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IDK My BFF Hermione?

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After the war you just didn't hear much from the Malfoys. Lucius Malfoy was in Azkaban for a year; Narcissa and Draco went to France for half that time.

"How do you even know they went to France?" Ginny asked. She, Ron, and Harry were having a pint at the Manticore's Head.

Harry looked at her as though she was a bit daft. "It's Malfoy."

"Not following, mate."

Harry looked at her as though she was a lot daft.

"The whole stalking thing," Ron said.

"Oh." Ginny took a gulp of Meadowgrass Mead. "Right."

After Lucius Malfoy was released, he was on house arrest. All of the Malfoy assets were still frozen as the reparations trials went on in the Ministry, and still the Malfoys didn't kick up much of a fuss.

Three years later, Lucius Malfoy died, and Draco Malfoy decided to start making a complete spectacle of himself. He cruised all the wizarding neighbourhoods, drank at all the wizarding bars, danced at all the wizarding clubs and, in general, annoyed all the witches and wizards in existence.

"Surely not all of them," said Ginny.

"He's up to something," said Harry.

Ginny snorted. "I doubt it."

"What's he doing, then?" asked Harry.

"Rebelling," said Ginny.

Ron said, "Don't people usually rebel in secondary school?"

"I don't know." Ginny ran her hand over her head, like she would have if she still had long hair. These days, Ginny shaved her head. She looked up at Ron. "Did you?"

"Yeah, but," said Harry, "Lucius Malfoy is dead."

"You can't rebel against dead people," Ron said.

"Okay," Ginny said. She didn't need to lift her eyes to Harry and ask, Did you?

"So you don't think he's up to anything," Harry said.

"I don't know." Ginny did look up then. "What does Hermione think?"

*

Draco Malfoy really was up to something. Besides the piercing, leather, and gratuitous dancing, he also got a car. A Muggle one. Obviously a Muggle car was a different beast when it was Draco Malfoy driving it. For one thing, it really was a beast. It breathed fire. Charlie Weasley said, "The Road Scorcher is pretty much the most awesome thing I have ever seen."

"Did you just say 'the Road Scorcher'?" Harry asked. They were at Wheezes, ostensibly helping George stock inventory after hours.

"Yeah," said Charlie. "See, because it scorches road. Seeing as how it breathes fire."

"Yeah," said Harry. "About that. Don't you think Draco Malfoy is up to something?"

"Harry's on this thing," Ron told his brothers, "where he thinks Draco Malfoy is up to something."

"Seriously," said George. "Again?"

"What do you mean, ‘again’?" said Harry.

"Didn't you have a thing in second year?" George asked. "About the Chamber of Secrets? Ron told me all about it."

"I wish I could have seen that basilisk," Charlie said sadly.

"It was not a thing." Harry stocked the boxes of fake wands on the shelf. "I thought he was the Heir of Slytherin."

"If you had seen it," George told Charlie, "you would be dead. Basilisks have a habit of doing that."

"Forget second year," Ron said, rearranging the boxes Harry had put on the shelf. "Should have seen Harry in sixth year. He thought Malfoy was a Death Eater."

"I would have died happy," said Charlie, "because I would have died having seen a basilisk."

"The point is," said Harry, "Draco Malfoy drives a car. A Muggle car."

"An awesome Muggle car," said Charlie. "Don't forget the awesome."

"My point is," said Harry, "who even does that? Drives a car. No one does that."

"All sorts of Muggles do." Charlie wasn't even bothering to stock the shelves any more; he was too busy looking starry-eyed. Harry couldn't tell whether it was over the basilisk or Malfoy's car. "Did you know there is something called a convertible? It doesn't have a top!"

"I meant, wizards don't do that." Harry shoved more boxes on the shelf. "Drive cars."

"Er," said Ron. "We did. Once."

"What Harry means is that was only a Ford Anglia." Even if Charlie wasn't stacking boxes, he was still eminently helpful. "Instead of a — a Volvo."

"Charlie doesn't know much about cars." Ron, apparently, was also eager to be of assistance, even though he wasn't stacking either.

"Okay," said Harry. "But what I mean is that besides the Ford Anglia, and your dad, and sometimes Ron, and sometimes the Ministry, wizards don't drive cars."

"Don't forget Hermione," George said.

"Hermione is Muggleborn. And anyway, Hermione doesn't drive a car!"

George shrugged. "Yeah. But. She started it."

*

Draco Malfoy was up to something, and it was true that he had been a Death Eater. The way he flashed the Mark around, it was like he wanted people to look at it — possibly to distract people from his evil scheming. Anyway it didn't go away or fade; it just stayed that blood-red colour, etched right in the skin like veins, ugly and too real. Plus there was almost certainly a tattoo on the small of his back. It was black and looked Celtic and was also almost certainly evil.

"How do you even know Malfoy's got a tattoo?" said Susan. Susan Bones was Harry's partner in the Aurors, and they were deghouling a haunted house.

"Because I saw it," said Harry.

"Yeah, but when?" Susan waved away a ghoul with her wand. "I mean, what were you doing?"

"I saw it while I was arresting him."

"Again?" said Susan. "Where was I?"

"At your mother-in-law's."

"Ah. Burning Inferi, busting dark wizards, facing Mother: all in a day's work. What did Malfoy do?"

"He was disorderly."

"Sorry, mate. Can't arrest the ponce for that."

"Well," said Harry. "No." He opened a cupboard and spelled away another ghoul. "He didn't get charged or anything."

"Again?" said Susan.

Harry felt sort of defensive. "It wasn't my fault I was called out there."

"Okay, so what? You got called on account of Malfoy dancing on a table again? Why wasn't I informed? Obviously you should not go into such a situation without back-up. How brave you are, to face such danger alone!"

"It's more complicated than that," said Harry. A ghoul floated down from the upper floor. Susan lunged to dispel it before it could wrap its chains around Harry. "Good one," said Harry. "Thanks."

Susan said, "So what was the problem then?"

"Okay, well, Malfoy did this charm and the whole club filled up with foam."

"Oh." Susan pocketed her wand. "Did anyone get hurt?"

"No. It wasn't as though it was — it was like sea foam."

"Oh." Susan thought about that. "Did anyone get wet?"

Harry shook his head again. "Here's the thing. Malfoy was going around paying people to take off their clothes. He was probably drunk."

"Probably?"

Harry frowned. "Well, he didn't seem drunk."

"But he wasn't forcing anyone to take off their clothes."

"They were probably drunk too."

"So there was sea foam and naked people and drunk people and drunk naked people in sea foam." Susan thought about that some more. "Did anyone have fun?"

"What?" Harry climbed up the stairs from the basement, Susan following. "Having fun is not the point," he said, once they were at the top.

Susan shrugged. "Why not? War's over. All that's left are a couple of ghouls," and she zapped another one with her wand.

"He's up to something. Also, I didn't finish. When I got there Malfoy was calling his friends to come over and get naked."

"Still with the not really seeing any criminal activity in any of this."

"He was calling them on his mobile."

"When you think about it," Susan said, "that's really your friend Hermione's fault. Anyway, using a mobile is disorderly?"

"Susan, wizards don't have mobiles."

"Yeah," said Susan. "Well, tell that to Hermione."

*

The most obvious evidence that Malfoy was up to something was that one week after his dad died he showed up in Hermione's office and apparently had a pleasant chat. This was before the mobile and Muggle car but after the funeral.

"It's got to be some kind of trick," Harry had said at the time. For some reason most of his friends disagreed with him — Neville, just for instance, who was in his greenhouse.

"I don't think it's a trick," Neville said, shaking his head with a frown.

"His dad dies, and the next day he's knocking at Hermione's door?" Harry also frowned and shook his head; it seemed to be the thing to do when talking about Malfoy. "He's always been bigoted against Muggleborns, right from the start."

"His dad just died."

"So what, he's magically unprejudiced now that Lucius is dead?"

"Maybe Draco feels more comfortable forming his own opinions now."

"Alright," said Harry. "When someone dies, you don't just go and do the opposite of everything they ever wanted or believed in. You — you try to figure out what they wanted, and you do it. You honour them and try to — follow in their footsteps, because you loved them, and that was what they would want you to do and — " For some reason Neville wasn't looking at him. "That's what you do," said Harry.

Neville still didn't look at him. "Not everyone, Harry."

Harry was about to point out that Neville's parents weren't dead and Sirius hadn't been his godfather and Lupin hadn't been his parents' best friend and sure he had probably liked Dumbledore, but Neville and Dumbledore had never had super-private meetings where Dumbledore told him all about Tom Riddle and orphan children and shared memories, and told him he was a very, very special boy. Also, Snape hadn't been in love with Neville's mum. But then Harry remembered that even if Neville's parents were alive it wasn't the happiest situation ever, so he just settled for, "That's how it's supposed to be."

"Okay," said Neville. He was shovelling dirt out of a burlap sack into a planter. "But people can be different. They can change." Neville shrugged and shovelled more dirt. "Maybe Malfoy just wanted to say he was sorry."

"Fine. Then why didn't he apologise to me?"

Neville glanced at him in surprise, and then went back to his dirt, methodically transferring from the sack to the planter. There was a smudge of dirt on his chin. "Were you tortured at Malfoy's house?" Neville said, tone neutral. "I don't remember."

"No. But Malfoy let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts."

Neville sometimes didn't say things back when you said things to him, just like right now. Instead he just went on transferring dirt.

"And he's the reason Dumbledore died," Harry said. "And he was going to turn me over to Voldemort. And his dad was there when Cedric Diggory died, and his dad attacked us that time at the Ministry, and his dad gave Ginny that journal, and his dad — " Harry said, and stopped.

The shovel went in the sack and then came out and dumped the dirt in the planter. Shovel went in, dirt came out. Shovel went in, dirt came out. Then Neville started evening out the dirt in the planter with his hands.

"Anyway," said Harry, "even if Malfoy didn't kill Dumbledore it wasn't out of mercy. It's because he failed. Just because he's a whingey little ponce who screws up everything he tries to do doesn't mean he's good people when the war is over. He's not an innocent. He's just like his father."

Neville made soft round hollows in the dirt, then finally looked at Harry. "Are you just like yours?"

Harry looked at the shiny black seeds Neville was putting in the shallow little graves, frowning. "Malfoy's up to something. I know it."

"Maybe you should talk to Hermione," said Neville, and covered the seeds over with soil.

*

It was some time after that that Malfoy got the car, and the mobile, and started doing any number of weird, inexplicable things — including, apparently, cultivating a friendship with Hermione Granger. Harry had thought it was weird Malfoy had come to her, but he'd also thought that was the end of it. Instead, Malfoy and Hermione started — well, Harry wasn't privy to all the things they started doing, but Hermione said they got coffee together and had breakfast together and talked to each other on mobiles and saw Muggle films and the thing was, Malfoys didn't see Muggle films. Any moment, Malfoy would go back to living exactly how he was raised.

"Okay, but do you live how you were raised?" Ginny asked Harry. She was oiling her broomstick while Harry repaired her Quidditch gear. He was actually much better at sewing than her, because of how he was raised.

"I wasn't raised," Harry said. "I was kept."

"Sorry," said Ginny. "But I mean, you don't live the way the Dursleys did."

"Because the Dursleys were gits to me."

"Excuse me." Ginny picked out a splinter from her broomstick. "Lucius Malfoy was also a git."

"But not to Draco," said Harry.

"How do you know?"

"You're joking, right?" Harry pushed the needle through hard leather. "They doted on him. Seriously. His mum was always sending him presents, and did you hear the way he talked about his dad? Like Lucius would do anything he wanted. I bet he always had, like, huge birthday parties, and he learned to fly when he was like five, not to mention they probably always told him he was — well, that's how he got that way, anyway. They spoiled him rotten."

"You sound jealous."

"Of Malfoy?" Tying off the thread, Harry snipped it with the magic scissors. "Pull the other one."

"Okay, Harry," Ginny said, "but look. You can look at someone's relationship with their parents, and just because it seems happy doesn't mean there isn't — look, you can have really good parents. Great parents, even, but sometimes you still feel like all repressed and totally grounded like you can't do anything and all you want to do is the opposite of what they tell you."

"But not forever. I mean, it's not forever, right?" Harry didn't look at her when he was saying this. He never looked at her when he was saying this, because even if he didn't want her physically and she didn't want what he wanted emotionally, he was sure it all could change.

The trouble was, this was right around when Ginny started shaving her head and drinking with Quidditch friends every weekend and arguing with Molly through the Floo every weekday. It was also around when Harry started keeping Muggle magazines full of naked men under his mattress, and realising that it had never been the thought of Ginny but the thought of Dean Thomas that had got him off when he wanked so angrily all those years ago, so Harry had to ask: it's not forever, right? "He's got to settle down at some point, right?"

Ginny's mouth tightened and her hand pulled down in a long stroke over the broom, pulling the cloth with the oil on it all the way down to the bristles. "I don't know, Harry. I just don't know."

"I mean," said Harry, "it's not like Malfoy and Hermione are going to be friends or anything."

"Malfoy or Hermione would probably know the answer better than me," said Ginny.

*

 

Hermione and Malfoy did become friends, because Malfoy was up to something, and Hermione was — well, Harry didn't really know what Hermione was, but he guessed she felt sorry for Malfoy.

Who knew why, because this was around the time Malfoy started dancing on tables and buying Muggle cars. He had been cleared of all charges right after the war; Harry and his friends had spoken up for Malfoy at the trials. Once Lucius Malfoy died, some of the Malfoy fortune freed up. Once the last of the trials was over, all of it was. About half went to pay reparations, but Malfoy was still rolling in it, and there was the Black fortune to consider. The Ministry had never touched it, since Narcissa had been cleared of all charges as well.

So then Malfoy "rebelled", as Ginny put it, and did things like talk to Muggleborns and buy Muggle Rolls-Royces or whatever, except he looked like a skank and dressed like a street urchin.

"Why do you care what he wears?" Susan asked. This was also around the time Harry started to talk to anyone who would listen about how Malfoy was up to something. And about Malfoy's fire-breathing Muggle car. And his mobile. And his clothes.

"It's just that he's a millionaire," said Harry. "Or something. Can't he at least dress properly?"

"Are you saying he looks bad?"

"No."

"Hm," said Susan. They were cleaning up a case of accidental magic involving escaped animals at the zoo. Apparently it was a frequent mishap. Susan smiled at a Muggle, told her everything would be fine, and Obliviated her.

"It's just that he looks like a Muggle from the seventies," said Harry, "when you consider the — the hair and dragon-hide boots — "

"Oh, yeah." Susan looked dreamy. "Dragon hide. I'm completely against it. Of course."

" — and the, the silver jewellery, for Merlin's sake," Harry said, "not to mention all the black."

"And the leather," said Susan.

"And a necklace. Don't forget he wears a necklace. A silver one."

Susan shrugged, and put a monkey and in its cage. "What's your point, exactly?"

"It's . . . ." Harry had to stop and think about what it was. "He's up to something."

"Why?" Susan spelled the monkey cage shut, and they started walking out of the ape zone. "So Malfoy has a new wardrobe. Big deal."

"But when you consider he has a mobile." Harry Obliviated another by-stander probably a little more forcefully than he should have. "And then there's the eyeliner."

"Oh, yes," said Susan. "The eyeliner. Let's not forget the eyeliner."

"Dismiss it all you want," said Harry. "Men do not wear eyeliner. Where did Malfoy even learn to use it, anyway?"

"I bet it was Hermione," said Susan.

*

The other most glaring piece of evidence that Malfoy was up to something was that he started being gay.

It wasn't that Harry knew for certain the Malfoys' stance on homosexuality, or that Purebloods were homophobic in general. It was more that Harry knew how conservative the Malfoys were and how obsessed they were with bloodlines; it just didn't make sense.

"Er," said Ginny. "You know that people don't choose to be gay, right?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably. She was oiling her broom again, and yet the promise in those movements had rarely excited him, unless the promise was about Quidditch (and then it was quite exciting, because Ginny was such a good opponent). "I know," he said.

"Well, then, no matter what his family says, it's not like Malfoy can just not be gay."

"It's not that," said Harry. "It just that he's being so obvious about it."

Ginny frowned. "What do you mean?"

The thing was Malfoy was not just hiding magazines or fantasising while he wanked. He was painting his nails black, and wearing silver necklaces that slid slinky across his chest, and wearing shirts open at the throat, and growing his hair just a little longer and not slicking it back, so that all that white-butter-yellow fell softly in his face, and you would think with three-hundred-Galleon hair-cuts you could keep the hair out of your eyelined eyes, but apparently you couldn't.

Malfoy was going out at night and drinking and partying and dancing, and while he danced he rested his elbows on the shoulders of men, he crossed his wrists behind men's necks. While he partied, he ground against men and put his tongue down men's throats, and while he drank, he put salt on men's wrists. Then he licked men there, looking up at men with black-lined eyes as he did it, and when he tossed the tequila back and sucked later on the lime, the column of his throat looked so vital and tender that, obviously, he must be up to something.

"So Malfoy shouldn't kiss people in public," Ginny said.

"Men," said Harry. "He kisses men."

"Yes," said Ginny. "I heard. It's not allowed because he's kissing men?"

"It's allowed. It's just, why does he have to shove it in everyone's face?"

"So you're alright with heterosexuality being shoved in everyone's face."

"No. I mean yes. What I mean is, Malfoy is flagrant."

Ginny thunked the broom down and looked him square in the eye. "So you think he should be ashamed."

"No. Just . . . circumspect."

"You mean he should be in the closet. Like you."

Harry tried hard not to flinch. When he spoke, his voice was very level. "I am not in the closet."

"Okay, telling a couple of people? Just means you're in a slightly bigger closet."

"I've told five people."

Ginny was starting to look like she did whenever she argued with Molly.

"Anyway," Harry said quickly. "Fine. Malfoy can tell the whole damn wizarding world he's gay. I don't care. It's the way he does it. I mean he's — has he even ever brought the same bloke home twice, do you think?"

"Great." Ginny sat back, crossed her arms. Her eyes were narrow, and with her buzzed hair and her delicate features it made her look very sharp and dangerous, somehow. "So he's a slut."

"What I mean is," began Harry.

"You mean he's a slut."

"I mean, he just," Harry began, because last night he'd gone to arrest Malfoy again for flying while intoxicated, only he hadn't been flying. The other wizard he'd been with had been flying and Malfoy had just been . . . draped all over him; Harry had remembered him, too. It had been Roger Davies. Who, first of all, had not been gay at Hogwarts — who probably still wasn't gay; Malfoy just seemed to think he was a good mattress and Roger agreed. And secondly, didn't Roger know better? Didn't everyone know better? Because that Dark Mark was right there, and Malfoy was certainly up to something.

"You do mean he's a slut," said Ginny, when Harry didn't finish.

Third, Roger Davies, okay, because who wouldn't? Black hair, blue eyes, tall, broad-shouldered, good build, even features, strong jaw, great at Quidditch. But last time Harry had gone to arrest Malfoy, he'd been grinding up against some Muggle in a bar, and the time before that Malfoy had been snogging Anthony Goldstein in the men's, and the time before that Malfoy couldn't keep his hands off Blaise Zabini, and it was always someone, and Anthony Goldstein was boring, and wasn't even that good-looking.

"As long as everyone consents, and he's being safe, what's your problem?" Ginny's eyes were still narrow.

"He's up to something," said Harry. "That's all."

"Sleeping around doesn't mean you're up to anything."

Something tugged at Harry's heart. "Ginny, d'you — "

Her eyes got even narrower. "Do I what?"

Harry looked away and didn't say what he wanted to. "Do you think he even likes them?"

"You know what?" Ginny said. "You should talk to Hermione."

"What?" Harry hadn't asked about her so he thought that she would be happy. "Why?"

She picked up her broom. "I don't speak Harry Potter any more."

*

Whenever Harry talked to Hermione, though, she said, "Draco isn't up to anything."

"Okay," said Harry, "but you call him Draco."

Hermione rolled her eyes. They were in her office, where she had stayed late to file some papers and probably gab on her mobile with Malfoy, or something. Harry had caught her off guard. "That just happens to be Draco's name."

"Except that he's not our friend."

Hermione's eyes rolled some more. "No. He's not our friend. He's my friend."

"About that," said Harry.

"I think he needs someone right now," said Hermione.

"He has people," said Harry.

"Yes," said Hermione, "but he needs sane people."

"That's where I start to get fuzzy."

"I'm not insane because I'm friends with Draco, Harry."

"Really? Because it's definitely weird. Do you remember how he tried to kill Ron? Ron remembers how he tried to kill Ron. Strange how that works."

"Okay, but here's the thing about you and Ron. You think everything should be just how it was. You're worse than Ron about it, actually, because Ron has some strange blocks when it comes to Draco and Slytherins and the Chudley Cannons, but otherwise he's actually grown rather adaptable. And see, if you were to ask me ten years ago which of us would be the least flexible, I would definitely have said Ron."

"I'm flexible." Harry tried not to sound defensive.

"I'm sure you are." Hermione's eyes still could get all soft and gooey. Maybe she loosened them up with all that rolling. "You just . . . Harry, things can't be the same as they were."

The thing was, things weren't the same as they were.

Harry had had this whole plan. He hadn't known he'd had it, but when the plan started to go pear-shaped, he'd realised he'd had a plan, and then it didn't make any sense why the plan wasn't working.

He was supposed to be an Auror. Ron would be an Auror too, and Harry would marry Ginny, and Ron Hermione. Then Harry would be a part of the Weasley family and Hermione would be family too, and then they would have kids, and send them to Hogwarts. And his kids would be friends with Ron and Hermione's kids, and that was also how things would have been if Harry's parents had survived.

Harry hadn't really planned on being gay, first of all. That could be got around, though. Even if he wasn't particularly attracted to Ginny, Ginny was still very attractive. Harry could see that, and he could still make everything work. And he loved her, and she loved him.

But he also hadn't planned on Ginny not wanting to get married. She said she thought she would probably never want to have kids. Most of all she wanted to play Quidditch internationally, and Harry had no desire whatsoever to travel abroad. And as much as he loved to talk about Quidditch, nor did he have any desire to live, breathe, eat and sleep Quidditch, as Ginny did.

Hermione and Ron didn't want to get married either. They didn't even want to be together most of the time, even when they were on again in their on-again/off-again relationship. Harry had thought it was all just Hogwarts stuff; they would get over it because obviously they were meant for each other, et cetera, but, well, it was not actually that much fun having best friends who fought all the time.

Maybe that was why Hermione got to be best friends with Draco Malfoy, but Hermione was never meant to be best friends with Draco Malfoy. The Malfoys were supposed to flounce off to France. Or maybe they were supposed to remain bitter and lonely, licking their wounds in their drafty old Manor, talking about the good old days when they thought they were important and watched Muggles being tortured for fun. They could even have gritted their teeth and tried to return, grovelling, to the wizarding world — tighter about the eyes, a trifle thinner and a trifle paler, working as bin men and groundskeepers, maybe, hoping just to be given a chance again.

Harry would have given them a chance. He would have let even the awful things Malfoy had done be forgiven, because he was the bigger person and he had moved on. But Malfoy was never supposed to appear back in the wizarding world with a splash of Galleons and of gasps, his sharp hipbones exposed to the sighs of dozens of lovers who decorated his neck with gifts of silver charms and bruises.

For one thing, Draco Malfoy wasn't supposed to be gay, either. Blaise Zabini wasn't supposed to be a Hogwarts professor; Gregory Goyle wasn't supposed to be a florist, and Pansy Parkinson certainly wasn't supposed to be a bigger pop star than the Weird Sisters. But she was, in candy-stripe knee-high socks and a green mohican.

Out of all possible futures, slutty playboy who was best friends with Hermione seemed the least likely for the pale worm of a boy who hadn't been able to murder a man or save him, who hadn't been able to do anything really, except ponce about and say the lines his daddy fed him.

But Ron was supposed to go into the Aurors, and he hadn't. He worked for a bank, and even if it was Gringotts, it still didn't make any sense, because they had robbed that bank. And Hermione was supposed to be, Harry didn't know, taking over the world with her brain or something, but not in power suits while talking on a mobile and — and wearing high heels and using hair products and order double sugar-free caramel lattes. The only sane person in any of it just might be Neville, who was probably going to end up being Minister for Magic with the way things were going, and when Harry thought about him Stupefied in his pyjamas, nothing seemed at all right.

The problem was everyone was just acting so out of character.

"You mean no one's acting like they did when we were teenagers," Hermione said. They were still in her office, and Harry's head was in his hands. "That may just be because none of us are teenagers any more."

"We're not that different," said Harry. "It hasn't been that long."

"But we are different," said Hermione. "The world's different. Or haven't you noticed?"

"It wasn't supposed to be like this."

Hermione looked at him a little while, her eyes still melted chocolate-soft. "You thought a lot about it, didn't you," and it wasn't a question; "how it was supposed to be."

"Okay," he said, because he saw her point. It wasn't like he needed it spelled out for him. "But what I don't get is why everyone's defending Malfoy."

Frowning, Hermione said, "Everyone's defending him?"

"Yes. And he has a car. And a mobile."

"There's nothing wrong with — "

"And he's got jewellery. And eyeliner. And he's gay, and he's got a tattoo, and Hermione, why does he have to have eyeliner?"

Hermione's mouth twitched. "There isn't anything wrong with any of that."

Harry slumped in the chair. "I know."

"But no one's defending him," Hermione went on. Moving her hair behind her ear, she went around to the other side of her desk. She stacked some papers, then unstacked them. Then she finally looked up at Harry.

"No one will believe he's up to anything," Harry said.

"That's because he's not." Then she apparently decided to say whatever she'd been going to say. "He's not up to anything. He couldn't be up to anything. He's not really . . . in the state of mind to be up to anything."

"Do you mean he's crazy?" For the first time, Harry felt the slightest bit of hope in regards to Draco Malfoy. "Because I'd considered that."

"He's not crazy. But he does have problems, and it's not the cars, or the tattoo, or the eyeliner."

"It's Malfoy." Harry rolled his eyes. "He's always had problems."

Huffing, Hermione tucked her hair behind her ear again. "I said he's got problems. He's working through them in the best way he knows how."

"By sleeping around and bringing lynxes to parties?"

Hermione went sort of pale. "So he really did the lynx thing?"

"Two words. Diamond collar."

"I told him it was a bad idea." Hermione winced.

"Did you now," said Harry.

"Look," said Hermione. "I'm not defending his actions. In fact, the very opposite. He's not up to anything, because — because he's too troubled to do any of his grand master scheming just now, and besides, he failed at every grand master scheme except letting the Death Eaters into Hogwarts, and it took him a whole year to even do that, and so help me Merlin, if you tell him I said any of this, I will end you."

For several moments, Harry sat there and tried to process that, while also trying to get the image of Draco Malfoy and the lynx rubbing up against his leather-clad thigh out of his mind. Finally he said, "If he has so many problems, why are you such good friends with him?"

Hermione's eyes widened. She stayed like that for several seconds, and then looked away. "We all have problems, Harry," she said finally. "I'm — I'm not the most perfect person either."

Harry frowned. "So. You feel sorry for him."

Hermione shook her head and tucked her hair again. "No. I feel — I feel like somehow, I'm just like him."

*

The next time Harry saw Malfoy, it was not on Auror official business, but then again Harry had never been good at being very official. He was supposed to have the evening off, but Ginny was with her friends, and Ron and Hermione were having an evening alone together. Neville had a cactus conference in Mexico and Luna had an art show and Susan was with the in-laws and George was with Angelina and Molly and Arthur looked so sad for Harry whenever he came around all by himself. So instead Harry went to have a stake-out in Altha Way, where a little magic ink shop was most likely selling illegal potions ingredients.

It was while standing across the street in his Invisibility Cloak that he heard the commotion, and went to go and check it out. He went around the block and turned a corner behind a pub. The commotion was Malfoy. Harry took off his Invisibility Cloak.

It was not a street, or even really an alley: just a narrow space between the back of a pub and a stone wall. Malfoy stood, facing three wizards.

Considering how he had looked when he was younger, particularly the later years at Hogwarts, Malfoy should not have been good-looking. His forehead had grown much too broad and his jaw had not grown with it; it was narrow and delicate, his mouth small and much too thin. In school his eyes had had a sunken look, set too deeply, and his hair had always made him seem washed out.

Yet now that sharp chin was appealing in ways Harry could not describe; those thin lips looked harsh in ways that suited him. His mouth already looked too old: fine, pin-scratch lines on either side, adding to that fine sharp look of a young man who had seen a thousand things. His shoulders were broad for how narrow he'd grown up, and he was even taller than he'd been in school. He wore tight jeans and a black T-shirt and leather jacket — not at all the things a wizard would wear — rings on his fingers and that silver necklace.

Malfoy merely stood there, lounging up against the pub wall, lazy and easy as you please. The light of the lone lantern painted his pale skin with an eerie glow. One of the three wizards sneering at him said something about Death Eater scum.

Malfoy smiled. "You want to talk about my Father? Really?"

"Malfoy," Harry said.

"Merlin help us," said Malfoy. "Potter."

The wizards that had been taunting Malfoy shifted uneasily.

"Go on," Harry told them. "Get. I've got this."

The wizards said something about how Malfoy was a punk and a twink and it served him right; Death Eater trash; they should all be arrested. Then they were gone.

"Saved again by Harry Potter. How's that for laughs?"

"I'm not saving you, Malfoy."

"Oh. I see." Malfoy's eyes roamed all over him. "Am I being disorderly then? Come on and tell us. Is this . . . disordered?"

Malfoy had come closer; he leaned into him, his hand on Harry's neck and his breath on Harry's jaw. Harry pushed him. "Come off it, Malfoy."

"Never were much fun." Without looking at him, Malfoy appeared to pat himself down, until he at last seemed to find what he was looking for. Pulling out a lighter and a cigarette, he lit up.

"Smoking, Malfoy? Really?" Because weren't those big black boots he was wearing that laced up to his knees and the big silver signet ring on his little finger enough?

"No," Malfoy said. "It's just for you."

"You can't fight with bar patrons in the middle of the street."

Malfoy looked around, then turned back to Harry, tilting his head. "You'd call this a street?"

Malfoy was smiling — more a smirk, really. The smoke was white and curling strange patterns around his sharp face, his small mouth and too-delicate chin. His eyes were as hard and bright as wet pavement. Harry was sure Malfoy was making fun of him.

"I don't care," Harry said.

Malfoy drew on his cigarette. "You know, Father really wanted me to make friends with you." He didn't wait for Harry to reply. "That's what he said. 'Draco, you'll get to know Harry Potter, of course. One of the most important wizards in the world.' I don't know what he expected me to do. Send you Valentines?"

"Yeah," said Harry. "You tried really hard."

"Did you know, Potter?" Malfoy waved his hand expansively, the smoke trailing from his cigarette. "I tried to do everything he told me."

"You're drunk."

"A bit." Malfoy put the cigarette to pink lips again. "Just drunk enough to tell you how much I hated you."

"You never had a problem with it sober."

"I did hate you, Potter. I was trying so hard, but you never noticed, so I hated you."

"Don't," Harry said, because he hated Malfoy too. He hated Malfoy in the moonlight. He hated being in a dark alley with him at one o'clock in the morning. He hated the alley, the way the stone walls crowded close on either side, the way they were wet and glistening with rain and possibly other things. He didn't like the cobbled pavement, the dirt there or the rubbish in the dodgy-looking corner at the alley's dead end. He especially didn't like Malfoy, whose mouth looked sweet and soft just like a girl's, whose chest looked strong and defined underneath his shirt. He didn't like how Malfoy's voice sounded like smoke, or where any of this was going; Harry didn't like where his mind was going.

"It kept me sane, sometimes," Malfoy said. "It was so much a part of me. I'd eat, and I'd hate Harry Potter. I'd sleep, and I'd hate Harry Potter. I'd laugh, and hate Harry Potter. And now it's just — it's gone."

Harry crossed his arms over his chest. "Don't worry. I still hate you."

"I know it. But I don't hate you." Malfoy looked him straight in the eye. It was disconcerting, because it was stranger than the cars and mobiles and blue jeans: Draco Malfoy meeting Harry Potter's eyes, without a sneer, without a smirk, without hatred or disgust, without fear. "I don't hate you, and I don't know where it went. It's just gone. Like that." He snapped his fingers, and put his cigarette in his mouth with his other hand.

"Sounds like you lost your best friend, Malfoy."

Malfoy nodded. "It should be so easy. It used to be so easy." He dropped the cigarette and stubbed it with his toe. He looked back up at Harry. "I'm supposed to hate you, Potter. Why don't I just hate you?"

"Stop," said Harry.

"Why?" Malfoy was closer now, swaying towards him, and Harry could smell the booze on him, only he also smelled like smoke, and like sweat. "I don't even want to call you any names. Somehow I just can't seem to muster up the will, and I don't know why. I don't know why anything has turned out the way it has. Have you ever wanted — " Malfoy cut himself off, tilting his head. It was strange to see him look so pensive; he looked thoughtful, curious, as though he was not only thinking of himself, but of Harry, too. "Have you ever just wanted to go back — miserable as it was. Horrible as it was — go back because at least then, things made sense; everything seemed as though it was exactly as it was supposed to be, and you never had to wonder whether it was just you — "

Harry kissed him.

Malfoy pushed him away, and Harry stumbled back. The look on Malfoy's face was strangely open, almost vulnerable. He looked betrayed, like a person who had just been suddenly and unexpectedly slapped by his best friend.

Then Malfoy walked the two steps between them, grabbed a fistful of his shirt, and kissed him back. His mouth was open and hot, and it was the first time Harry had really kissed a man before. He could feel Malfoy's teeth, his hands as Malfoy slid them up his neck and into his hair; he could feel Malfoy's hands fisting there. Harry pushed him against the wall.

He wanted to hurt him. He wanted to bruise him and to bite him, because this wasn't how things were supposed to be. He was supposed to be married to Ginny; they were supposed to have a magic house with a magic garden; they were supposed to have magic children who went to Hogwarts and called him Dad. He wasn't supposed to kiss Draco Malfoy; he wasn't supposed to push him up against a wall. He wasn't supposed to want Malfoy at all; everything was wrong.

Harry had a fist full of the slender silver chain around Malfoy's neck, his mouth tugging on Malfoy's pierced ear, and Malfoy wasn't supposed to do this either. Malfoy was supposed to be stuck-up and above it all. He was supposed to turn his nose up; he wasn't supposed to buy Muggle cars and mobiles. He wasn't supposed to make friends with Hermione; he wasn't supposed to look like Billy Idol.

Malfoy had gone against his nature, everything that made him who he was, and so was Harry here in this darkness and this dank. Everything was dirty here, Harry forcing his knee between Malfoy's thighs and Malfoy smeared in kohl-black paint, Malfoy moaning, his head rolling to expose his milk-white throat for Harry's teeth.

"Merlin and Morgana both," said Malfoy.

Harry pressed his knee in, forcing Malfoy's hard cock against his thigh.

Malfoy groaned. "So this is how it's going to be," he said. "You don't call, you don't write, and now — "

Harry shut him up with his tongue.

"And underneath it all you're just a dirty motherfucker," said Malfoy, when he pulled away again.

Harry pressed in again with his knee.

Malfoy moaned. "My flat," he said, and rode Harry's thigh.

"Here," said Harry, because here was dirty, bad, and wrong, and apparently that was what Harry wanted. Maybe this was all he had ever wanted; maybe all those dreams in tents when he was fighting a war were all just lies he told himself to stay alive. Maybe he'd needed to convince himself he was clean and good and right just to win. Or maybe it was the war that had made him this way: twisted and perverted. Maybe he just never deserved any better.

Maybe Voldemort picked him (not Neville Longbottom) for a reason. Maybe Petunia and Vernon Dursley knew exactly what he was worth.

"Here," said Harry, and bit down on Malfoy's throat.

Malfoy dragged Harry's head back up so he could moan into his mouth. Malfoy's hand disappeared from Harry's hair, fumbling at his side, but Harry didn't care, just pressed him harder into the slick soiled stone.

Something stiff and cold and narrow pressed into Harry's hand. Looking down at the bottle of lube, and Malfoy's pale, elegant hand pressing it into his, should have brought reality crashing down.

It did, because all Harry could think was that it was repulsive. It disgusted him, the thought of fucking Malfoy, the thought of fucking Malfoy in an alley, the thought of his first time with another man being in this sordid, smelly place. The thought of lube, of needing that, of Malfoy's arse, messy and wet, the thought of pushing his cock into it, the thought of all of it was filthy; the filthiest part of all of it was how he wanted it, how he was almost trembling with need for it, and the way that Malfoy's hand felt strong and gentle and somehow reassuring.

He startled when Malfoy let go and reached for a wand. "For protection," Malfoy said, and cast a spell.

Harry opened the lube and smeared it on his fingers. He thought that if this had been nice, if he had been having sex with a man he wanted — a man who was kind, who'd fought on the right side of the war, who was clean and good and exactly what he should be, a man who was not his enemy — Harry thought that if he had been making love, maybe the tools to do it would feel just fine. Instead the lube felt greasy and obscene between his fingers; he thought of it on Malfoy, slathering it on Malfoy's arse, smearing it on Malfoy's hole; he thought of the slippery stuff filling Malfoy up, making Malfoy slick and ready for his cock. It made him sick and harder than he'd ever felt before.

Malfoy was unfastening his flies, tugging down his jeans because of course, he wore no underpants. Then there was Malfoy's cock, long and hard and red; Malfoy's hair, honey-coloured. Harry didn't know what to do but he did it anyway: reached behind Malfoy's balls with slicked-up fingers and slid to find his hole.

Reaching between his own legs to help him, Malfoy's fingers guided Harry's, pushing one of Harry's fingers inside him. It took Harry's breath away, because here he was with Draco Malfoy in an alley with his finger up Malfoy's arse, without anything much having been said between them in four years.

Apparently, it winded Malfoy, too, because he thunked his head against the stone wall and closed his eyes. "Harry Potter." He opened them. "I'm going to get fucked by Harry Potter."

Harry didn't want to think about it. He kissed him again, and between Malfoy's legs slid another finger in his hole. It was hot and tight and so small that the logistics of it seemed utterly preposterous, but Harry had stopped caring long ago when things had stopped making sense.

"Against a wall, no less," said Malfoy. "In an alley. You'd better do it this way." Pushing Harry away, Malfoy turned around, face to the wall. "If we are to be base, we might as well be nasty."

"Son of a bitch," said Harry. Malfoy should have had a bony arse. It should just be a pale, scrawny, pitiful thing, really, but it wasn't. Right now it was pretty much the hottest thing Harry had ever seen.

He swallowed, and found that his mouth was actually watering.

"Well?" Malfoy looked back over his shoulder at him, and it was sinful. It was just like he said; it was nasty, Malfoy laid out against the dirty wall like that, Malfoy's arse on display above tight blue jeans down around his knees, Malfoy ready to get fucked, slicked and waiting for it, asking for it. It was the filthiest thing Harry had ever seen, and still the hottest.

"Now you got me all wet and messy, are we going to go?" Malfoy did something then, stretched or clenched or something that made his arse flex. Harry was pretty sure Malfoy had just humped the stone wall, and he had to change his mind; that was the hottest thing he'd ever seen. Malfoy smirked. "Or did you just want to watch?"

"I'm going to fuck you."

The smirk fell away. "Merlin," Malfoy said, and Harry opened his trousers.

He took his cock out.

Malfoy licked his lips. "Come on and do it."

Then Malfoy did that thing with his hips again, that thing with his hips fucking the wall that made his arse look like it needed to get fucked, and Harry held his cock with one hand, and felt for Malfoy's hole with the other, and guided his cock in.

"Merlin," Malfoy said again. There was something delicate and thready about his voice.

"Shut up," said Harry, and pushed. It was so slick and hot and very very tight; Harry wondered why he hadn't done this before, and then remembered it was because it wasn't anything he wanted.

Malfoy moved his hips again. Before it had looked filthy; now with Malfoy's arse gripped firm around Harry's cock, it was positively vile.

"Fucking Harry Potter," Malfoy said.

Harry pulled out enough to thrust back in, and Malfoy moved again; then his tight, firm arse was flush with Harry's balls.

"I'm getting fucked by Harry Potter," Malfoy said. "I stopped caring about you forever ago and here I am getting fucked by you against a wall."

"I said, shut up." Harry was shaking with need as he pulled out, pushed back in again.

"I don't know how it happens, I don't know how shit like this happens to me, fuck me harder, I hated you, I hated you so much — "

"I still hate you," said Harry, and fucked him harder.

"You were such a tight-arse motherfucker; you and all your little friends."

"You were a whiny bitch."

"Fuck," said Malfoy, and pulled Harry's hand to his front, between him and the wall. He didn't even bother guiding it around his cock; he just moved against it, humping it, as though that was enough. "You thought you were too good for me. You made my life a living hell."

"You were an annoying little shit."

"And now you're fucking me." Malfoy pressed Harry's hand in, moving his prick against it. Harry jerked his hand away and took a proper hold of Malfoy's cock. "You're shoving your big thick cock inside me and I — I don't believe it; I don't understand why I — more, Merlin, Harry Potter, can't you fuck me any harder?"

"This is fucked up," said Harry.

"Yes, please, I'm a fuck-up, just fuck me harder, Harry Potter, you sanctimonious pompous fucking bitch — "

"I still don't like you," Harry said, and came.

He wasn't paying attention to the things Malfoy was doing with his hand, then, but Malfoy used it in the way one would use a thing: rutting against it blindly, like an animal, needy. When Harry brought his hand back, it was filthy with come. He pulled out of Malfoy's body.

Malfoy stood there slumped against the wall. Harry wanted to ask if he was alright, but then he remembered that he hated him.

"I'm a goddamn freak," Malfoy told the wall.

"Malfoy," said Harry.

Malfoy pulled up his jeans, performing various cleaning spells. He jerked Harry's hand into his and cleaned that, too. His mouth was drawn and tight.

"Malfoy," Harry said again.

Malfoy looked at him and smiled. "Thanks for the fuck, Potter."

Harry stared at him. "Don't mention it."

"I won't." Then Malfoy walked into the shadows, and before Harry could say another word, he had Disapparated.

*
POSTING BREAK

*

Draco Malfoy was really different than before. He no longer had a high horse, and he no longer seemed to think he was better than everyone else. He no longer stood on ceremony, and he had stopped pretending completely that he wasn't ridiculous.

Harry still didn't know why he had made friends with Hermione, or why he drove a Muggle car and used a mobile, but he was starting to get a better idea of why Malfoy wore leather and had pierced his ear, and it wasn't because he was up to anything.

"It's because Malfoy is a fuck-up," said Ron. He, Harry, and Ginny were having another pint at the Manticore's Head.

"Right," said Harry, and took a sip of Radish Ale.

"Yeah, sure, okay," said Ginny, "but who wouldn't be?"

"Mate," said Ron, "we aren't." He gulped his Steaming Stout, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand afterwards.

"Don't be so sure," said Ginny.

"But we aren't," said Ron. "Are we, Harry?"

Harry thought about the rough wet stones beneath his hands, about Malfoy, warm and tight and lithe between him and the wall. He thought of Malfoy's hips, the way they moved, Malfoy's firm arse up against his pelvis and his thighs; he thought of the way that Malfoy moaned.

"No," said Harry. Ron looked satisfied, and Harry said, "Maybe." Ron glared.

"Anyway, Mum thinks I'm fucked up," said Ginny.

"Mum thinks you're special," said Ron.

Ginny shrugged. "She says I'm fucked up."

Ron rolled his eyes. "Mum doesn't say fuck."

"Does too."

"Anyway," said Ron, "you're nowhere near like Malfoy."

"Well," said Ginny. "That's true."

Ron waved his pint around expansively. "Bugger's all over the place. It's indecent." He waited, then turned to look at Harry. "Isn't it?"

"Yes," said Harry, and gulped more ale.

"I thought he was a shite at Hogwarts," said Ron, "but at least he had it together."

"Not in sixth year," said Harry.

"No one had it together in your sixth year," said Ginny.

"The thing is, though, Malfoy had a task in sixth year," said Ron.

"True," said Ginny. "You're saying Malfoy's feeling lost."

Ron drank his stout. "I'm saying Malfoy is a mess."

"A hot mess," said Ginny.

Ron spluttered. "Oh God, where's a spoon," he said, looking around the table. "I need to gag myself, quick."

"Anyway," said Ginny. "It's a little easier to — well, run wild, when you at least know what you want. I don't think Malfoy knows what he wants. I feel sorry for him, actually."

"A spoon, I say." Ron thunked down his glass. "Harry, you don't feel sorry for Malfoy, do you, mate?"

"No," said Harry.

Once more satisfied, Ron picked up his pint again. When it was halfway to his mouth, he stopped. "And then there's Hermione," he said sadly, and drained the glass.

*

The next time Harry saw Malfoy, it was two weeks later, and he went looking for him.

Malfoy was at a wizarding club called the Lamp, and he was dancing in the middle of the floor. Harry hated dancing, and he hated clubs. He went straight for the bar, and ordered the stiffest thing on the shelf, which turned out to be Lightning Whiskey. Downing it, he watched Malfoy, who was white and black and looked electric under the changing coloured lights.

The music was a thumping, electronic beat, wands and spells instead of guitars and snares; it was horrible. The whole place was horrible, really; even though it was expensive, the Lamp was the opposite of classy. "Trashy," Petunia would have called it; high-priced and trashy. Harry watched Malfoy out on the floor.

He wanted to leave. More than that, he wanted Malfoy.

Malfoy writhed among the bodies, moving with the rhythm of the music in ways that looked like sex. Harry wasn't sure why he couldn't look at anyone else. Malfoy was certainly beautiful, but he had met other men as pretty. Even if it had been the drinking and the philandering — Malfoy's very deplorability — which attracted Harry, there were plenty of men as wild and reckless, plenty of men who flirted with disaster.

But this was Draco Malfoy, and that was what was making Harry's cock grow hard. This man was Draco Malfoy, who had been pitiful and whingey and powerless, who had thought he was above it all, who had seemed to think everything but his own little power plays was crass. This Draco Malfoy was loose and unself-conscious; this Malfoy was abandoned and free. This Malfoy was vulgar, cheap, and wanton, yet somehow he was also the boy he had been, and that was why Harry felt so lost.

The Harry Potter he had been never would have wanted Malfoy either way. The Harry Potter he was now couldn't seem to want anything else. He'd been trying these past two weeks. He'd failed.

There was a break in the music, and that was when Malfoy saw him. He came over to the bar, and his pupils were blown wide like dandelion heads. This time he wore leather and silver; he looked like glitz and glamour, even in his tight black clothes. This was what people meant when they said that glitter was not gold, because Malfoy simply seemed to glow; the light was blue.

Malfoys were made for dinner parties and discretion; they were made for dress-up robes and dignity. They could fall and fall and fall, and still they were made for it; even on their knees, they were made to think that they were superior, that they were made for finer things. Yet here was Malfoy, looking like a two-Knut whore.

The clothes were no doubt outrageously pricey. The trousers alone probably cost three hundred Galleons, and yet they didn't make him look less cheap.

Harry could feel his mouth watering again.

"Want some more?" Malfoy asked, and put his elbows on the bar beside him.

"No," said Harry.

Malfoy just looked at him, a little smile playing on the side of his mouth. "Sure you do."

"I'm leaving," said Harry.

The smile went away. "Let me order you a drink."

"I said I'm getting out of here," said Harry, and went.

He pushed through the crowd, all the cheap and sweaty bodies dressed in several-hundred-Galleon dresses, pushed through all the smells of sex and make-up, through perfume. Outside he thought that the air would be cleaner, but it did not feel crisp and cool the way that Harry wanted it to; it felt like loss.

"Hey." Malfoy's voice called from the door, sharp and accusatory.

Harry turned back to him, walked the four steps between them and grabbed him the way Malfoy had pulled him to him the last time they had met. Harry kissed him the way that Malfoy had, with tongue and teeth, as though he couldn't get enough.

A tight, low whine died somewhere in Malfoy's throat, and Harry had him up against the wall. "Merlin," said Malfoy. "I thought you were going to pretend it didn't happen."

"I was going to," said Harry.

"Don't." Malfoy pulled him in against him, as though between Harry and the wall was the place he best belonged. "It's stupid. I've decided it's stupid."

Harry had his teeth on Malfoy's neck, that spot that he remembered. The mark had faded; it had been two weeks.

"It's stupid to deny the things you want," Malfoy said. "Fucking hell." Harry moved his mouth up and tugged on Malfoy's ear with his teeth, tongue playing with the delicate silver earring. "Just because you shouldn't want them," Malfoy said.

"Like you want me," said Harry.

"Someone is going to see."

Harry slammed him up against the wall. "You want me."

"Hell knows why."

"Say you want me."

"My flat."

"Fuck your flat," Harry said.

"You like it, don't you. Taking me all dirty, in back alleys. I'm such a crude little shag for you."

"That's your fault," Harry said, because it wasn't. It was his own.

Malfoy's hot mouth moved to his ear. "I get fucked like a cheap filthy whore even better on a bed."

Harry shuddered.

"You should see the way I take it," Malfoy kept whispering. "I just lie back and beg for it, just like a depraved little slut. You never thought you'd see that, did you? Draco Malfoy whining for it like a needy, helpless little bitch."

He didn't sound like a needy helpless bitch, the way he was whispering into Harry's ear, the way his tongue circle the shell of it and his teeth made little nips at the lobe. The thing was, Harry had seen Draco Malfoy helpless, and he had seen him beg. What he hadn't seen was Draco Malfoy talking to him like this.

"You never thought you'd want it, did you," Malfoy said. "Heroic Harry Potter, perfect and so noble. All you want is a filthy, wet little hole, just begging to take anything you put in it." Malfoy put his tongue in his ear, then moved his hips against Harry in a way that he remembered, in a way that was intensely lewd. "I'll take anything you put in me, Potter. Anything."

"Damn you," said Harry.

Malfoy rutted against him. "Fuck me."

"Fine," said Harry, and they Apparated.

Malfoy's flat was luxurious and expensive, like the Lamp and just like Malfoy, too. Just like Malfoy, it was filthy. There was laundry everywhere and half-eaten Chinese; there were books and boxes full of things and scraps of paper. There were bags of crisps with the grease smearing furniture, and an unmade bed, and that was all Harry saw of it before he had Malfoy up against the bedroom door, trying to get his tongue all the way down Malfoy's throat.

Didn't Malfoy have house-elves to clean this up? Weren't mess and dirt and left-overs low-class? Didn't Malfoy still think his family name was still God's gift to the wizarding world, and where was his self-respect?

It was lost somewhere, and he was different; Malfoy was different as he writhed against Harry's skin and hands and body and said things like, "I want to be your slut; I'm nothing but a slut, just fuck me like a whore. Just do it," he said, as Harry tried to take his clothes off.

"No," Harry said, because he wanted to look at him, but he wasn't going to say that.

"Accio lube." The tube snapped into Malfoy's hands as Harry pulled Malfoy's trousers off. "I'm going to get wet for you. I'm going to be really loose and wet for you." Malfoy was sitting on the bed, and for that one still moment, Harry was standing over him, fully clothed. Malfoy looked up and he looked so open, so bare, and not because he was naked. "You like it, don't you?"

"Lie back," said Harry. He cast protective spells on both himself and Malfoy, and then started taking off his clothes. Malfoy watched him, his hand moving between his legs, behind his hard cock and heavy balls, pushing inside himself with a motion of his wrist that was obscene. "You're not so perfect, are you," Malfoy said, his hips moving with the words. "Perfect Harry Potter."

"I'm not perfect." Harry got on top of him and moved Malfoy's hand away, replacing it with his own hand. "Jesus Christ. You are wet."

"Tell me, Boy Who Lived. Tell me how you're not perfect."

"You're practically dripping for it."

"Yeah," said Malfoy, and groaned as Harry twisted his fingers. "Like that. Tell me all the dirty things you want to do to me. All those things that no one else knows."

Harry put more lube on his fingers, and it still felt obscenely oily, unclean. Pushing his fingers back in Malfoy, he said, "I keep thinking about doing this."

"Yes." Malfoy arched, and that was obscene too, and so pretty, his body a bow.

"I kept magazines under the mattress," said Harry. He had to tell him; telling him was easy. Harry was shaking with desire.

"Fuck." Malfoy twisted on his fingers. "Tell me. Tell me what they were like. What you did with them."

"I looked at men. I looked at their cocks, and imagined their long, thick pricks. I loved their cocks, thinking about their cocks. Thinking about putting my cock in their arses."

"I bet you did." Malfoy arched again, and panted.

"I lied to Ginny."

"Weasley," Malfoy said, and huffed.

"When I came inside her, I was thinking of sucking cock."

Malfoy opened his legs wider. "Did you tell her?"

Harry pushed his fingers deeper; they were the only part of him that felt calm, steady, and they were inside Draco Malfoy's body. "Not for a long time."

"Wh — " Malfoy was breathing hard. "Why?"

"I was scared."

Malfoy gasped as Harry's other hand, dirty and greasy, slowly gripped his cock. "Coward," Malfoy said, sucking in another breath.

"Yes," said Harry, pressing slick fingers up inside Malfoy, pulling his hand on Malfoy's cock. "I'm supposed to be brave, but most of the time, I wasn't. I was just afraid. I was doing what I had to, to stay alive."

"Not so heroic after all," said Malfoy, and writhed.

"They say I'm merciful, too. But I'm not. I wasn't actually giving Voldemort a chance, that day."

Malfoy twisted, his face contorted. "Don't talk about that."

Squeezing Malfoy's cock, Harry added another finger into his hole. "If Voldemort had surrendered, I would have killed him anyway. I didn't want to give him a chance." He looked down at Malfoy. "I don't want to give you a chance."

Malfoy's eyes flew open, almost black by now. "Don't give me a chance." His thin chest moved hard. "Just fuck me. Now. Please, Potter."

"I will," said Harry. "I'll fuck you."

"Merlin, yes."

"Put your knees up."

Malfoy pulled his knees up and open, putting himself on display. He gulped again. "Get a nice good look at it, Potter."

Harry did look at it, Malfoy's pucker. He'd never looked at one so close before, and it surprised him by being pretty and pink, which somehow made it even more indecent, smeared as it was with the clear grease of the lube. "I'm going to put my cock in that," Harry told him.

"Are you?" said Malfoy. "Or are you just going to look?"

Harry got on his knees, lifting Malfoy until he was angled just so, then slowly pushed his cock in, pushing deeper and deeper and Malfoy made a low, needy groaning sound.

"You're not a hero," said Malfoy. He was panting. "Don't be a hero for me, Potter. Be a goddamn bastard."

Harry shuddered with want and need. "You really are a whore," he said, fucking him.

"Just like that." Malfoy twitched, his whole body jerking. "Merlin, just like that. Be a bastard to me."

"I'm going to use you just like a fuck toy."

"Yes." Malfoy tightened around him; his hands were clutching Harry's hair, holding him closer. "Please, yes."

"You're not any better than that. Just a horny, needy little slut. All you ever want is to be full of cock."

"Merlin," Malfoy panted. "It's so good."

"Look at that. Just me telling you what a filthy bit of trash you are has got you hotter than anything."

"Please, don't stop; you're a bastard, Harry Potter; fuck me harder, please, please, it's so good, don't stop."

"You're nothing," said Harry. Malfoy's legs were wrapped around him, and Malfoy was going incoherent, thrusting up against him as Harry tried to push deeper and deeper, hard. "You're nothing at all, except a steaming, wet, filthy little cunt," he said, and Malfoy came around his hand. "A hot, worthless cunt," Harry said, and came.

It was white hot, so hot he couldn't see, and his hips were crazy. He felt like he could go forever, until finally he slowed down, and Malfoy's hands were still in his hair. He felt strung out all over, and very empty. It was warm and sticky lying on top of Malfoy, who was very still.

Then at last Malfoy pushed him off and clumsily reached for the fags. He pulled one out and lit it up before Harry saw his fingers were trembling.

Harry, on the other hand, felt better than he had in ages. "Hey," he said.

"You had better go," said Malfoy.

"Hey," Harry said again.

"Want to have a confab, Potter?" Malfoy wasn't facing him.

Inexplicably, Harry felt hurt. "I didn't — "

Malfoy turned around quickly, leaned in and kissed him. "Don't let's ever talk about it," he said. "Not ever. Just clear out, and the next time you want a good hard fuck, come back, yeah? I'll be here."

"But — "

"What do you want, Potter? A relationship?" Malfoy was fumbling to pull out another cigarette, despite the one already in his mouth.

"No," said Harry.

"Me neither," said Malfoy.

"I guess I'll go," said Harry.

Malfoy said okay.

*

Harry was also beginning to understand why Malfoy stumbled around drunk, and made a nuisance of himself at Muggle pubs, and went home with someone different every night. He was beginning to understand why Malfoy did not act at all like he had been brought up, and why Malfoy was nothing like he had been at school. He definitely wasn't up to anything.

"For one thing, he drinks too much to be up to anything," said Ron. He and Harry were stocking merchandise again with George and Charlie.

"Probably a potions addict," said George.

"Do you think he's a potions addict?" Ron asked Harry.

"How would Harry know?" said Charlie. "He says Malfoy isn't up to anything."

Ron put some rigged boxes of Exploding Snap on the shelf. "So?"

"So," said Charlie, "if Malfoy isn't up to anything, Harry isn't stalking him."

"Right," said Ron, frowning uncertainly. "Harry, are you stalking Malfoy?"

"No," said Harry.

"He says no," said Ron.

"Because here's the thing," said Charlie. "If Draco is a drunkard and a potions addict, he should not be driving the Road Scorcher." Charlie looked very worried. "What if he hurts her?"

"Her?" said Ron.

"Her." Charlie sipped his Dandelion Mead. "The Road Scorcher is definitely a babe."

"Okay, but Malfoy's gay," said Ron.

"His car is still a babe," said Charlie.

"That's another thing," said George. "Malfoy is like . . ." He paused thoughtfully. "A ho."

"Ugh," said Ron. "I don't want to think about it."

"No," said George, "I'm serious. He can't be up to anything because he's too busy being a ho."

"In the Road Scorcher?" said Charlie. "Because that's really inappropriate."

"Malfoy is inappropriate," said Ron. "Malfoy and sex in the same sentence is really inappropriate. Why are we having this conversation?"

George nodded wisely. "Because Malfoy has STDs."

Harry thought about the cool foreign feel of the lube in his hand, the tingle of the protection spell. He thought about the way Malfoy had looked up at him, saying, do you like it? as though uncertain; he thought of the way Malfoy trembled after they fucked. He really had no way of knowing, and yet he felt sure anyway: "Malfoy doesn't have STDs."

"How would you know if he doesn't?" said George. "Malfoy's probably got syphilis."

"At least he can't give the Road Scorcher syphilis," said Charlie.

"Ugh," Ron said again. "Please stop talking about syphilis and Malfoy."

"We can stop talking about Malfoy, full stop," said Harry.

The other three stared at him. "Mate," said George. "You always want to talk about Malfoy."

"Not any more," said Harry.

George looked interested. "Because he has syphilis?"

Harry thunked down a gag potions book. "Malfoy hasn't got syphilis!"

George held up his hands. "You're the one always saying he's up to something."

"He's not up to anything."

"He has got a Muggle car." Charlie's voice was apologetic. "You've got to admit it's a little strange."

"And then there's the eyeliner," said George.

"Maybe he's just got some problems," said Harry.

They all three looked at him again. "Mate," Ron said finally. "Have you been talking to Hermione?"

*

The next time Harry saw Malfoy, it was a week later, and Harry came to his flat. He knocked on the door, and a boy from Beauxbatons opened it. Harry knew he was a boy from Beauxbatons, because he remembered him from the Triwizard Tournament, only he hadn't been as shirtless then. Harry didn't remember his name and couldn't figure out why he was in Malfoy's flat.

Then Malfoy came up behind the boy from Beauxbatons, and Harry knew exactly what the boy was doing in Malfoy's flat. The boy was more of a man, actually. He was older than both he and Malfoy — probably three years older, to be exact, since most of the visiting students had been seventh-years. The boy was beautiful, with honey-coloured skin and black hair, dark eyes and a full mouth. Harry could see exactly why Malfoy would want to fuck him.

And there was Malfoy, without a shirt, just jeans and that silver necklace, looking like he'd just been fucked. Harry knew the look because he had fucked him; Malfoy's mouth was bruised and red, his hair sweaty, his shoulder and chest marked with bruises. "Who is it?" Malfoy said, and looked over the boy from Beauxbatons' shoulder.

"I," said Harry, and didn't know what else to say. He stayed there standing in the doorway, looking at Malfoy.

It never even occurred to him to leave.

"You're Harry Potter," said the boy from Beauxbatons.

Malfoy turned to the boy from Beauxbatons. "Mark," he said. "You should leave."

Mark blinked. "What?"

"Don't forget your shirt," said Malfoy.

"The fuck?" said Mark. He looked from Harry to Malfoy. "Because it's Harry Potter?"

"Yes," said Malfoy. "Because it's Harry Potter."

"Fuck you." Mark went back into Malfoy's flat. Apparently he had a shirt to fetch.

"Take your brother with you," said Malfoy.

When Mark emerged, he brought with him another Mark who looked like Mark, only a year or two older. "What's going on?" said the other Mark.

"That's what's going on," said the first Mark, jerking his head at Harry.

The other Mark looked at him. "Is that Harry Potter?"

"Come on, Marcel," said Mark, and pulled the other Mark on down the corridor.

That was the first time Harry really thought about why he was there, which was to fuck Malfoy. Mark and Marcel were there to fuck Malfoy also, and due to that salient fact had most likely figured out that Harry was there to fuck Malfoy as well. For the first time it occurred to Harry to be embarrassed, or that he should leave. He didn't move.

Malfoy was just looking at him, long and lean and lounging, as though poured out there against the door frame. "If you're going to come in, you might as well come in," he said.

Harry came in.

Malfoy closed the door behind them, then leaned against it, scrubbing his face with his hand. He looked exhausted and defeated, circles under his eyes that were not just eyeliner. His hand dropped to the necklace. The chain came down to the middle of his chest, where there hung from it a silver ring. Malfoy's fist closed around it, and he looked at Harry. "Are you here for a fuck?"

Harry didn't know what to say.

Malfoy nodded tiredly. "They fucked me," he said. "They took turns fucking me from behind, and then Marcel fucked my arse while Mark fucked my face. I asked them to do it. I asked them to come all over me."

Harry just stood there.

"Right there." Malfoy nodded to a spot on the floor that didn't look any different from any other spot. "They fucked me on either end and I asked them to do it. Still want to put your cock in me now, Potter?"

Harry didn't know what to say, so he said the first thing that came to mind. "Yes."

Malfoy looked away, his fist dropping to his side. When he spoke, his voice was a croak. "Why?"

Harry swallowed. "I don't know."

Malfoy still didn't look at him. "Do you know what my father would have called me?" When Harry didn't answer, Malfoy turned back. The black around his eyes was smudged. He wore mascara, too, and it made his lashes stick into little points, stark against his pale sharp face. "Trash," said Malfoy. "He would have called me trash."

Harry moved closer.

Malfoy shuddered and clutched the chain around his neck again. "He would have called me common. Low. And all I can think is: how can I be lower? What can I do to cheapen myself even further, and when will it be enough?"

Harry came close enough to touch, and then he did, putting his fingers out to Malfoy's fist, following the flowing line of his arm up to his shoulder, the jut of his collar bone.

"You like it, don't you?" said Malfoy. "You like that I'm filth. You want it dirty and low-down."

Harry put his other hand against Malfoy's hip bone. "I like it," he said.

"Because you're common too, aren't you." Malfoy seemed insistent; it was not a question. "You're just as disgusting and vulgar as I am."

"Yes."

"We were never any different, were we."

"No," Harry said, and kissed him.

"Please," said Malfoy, and his breath hitched. "Please don't. Please don't stop."

Harry kept on kissing him. Malfoy fumbled with Harry's robes, feeling for his trousers; it was not long before his cock was in Malfoy's cold hands, warming them up.

Making a needy little sound, Malfoy pulled his mouth away. "Put it in me. Please, put it in me."

"No," Harry said, and kissed him again.

"I'm ready," said Malfoy. "I'm so ready." Harry was kissing his throat, his hand covering Malfoy's arse and tugging so that Malfoy's hips pushed against Malfoy's hands, still stroking his cock. "Do me. I'm a slut for you," Malfoy said. "I really am a slut for you."

Harry stopped. "Why me?"

"Please," said Malfoy.

Harry took Malfoy's hands off his cock. "Why me?"

Malfoy looked up. "What?"

"You had Marcel and Mark here. They fucked you. They wanted to stay with you. You kicked them out. For me. Why?"

"Because they already fucked me, Potter." Malfoy rolled his hips, scratchy jeans against Harry's cock. Leaning in to Harry's ear, he whispered, "I'm still full of their come."

Harry caught his breath.

"It's leaking out of me right now," said Malfoy. "I'm disgusting. Potter." He rolled his hips again; his teeth were on Harry's ear. "I'm foul."

Harry was trying to cling to a thread of something, though his sanity was already long gone. "They could have fucked you again."

"And again," Malfoy said, moving his hips obscenely.

"Tell me why you wanted me instead."

Malfoy let him go. Closing his eyes, he thunked his head on the door behind him. "I don't know," he said, after a long while. "Because you're Harry Potter?"

Malfoy had just been fucked by two men. Brothers, no less, and on second thoughts, it wasn't a surprise at all that Malfoy was like this. Of course he would grow up depraved, because Malfoy had always been bad news.

But Harry wasn't; he'd just had a lot of shitty things happen to him. There'd been Voldemort, and on top of that, there'd been Bellatrix and Lucius; there'd been Draco Malfoy. There'd even been Snape; even though he'd been on their side all along, Harry could always blame him. There'd even been Dumbledore, who — even though he'd just wanted what was best — had knowingly sent Harry to his death.

There had been a cupboard. Harry could still remember the way the dust would settle when Dudley stomped on the stairs. He still remembered the things Vernon had called him, and a word Petunia had once called his mother.

Sick.

It had been easy, then, to blame them, and now no one was here. Harry could only blame himself for all the things he was and all the things he wanted, and somehow he was going to have to face the fact that this was who he was.

"I want you to fuck me," Harry said, because it was just about the worst thing he could think of. In fact, sometimes it was all he could think of, when he wanted it very badly, and could think of no other way in which he could debase himself more.

Malfoy's eyes flew open. "You," he said.

"Yes," said Harry. "You're going to fuck me." Then, because he had learned it from Malfoy, he leaned in to speak in Malfoy's ear. "I've never got fucked before. You're going to be my first."

"Sweet Merlin and Nimue," said Malfoy. "You can't."

"I can," because Harry had no one else to blame; no one was making him do this. He was just bad and sick and wrong.

"But." Grabbing his chin, Malfoy moved Harry's head back to look at him. "You're Harry Potter."

"I'm Harry Potter," Harry said. "I want to get fucked."

"You," Malfoy said again. Then he kissed him, desperately, Malfoy's full-on starving kiss, hungry and aching and full of need, teeth and tongue and hands. "Get on my bed. I want you on my bed."

"I'll do anything you say," said Harry.

"Merlin," said Malfoy. "Move." He was pushing him into the bedroom, pushing him and kissing him, and then when they got there, he was pushing him on the bed. Then Malfoy was climbing on top of him, tugging Harry's trousers the rest of the way down. "You never were a slut before," said Malfoy.

"No," Harry said.

"You never wanted it before."

"No."

"But you want it now." It was as though Malfoy had to say these things, working off his jeans and kissing Harry. "You want it to be me."

"Yes."

"Accio lube." The bottle appeared in Malfoy's hand, and he cast the protection spell on both of them, just like always. "You want to get fucked just like a dirty whore," Malfoy said. "You want to be just as filthy as me."

If Harry could have admitted to wanting that, this might have been a pointless exercise. "I want to be okay with it," he said.

"Oh." Malfoy's voice was faint. He looked down at him, pink lips caught partly open, head tilted. He looked as though he was looking at something very new, something that had caught him by surprise with otherworldliness. It made Malfoy himself seem alien, as though he'd never seen uncertainty before, or fear. It was a strangely tender, curious look.

When Malfoy kissed him again, it wasn't needy at all; he laid his lips carefully on Harry's temple.

Harry felt okay with it.

He felt okay with it when Malfoy slid slick fingers between his legs, when Malfoy said beside his ear, soft and low, "It's going to be okay."

"Malfoy."

Malfoy's fingers were moving gently around the muscle of his hole, and then one slick finger pushed its way inside, slow and slippery. It was messy, yes, and dirty — certainly undignified; it was what Harry wanted: he wanted to feel filthy, just like Malfoy had said.

And yet Malfoy's lips were moving against his face, soft and murmuring, and that did not feel wrong; he kissed Harry again and again, on the brow, his cheek, his nose. "It's going to be okay." His voice was husky, soft. "I'm going to get you wet for it."

"Malfoy," Harry said again, more of a gasp, really. Malfoy's fingers were pushing deeper; it was too much and too far.

Pulling his hand away, Malfoy put more lube into it — much too much, really, and then his fingers were back at Harry's entrance. He made it wet until when Malfoy's fingers pushed in there was a sick sound, squelching: Malfoy was soiling him, making him sloppy, gaping wet and wide open. His mouth breathed hotly into Harry's. "I'm going to get you so wet for it. You'll be obscenely wet, Harry; I'll get you stretched and open until you drip for it; it's going to feel so good."

Harry had to keep reminding himself it was Malfoy. Draco Malfoy was going to fuck him, and suddenly he knew why Malfoy had kept saying that Harry Potter was fucking him when he was fucking him, because it was difficult to believe. It was difficult to believe that he was here, getting fingered up the arse by Draco Malfoy, getting the bed sopping wet for Draco Malfoy, slutty and completely skanked for Draco Malfoy.

But it was also Draco Malfoy who was touching him very, very gently, making soft promises that were incredibly filthy and yet also somehow seemed careful, and very kind. Harry wondered whether it was just his warped brain that could make a Malfoy who only ever spoke in obscenities into someone who seemed to care.

"Oh God," said Harry, as Malfoy delicately twisted his fingers inside him.

"You'll be drenched for it, Harry," Malfoy said, lips moving across Harry's brow. "You'll be sopping for it, just like a whore; you'll see how it good it feels; it's going to be so good; it's going to be okay."

"You can put in another," said Harry.

Malfoy shuddered. "Merlin." He slid in another, working the rim with his finger, testing, stretching, hardly any burn and too much lube.

"It feels good," said Harry.

"God damn it," Malfoy said, and closed his eyes. "Say it again." His eyes came open, filled with surprise. "Please, just, say it again."

"It feels good." Harry arched his hips in the way he'd seen Malfoy do it. "You feel so good."

"Bloody hell." Malfoy closed his eyes tight again before he could speak, his hand trembling and yet insistent against Harry's body. At last, he opened his eyes. "I'll make it easy for you; you're just going to lie back, pet. You'll feel so good."

Malfoy's fingers were deep inside, slow and easy and making Harry ache.

"I'll make it sweet for you," said Malfoy.

Harry held on to one of Malfoy's shoulders. "Why are you doing this?"

Malfoy pressed his lips together, shaking his head. "I'll get you all loose and warm; you'll feel just like honey; I promise."

Harry's hand slid down Malfoy's chest, catching on the silver chain. "Why?" he said.

"I can do it. I know I can do it. Tell me that you trust me."

Harry's hand closed around the big silver ring on the end of the chain.

"I know you don't, Harry. Just say it."

Harry tugged the chain. "Why?"

Malfoy looked down at the ring. "That belonged to my father," he said.

Wrapping the chain around his fist, Harry said, "I trust you."

Malfoy made a strangled sound; his other hand swiftly reaching for his own cock, the fingers inside Harry's body suddenly ceasing their languorous twisting. He was stopping himself from coming, Harry realised.

"You don't need to stop yourself," Harry said, and opened his legs wider. "You can fuck me now."

Malfoy swallowed hard, holding tight to his cock. "Don't say that now. Please."

"I'm ready." Harry lifted his hips.

Mutely, Malfoy shook his head. "I can still do it. I just — I need a moment."

"I'm loose enough."

"Be quiet, Harry." Malfoy shut his eyes and was silent for several long moments. "I'm going to go down on you," he said at last, opening his eyes again.

"What?" said Harry. "But — "

Malfoy was already moving down, taking Harry's cock, putting it in his mouth. By then Harry could not speak, because Malfoy was basically a pro; he could swallow it all the way down in almost just one go. He swallowed once around Harry's cock, and the feeling of that soft, warm column of flesh convulsing around him sent Harry right up to the edge.

He grabbed Malfoy's hair, and could still feel the slick and slide of lube messy in his arse hole. All of him was warm and wet and debauched; Harry felt like a wreck of sweat and saliva and lube, but Malfoy's fingers were squelching back inside him and he couldn't stop himself from coming.

His hips were everywhere, and he knew that he cried out, and Malfoy didn't swallow. Instead he caught it in his hand, then used the come to lubricate Harry's already well-slicked hole; Malfoy would not stop touching his arse, fingers wet and gentle and insistent.

"That's nice, pet," Malfoy was saying, "that was so nice, all that hot come; your come's going to get your hole so nice and sticky for me; I'm going to get you so hot and wet."

"Just do it," said Harry.

"No." Malfoy leaned in and kissed him on the chin. "You said you trusted me, and I can do it, I can get you so slack and sweet, it doesn't even burn. I can make you a perfect whore for it, Harry."

Malfoy kept murmuring things like that, murmured compliments to his filthy, slovenly hole, and whispered promises of all the ways it was going to get fucked. Harry was pretty sure that if he was any kind of normal, he should have been repulsed, and yet it was getting harder and harder to distinguish between disgust and sheer pleasure where Malfoy was concerned.

Maybe Malfoy meant to demean him. No doubt Malfoy meant to demean him. And yet somehow those low, smoky whispers sounded just like reassurance, like Malfoy really meant that it was okay to be this way, when Harry was just starting to realise that Malfoy was not at all okay himself.

By the time Malfoy finally got around to kneeling over him, to spreading his thighs with strong hands and positioning his cock, Harry was hard again. His arse was so relaxed Malfoy could have put anything in, and Harry would just be glad to have it filled. Then Malfoy was inside him and Harry could feel himself automatically tighten, clenching just because Malfoy's cock was there. He felt himself doing it and couldn't stop; he wanted Malfoy farther in.

And Malfoy kept saying things like, "That's it, pet; you're so tight and wet and hot; such a filthy, filled-up little cunt, so snug you are; you want me, Harry Potter."

Harry cried out, and lifted his knees.

"I said I could do it," Malfoy said.

"Come inside me," Harry said.

"Fuck," said Malfoy. "You're such a filthy little whore," and came. He had not thrust more than five times, before he was going off, but somehow in the midst of his erratic thrusting he still reached for Harry, milking his cock until he came again.

It was the first time he felt like he understood the phrase 'getting your brains fucked out'.

Harry was sweating and jerking and shaking all over when he said, "Why haven't we done that before?"

Malfoy yawned. "Should have done it years ago."

Harry went still. Then, "Yes."

"I like you a lot," Malfoy said, and fell asleep.

Harry didn't exactly remember falling asleep with Malfoy in his arms, but when he woke up, Malfoy was warm and sticky. He smelled like sweat and dried come, and Harry felt scummy, unwashed. He remembered what he had done, the way that Malfoy had fingered him until he dripped, the way he had his own and Malfoy's come still leaking out of him. He remembered he had let Malfoy fuck him; he'd wanted Malfoy to fuck him, and Malfoy had called him a cunt and a perverted whore.

Harry felt more unclean than he had ever felt in his life, and it felt really goddamn good. As bad and wrong and dirty as all of it was, the only thing that didn't feel right was when he left without even saying goodbye.

*

Harry was even beginning to understand why Malfoy drove a Muggle car, and talked on mobiles, and was best friends with Hermione. It had to do with everything that Malfoy had never planned on being, and all the ways that you betray yourself with desire.

There really was no possibly way in hell Malfoy was up to anything; Harry was sure of it.

"I think Malfoy might be up to something," Susan said. They were on a stake-out, watching the ink shop on Altha Way again.

"Malfoy's not up to anything," Harry said. Stake-outs with the Aurors were usually much more unpleasant than you saw in Muggle films, because usually there weren't cars. But Susan liked to bring a blanket and, with the warming and disillusionment charms, it wasn't so bad.

"He just bought the Holyhead Harpies," Susan said.

"If he's a fan," Harry said.

"He's not." Susan spelled a monkey cage shut, then turned back to Harry.
"He was trying to get in the Chaser's pants."

Harry felt strangely ill. "How do you know that?"

"I saw them," said Susan.

Harry looked at the little ink shop. "When?" he finally asked.

"When I was arresting him."

Harry's heart beat harder. "You arrested Malfoy?"

"Well, not actually arrested. Questioned."

"Where was I?"

Susan gave him a sideways glance. "On a date."

"Right," said Harry. After that bit of weirdness with Malfoy, Harry figured he could admit he liked to fuck other men, and that he was alright getting fucked. He thought that should mean he'd be even happier if it was with someone he liked, someone whom he could respect, someone who was not Malfoy. He thought that someone might be a good-looking bloke called Joseph, who was from Russia and was very sweet and kind and had helped the Order of the Phoenix during the war.

But it wasn't true at all, since Harry didn't want Joseph. Harry couldn't even stomach the thought of Joseph, since he wasn't Malfoy, since he wasn't a basket case like Malfoy, since he didn't drink and smoke and flail the fuck all over the place like Malfoy, since he wasn't a cheap, dirty slut like Malfoy. Around Joseph, Harry had to be the person he was supposed to be, instead of who he was; Harry Potter was not supposed to be a failure and a fuck-up just like Malfoy.

Going out with Joseph was pretty much the equivalent of pretending he had been happy with Ginny, or dealing with being famous, or, in the extreme, walking into the forest to die. He used to be a hero just because everyone thought he was supposed to be, just because he thought that he was supposed to be. A prophecy told him so. They all said so. He had never wanted to be any of those things, but he had been.

Maybe he had never wanted to be any of the things he had thought he wanted to be either. Maybe he was someone else entirely.

"So what did Malfoy do?" Harry asked.

"Disappeared with the Harpies' Chaser," said Susan.

"Nothing wrong with that," said Harry, swallowing around the lump in his throat.

"Right." Susan took a sip from her stake-out thermos, which always contained black coffee. "But it was in the middle of a game."

"But he didn't force her." Harry swallowed again. "Did he?"

"No," said Susan. "I just got the call. Okay, you've got to admit, it's fishy."

"What were they — What were they doing?"

Susan rolled her eyes. "They were in the locker room comparing CD collections! A likely story."

"But they weren't," Harry gripped his wand tight, "doing anything."

"Right, like Malfoy needs to look at her CD collection when she's in the middle of a Harpies game!"

"They were just in the locker room," said Harry. "Was she supposed to be on the field?"

"It's the principle of the thing. And why does Malfoy need CDs anyway?"

Harry didn't look at her. "To listen to music?"

Susan frowned. "They're Muggle, Harry."

"But he has a mobile," said Harry.

"Yeah, doesn't that bother you any more?" Susan took another sip of coffee. "Wizards don't have mobiles, either."

"Hermione has one."

"That's another thing," said Susan. "He's still friends with Hermione. If you ask me, this has all got completely out of hand."

"What's wrong with being friends with Hermione?"

"It's okay if you're friends with Hermione." Susan shrugged, checked the shop with her Sneakoscope, then poured herself more coffee. "It's just Malfoy. For one thing, what does she see in him?"

"He could be different," said Harry.

"Not that different," said Susan. "Honestly, Harry. Could you be friends with him? After everything?"

"I could be different, too."

Susan snorted. "Next thing you know, Hermione will be teaching you to wear eyeliner."

*

The next time Harry came to Malfoy's flat, Mark and Marcel weren't there. Malfoy answered the door in a white T-shirt and jeans. His necklace was tucked inside his shirt, and he wore no make-up. His feet were bare.

"Wasn't sure you'd come back," Malfoy said.

"Can I come in?" said Harry.

Malfoy opened the door. Harry came in, and Malfoy said, "Well? So you want another fuck?"

"Yes," Harry said.

Malfoy smirked. "You just can't get enough."

"Not really," said Harry. "No."

For a moment, Malfoy looked uncertain. Then his face went hard and he came up, hips hard against Harry's own. He rolled them in that way he had, sinful and lewd. "You can fuck me this time," he whispered, his breath so hot and wet. "You can fuck me hard, just like a little bitch."

Harry took his shoulders and pulled away a little. "Are you always like this?"

Malfoy smirked, hips rutting in that pornographic way. "Pretty much." He kissed Harry's jaw. "I'll just lie there and mewl for it like a desperate, starving little bitch; it doesn't have to be like last time; I can make it nasty — "

"I liked last time," said Harry.

Malfoy paused. "But you left. You left me."

Harry looked Malfoy over, his blank expression, uncomprehending eyes. "Oh God," said Harry. "I'm sorry."

Malfoy took a step back. "You're sorry?"

"Yes. Malfoy, I want — "

"Don't say what you want." Malfoy turned around, his back to Harry, moving away and stopping. "It's going to be complicated. I just know it."

"It's not complicated," said Harry.

Slowly, Malfoy turned back around. "You want things to change. I can tell you right now, Harry. I'm not going to change."

Harry shook his head. "I don't want you to change. I want to change myself."

Malfoy looked around, the way he always did whenever he was going for a fag. He found them on the counter between the living room and kitchen, and slid one out. "You're not going to change either."

Harry shook his head again. "I'm not dirty because I want you."

Malfoy lit up. "Have you been missing what a shameless comeslut I am, Potter? Because if you want me at all, you're no doubt filthy."

"You're not dirty either."

Malfoy laughed grimly. "Pull the other."

"You're not."

Removing his cigarette from his mouth, Malfoy waved it around. "Have you been talking to Hermione?"

"Everyone keeps saying that," said Harry. "I can figure things out for myself."

"What?" Malfoy came back over towards him. "That we all reform, in the end? That we should all hold hands and help each other? It's a pipe dream, Potter. An ignorant little fantasy."

Harry flinched. "You think Hermione is ignorant?"

Malfoy went still. "I didn't say that."

"Are you friends with Hermione just in order to be low? Because you think she's filthy and vile? Are you friends with her because she's a Mud — "

"Don't you fucking use that word about Granger."

Harry stopped talking, and Malfoy smoked furiously. He smoked until he was down to the filter, then stubbed it out on the pot of a long dead plant.

"It started out that way," Malfoy said finally. "I just wanted to make Father — he was dead anyway, but it started out that way. I told her that." His voice was defiant. "I wanted to make sure she knew."

"And what did she say?" said Harry.

Malfoy angled his face away. Without the kohl, he looked too pale. The starkness was all gone, and there was something almost soft about him, him and the way the sunlight streaming through the window caught in his hair. "She forgave me," he said.

"What about me?" said Harry.

Malfoy still didn't look at him. "What about you, Potter?"

"Did you want me to fuck you that first time just so you could be degraded?"

Malfoy did look at him then, his eyes the colour of swords and storms. "You're not any better."

"I'm not any better." Harry came closer. "I was never any better."

Malfoy's jaw twitched. "I don't know what you want."

"I want what Hermione's getting." Harry came even closer, lifted his hand to cup Malfoy's face. "And the rest."

Jerking away, Malfoy's face contorted. "Hermione's not getting anything."

Harry's hand fell to his side. "She's getting something."

"I'm her charity project." Malfoy sneered, and it was the old sneer, except brand new. "She thinks she can fix me."

"No," said Harry, and touched him again. "She thinks you can fix her."

"I . . ." Malfoy blinked up at him. "There's nothing wrong with Hermione Granger."

"None of this is what we expected." Harry came closer, pulling Malfoy to him, and this time Malfoy came. "I never thought I'd like to feel like what I feel like when I'm with you."

"Now you're going to tell me being with me is like flowers and perfume. When did you get so gay?"

"No. I'm going to tell you that when I'm with you, it feels like I'm doing something bad, like it's something I shouldn't want. It feels like I'm doing something foul and depraved."

"That's about right."

"But it's not," said Harry, and kissed him. "You're exactly what I want, and having that's not wrong."

Malfoy frowned. "How do you know?"

"Because I'm not hurting anyone, and this is who I am."

Malfoy's frown deepened. "How do you know who I am?"

"I don't." Harry pressed his hips in. "But I want to find out."

"Bloody hell," said Malfoy.

"Come on." Taking Malfoy's hand, Harry tugged him towards the other room. "I hear you get fucked better on a bed."

"Oh, honey." Malfoy tugged back, pulling them inside his room, pushing Harry up against the wall. "You have no idea how good I get fucked on a bed."

"I've got some idea," said Harry, shoving Malfoy back.

"No idea," Malfoy said. "Remember how I said I can be a nasty little bitch?"

Harry paused. "Malfoy, you don't have to — "

"Yeah." Malfoy's lips pursed. "See, the thing is, this is what I want. That's what makes me such a — "

Harry came up and kissed him. "I'll treat you like a worthless cunt if you want. But you're not."

Malfoy, stiff, gradually melted. "Whatever you say, pet."

Harry pushed Malfoy down on the bed, kissing him, opening up his trousers. He took off his glasses, then came back to kiss Malfoy's neck. "I've never sucked anyone else off before."

Malfoy went stiff again. "I — you didn't say anything about sucking me off. You were going to fuck me."

"Yeah." Harry sucked his neck, the skin warm and sweet against his mouth. "But I want to. I want to get my mouth full of your cock, and I want you lying back just like you said, crying for it like the cock-hungry little bitch you are."

"I . . ." Malfoy looked a little lost. "Why?"

"Because every time I look at you, my mouth waters." His hand tightened around Malfoy's cock. "I can't tell you why. It's just — it's just what I want." Malfoy brought his hands up to Harry's face, and made a surprised sound when Harry slid down.

Malfoy swallowed. "Harry Potter's going to suck me off."

"You've got a tasty-looking cock," said Harry, and licked it.

"Oh dear Merlin," said Malfoy. "How does it come to this?"

"I don't know," said Harry, and opened his mouth. Malfoy tasted like sweat and skin, sharp and bitter at the tip of his prick, both soft and hard the rest of the way down. Harry couldn't fit much of his mouth over him, but he stretched his lips wide and tried, then took his mouth off and licked the rest.

"I never imagined." Draco sounded like he was the one choking, when Harry pushed his cock further down his mouth. "I never even dreamed you would — you hate me."

Harry hummed around Malfoy's cock, and closed his eyes. He liked it, and it didn't seem like something he should like. And yet somehow, that didn't matter; Harry loved being full of it, being used like this, and it made him wonder if this was what Malfoy felt when he was getting fucked. Maybe he felt like he had a purpose, like he was doing something right for once, like he was full at last and satisfied. Maybe feeling squalid and demeaning made him feel alright, which meant it wasn't wrong to want it.

"You hate me," said Malfoy. His hands were fisted in Harry's hair, neither pushing him in nor pulling him back, just holding him there, following him when Harry moved his head to lick Malfoy's balls. "You hate me; you're not supposed to do this; you're not supposed to want this; I'm not supposed to — fuck, Harry, I'm going to come; I'm going to come all over you, and here's the thing, you're Harry Potter, and I'm — "

He did come, and it was all over Harry's face, and in some ways that was even dirtier than fucking a man in an alley, having Draco Malfoy's come all over his face, except that that felt good too, and Malfoy looked good; he looked happy.

Harry wiped come off his face with a finger and then put the finger in his mouth. He moved up and told Malfoy, "Lick my face."

Trembling, Malfoy reached out and pulled him closer, and then did as he was told. He was slow and gentle about it, like a cat, except much softer.

"Lick me clean," said Harry.

"Potter," said Malfoy when he was done. He leaned his forehead in towards Harry's. "What are we even doing?"

Harry thought about that. "Ginny calls it rebelling."

Malfoy huffed a laugh. "What are we rebelling against?"

"I don't know," said Harry.

"You still didn't fuck me." Malfoy bucked against him.

Harry gave a breathless laugh. "Such a greedy little puss."

"Yes," said Malfoy, and wiggled.

Harry hummed low in his throat, letting Malfoy hump against his thigh, twisting for a better angle. "I want to fuck you in the shower," he said.

"Kinky."

"I want to get you slick and soapy everywhere. I want to clean you up. I want to wash your hair."

Malfoy bit his lips and closed his eyes.

"Malfoy?"

For a long moment, Malfoy didn't speak. When he did, his voice sounded raw. "Potter, I'm not ever going to understand why you say the things you say."

"I want to, though. I want to get you really clean, and fill you all the way up with soap."

Malfoy's thin chest was moving hard, a hot red flush moving down from his face to stain his neck.

"I'll get that hole nice and squeaky clean," said Harry. "Fill it full of slick, clean soap."

Just then, Malfoy's mobile rang.

"Then I'll get you dirty," said Harry.

The mobile rang again.

"It's probably Hermione," Malfoy said.

"I'll fuck it right back out of you," said Harry. "All that nice clean soap. I'll fill you up with cock instead; you're such a cockslut."

The mobile was still ringing.

"You'll get so dirty," said Harry. "I'll defile you. I'll pollute that sweet nice hole of yours with hot, filthy, dirty come."

"I should answer it," said Malfoy.

"I'll make you so foul," said Harry. "I'm going to violate you, and then I'll wash you up again."

"I guess Hermione can wait," Malfoy said.

*

Malfoy still wore eyeliner. He still wore lots of black and leather, and he still wore his father's ring. He still partied and he still danced on tables; he still showed up in public one evening wearing a collar, and another evening he seemed to think it entirely appropriate to lie down on a table at an expensive restaurant and be fed caviar. He still drove the Road Scorcher and he still talked on mobiles; he also got a plasma LCD and a motorcycle.

Here was where things got really interesting, because Malfoy talked to Hagrid to figure out how to rig it to fly. He danced with Muggles in Muggle clubs and learned from Hermione how to order sugar-free lattes from Starbucks. He still called her all the time, and came to her S.P.E.W. meetings long after everyone else had given up.

Malfoy loved The Clash and Sid Vicious; he ate pizza and dyed his hair blue just for kicks. He was a fan of the Harpies after all, but also fell in love with football; he and Hagrid bonded over salamanders, which they both seemed to find compelling. He befriended many sorts of half-breeds, including some which Harry had not even known existed — an entire pack of wild cat-people who had ears and tails and licked Malfoy on the hands. Malfoy supported pro-werewolf legislation, and spoke out against the Sorting system at Hogwarts. He once told an old friend of his father's where he thought they could stick Pureblood traditions, and then started wearing his hair in spikes.

"I think Malfoy's up to something," said Hermione.

"Because he wears his hair in spikes?" said Harry. They were in her office again, late one night.

"No, I mean. I think something's wrong."

"There's plenty wrong with Malfoy." Harry felt relaxed; his feet were up on Hermione's desk, his robes open over his clothes. He was thinking about all the things that were wrong with Malfoy, about the plug he'd put in Malfoy that morning under women's underwear.

"This is different," said Hermione.

"Okay," said Harry, and took his feet off the desk. "What's up?"

"He's isn't . . . well." Hermione's brow furrowed. "He doesn't call me at 4 am any more."

Harry raised a brow. "Isn't that a good thing?"

"And I haven't had to come and haul him out of any rubbish bins."

Picking imaginary lint of his robes, Harry said, "He was in rubbish bins?"

"Just the once," said Hermione, "but you know what I mean. He — well, he used to get into more trouble."

"Just last week he brought a boom box into Gringotts," Harry pointed out. "And started paying goblins to dance with him. To the Pixies."

Hermione tapped her pen on her desk. She always wore her hair pulled back now. Malfoy told him it was to coordinate with her pin-stripe jackets and pencil skirts, but he didn't know how Malfoy knew anything about coordination. "Don't you find that a little odd?" she said.

Harry shrugged. "Some people dance to the Pixies."

Hermione pursed her lips. "He brought a boom box, Harry."

"So? Malfoy likes Muggle things."

"And you don't find that in the least odd?"

Harry slowly scowled. "Well, he likes you."

"Yes," Hermione said impatiently. "I know. I just mean . . . dancing in Gringotts, while unusual, is not the problem. The problem is that he's not throwing up on my bathroom floor in the middle of the night."

"I'm trying really hard to find the problem there," said Harry. "It's just not quite clear."

Hermione started pacing. "It's not that I want him drunk at all hours, or that I want him to sleep around or — "

Harry had been tipping his chair back. He brought it down. "So, Malfoy's not sleeping around?"

Hermione shook her head. "He used to send me texts all the time." She paused. "Honestly, you do not want all the information. Let's just say, Malfoy used to tell me about his affairs." She paused again. "Sometimes, he would show me."

"So, he doesn't do that any more." Harry started tapping Hermione's pen.

Hermione shook her head again. "I mean, I'm glad if he feels better, and he's happier. I think some of the things he did, he did because he . . ."

"Hated himself."

"Right."

"But other things he did, he did because that's just Malfoy."

Hermione nodded, sitting on the edge of her desk, right on top of all of her files. "I'm just worried about him."

Harry stopped tapping. "Did you ever worry about me?"

Hermione looked at him for a long moment, then picked invisible lint of her own. "What do you mean?"

"It's okay," said Harry. "I don't think you should any more. I know what I want, now."

Hermione's brow furrowed again. "What do you want?"

"Well." Harry smiled slowly. "If you want to know, maybe you should text Draco Malfoy."

*

When Harry talked to Hermione about Malfoy, he'd been seeing Malfoy for about six weeks. Seeing Malfoy mostly meant having lots and lots of sex.

"Is that wrong?" Malfoy wanted to know.

"Probably," said Harry. "But I really really want it anyway."

"I keep forgetting," Malfoy said, kissing him, "that this relationship is founded on wrong."

Harry bit a line down the side of Malfoy's throat. "You just said 'relationship'."

"Bugger it," said Malfoy, gasping as Harry reached inside the women's panties and tugged on the plug.

"I think I'll leave this in a little longer," Harry told him.

Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "You're sick."

"Yeah," said Harry, and wandered into Malfoy's kitchen. Nowhere else in Malfoy's flat was ever clean, but lately the kitchen had been nice. Harry had accused him of cleaning it for him, and Malfoy had denied it vigorously. "There's just one thing I don't get," said Harry, and it had to do with the mobile and the car and everything, really.

"What?" said Malfoy.

"Why do you have a fridge?"

"To keep food cold?" Malfoy looked at him strangely, while Harry looked at the fridge thoughtfully.

"Wizards don't need fridges," Harry said.

"I like them," said Malfoy. "They're more convenient than cooling spells."

"They're Muggle," said Harry.

There was a pause. "Hermione suggested I get one."

"Yes." Harry looked at Malfoy, and Malfoy looked at the fridge. "Hermione."

Malfoy lifted his chin. "I was wrong about Muggles in school."

"I knew you cleaned the kitchen for me."

"Malfoys do not clean," Malfoy said, in his hoity-toity voice.

Harry just looked at him, Malfoy in blue jeans and nothing else, Malfoy thin and pale and strong, Malfoy with blond hair on his chest.

Malfoy began to look uncomfortable. Then he began to look annoyed. "What?" he asked finally.

It just came out and, like every other aspect of his life since the war had ended, Harry didn't know why it happened, but he said, "I want to fuck you again. I want to fuck you against that fridge."

Malfoy smirked. "Well," he said, "Okay, Harry. You can fuck me against any Muggle appliance you want."

Harry thought about that. "Does that mean I can fuck you in your car?"

"The Road Scorcher?" Malfoy pretended to be horrified. "What will Charlie Weasley say?"

But Harry didn't care any more what people said.