef contribute to your delinquent behaviour.”

“Hey! You say ‘delinquent’, I say ‘adventurous’. Apples and trees, after all.” He nudges Draco in the shoulder good-naturedly. “Besides, you can’t get pissed from food that’s been cooked in alcohol.”

“A common fallacy. Believe me; I speak from experience, with all the parties my mother used to host when I was a child.” Draco nudges Albus back, his voice teasing and fond, and startles when Albus makes a needy sound.

Draco drops back, nearly putting an additional foot between them.

“Draco…” When Albus speaks again, his voice quavers. “You said we need to be open with one another, right?” When Draco nods, Albus takes a deep breath and continues. “I’m scared. This...these feelings I have for you—that I’ve had for you, for so long—they’re like amplified times ten. It physically hurts for me to be apart from you. Even now, sitting here like this, the bond is only partially satisfied. It’s not the same, horrible pain that I feel when we’re separated, but I definitely feel off. Unsettled.” His mouth turns down unhappily. “I don’t know how much more I can take. There are times, like when you went back to your flat to collect some more of your things today, that I thought about whether it’d be better to be sedated for the duration.”

“When the Healer came to see us this evening, she mentioned that the potion showed only a third of the trace of what it was originally. Hopefully, it will be out of our systems within the next twenty-four hours.”

“Yeah,” Albus says, still looking morose.

“Do you think that will be too much for you?” Worry wells up in Draco’s chest as he thinks furiously. He hates the idea of Albus being drugged once more. “Perhaps we can spend time reading in the same room tonight, or watching a show on the telly. I’ll even hand over control of the remote.”

That comment draws a smile from Albus; arguing over which show to watch while travelling in hotels with the rest of the Potters has been second nature to them. “I think that will help, but...don’t get me wrong; I mean, I’ll be happy when we’re no longer under the influence of the bond. But, um…” He hesitates as Draco waits patiently, and then sets ahead with a determination and boldness that makes Draco wonder whether Albus should have sorted Gryffindor like his parents. “I’m afraid to lose you when it’s all over. I can’t see us falling back into our old relationship, and I worry that it’ll be my fault when it’s through. And now, you know about my crush, and I’m sure you can feel just how much I want you because of the bond. And I know it’s really strange, to think that you could be one of my closest friends, but seriously Draco, who else knows me better than you and still is willing to put up with me and my craziness, and…I’m just afraid you’ll want nothing to do with me once we’re free of all this,” he finished unhappily.

Draco knows he should say something. Each passing second that he remains silent causes Albus’ shoulders to droop, his body hunching forward, the usual mischief in his eyes dulling. But Draco can’t tell Albus how he really feels; he knows it’s hypocritical, that he’s the one who espoused open and honest communication, yet he knows Albus, knows how single-minded he can be. And if Albus catches any hint as to just how much Draco cares for him, he’s going to want to pursue things, bond be damned.

“Neither of us can know exactly how we’ll feel once this is over,” he says gently as Albus winces at the word ‘over’. He decides on something that is purposefully vague, but laced with the truth. “But I can tell you this: you and your family have been everything to me over the past thirteen years. Your father...well, he’s been a part of my life for even longer, and seen me at my very worst. There was a time where I was so down on myself, I didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone else. But you’ve somehow made it into this cynical heart of mine, and I can’t even for a moment imagine that you won’t continue to be a part of it. Besides,” he adds with a grin, “who else is going to keep me on my toes?”

“Thanks.” Albus returns his smile, looking relieved. “Erm...if it’s all right with you, I’d like to take you up on your offer? Maybe watch some telly together?”

“Sounds good.” Draco stands, wincing a bit as he stretches. The emotional and physical nature of the bond and its consequence have taken their toll, and he feels exhausted, even though there’s a part of him that’s still strung as tightly as a wire.

He follows Albus into the bedroom; Albus pats the left side of his king-sized bed for Draco to sit, then settles against the pillow, happily changing the channel to watch a Muggle football game. Even though he doesn’t like football, Draco can’t even be arsed to argue. He’s watched the games with Albus ever since he started working for Harry, and the bond certainly isn’t complaining, because for the first time in two days, he feels at peace, with the scent of Albus on the sheets surrounding him, and their arms brushing occasionally against one another.

In a way, he’s thankful that he returned to his flat earlier that afternoon to retrieve some items. He’s not comfortable wearing his silk pyjamas (a luxury holdover from his younger days; some old habits die hard) or walking around Albus’ rooms half-naked. The cotton joggers and simple but stylish T-shirt that he sports now are comfortable and practical, and he feels himself sinking lower against the headboard, the muted sounds of the announcer and the crowd fading into the background.

“Draco?”

The game’s still on, but Albus must have lowered the volume “Hmmm?”

“Earlier tonight, when you mentioned your family, you spoke about your mum’s parties. Do you miss all that?”

“Hmmm.” Draco sits up a bit straighter and looks at the television, although his eyes aren’t at all focused on the game. “My earlier childhood was one of the happiest times for me. I’m not sure I can say that I miss it, being what it was and the things I know now, but the memories are very bittersweet.”

He looks up and catches Albus chewing his lip thoughtfully, the flesh reddening and swelling under his teeth. “I always wanted to be an adult,” Albus confesses. “I think in a certain sense, I thought I was older than my years. Maybe not wiser; now that I think about it, I may have been chasing my childhood away.”

“Take it from someone whose childhood was torn from their grasp. Enjoy life as it comes. Don’t wish it away.” Draco sighs and pats Albus on the hand. “You have a family that loves you very much, and have access to things not easily available to others. Despite that, it’s easy to make mistakes if you don’t stop and think.”

A small sound escapes from the back of Albus’ throat. “If you had the chance, what part of childhood would you do over?”

The tight feeling in Draco’s chest returns. “Oh, Albus,” he says softly. “What wouldn’t I do over?”

Albus sidles closer, the entire length of their legs now touching, hot through the layers of Draco’s trainers and Albus’ thin, cotton pyjamas. He shuts off the telly, but even as they sit there in silence with the incandescent street lights casting the room in a soft glow, Draco can hear Albus’ racing thoughts.

“You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but...how did you end up working for my Dad? It’s no big secret that the two of you didn’t get along in school.”

“We didn’t, and your father had all the reasons not to like me. I was...not a nice person. I harboured some terrible prejudices, and even though it would be easy to excuse much of it on my upbringing, it doesn’t excuse the cruel or hateful ways I used to treat others, your father included.”

Albus stares at him. His eyes remind Draco of the eeriness of the Slytherin dungeons at night, with the way the moonlight filters through the waters of the lake, casting everything in moving shades of silver and black and green. It sends a shiver through him—whether in reminiscence of his early years, or something else.

“What changed all that?” Albus asks. Waiting, and withholding judgment.

Draco balks initially at the question, but decides that it can’t be anything worse than what Albus already knows. “I was lost for years after the War. I...I’m not trying to make excuses, but my family’s name was disgraced. I was looked upon as worthless by most of the public, and to top it off, when I came out to my family, my father couldn’t get over the fact that he would never have a biological heir.”

“What?” Albus turned towards Draco, his body practically vibrating with indignation.

“Yes,” Draco says drily. “Apparently, being gay to him was worse than being the follower of a power-hungry, delusional murderer. I was given the choice of marrying a witch and ‘indulging my sickness’ with discretion, or be disowned. So I gave up my family...the last thing I had at that point, really, and was left on my own.”

“Oh my god, Draco.” Albus reaches out for Draco’s hand, as if on instinct. He seems to realise what he’s done and freezes, but when Draco doesn’t reprimand him or make a move to take his hand back, he leaves it in place. “I’m sorry,” he says, giving Draco’s hand a squeeze.

“Not as sorry as I felt for myself. By that point, I had nothing more to lose, at least in my mind. I was tired of hiding; I had done so many things in secret at Hogwarts towards the end, and buried my sexuality as well. It was the breaking point for me; I was nineteen, with no prospects...no family to speak of, nor money. So I decided nothing mattered, at that point. I was determined to live my life, whatever there was of it, and throw it back in everyone’s faces.

“But in order to do that, I needed to make a living somehow. I…” Draco’s face flushes; with his pale colouring, he’s sure it’s apparent, even in the dark. “I made my living in the clubs. I was able to indulge in my need for sexual exploration and learned a lot of things in the process, not the least of which were the ways to defend myself. I was pleasing enough to several men that they kept me for months on end—gave me my own flat, and enough of an allowance to get by. In essence, I became that which my father had suggested I find for myself...a secret dalliance, most of the times to someone who was already married. And when those relationships inevitably fell through, I went back to being that which I was appreciated for: a whore, someone who sucked cock, fucked, or, more often, was a person to fuck. If I made anything extra, I would quickly waste it on potions and booze.”

Albus doesn’t say anything, but the pressure of his grasp lessens in favour of drawing small, soothing circles along the inside of Draco’s wrist. He doesn’t press Draco to respond, at least not verbally, but Draco can feel his curiosity pulsing through their bond.

He gives in; not just for Albus’ sake, but for his own. “Parts of the next several years were a blur. Blaise...well, Blaise was one of the few friends I had left. But he was training for the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol at the time, and I was not in a place where I wanted to be helped. It took an arrest, by your father of all people, and the very real threat of Azkaban to force my decision. At that point, there were only two choices, really.”

Albus remains quiet. It’s pretty clear what the other option—the one that Draco thankfully didn’t take—was.

Draco withdraws his hand and scrubs his face, surreptitiously pressing his palms against his eyes. He hasn’t cried about his past in years, and it surprises him, in talking about it with Albus, just how easily old wounds can be reopened.

“You know,” Albus says, his body curling up against Draco’s, his face hidden in Draco’s chest. “I was always fascinated by you. From the very first time I met you.”

Draco holds him a bit tighter, grateful for the distraction. “How so?”

“Well, when Dad first told us that we’d have someone to watch over us, James and I were determined to show how much we didn’t need bodyguards. Hey, it made sense to five- and seven-year old minds at the time!” Albus protests as Draco doesn’t try to hide his snort.

“You forget that Blaise and I were Slytherins. And quite the pranksters ourselves. There was no way we were going to be thrown by dungbombs, bulbadox powder, or whizzing worms.”

“Yeah. If anything, it convinced Mum that we needed bodyguards even more, if only to keep us out of trouble,” Albus laughs. “Though really, what did she expect? My uncles couldn’t reprimand me while keeping a straight face; I think George even slipped me an extra box of Puking Pastilles once.” He smiles overly wide at the memory as he snuggles even closer to Draco. “Once I got used to the idea, though, I loved it. I thought of you as my own superhero.”

“I’m hardly super. Definitely not a hero,” Draco scoffs.

“Are you kidding? You’re totally the superhero type. I mean, in the beginning, you were the complete, outside package—suave, smooth, and powerful, ready to take down villainous creatures with a single flick of your wand. You’ve got that dashing, playboy persona down pat. But you also have the anti-hero thing going on, too. Like Batman or Wolverine.”

Draco lifts his hand and runs his fingers through Albus’ hair. They both sigh in response to the touch, and the discomfort and ache from the bond, while still there, lessens somewhat. “You still give me too much credit.” Albus’ hair, while unruly like his father’s, is worn long and surprisingly soft to the touch. The strands glide between Draco’s fingers as he comforts Albus much as he has since Albus was young, and they stay like that, in companionable silence as Albus’ breathing slows.

“I think I’m a horrible person,” Albus whispers, not looking up at Draco. “Selfish, at the very least. Maybe it’s because you’re one of the few people in my life who treats me like a person instead of ‘Harry’s child’. Or maybe it’s the fact that you’ve always worked so hard to make sure I’m safe, while still trying to let me live my life and make my own mistakes. What I’m trying to say is...you’re good person, Draco Malfoy. One of the best I know. And if you didn’t go through what you did, I wouldn’t have known you otherwise.”

Draco’s hand stills. He tries to steady his breaths, fighting against the lump that’s welled up in the back of his throat and the onslaught of words that are on the tip of his tongue, loosened by Albus’ heartfelt confession. But by the time he gathers up his courage to try, he’s greeted only by the soft sounds of Albus’ exhalations as sleep eventually grabs a hold of them both.

][][][][

Merlin. It feels so good, but it hurts because it’s hardly enough…

Draco buries his face against the crook of the neck of the man in front of him, who smells of peppermint soap and the deeper musk of arousal. A hand is reaching back past Draco’s hips, delicate fingers digging into the meat of his arse, pulling him closer as he ruts against a pair of firm and shapely buttocks. His prick is already swelling, the friction from his joggers causing him to shudder as his hips twitch forward, and he thrusts harder in response.

“Fuck, yeah,” his partner groans, turning around and pinning Draco onto his back.

Draco’s eyes finally snap open, and there, above him, is Albus Potter, his hair mussed and eyes still sexy from sleep, his sharp cheeks painted pink with arousal.

“Draco,” Albus moans. His voice is thready with need as he lowers himself, grinding their cocks against one another. “Please, can we do this? I need you so bad.”

A whimper escapes Draco as his hips cant up to meet Albus’. The bond is feeding the neediness and lust between them in a never ending loop, and right now, he needs Albus just as much. Each touch lights every single nerve ending in the pleasure-center of his brain, causing electric sensations to shoot across his skin, focusing on his chest, his prick, his arse. He doesn’t protest when Albus dips his head lower, capturing his lips with his mouth; instead, he’s crying in relief, his hand winding around the nape of Albus’ neck and drawing him even closer.

Their kiss feels like...home. Like salvation, the piece of a puzzle that’s been missing for so long, an empty space that’s suddenly filled so perfectly that you don’t know how you could have lived without it. Draco deepens the kiss, his tongue flicking out for the first time to taste the sweet warmth of Albus’ mouth, drinking in the hitch of Albus’ breath and the way Albus pushes his body against him, as if he needs to sink into Draco. As if he can’t get enough.

They part in order to catch their breath, and even then, Albus continues to show his acquiescence, from the breathless yes, yes, yes that he’s chanting, the words pitching higher and higher, to the way that he arches up against Draco, all the while baring his neck. Draco inhales Albus' scent, that amazing mix of innocence and arousal, and grazes his teeth lightly along the soft and vulnerable curve as they grind up against each other.

“Fuck,” Draco hisses as the bond pushes him to do more. He wants to give in, to finally sate the years of repressed desire, to sink into Albus’ warmth and erase the memories of Albus’ previous lovers. He growls and spins Albus around so that he hovers over Albus’ body, prideful that Albus’ pupils are now dark and shining with lust, his lips red and bee-stung, his fingers trembling at the hem of Draco’s T-shirt from the magnitude of his arousal.

But when Albus’ fingers dip down below the waistband of Draco’s joggers, the touch, heated yet foreign, screams out to that small portion of Draco’s brain that’s not yet entirely consumed by his need to stop.

“Albus; no.” It takes every bit of effort for Draco to pull away, to remove Albus’ fingers gently from where they felt so good, so close. “We can’t.”

Albus, thankfully, listens, although his face is a rictus of hurt. “Why?” he whimpers. “I know you want to as well.”

“You’re unbelievably attractive. You don’t need me to tell you that; I think your daily fanmail speaks for itself. And yes, I do want you,” Draco admits, looking pointedly at his stiff cock. “But that doesn’t make it okay for us to continue. Albus...I’m not eighteen; we’re not in the dorms. There is no question that if we continue, there would be repercussions.”

“I’m eighteen, and able to consent,” Albus pouts. He puts on his most beseeching expression, the one where his eyes go wide and innocent, except there’s nothing innocent about the way his prick is straining along the front of his pyjama pants, or the way that he’s licking his lips.

“And I’m forty-four, and able to decline. This is...there’s a lot to process. Part of me agrees with you, but there’s another part, one that’s resided in me for much longer, that knows this is a dangerous thing to consider when we’re both under the influence of the bond.” He slides back from Albus slowly, his heart breaking at the hurt in Albus’ eyes. Perhaps he's more fucked up than he thought; there's a beautiful young man who's professing his love for him, who is definitely willing, and he can't take that final step. “This is not a rejection of you, Albus. This is me saying I need to think through things with a clear head. That I need more time.”

“Okay,” Albus says. His expression shuts down, and he sits at the edge of the bed with his back towards Draco, strangely rigid.

The silence hangs thick between them. “Albus; will you be all right?”

“Yeah,” Albus laughs with a trace of bitterness. “As much as I can be when I’m stuck in a room with the man I’ve loved for most of my life, connected by a bond that’s telling me that we should be together, and not being able to do a damn thing about it.”

“I’m sorry—” Draco begins.

“No, it’s okay. I’m sorry; I know I’m being a total prat, but I don’t want to talk anymore, at least right now.” Albus stands up and walks stiffly to the door, unable to look Draco in the eye. “I’m going to take a shower. Erm; I might be in there for a bit.”

“Albus?”

“Yeah?”

Draco tries not to feel hurt when Albus refuses to turn around. “I’m going for a walk. To try and clear my head. Will you be okay for say, an hour? I’ll bring my mobile if you need me.”

“Sure.” Albus exits the room; several seconds later, the bathroom door slams and Draco hears the rush of running water, followed by a hoarse Muffliato .

He gets up and sighs. He’s not sure how they’re going to get through tonight, but he knows there’s something that he needs to do first.

][][][][

“You’ve got to be kidding. With everything that’s going on, you’re tendering your resignation now? What do you think this is going to do to Albus?”

Draco can’t remember the last time Harry’s anger was directed so blatantly at him, not even when Draco, while high on potions, had hexed a Muggle in the middle of a crowded Muggle bar for being overly-handsy (without any intentions of paying for the goods), leading to an all-out brawl. He feels his own temper flaring as he refrains from reaching for his wand. “I’m giving you my resignation because of what’s happened. But I will not abandon Albus; I’ve never given you a reason to think that I would, and I certainly won’t now.”

The fury on Harry’s face slowly recedes. “I’m sorry. You’re right.” He waves a weary hand and sends Draco’s letter into his file. “Can you at least tell me why?”

“I...I’m compromised,” Draco says slowly.

Harry’s brow furrows. “Because of the potion?”

“Yes.” The answer comes out more hesitant than Draco intended, and Harry watches him carefully, frowning.

“No one...not me, nor Ginny, nor anyone on our staff, can fault you or my son over what’s happened.”

“It’s more than that.” A desperation builds inside Draco; he’s not sure how he can tell Harry without spilling everything. “I couldn’t live with myself if I felt I wasn’t able to protect him with everything I had.”

Harry’s brow draws down even further. “And you think the potion changes all that?”

Draco looks down at his hands, unable to respond.

Harry rubs his forehead, his fingers lingering above the mark of his scar. It’s an absent-minded gesture, but it reminds Draco so much of how far they’ve both come. “When you graduated from the Academy, I had already hand-picked you to be Albus’ bodyguard. Do you know why?”

Draco shakes his head, surprised by Harry’s admission. As far as he knew, he was one in a long line of applicants for the position.

“I spoke with Dawlish. You worked harder than anyone else; your offensive skills were nearly the top in your class, and your defensive skills, unmatched. But it was more than that. I think you had everything to work for at the time, everything to prove. Not only to society, but to yourself, probably most of all.

“Ginny and Ron were reluctant, for obvious reasons. Erm...you may not have known this, but we always had a backup on retainer, in case you didn’t live up to our expectations.”

“Shit,” Draco says, feeling a bit out of sorts even though he knows it was for a good reason.

“Yeah. That was my concession,” Harry admits sheepishly. “Although you proved very quickly that one wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t just your skills; we saw the way you handled Albus. Even after all those ridiculous pranks, you treated him firmly, but with patience and kindness. We got rid of your backup after three months.”

“Wait.” Draco thinks back to something Albus said about the extra joke boxes. “Ron and George wouldn’t have encouraged his ‘misbehaviours’, would they?”

Harry’s face turns beet-red. “I don’t know anything about that, but I wouldn’t put it past them, honestly.” He lets out a soft laugh. “You know, I think that’s when you first turned Albus around to you. I don’t think he’s ever let go of his feelings since.”

Draco goes stock-still. “What do you mean?”

“Albus has always spoken his mind. And what he doesn’t put in words verbally, he does in writing.” Harry’s face twists into a pained expression. “He makes it all too easy for James and Lily to discover his secrets. Anything from, say, his distaste for a certain professor, to his plans for a peaceful protest, to...well, his affections for you.”

“I feel the same.” Even as embarrassment and shame flood through Draco at the admission, the bond grows stronger. He suddenly feels more anchored. More settled. Now that’s it out, Draco can’t take it back. What surprises him, is that he doesn’t want to. “About Albus, that is.”

Thankfully, Harry hasn’t made any sudden moves, like he’s going to start dueling with Draco at any moment. “And that’s what you meant when you said you were compromised? Because you might share in Albus’ feelings?”

“Yes,” Draco says miserably.

“My children...my family, are everything to me,” Harry says quietly.

“I know. And I also know that I owe you my life twice over. Which is why I had to let you know. I’ll stay until the bond is broken, and even help you find a suitable replacement, although it would have to be someone who could keep Albus safe while respecting his individuality and all his causes, and—”

“Draco; hold on.” Harry takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. Without them, he looks strange; an older version of Albus, perhaps, but not quite, and not the famous Harry Potter either, whose scar is now more faded, the wrinkles around those iconic eyes more apparent. He looks like...well, a concerned father. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation,” he laughs wryly as if to himself. “Who would’ve thought? But the teenage me would have probably been shocked to consider you honourable. Which you certainly are. You apparently have...erm, more-than-professional feelings for Albus, which you could have easily pursued under the excuse of the bond. Albus has made no secret of just how much he fancies you, and I’m sure he’s been more than willing to take things a step further.” Harry coughs, and his face flushes once more.

“Albus is...charismatic.”

“And intelligent and determined and privileged, and not above using all of those things to get what he wants.”

It's Draco's turn to cough. “Well, he is a Slytherin, after all.”

Harry allows himself a small smile. “Out of all my children, I think I was always worried about Albus the most. He draws a lot of attention, and not always for the right reasons. But for all his antics, I think he’s also the most vulnerable to being hurt, because when he falls for something—whether a cause, or someone—he does so with such a total passion, he can be blind to their faults.

“That’s why I’m glad he’s chosen to fall for someone like you. I’ll be honest; you’re not the first person I would’ve picked…” Harry’s voice trails.

“If I had a child, I wouldn’t pick me, either,” Draco says quietly.

Harry’s gaze sweeps over Draco. “Despite my reservations, there’s no denying that you’ve always cared for Albus. You’re a good man, Malfoy. I can find fault with the choices of your past, but I can’t find fault with who you are as a person, or the man I know you to be now. And...I’m asking you to reconsider your resignation. Perhaps being Albus’ bodyguard may not be the most appropriate job given the circumstances, but I want someone like you on my staff. And if, erm, something were to develop between you and Albus in the future, I’m not going to stand in the way of my son’s happiness.”

][][][][

“Are you sure?” Draco says, hope coursing through him as he stares at the Healer in disbelief.

“There is no question, Mr Malfoy. The residual traces of the potion are registering at eighteen percent of their original potency. That means it’s deteriorated at a much faster rate over the last twenty-four hours. By my estimate, both you and Mr Potter will be free of its effects within the next four hours.”

Draco closes his eyes. When he opens them once more, he knows they’re shining with gratitude at the news.

“It must be nice, to think of reclaiming your life once more,” the Healer says sympathetically. “Of course, both you and Mr Potter will need to be seen several times in the upcoming weeks for additional check-ups, as we can’t be certain of the long-term effects. But so far, there’s nothing that suggests that would be the case.”

“Thank you. Does Albus know?”

“He does.” The Healer hesitates, then fixes Draco with a look that is gentle and knowing. “Mr Potter did not take the news as well as you. I think...it is easy for us, who are older, to dismiss the love of the young as a passing fancy or something born out of lust or naivete. But in a certain sense, it is also the young whose hearts are the most pure, and therefore, most vulnerable to being broken.”

“I think heartbreak knows no age,” Draco muses. “But thank you.”

He closes the door as she leaves, promising that he’ll stop by St Mungo’s the day after next for a follow-up, then walks over towards Albus’ bedroom. He waits a beat, and takes a deep breath before knocking.

There is a muffled "Entrez;" if Albus’ sulky tone doesn’t convey his current mood, then the song that blasts from the small speakers of his mobile certainly does:

You'll never know if you never try
To forget your past and simply be mine 

I dare you to let me be your, your one and only
I promise I'm worthy
To hold in your arms
So come on and give me the chance*

Draco sits on the side of the bed; Albus is lying prone on his stomach, his head buried under the crook of his arms. Even though the sound is tinny and distant in quality, there is no mistaking the ache in the singer’s words, the brilliant catch in her voice, or Albus’ vulnerability as he bares himself through their bond.

Draco reaches out and places what he hopes is a comforting hand on Albus’ shoulder, and is grateful when Albus doesn’t move away. “Healer Samuels just left. She told me that you know the bond is fading. That’s good news, isn’t it?”

Albus remains silent for the remainder of the song. When he finally looks up, Draco is shocked to discover that his face is tear-streaked, his eyes swollen and red-rimmed. “Can’t wait to be rid of me already?”

“Oh, Albus,” Draco says softly. “Not you; the bond. And yes...but not for the reasons you think.” He helps Albus sit; he refuses to have a heartfelt conversation facing his back. “This is not easy for me; I’ve lived the second half of my life trying to be as independent as possible. But that also means I have a hard time letting people in. And now that I’ve found someone who I want to do that with, I want to make sure it’s done right.”

“You...what?”

“I care about you, Albus. More than is required from an employee; more than is proper for a friend. I’ve been fighting these feelings for a while, but it took the potion and our bonding to realise for just how long.”

Albus shuffles forward, the pallor of his face lessening. “Oh my god. Does this mean—?”

“It means that I’m willing to see what we have. But without certain influences. I handed in my resignation to your father today. We spoke of the possibility of working for the Ministry in a different capacity, but I think we both agree that it wouldn’t be right for me to work as your bodyguard if I were to...say, court you.”

“You...god, I can’t believe you told him!” The grin that lights up Albus’ face is blinding.

“I did. And lived to tell about it. At any rate, that’s how much you mean to me.”

“So when can we…?” Albus bites his lower lip. “It’s not just the bond; I’ve wanted you for so long, and now that I know you want me too, I don’t want to wait any longer. Take life by the horns, and all that.”

“We can, once the bond is dissolved. We’ve waited all this time already; four hours is nothing. When we go forward, I want to know that it’s all us. Only us.”

“This is going to be the worst four hours of my life,” Albus groans.

“Are you forgetting about the time you ended up in detention for spelling the bindings of all the books in the restricted section of the library?”

“They deserved to be read. Knowledge is power. Although I did question the wisdom of that after I was forced to listen to Binn’s lecture on the Inquisition of the Second Wizarding War. For the fifth time, I might add.”

“See? And somehow, you’re still here,” Draco says drolly. “I still have no idea how you were able to aim that spell through the small crack in the window. That angle was impossible.”

“Chaser, remember?” The cockiness slides from Albus’ face as he looks up at Draco with uncertainty. “So what do you propose we do while we wait for the bond to wear off? We still can’t be separated for a long time, and there’s no way I’m going to not wank at least ten times, thinking about getting closer to all that,” Albus says, waving his hands at Draco’s body.

“Charming. And I truly hope it’s an exaggeration of your refractory period, or else I’ll never keep up.”

“Not by much,” Albus says with a cheeky smile.

“Let’s go,” Draco says suddenly.  “It’s not doing either of us any good to be shut in like this. I have an idea.”

][][][][

The wind feels free against his heated skin, cool in the evening and growing heavier with the promise of a warm, summer rain. There’s a saying “It’s like riding a broom,” but there’s definitely a truth to the idiom. Draco hasn’t ridden a broom for pure pleasure since his school days, but here, high in the air above the Ashdown Forest, chasing Albus through the lower lying, coppiced hazel trees before slowly weaving in and out of the majestic oaks which border the heathlands, he remembers how magical it is, especially against the serenade of the crickets and the tense, throaty calls of the nightjar.

Draco feels invigorated, bolstered at times by the understanding that his current pursuit of Albus is not in name only.

They’ve been at it for nearly four hours, stopping periodically when the pull of the bond is not enough to be satisfied by travelling in the same space. A touch is all that either have allowed at this point, but it’s becoming progressively harder to resist the temptation of anything more, especially when Albus looks at Draco with such love in his eyes, his hair mussed with sweat and mist, his T-shirt hugging his delectable frame.

“I’m going to go a bit further ahead. I think there’s a horse trail back at the beginning of the forest where we can stop,” Albus shouts as he swoops down alongside Draco. The wind has picked up a bit, and the raindrops are starting to come down faster, which prick the skin sharply at higher speeds.

Draco pushes back the fringe from the front of his face. The moon is only half-full, and where it was once romantic against a backdrop of clearer skies and the twilight, the colour of the atmosphere is now purple, the cloudy halo around the moon portending worse weather. He watches as Albus darts ahead, heading for the line of trees, his slim form blending inconspicuously with the night while the branches of his broom disappear against the outline of the woods.

“Fuck,” he mutters under his breath. He kicks forward and leans low over his broom, willing it to move faster. He’s getting too old to chase someone over half his age, he thinks as he tries to catch his breath. Really.

He pulls up and slows as he approaches the forest’s edge. When he spies the horse trail, he hops off, too uncertain of the terrain to fly in the limited light.

“Salazar’s balls,” Draco grits out as a branch thwacks him across his lower leg. The path is growing muddied from the rain that’s managed to pierce through the canopy, and he’s surrounded by the dank smell of detritus and petrichor. His foot sinks into the softening ground, and he realises that it’s due to a footprint that, from the size and depth, Albus must have left not too long ago.

“Albus!” Worry worms its way inside Draco’s gut, and he pushes down the panic which threatens his thinking. He has his wand; Albus has had no more than a two minute head start. As far as Draco knows, these particular woods contain only non-magical creatures, but he knows that danger is found just as often outside of any magical influence.

He shrinks his broom and tucks it into his pocket as he takes off in a run.

“Albus!” The sound echoes through the darkness; he hears the flutter of wings overhead, the light from the moon disappearing momentarily from their shade. Perhaps it’s the adrenaline that’s coursing through his veins, but the thrum of the bond is imperceptible at this time, something that worries Draco even more. He pushes forward, making his way towards a small opening through the thicket of trees where a patch of lower-lying grass is visible in the distance.

When he finally reaches the spot, there’s a small clearing containing a large fairy ring that appears a silvery-brown in the night.

“About time,” Albus says breathily, the movement of his chest betraying his efforts.

Draco is torn between kissing and throttling him. “If I had known that you were going to lead me on a wild chase in the dark, in the woods—” he threatens, bridging the distance between them with his angry strides.

“I knew you were going to find me, Draco. I told you; you always do.” Albus tilts his head up a fraction as Draco comes up to him. The light catches the delicate shape of his nose, highlighting the slight bump near the bridge where he had broken it as a child and refused to have it reset, stating that it “added character”.  It’s a quirk, a sharpness that contrasts with the lushness of his mouth and the prettiness of his eyes, at times so wide and doe-like, hidden behind those long lashes.

Draco leans forward so their foreheads nearly touch. When he speaks, he can feel the heat of his breath curl against the cool air between them. “It’s not a game. When I couldn’t find you…”

Albus takes Draco’s hand and holds it to his chest; Draco can feel the rabbiting rhythm of Albus’ heart pounding beneath. “That was the point.” His eyes gleam excitedly. “Think about it...how long has it been since we left the house?”

Draco casts a quick Tempus. “Nearly five hours.” The fading numbers were still visible as understanding dawns. “Enough time for the bond to break.”

“Yes. But even though the potion may have worn off, I still feel the same about you. I didn’t feel the pain of separation in the time that it took for you to find me—that part, thankfully, is gone. But nothing has changed about how much I love you. How much I want to be with you.” Albus smiles, and Draco sees nothing else aside from the honesty of Albus’ emotions.

The rain is coming down harder, the thin cotton of Albus’ shirt clinging to the outline of his muscles. Draco raises his hand, his thumb tracing the line of Albus’ jaw and lingering at the corner of his mouth. “I want you to be sure. My history...our ages. We’re going to have our share of detractors.”

“My dad’s on our side. And I’ll bet Blaise is, too. And you and I, most importantly.” Albus tilts on to the balls of his feet, smelling of youth and eagerness and flushed with arousal. “That’s what counts the most, when it comes down to it.”

Draco continues to rub his thumb along the outline of Albus’ mouth, mesmerized as a drop of rain hovers over the bow, begging to be licked. “The four of us, against the rest of the world.”

“Great odds.” Albus nuzzles Draco’s hand, turning to bring his mouth close to Draco’s lips. “What do you say? Ready to take the leap with me?”

The rain beats harder against his back as Draco leans in, capturing Albus’ mouth in a searing kiss. Albus lets out a noise of surprise as his hands wrap around Draco’s sides, his fingers digging into the sides of Draco’s trousers. Draco knows—has seen the evidence of the fact that Albus has had his share of paramours, but there’s something so tender and pure about the way that Albus is leaning in, the little, needy moans that escape each time they pause to take a breath, and the stuttering of his hips as his arms reach up to pull Draco close, that it almost seems as if Albus is kissing someone for the very first time.

Draco breaks off the kiss, drinking in the way Albus’ eyes are an unfathomable colour against the moonlight, his hair hanging long against his head, face wet and pink. “Does that answer your question?” he asks, arching his brow.

Albus mewls; he pushes his hips forward impatiently, the hardness of his prick under his jeans unmistakable as he runs his hands up Draco’s back. “Can we...I want you now. Please.”

Draco catches Albus’ lip with his teeth, then licks along it with a salty, sweet stripe. “Yes. But not here.” He conjures a Patronus, amazed at how easily it springs from his wand. “Tell Harry Potter that the bond is broken, and that Albus and I are discussing our next steps.” The wolfhound bows its head, then bounds off.

“Next steps?” Albus snickers.

“A version of the truth. What would you rather me say?”

“That you’re going to give me the fucking I’ve been thinking about non-stop for the last two days?”

“Incorrigible,” Draco growls even though his prick agrees with Albus’ statement wholeheartedly. He takes Albus into his arms, then Apparates them both to his flat.

He barely has the chance to cast an Incendio at the fireplace before Albus is on him, his hands scrabbling at the buttons of Draco’s shirt.

“Off,” Albus groans. “Like...yesterday.”

‘Impatient whelp,” Draco reprimands, even as he feels the edges of his own control fraying. Despite the fire, the cold summer rain has seeped into their skin, and Albus’ nipples are visible, pinpoint hard under his shirt. Draco brushes the tips of his fingers deliberately against them, pleased when Albus gasps and arches further into the touch. “It will be a pleasure teaching you restraint one day.”

Albus looks down to where the shape of Draco’s cock is unmistakable against the front of his trousers. “Perhaps you’ll lead by example?” he says with a mischievous smirk as he sinks down to his knees. The water drips slowly off him to form tiny pools on the Macassar ebony floor, but Draco can’t be arsed to care, not when Albus is kneeling in front of him, his face pressing against him, mouthing along the length of Draco’s erection as he undoes the belt and then the fly of Draco’s trousers.

It’s been so long since Draco’s been with anyone, nevermind anyone whom he’s really cared for. Heat unfurls slowly inside his chest; it’s more than lust, more than the pleasure of seeing a gorgeous young man at his feet with nothing more than the intention to please. The ache grows further as he realises that this is Albus; that Albus desires Draco, and deems him worthy of proclaiming their affection to the world. Of not having to hide, despite who—or perhaps, if Albus were to have his say, because of who Draco is.

Somewhere during his musings, Albus has unlaced Draco’s shoes and is pulling them off. The trousers are next, but before Draco can help rid himself of his pants, Albus has them rucked around Draco’s thigh and is grasping the shaft of Draco’s cock and angling it towards his mouth.

Albus licks his lips, getting them shiny and wet, and the effect is instantaneous as Draco lets out a loud groan.

“I’ve been dreaming of exactly this,” Draco whispers. Albus makes a pleased sound, lapping along the tip of his prick several times, teasing Draco before sucking it into his mouth. Draco fights to keep his eyes open as he’s overwhelmed by the sudden sensation, the wetness and warmth of Albus’ mouth, the roughness of his tongue, and the precise application of suction as Albus begins to swallow Draco down. Albus’ lips grow swollen and more obscene, from the way they turn red and slick with spit, to the small, delighted huffs that escape when they part, as if he can’t get enough.

Draco twines his fingers in Albus’ hair; Albus continues to work his way down the shaft, his eyes fluttering shut, face blissed out as he lets out a low hum. The vibration causes Draco to give an involuntary thrust of his hips.

“Albus,” he moans. The sound grows louder as Albus whines, his mouth full of Draco’s cock. He watches Draco with his eyes glazed and half-lidded, his free hand palming his crotch. Draco gives another thrust of his hips, shuddering as Albus widens his mouth further, his throat giving way then closing around the head. “My god, Albus; you’re beautiful.”

Tears prick at the corners of Albus’ eyes; Draco gives another roll of his hips, pushing forward so Albus’ nose nestles against his curls before untangling his fingers from Albus’ black, silky locks in favour of caressing Albus’ cheek.

“You are even better than I imagined,” Draco praises as Albus lets out another groan. “But unfortunately, I do not have your refractory period, and for our first time, I’d prefer to make love to you on a bed.”

The reluctance in Albus’ gaze is unmistakable. He pulls back slowly, leaving a slick trail in his wake, lingering over the head and pressing his tongue against the slit to capture the bead of precome which gathers at the tip.

Before Albus can wipe off the spit and fluids that have collected along his lower jaw, Draco pulls him up into a needy kiss.

“Bed,” he urges, the taste of himself still on his tongue as he hurriedly pulls off his pants. It’s not exactly the most graceful of movements, but judging by the needy expression on Albus’ face, neither of them seem to mind. He casts a gentle warming charm over them both before peeling off Albus’ shirt. The soft lights cast Albus’ skin in a warm, golden glow. He’s defined, but lean, with the carriage of a Seeker or a dancer. It’s a body without scars, and one which still retains the coltish energy of youth.

Albus lets out a hiss as Draco’s hand makes contact with his bared skin. He tugs at Draco’s sleeves as they work together to slide Draco’s arms out from his shirt, then pulls Draco towards him as they topple on top of Draco’s bed.

“I adore you, but not even you will escape my wrath if you get those—” Draco points dramatically at Albus’ muddied trainers, “—on my Porthault sheets.”

Albus lets out a good-natured laugh, then bends down to remove his shoes, wet jeans, and pants. He even takes a moment to cast a wandless Cleaning charm, which Draco admires for its effortlessness.

“You do know that we’re probably going to dirty these sheets anyway,” Albus says wickedly as he returns to the bed, proudly naked.

“Mmmm,” Draco agrees. “But at least that will be worth it.” He trails kisses down Albus’ torso, paying particular attention to the faint line of hair that travels enticingly to Albus’ cock, now beautifully pink and swollen. Albus’ legs fall apart effortlessly, displaying his arsehole.

“Merlin. Look at you,” Draco says under his breath. He bends down to lick a stripe along the underside of Albus’ cock, but when he places a finger against Albus’ arsehole, readying to worship Albus’ cock once more, he’s surprised to feel Albus clench in response.

“Does that hurt?” Draco asks; he hasn’t penetrated Albus, but even the lightest pressure seems to wind Albus tight.

“No,” Albus says, his breathing shallow.

Draco sits back on his haunches. Albus’ cock has not softened, but his eyes are squeezed shut. “Then why do you look like you just ate a handful for booger-flavoured Bertie Bott’s?”

“I’m good. I want you to fuck me; it’s everything I’ve fantasised about.”

Draco slides up and presses several kisses on Albus’ chest. “Just because we fantasise about things doesn’t mean we’re ready for it in real life. Or that the experience matches up with what we imagine.” He lifts himself up and cradles Albus’ face in his hands. “I’ve spent years of my life pretending to be that fantasy for countless men; taken part in scenes that didn’t align with my own desires. I always felt terribly afterwards; I went through the motions, separating myself from the experience. That’s the last thing I want to for you.”

“But I do want you to fuck me. It’s not like I haven’t played around there for a bit. With my fingers; dildos.”

Draco kisses the tips of Albus’ fingers. “Have you ever bottomed with anyone before?”

A blush suffuses Albus’ face, the pink colour spilling onto his neck. “Nooo...I’ve only topped. But I like the idea of bottoming; I always envisioned my first time bottoming with you.”

“Is that what you want to do now? Or eventually?”

Albus’ cock flags a little as Draco awaits his response. “I think ‘eventually’,” he admits slowly. “I think I’m putting too much pressure on the whole situation, seeing as it’s our first time and all.”

“Well luckily, I happen to enjoy both. So what do you say to fucking me tonight, and we’ll work up to switching whenever you’re ready?”

A grateful look crosses Albus’ face. “Yeah. I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.” He swallows, the long line of throat working nervously amidst the blotchy remnants of his embarrassment.

That won’t do, at all. Draco wants to see the unfettered excitement and passion in Albus’ demeanour and expression as they set down to fuck. He summons the bottle of lube from his nightstand and squeezes some onto his fingers. It smells slightly of mint, and warms to the touch.

He positions himself on the bed next to Albus and stretches his body out, pleased when Albus’ breath catches, those green eyes drinking in the lines of Draco’s waist, his long legs, the cut above his hip. Now free from toxic influences, the years of training and working out means that Draco’s body is in its best shape ever, and he’s not ashamed to take full advantage of it.

“Get yourself hard,” Draco urges, handing Albus the bottle of lube. He casts several protective and cleaning charms on himself, then lifts up his hips as he slowly pushes a finger in.

Albus’s mouth forms a pretty ‘O’. He grabs the bottle of lube and squeezes, his fingers shaking as the gel spills out into his hand. “You’re so fucking hot, Draco,” he whispers, his cock stirring as he begins to stroke. It’s beautiful—the perfect length, and surprisingly thick as it continues to swell.

Draco can’t wait to feel it in his arse. “Oh my god,” Albus groans as he watches Draco insert another finger.

Draco has done this countless times; most of his clients had loved it when he fingered himself open, moaning for them as if he wanted nothing more than to be fucked by them, to be a slut for their cocks. He knows what he looks like—what people feel when his classic, patrician features morph into something filthy and debauched. But as he watches Albus staring at him, his youthful and expressive face slack from amazement and pleasure, a sound escapes Draco that has nothing to do with putting on a show.

“How do you want to fuck me?” he asks, surprised at how eager he is to feel himself filled by Albus’ cock.

“Will you ride me?” Albus asks. “God, that’d be fucking brilliant…”

His voice trails off, almost as if he’s asked too much. Draco's not surprised by the request. He can see why Albus would prefer doing something face to face for their first time, and the position gives Draco—who happens to be a power hungry bottom to begin with—an additional control that Albus apparently craves in his fantasies of Draco topping.

He rolls over and straddles Albus, delighting as Albus runs his hands along Draco’s sides, his cock fully erect. Draco takes a hold of it by its base, and Albus lets out another whine as Draco angles it towards his arse.

“Fuck, Draco.” Albus’ eyes are wide and pleading, his face twisted in sweet torture. The tip rests against the rim, the pressure exquisite as Albus cants his hips in response.

Draco sinks down slowly, sparing them both. It’s been a while, and there is an undeniable burn when the resistance gives way. He finds himself taking a long, deep breath to adjust; Albus remains still, his fingers clenched against Draco’s hips as he wrestles visibly with his patience and control.

Finally, Draco accommodates to the stretch as the pressure blooms into something deeper and warmer. He lowers himself further, groaning in unison with Albus as he bottoms out.

“All right, darling,” he breathes. He leans forward, the shift in his position causing Albus’ prick to slide, hot and hard inside of him. Draco swallows the sounds of Albus’ cries as he kisses him, ravaging the sweetness of his mouth until they’re both left a panting mess. “Time for you to fuck me like you promised.”

Something animalistic leaves Albus’ throat as he surges up, thrusting into Draco. Draco grinds down, then steadies himself by pushing himself into a more upright position, his hands by Albus’ shoulders. It takes a moment for them to find their rhythm, but each twist of his hips and each slide of Albus’ cock has Draco’s insides singing.

They shift position once more, and then Draco feels a white heat spread from his arse into his groin as Albus’ cock brushes against his prostate. Everything becomes centered at the point where they’re connected; their fucking turns primal and animalistic as it picks up speed, but there’s something else, a warm feeling that’s building inside him that creates an ache in his heart.

Albus stutters beneath him, the top of his thighs tensing under Draco’s rocking movements as he whines. “I can’t hold back anymore, Draco; I’m going to come…”

“Come for me, Albus,” Draco grits out as he lifts a hand and begins jerking himself off.

Albus comes with a hoarse cry, his face crumpling as he falls apart under Draco, his movements rapidly becoming unsteady. Draco’s hand speeds, the slide of Albus’ cock faster now due to the mix of lube and come. The sensation has him keening, and he’s so close to coming, but it’s when Albus looks up at him with adoration in his gaze, his long fingers grazing the underside of Draco’s balls, that Draco finally tilts over the edge.

“I love you,” Albus whispers as Draco groans, his orgasm viciously punching out of him.

Draco’s hand slows as he rides out the waves of his release. He’s vaguely aware of Albus’ fingers alongside his, come coating both their hands as they stroke his sensitive cock together. The muscles of his arsehole twitch, causing Albus to groan once more as he arches up from underneath.

Draco doesn’t protest when Albus slides out and rolls him over, pinning him down and peppering him with kisses. A happiness washes over him; it’s a sense of completion, and a feeling that needs no bond for interpretation. He is Albus’, and Albus is his.

His one. His only.

[]Epilogue[]

Draco’s eyes go wide as someone tugs hard on his jacket, pulling him into a cupboard at the end of the hall. But when he catches the scent of pine soap followed by the familiar brush of stubble, he relaxes into the touch.

“Albus,” he protests half-heartedly, turning around. “You know I’m running late for the press conference.”

Albus brushes Draco’s lips with an affectionate kiss. “I know.” He trails his hand up the slim line of Draco’s waistcoat, his fingers grasping the silky length of Draco’s tie. “Gods, babe; how am I supposed to keep my hands off you when you look like this?”

Draco smirks. He knows he still cuts a dashing figure at forty-six; even more so when he’s clothed in bespoke, Muggle suits. “You’ll have to,” he says, kissing Albus on the nose. “Especially since we’re supposed to be advocating for legislation to broaden the definitions of sexual assault and consent.”

“Speaking of which, the Prophet is requesting an interview. With us both,” Albus murmurs. “It seems like the public is still hungry for the details of our romance and your so-called reform.”

Draco frowns as he straightens out his tie. He knows that the papers love painting his rising star in the Ministry with the brush of ‘love conquers all’, but in his mind, it cheapens his own tribulations, not to mention the ones he shares with Albus. “The public already knows the worst. My role in the War and the years after are well-known.” He takes Albus’ hand in his. “I’ll do it, if you wish. But honestly, I’d like to keep our most private moments exactly that. For ourselves.”

Albus shakes his head. “As do I. I’ll tell the press secretary to decline the request. We can always consider one in the future if the subject is about the cause itself.” His face breaks into a sudden smile. “I almost forgot. There was another reason I wanted your attention before you went out.” He slides Draco’s hand under his suit jacket so that it cups the shapely globe of his arse.

For a brief moment, Draco is caught off guard as his finger catches on Albus' back pocket. It’s Valentine’s Day, and even though they have plans for later that evening, it occurs to him that Albus is cheeky enough to think that a marriage proposal while trapped in a closet would be a funny thing.

Marriage is something that Draco’s thought about. He finds himself close to suggesting the leap...but not quite yet.

Luckily, Albus doesn’t seem aware of his internal debate as he takes Draco’s hand and pulls it lower until it sits over the cleft of his bum. Albus wriggles slightly, and Draco can make out the hard, flared base of the plug that sits inside Albus’ arse.

“Just a taste of what I have planned for us tonight.” Albus grins as he slips a thin card into the front pocket of Draco’s jacket. “I might have booked the Prince Alexander Suite in Claridge’s for the occasion.”

Draco’s eyes darken. He kisses Albus, then gives him a sly smile of his own. “I look forward to it, darling.”

.Fin.