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The Motivational Benefits of Sleazy Men

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Draco looked up to see his supervisor, Calinda Clearwater, leaning over his desk with a sickening smile.  “I'm running late for a meeting with the Minister.”  She pouted her lips and batted her lashes at him in a manner that might have been appealing if she were not made up like a tart and if he were interested in women.  “Would you be a dear and fetch the parchments from my desk?”  Fetch.  Because he was a trained Crup.  

“Of course, Ms. Clearwater.”  He stood with a smile and turned toward her office.  He tried to move swiftly, but was not fast enough to avoid a pinch on the arse.

“You're such a dear, but how many times must I tell you to call me Calinda?” she cooed after him.

When will you stop pinching my arse, he silently questioned.   Useless cow .  Contrary to his thoughts, he threw another brown-nosing smile over his shoulder before heading into her office.  

The parchments were neatly stacked on her desk where she had probably left them intentionally.  She sought any excuse to send him on errands and get him away from his desk; his desk was the only place safe from her pawing hands.  He wasn't a fan of her groping, but enduring it with a smile was his best shot at promotion.  And he certainly hadn't joined the Department of Intoxicating Substances to spend his time fining bars for serving alcohol to underage wizards.  

He wanted to be using his talent for Potions to help the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol and the Aurors solve cases involving illegal potions.  Clearwater, as Head of the Department, was in charge of all interdepartmental assignments, so he'd been cajoling her for the past three years in the hopes that she would finally let him use his skills for something of interest.  

So far, she assigned every case to Caldwell and Brighton—two ancient wizards who knew everything about substance legislation and absolutely nothing about the brewing and distribution of illegal substances.  It was no surprise to Draco that potion-abuse was becoming a serious problem in Britain.

He returned to his desk to find Clearwater fiddling with his paperweight.  “Here are your parchments.  Is there anything else you need for your meeting?”  He handed over the paperwork and awaited the next chance to do a favour.

“No, dear.  But aren't you a darling for asking?”  She touched his cheek, and he did his best to smile through the urge to flinch.  She looked over his shoulder towards the meeting rooms.  “But I may have big news afterwards.”

Draco briefly thought that Clearwater actually doing her job would certainly be big news.  

The actual news—as Draco learned in the department meeting the next Monday—was that Clearwater was being transferred to work on the International Substance Counsel based in Venice.  It was a very cushy position that she had done nothing to earn.  More upsetting was that all of Draco's hard earned points for favours rendered were now worth nothing.  He eyed up his colleagues and wondered who would take over the joy of bossing him around and fondling him inappropriately whilst he did their work with no acknowledgement.  

“I know that you will all miss me as I'll miss you.”  Clearwater was getting all misty and sentimental, throwing in metaphors about shepherding and family.  Draco would have found it easier to swallow all her rubbish about being a family if she'd ever looked after her department in the past.  “But, of course, I would never leave my little chicks all alone.  I can only leave because I know that you will be in the capable hands of one of our own.  After this week, Bernard Sothman will tend our flock.”  

Draco felt his stomach tighten as the middle-aged man with slicked-back hair, a sharp nose, and a paunch that stretched his robes awkwardly stepped up to Clearwater's side.  The man scanned the group with a smug smile that turned lecherous when his eyes settled on Draco.

Clearwater spoke to everyone in turn, telling Sothman how they had served her over the years, and came to Draco last.  “Ah, my little Draco.”  She pinched his chin as if he were five, and then turned back to Sothman.  “I don't know what I would do without him.”  

Your own work, Draco thought bitterly, but kept a smile on his face.  

“I'm sure that you will find him indispensable.  He's just so helpful!”

The way Sothman's eyes gleamed, Draco really wished Clearwater would not encourage him to find uses for Draco.  “Yes, Calinda,” Sothman said, “I'm sure I'll find Draco very accommodating.”  Draco fought down his revulsion as Clearwater smiled in her ignorance.

“All right, back to work everyone.”  She shooed them all away, touching no one but Draco.  As he walked out the door, he could feel Sothman's eyes crawling over him.  When he risked a glance back, he did not like the look on the other man's face: it was as if the man were violating him with his eyes.

Bernard Sothman had transferred into Substances two years ago, but thus far he'd been easy to avoid.  Their assignments had never overlapped, so there was no need for them to even talk to each other.  Not that it had stopped Sothman from dropping by Draco's desk daily, but it meant that Draco could always make excuses about important projects and deadlines.

If Sothman were Draco's boss, Draco would find it far harder to slip away or use work as an excuse.  Even worse, Sothman would have direct control over Draco's career.  A fact that Sothman was sure to use to his advantage.   

Clearwater was a pain, but she was content to look and occasionally fondle.  She'd never actually tried to bed him.  Perhaps she had some respect for her position as Department Head and didn't want to abuse her power to that extent.  Draco was confident that Sothman had no such qualms.  Draco would bet his family fortune that the man would be trying to do far more than grope within a week of becoming his supervisor.

The thought of that man touching him at all made his skin itch and his stomach lurch.  Another glance back showed the man watching him from the doorway of the meeting room.  Draco bypassed his desk, hurried down the hall, and ducked into the loo.  He turned on the tap and scrubbed his hands in the hot water as if he could wash off Sothman's gaze.  Yes, he loved his job, but not enough to let that man touch him.  Sothman couldn't fire him for not having sex with him, but he could certainly make his life hell, and he—.

Someone grabbed Draco and whirled him around.  Just as he felt his back hit the wall, he saw Blaise Zabini's predatory smile.  Blaise had one of Draco's thighs in each hand, lifting them to hip-height.  Instinctively, Draco wrapped his legs around the other man's waist to keep from falling.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he snapped, when he recovered enough to speak.

“I want you, Draco.  You know I want you.   I can't stand watching you parade around with that tight little arse without sinking my cock into it.”  Draco squirmed, but couldn't break free.  Despite being of similar height, Blaise had several stone of muscle on him; while Draco was long and lean, Blaise was broad and solid.  

“Fuck off, Blaise.”

The man put on an unconvincing pout.  “Why are you so mean, Draco?”

"I'm not mean, I'm just rarely nice."

“You're nice to Clearwater.”  That pout looked more realistic, and Draco briefly wondered if Blaise was daft enough to be jealous of the silly cow who headed Substances.

“She's my boss.”   Idiot.

“So?  It's not like you need the job or the measly pay that comes with it.”  Draco knew that Blaise resented having to work for the Ministry.  His mother married for money and rarely worried about that money making it to any of her children.  The fact that she had gotten him an easy job with the Wizengamot that came with power and benefits did nothing to diminish his bitterness about having to work at all.

“I am not having this conversation whilst you are holding me in the toilets!”

“You're going to have to give it up eventually,” Blaise said.  “Why not let me fuck you?  I'm handsome, charming, and strong.  And I can keep the others away.  You'd be all mine.”  Blaise's eyes flashed possessively as he rolled his hips forward.  Draco was completely aware of the large, heavy cock pressed against the crease of his thigh and groin.  He knew Blaise was hung—everyone who had shared their dorm knew that—but now that Blaise's cock was so very near his arse he began to panic.  

Blaise's voice in his ear was breathy and low.  “I'll be gentle.  I'll take care of you until you're begging for it.”  He began kissing his way along Draco's ear and down his throat.  He sucked on a sensitive spot under Draco's ear and it felt good, really good.  Draco was struggling to keep his mind focused on fighting.  A moment later, he let his head fall back and groaned.

“That's right,” Blaise cooed.  He shifted Draco's weight to his left arm and began fumbling with Draco's robes with his right.  His hand reached Draco's trousers and began fumbling with the top button.  Was he seriously planning on fucking Draco right there?  Yes, Draco wanted to have sex—someday—but losing his virginity against the wall of a Ministry loo was not on .

Draco started to fight again.  “Put me down, Blaise!  Get your hands off me!”

“Is there a problem?”

It was not Blaise's deep and smoky voice that cut through the room.  This voice was clear and smooth and all too familiar; Draco did not need to look to know Harry Potter was there.

“Now look what you've done,” Draco said to Blaise.  “You've set off the Saviour's hero complex.”  He leant to the side so he could see his would-be hero.  “I don't need rescuing.”  He threw in a dismissive hand flick for good measure.  “Go find a damsel in distress.”

Potter stood just inside the door, his wand drawn, but not yet aimed.  His hair was as wild as usual, matching the intense look in his eye.  He was dressed like an impoverished Muggle in a faded green shirt, tattered jeans, and dirty trainers.  Yet even in his shabby attire, his posture and the heat of his magic commanded respect.  When he spoke, he sounded like the Auror he was.

“He doesn't seem to be listening.”

It took Draco a moment to decipher Potter’s comment; he had almost forgotten about the man between his thighs.  “Put me down, Blaise,” Draco ordered.  Blaise looked reluctant, but obeyed.  “See, Potter?  No problem.  Run along now.”

Watching Blaise with narrowed eyes, Potter did not move.

Draco sighed at the tedium.  “You, too, Blaise.  Run along like a good boy.”

Blaise shrugged and started to leave.  He turned back to Draco to say, “You can't keep this up forever.  At least I'm a friend.”  Draco briefly wondered why the last statement was true.  

When he was gone, Potter turned back to Draco.  “What was that all about?”

“He—”  Draco shut his mouth.  Was he actually about to explain this to Harry Potter?  “None of your business.  Go find a kitten to rescue.”  With that he turned and walked out of the loo.

* * *

Harry couldn't resist admiring Draco's arse as he sauntered out of the loo: it really was the finest in London.  In contrast to Draco's long, lean figure, his arse was lush and beautifully rounded.  Harry wonder how it would look without the trousers and robes that always obscured his view.  

Despite having just been dismissed to rescue kittens, Harry couldn't resist a little smile of relief.  When he'd first entered the loo and seen Zabini and Draco together, he'd felt crushed.  Not that Draco showed any interest in him, but it was still terrible to think that he was with someone else, especially a pompous git like Blaise Zabini.  Seeing the other man rudely dismissed allowed Harry to continue to hope that he might someday have a chance.

That hope had been born three years ago when Draco first joined the Ministry, although he'd still been 'Malfoy' then.  Harry had just completed Auror training—training made even more intense by Kingsley's decision to have Harry, Ron, and Neville complete their N.E.W.T.s on top of all the usual training—and Harry had barely seen anyone who wasn't part of the Aurors since the war.  

The contrast between the ashen, painfully thin Draco Malfoy of his memories of the war hearings and the one who strolled into the Ministry three years later had been enough to render Harry speechless.  He had stood frozen in the Atrium taking in the tall, confident walk, the lean muscle, and the faint pink tint that spoke of three years of health and peace.  It was then that he had first noticed the perfectly shaped, muscular arse.  

It was not long before Harry found himself eating where Malfoy ate and reading every article with even a casual mention of any Malfoy.  And it was the results of that informal investigation—he was not stalking—that led to Malfoy becoming Draco.  At least in his mind.  

* * *

For the rest of the day, Draco was haunted by Blaise's words.  Did he really plan to remain a virgin forever?  Of course not!  He was as randy as any young man.  He was good-looking and single, and he should be shagging his way through the Ministry!  What was wrong with him?

Even as he thought it, he knew the idea didn't really have any appeal.  Shagging?  Yes.  Shagging everyone in the Ministry?  No.  He was picky—no— selective.  He needed to find someone worth his time, but Blaise was right about the advantages of doing so promptly.

Draco was harassed constantly: at work, on the street, at pubs.  Clearly everyone could smell the virginity on him.  Why else was he hunted the way he was?  Perhaps once he was deflowered, they would leave him alone.  Or he could get someone to make them leave him alone.  Yes!  He would choose a possessive lover who would keep the others away.  It would have to be someone powerful.  

Blaise was physically powerful, but there were plenty of people who were not intimidated by his brawn.  If Draco wanted the groping to end, he would need a better type of power.  Clearwater was out; Draco was nowhere near desperate enough to shag a woman, and she would be leaving soon anyway.  Sothman?  Merlin, no!  No!  It would be better to lose his job.  Besides, he really only had power within the Department of Intoxicating Substances.

He was a Malfoy; he should think big.  Who had real power?  The Minister was happily married, as was Head Auror Robards.  The Head of the DMLE would be perfect, but that came back to his refusal to shag a woman.  The obvious answer came up again and again, but he went through several options anyway.

No, there was really only one man who was worth Draco's time and virginity.  Only Harry Potter had the power and influence to protect him within the Ministry and improve his standing in the wizarding world in general.  The world was eager to please Harry Potter, and those close to him won favour by proxy.  Even Potter's boy-toy would curry some favour.

Most importantly, Sothman wouldn't dare touch Harry Potter's lover.  Draco felt relief flow over him at that thought: he'd much rather let Potter fuck him ten times a day than let Sothman lay a finger on him.  And if he were honest with himself, the thought of being fucked by Potter was actually quite appealing on its own merits.  

Of course, there was the little matter that, while Potter didn't seem to hate him anymore, they weren't exactly friendly.  He wasn't really sure what they were.  Draco hadn't seen Potter for three years after the war: Potter had been in Auror training with Weasley and Longbottom, whilst Draco had finished his N.E.W.T.'s and gone abroad to earn his masters in Potions.  Draco had even managed two weeks working on the same floor of the Ministry before their paths had crossed.

When they had finally met again, Potter had simply stared at him.  The man had moved his mouth a few times but not spoken.  When Draco told Pansy about it, she had done that snort-laugh that she thought was endearing and he thought made her sound like a pig.  She had then commented that Potter's reaction wasn't surprising given that, “the last time he saw you, you were all skeletal and grey.”  

“Was not,” he had protested.  “I was pale and slim.”

“No, hon,” she'd retorted.  “You're pale and slim now.  Then, you looked like you'd recently died of starvation.  And now he sees you again and you're all fit, and he's finally figured out he likes cock . . .”  She'd waggled her eyebrows in an unflattering manner.

Still, if Pansy were right, it wouldn't be hard for Draco to bag Potter.  He didn't need the man to like him, just want him.  And surely Potter's Gryffindor chivalry would make him feel some noble need to protect and care for the man he was shagging.  Hadn't he tried to save Draco from harm earlier that same day?  And Draco wasn't even his lover yet!

Yes, this would be all too easy.

* * *

Tuesday morning, Draco arrived early and went straight from the lift to the Auror Department.  He walked along the desks looking for any sign of Potter.  Just as he was getting ready to give up, Potter and Weasley rounded the corner and nearly walked into him.  

“Malfoy!”  Potter gave him a brilliant smile.  Oh, this would be so easy.  “I'm glad they sent you.”  Wait—what?  Before he could ask, Weasley chimed in.

“Hate to admit it, but at least you’re timely.  And I suspect illegal activity is something you understand.”  Weasley glared until Potter elbowed him.  

Potter smiled at Draco again.  “Come on, the file's on our desk.”  He beckoned Draco with his hand before walking to a large desk in the corner.  Draco followed, complacent in his confusion.  “Here's the report from St. Mungo's, it seems a good place for you to start.  Now I—”

“To start what?” Draco snapped.  What were they rabbiting on about?

Weasley rolled his eyes.  “Reading about the case.  The report talks about the symptoms of the abusers.  Although you can start with the apothecary thefts if you'd think that'd be better.  I don't really care, so long as you can tell us what the potion is and help us catch these guys.”  

Draco stared at Weasley blankly.  Was the Weasel actually soliciting his advice?  This was so dangerously close to respect that Draco didn't know what to make of it.  Weasley was looking increasingly impatient.

“Why do you think we wanted someone from Substances?”

Oh.  Substances.  They didn't want Draco ; they had submitted a request to Substances and thought Draco had been assigned.  He should be so lucky.  Reading a case file sounded far more interesting than editing the stack of poorly-written reports waiting on Draco's desk.  He briefly considered playing along, but he knew that he would be in trouble once Clearwater finally got around to assigning someone else.   

“I wasn't sent by Substances,” he admitted.  Weasley frowned and Draco briefly delighted in being able to squash his mood so easily.  Potter's own little frown was less pleasing.  

“Fuck!” Weasley yelled, startling Draco into silence.  “Fucking Clearwater.  We're not gonna get someone for days and all the leads will be cold.  Again.”  The man was actually a bit frightening when he was angry.

“And then it'll be Caldwell or Brighton, who are basically useless,” Potter added, shoulders sagging along with his voice.  A moment passed in silence before Potter turned his big green eyes on Draco with a quizzical look.  “If Substances didn't send you . . .”   Why are you here? w as left unsaid.  

Oh.  Right.  Getting Potter to shag him.  

Now that he was there, with Weasley and Potter looking at him expectantly, it didn't seem so easy.  What did he say?   I came to tell you that you can shag me?  That would work on Blaise, but he sensed it wasn't the right approach for Potter.  Potter needed something more . . . friendly and . . . nice.

“I came to see you,” Draco said carefully, watching the green eyes widened.  “I wanted to . . .”   Yes, Draco?  What did you want to see him for?  Really thought this out well, didn't you?  “I wanted to . . . thank you.  For yesterday.  And um . . . apologise . . . for being rude.”  

He could have knocked both Aurors over with a feather.  Their eyes were wide and their jaws were dangling loose.  Okay, so he didn't apologise much, but it wasn't that shocking.

Potter's surprise gave way to a beautiful smile and blush.  “Well, that's—I mean—I was happy to—I'm glad I—.”  He clamped his mouth shut and blushed deeper.  Potter was pretty adorable when he was flustered.

“I think he means you’re welcome.”  Weasley had a wry smile, and Draco wondered if he'd ever seen Weasley smile in his presence.  His blue eyes were quite bright, and his skin wasn't blotchy the way it got when he was angry.    

Potter was still silent, but Draco could almost see his mind trying to plan his next move.  When he finally opened his mouth, the words came out so fast Draco struggled to understand them.  He made out something about dinner.

Weasley rolled his eyes and walked off without a departing word.  Draco had thought he might intervene or attempt to “protect” Potter from the evil Death Eater, but instead he seemed unsurprised by a turn in conversation that sounded suspiciously like Potter asking Draco on a date.  Was that what just happened?  

“Did you just ask me out?”  Potter turned crimson and nodded.  Gryffindor chivalry must require buying someone a meal before trying to get in his pants.  Well, being seen in public as Harry Potter's date could only help Draco's reputation.  “Then my answer is yes.”

Potter gave him another brilliant smile.  Draco could definitely get used to having that look directed at him.  

* * *

Draco made his way back to his own department, having agreed to dinner that Friday.  As was his habit, he stopped into Clearwater's office for his morning schmooze.  As was her habit, she was engrossed in Witch Weekly and ignoring the piles of paperwork on her desk.  Draco noticed Potter's and Weasley's Auror Request for Interdepartmental Cooperation sitting on her desk under a book entitled Bewitching Canals: A Witch's Guide to Venice .

“Getting ready for sunnier skies,” he asked with a pasted-on smile—not that she could distinguish it from a real one.

“Oh, yes!  I'm so excited!  I'll send you some marzipan, dear.  Delicious stuff.”

“Any work I can help you with?  I'm sure you must have plenty to do with only four days left.”

“Nothing important.”  She glanced at her desk with disinterest.  “It'll all get done in the end.  Oh!  I wanted to book my Portkey.”  She stood up and gathered her things.  “You’re welcome to take a look,” she said, gesturing dismissively at her desk.

As soon as she left, Draco grabbed the Auror Request and completed it with his own name as advisor.  He completed a few more forms and slipped the Auror Request into the middle of them just as Clearwater returned.

“I filled out some of this paperwork for you.  If you'd like to look them over and sign them, I can file them for you.”  He gave her a sycophantic smile, and she smiled back.   She really is thick.

“Thank you, Draco.  You're so sweet!”  She hastily signed each form without glancing at what they were.  “Here you are!  After you file those, why don't you take a long lunch?”  

“Why thank you, Calinda ,” he purred her name, “don't mind if I do.”  He took the forms and hurried back to his desk.  A minute later, each form was Charmed into a folded paper aeroplane and flying through the air.  He watched the Auror Request swoop down the hall before he headed out to enjoy a long lunch.  

* * *

Harry was starting to think he'd drunk a cauldron of Felix Felicis without realising it.  First Draco had sought him out to apologise for being rude, and then—instead of laughing at Harry's bumbling request for a date—the man had actually agreed to have dinner with him.  He had no idea why his mouth had gone and asked for a date without his permission, but he was delighted with the outcome.  Just the events of the morning alone had been enough to make it the best day he'd had all year.

So it was almost too much when Head Auror Robards walked up to Ron and him later that morning with a rare smile.

“Don't know how you boys managed it, but I don't think Substances has assigned us an advisor this quickly since Clearwater became Head.  Well done!”  A glance at Ron's wide eyes and limp jaw showed that he was as surprised as Harry was.  “Anyway,” Robards continued, “I hope Malfoy is more useful that the usual lot she sends us.”  He scowled.  “Can't be any worse.  I hope she falls into one of those damn canals.  Good riddance.”  He wandered off still murmuring to himself.  

Harry had been barely listening from the moment Robards had mentioned Draco.  He'd jumped to his feet to take the parchment from Robards' hand and then just stood staring at the neatly scrawled words: Draco Malfoy.  The writing did not match the signature—the signature was Clearwater's, but the form was completed in Draco's elegant script.  Draco must have requested the assignment.  Draco wanted to work with him and had actually managed to get Clearwater to get off her arse to assign him.

It took all of his control not to start laughing manically.

* * *

Draco had decided to finish his usual assignments that afternoon and not start reviewing the Auror case until after hours.  No one else stayed a minute past five in Substances, so he knew he'd have the area to himself.  He didn't want Caldwell or Brighton to discover that he'd stolen their assignment and complain to Clearwater.  While Clearwater would never admit she hadn't made the assignment herself—it might bring to light that she let Draco do her work without so much as a review—she might “change her mind,” and assign one of the old wizards instead.

Once the department was empty, he threw himself into the file.  They were calling it the Shaw case after Bettina Shaw, the first witch admitted to St. Mungo's with the eerie symptoms of chills, trembling, nausea, crying, and a deep sense of despair.  There had been six other witches and wizards since then, all of whom had finally admitted to repeatedly using a deep red potion that created a state of intense happiness.

It was Draco's job to figure out what that potion was, how it was made, and how Potter and Weasley could find the potioneers responsible.  It was a mystery for which he, with his understanding of brewing and hiding illegal activity, was uniquely suited.  It was everything he had wanted to do for the past three years.

* * *

Harry resisted the urge to skip through the Atrium.  Barely.  He didn't think he'd been so excited to arrive at the Ministry since his very first day as an Auror.  This time he was not thinking about the cases he would solve or the people he would save; he was thinking about seeing Draco.  And unlike previous meetings with awkward greetings and embarrassing silences, this time Harry had a legitimate reason to talk to him.  In fact, Draco had owled him last night to ask if they could meet early.

Bliss.  Pure bliss.

When Harry arrived at his desk, Draco was already there—coffee in hand and perusing a case file that looked far more organised than it had when Harry had handed it over the day before.  Ron walked in a second later, and Draco began his report immediately.

“It's Euphora—not to be confused with the Elixir to Induce Euphoria, which is milder and legal to brew.  The street name is 'ice lolly', because it must remain cool for at least three days once it's brewed and it's best if it stays cold until used.  If it gets above 16 degrees during those first three days, it becomes toxic.  Fatally so.  It also reacts poorly to Cooling Charms and to those Muggle refreezerator things, so it must be kept in a naturally cold environment.  That's bad for the potioneers and good for Aurors trying to find them.”  Draco's grey eyes were shining and Harry had to shift in his seat as his cock responded to the intelligence shown there.    

“From the case notes, you seem confident it's being brewed domestically—not smuggled in from abroad—so I'm fairly certain you're looking at the Highlands.  The shelf life of Euphora is only a couple of weeks, and you have people reporting taking it as recently as late July.  If it's being brewed in Britain in the summer, it would have to be in the Highlands.”

“Is it possible they are moving the location around,” Ron asked.

“Not likely.  Ingredients react to drastic changes in altitude, temperature, and humidity, so they would risk losing the potency of expensive ingredients if they did.  I imagine they would rather work to hide one location than rely on changing locations.  Also, one of the ingredients grows naturally near Highland lakes, and it's one of the only ingredients not listed in the theft reports.”

Harry and Ron continued questioning Draco for another twenty minutes and Harry was repeatedly impressed with the knowledge behind each response.  When it neared nine o'clock, Draco handed over a neatly written report and said he'd be available for any follow-up questions they might have.  The whole procedure had been almost clinically professional, and Harry wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

After Draco left, Ron and Harry sat staring between the report and each other for some time.  It was Ron who finally found his voice.

“Well, he's a hell of a lot better than Caldwell and Brighton.  Do you realise what he's given us?  Remember the assistant at the apothecary?  The Scottish one?  I remember him saying that he spends his weekends visiting family.  MacGregor asked him whereabouts they live, and he said they live in Bramblethorn.”  

Harry gave a confused face to show that he—raised by Muggles—needed more information.  “It's a village like Hogsmeade and it's near Loch nam Fear.  It's far north, so it's got to be cold there.  And didn't Malfoy say one ingredient grows near Highland lakes?”  Ron was almost bouncing in his seat and his excitement was certainly contagious.  “Harry!  We might actually crack this one!”

“Okay, let's not get ahead of ourselves,” Harry's calming words were undermined by his own enormous grin.  “Let's get these guys in custody and then celebrate!”  

As they were gathering their things, Ron turned on Harry with a serious face.  “You know, if I'd known you asking Malfoy out would lead to him being so damn useful, I would have made you do it years ago!”

Harry couldn't stop the grin that was now making his cheeks ache.  “I'm glad to have been of service.  And I'm so glad you approve of my choice of boyfriend.”

“Is that what he is now?”  Ron's brow furrowed.  “I thought you hadn't even gone out yet.”

“Well, I'm hoping to make him my boyfriend.  It doesn't bother you, does it?  I know you two—”

“Harry,” he said flapping Draco's report under Harry's nose, “if he keeps doing things like this, you can marry him with my blessing.”

* * *

Draco didn't see Potter again for the rest of the week.  No “thank you for the impressive report.”  No follow-up questions.  No details about Friday's dinner plans.  Nothing.

By Friday afternoon, he was wondering if Potter had changed his mind about dinner and was now avoiding him.  His nerves were increased by Sothman lurking around his desk and making little comments about looking forward to working together closely .  It was his last day before the man became his supervisor, and he wasn't even sure he had a date , let alone a possessive lover.  Not that the date part was strictly necessary, but someone like Potter would feel obliged to buy a man dinner before taking him to bed.  And who was Draco to turn down fine food and a public appearance with the wizarding world's precious Saviour ?

Draco was readying to leave when the violet memo landed on his desk.  He opened it to reveal a hastily written note from Potter.

Still on for dinner?  Pick you up at seven?


Well.  That told Draco a great deal about where he stood.  “Still on for dinner? ” scribbled at two minutes to five.  Apparently the meal itself was enough to satisfy Potter's chivalry.  There would be no additional courting or pleasantries.  Not that it mattered.  Draco didn't need fake romance, he needed protection and influence.  Although some basic information on dress would not have gone amiss.

* * *

Harry paced his desk waiting for Draco's reply.  He could easily walk across the floor to the other man's department, but he really wanted to shower and change before he let Draco near him.  He and Ron had been tailing their Scottish apothecary assistant since Tuesday morning, and Harry was filthy.  It was only Ron's indulgence that was allowing Harry the evening off to keep his date with Draco.

A violet aeroplane flew in and Harry grabbed it.  Draco's delicate script appeared within the carefully folded paper.


I will expect you at seven.  I may be reached by Floo Network at Serpentine Estate.  I assume dress robes will be appropriate.

Draco Malfoy

Harry swore when he reached the last sentence.  He had been planning to take Draco to a Muggle place: he would rather be anonymous and have a chance to eat in peace.  But would Draco object?  He certainly seemed more open to the Muggle world than he had been in their youth, and Harry had seen him in Muggle clothes, so he knew he had them.  Harry really didn't want to wear dress robes; he would be uncomfortable just with his nerves and didn't want to add physical discomfort.

In the end he sent a note back saying to wear Muggle attire.  He wanted to make this work, and that meant being honest about what he wanted.  And what he wanted was to share his favourite restaurant with Draco.  It was just a tavern in a small village near the Welsh border, but the food was incredible and he'd come to know Rosie, who ran the place.  He usually went there alone to enjoy the anonymity, but he had taken each of his closest friends there in the two years since he'd found the place on an Auror mission.

* * *

Draco stared out the window of the top floor of his London house watching the glistening water of the Serpentine, for which the estate had been named, through the trees of Hyde Park.  The three story London house, although extravagant by London standards, Muggle and wizard alike, felt homely in contrast to Malfoy Manor's enormous stature.  It was one of the reasons Draco had chosen to move here.  He was a young bachelor, and it provided a convenient location and more than enough space for one.  

Malfoy Manor sat empty as his father finished his sentence in Azkaban and his mother lived in the flat in Vienna.  She had connected with the Malfoys living there and showed little interest in returning to England.  Draco doubted if any of them would ever choose to live in the former residence of the Dark Lord and his many atrocities.  

Draco shook the past from his mind.  There was nothing to be done for it now.  Tonight his focus was to create a beneficial alliance.

He stood in front of the Floo at five minutes to seven.  He was dressed in a sage cashmere jumper and fitted charcoal trousers which he knew would hug his hips and arse perfectly.  He had been bitter with the realisation that Potter meant to hide him away in Muggle London, but he was determined to make the most of it.  His plan needed Potter to acknowledge him openly, but Draco would not be discouraged.  He was not afraid of a little work to get what he wanted.

The Floo flared to life and Potter stumbled in with a sheepish grin, brushing soot off his dark jeans and maroon long-sleeved t-shirt.  At least these days the man's clothing fit him.  Actually, they fit quite well.  The shirt stretched gently over his biceps and pectorals, showing that being an Auror demanded more muscle mass than being a Seeker ever had.  He was still slender, but a long way from the scrawny boy he'd once been.

Yes, there would be perks to Draco's plan, and one of them was Potter's body.

* * *

Draco looked around the village tavern Potter had taken him to.  Yes, village.  Apparently even Muggle London was too risky when one's date bore the scar of the Dark Mark.  Nothing about the décor or location made the place memorable, although the large fireplace in the front room at least provided warmth and light.  A round-faced woman with black hair pulled into a messy ponytail greeted Potter by name and asked about Draco.  It seemed that he brought dates here often, and Draco wasn't sure if that made him feel better or worse.  It would explain why the Daily Prophet hadn't covered any of Potter's relationships since he'd left Auror Training.

The woman had raised an eyebrow at Draco's name, prompting Potter to explain that Draco had eccentric parents.  Draco thought that was actually a pretty accurate description.  She seemed appeased and led them to a table in the corner as she rattled off a list of pies.  Apparently Muggles could only eat their meat from within pastry, so Draco chose one with lamb and berries, whilst Potter chose beef with ale.  A tendril of the woman's dark, wild hair had gotten loose, and she tucked it behind her ear as she made her way back to the large oak bar in the next room.

“Your hair's soul mate, Potter?”  Potter looked confused for a moment before glancing back at the woman and laughing.

“Yeah, I guess Rosie and I have a similar affliction.”

Draco considered Granger's bushy hair and Weasley's garish red hair.  Even Longbottom's sandy blonde hair never seemed to sit quite right.  “Do you simply collect unusual hair?” he drawled.

Potter laughed again.  Then he got a funny look in his eye and his gaze travelled to Draco's own pale blond hair.  “Yours is certainly unusual.  Can I add you to my collection?”  Potter looked him in the eye again, but he was blushing.

“It's not unusual , Potter.  It's rare, extraordinary, and unique.  And I am not some trinket to be placed in a cupboard.”

“I didn't mean it like that!  I just meant . . . I like you.”  The woman, Rosie, came up with their drinks, and they fell into silence.  Potter was smiling shyly and kept his gaze on his glass of Muggle ale.  The pause in conversation gave Draco a moment to reflect on Potter's odd comments.  Potter liked him.  Well, at least that was a step in the right direction.  Not that it really meant much: Potter seemed to like almost anyone , so long as they hadn't supported the Dark Lord.  But maybe it was notable that Potter had moved from hate to indifference to actually liking him.  

As for Potter and his hair collection , well Draco had no idea what to make of that.

* * *  

Harry was unsure how to start the conversation again.  He was feeling vulnerable after his confession, even though it was hardly a great revelation.  Surely Draco knew he liked him; why else would Harry have asked him on a date in the first place?  But it still felt like a confession, and he was acutely aware of Draco's lack of reply.  But Draco must like him as well, right?  He'd agreed to a date!

He considered discussing the Shaw case, but it wasn't safe to discuss an open case in public, even in a Muggle establishment.  In the end, he brought up Quidditch, and they discussed the British club teams until their pies were brought out.  He was nervous about whether Draco would like such common Muggle food, but a comment about the tenderness of the lamb and the delicacy of the sauce calmed Harry immensely.  

“Jameson was an idiot for not playing more aggressively,” Draco began again once Rosie was back behind the bar and out of earshot.  “Everyone knows the Spanish Seeker likes it rough.”  Draco purred the last three words in a way that caught the attention of Harry's whole body.  The conversation had turned to the national teams and the English Seeker's performance against Spain.  Harry was so engrossed in their debate over tactics that he had completely forgotten that he was skiving off a stake-out to be out on a date.  So it surprised him when the communication coin in his pocket began to burn.

He pulled the Protean-Charmed Galleon out of his pocket and flung it down in front of him on the table.  Hermione had improved the coins since fifth year, and the coins now allowed letters as well as numbers and also allowed communication to go both ways.

Floo to BT.  Meet there.  Nev w. me.  

Harry took a moment to process the message.  The apothecary assistant had taken the Floo to Bramblethorn, as they had expected, and he needed to meet Ron there as soon as possible.  Ron must have given in to Harry's request to have Neville join the stake-out, and Harry was grateful Ron wasn't following the man alone.   Who knew what was waiting for them up there?

“I don't think Muggles take Galleons, Potter.”  

Harry looked up at Draco and saw the man's trademark smirk.  

“The world must be ending if I'm teaching you Muggle Studies.”

“No, it's a communication coin.  Ron sent me a message.  I have to go.”  He suddenly realised he'd said nothing to Draco about the case or the stake-out and there was no time to explain now.  “I'm really sorry,” he added as he took out some Muggle money and set it on the table.  “Stay and have dessert.  On me.  It's really good and Rosie will . . .”  He looked longingly at the man he'd fancied for the past three years and finally gotten out on a date.  He hated that it had to end like this, but he couldn't risk his suspect getting away or Ron or Neville getting hurt in his absence.  “I'll ring you,” he said from the door of the tavern.  He'd almost said “owl,” but had caught himself just in time.

* * *

Ring me?   Various images of Potter with bells or rings went through his mind before he gave up trying to understand the parting comment.   What the hell?   Potter had just run out on their date without explanation.  Draco glanced down at his half-finished pie.   Now what?

“I hope Harry hasn't gone off my pies.”  Rosie was standing by the table with a wry smile.  “Well, if your date's run off on you, why don't you come up and finish your meal at the bar?  It's a slow night and you can provide some company.”  Without waiting for a reply, she picked up his plate and carried it through to the other room.  Draco followed, drink in hand.  

Draco was trying to decide what to feel about Potter's sudden departure.  Embarrassment?  Disappointment?  Anger?  A glance at Rosie showed no surprise.  “Does he do that often?”

“What?  Run out mid-meal?  No.  Well, sometimes, but usually not when he's with someone else.”

“You mean he comes here alone?”

“Least once a week.  Sometimes I freeze the pies for him to take away, other times he eats in.  Every now and then he brings company.”

Company.  That's one way to put it.  

“Another?” She held up his empty wine glass.  Draco considered just going home, but the lamb really was exceptional.  He nodded and she filled his glass.  As he listened to the lively folk songs playing from some hidden source and ate the perfectly cooked pie, he could almost understand why Potter spent so much time there.  

* * *

Harry was elated.  He'd arrived in Bramblethorn just in time to join Ron and Neville as they tailed the assistant out of the small village's central pub.  The man had inadvertently led them straight to a  derelict house set among the trees on Loch nam Fear's eastern side.  

They'd had to wait for morning to get an incriminating conversation between the assistant and the man who'd been in the house when they arrived, but then an hour of eavesdropping had provided enough information to assure them that they had their criminals and that they would find a brewing lab below the main house.  They had waited for back-up before executing a perfect raid.  Even the unexpected potioneer working in the lab had been Stunned and captured without any harm to the Aurors.  

Now, having delivered their three suspects to the holding cells and the contents of the lab to the evidence room, he stood in Robards' office receiving the man's rare praise.  Ron and Neville beamed beside him.  

“Where are we going to celebrate,” Ron asked as they made their way out of the office a few minutes later.  Harry was dirty, sore, and completely exhausted, but he knew going out for drinks was not optional.

“Hannah's working at the Leaky tonight,” Neville offered in a small, hopeful voice.  Harry laughed joyfully.  If Neville wanted to flirt with the girl he fancied, he should.

“Leaky it is!”

“I'll tell Hermione to join us,” Ron threw in.  

Well if they're both going to have someone . . .   Harry stopped mid-stride.  “I need to send an owl.  I'll meet you there.”  

When Harry made it to the Leaky, Neville, Ron, and Hermione were squeezed at the end of the bar and Hannah was handing over pints.  He'd sent an owl to Draco and could only hope the other man was available and would join him.  He wasn't sure whether Draco was angry with him for his hasty departure the night before.  It certainly hadn't been the way he wanted to end the date, and he could only hope Draco would let them pick up where they'd left off.

Two hours and several rounds later, the only thing that kept Harry from having passed out was Hermione's insistence on food and water between the rounds.  Nothing had prevented him from growing increasingly mopy as Ron and Hermione cooed together across the table from him.  He looked around for Neville and found him at the bar staring longingly at Hannah as she served customers.  Another glance at Ron and Hermione found them feeding each other chips and it made him feel sick with envy for that kind of comfort.  He couldn't keep his mind from Draco.

“Nauseating, isn't it,” said the familiar drawl in his ear.  Harry spun around so quickly that he nearly slipped off his stool.  As it was, he slid forward and found himself flush against the delicious man who'd come up behind him.  “Easy there.”

Harry looked up from the grey shirt and met matching eyes set above an amused and smug grin.  He closed his eyes and rested his face against the soft fabric, barely resisting his body's exhaustion and the desire to fall into a comfortable doze right there.

* * *

Potter was drunk.  It was obvious in the flush of his cheeks, the glaze of his eyes, and the sway of his posture.  If Draco took a step backwards, Potter would surely slide off his stool to the floor.  While part of Draco told him that a compliant Potter was good for his plan, he couldn't help but feel disappointed.  

He had considered not coming at all, especially after Potter's rude departure the night before, but Pansy had been over when the owl had arrived.  

“Oh look!  He's so very sorry,” she'd mocked.  “Honestly, Draco.  You're looking for a shag not a bridegroom.  Who cares if he runs off to work mid-dinner?  He still paid, right?  So get your shag and get over it.”

Now here he was with a very drunk Harry Potter.  “Had a bit to drink?” Draco teased.  

Harry blinked and then smiled.  “Like your voice.”

“I'll take that as a yes.”  He stroked Potter's wild black hair back from his brow so that his bright green eyes would catch some of the pub's dim light.

Potter scowled and pressed the hair over his brow again.  “Scar,” he grumbled.  Was Potter really hiding his scar?  Was that why he let his hair grow out so oddly?  Potter had taken hold of Draco's hand and was holding it against his cheek.  The soppy gesture made Draco self-conscious and he glanced around to see if anyone had noticed.  Weasley and Granger were speaking softly to each other and seemed oblivious to the rest of the room.  Longbottom was over at the bar looking like a rejected puppy and mooning over a Hufflepuff from their year.

Draco pulled his hand out of Potter's grasp.  “I'm going to get you some water, Potter.”

As he turned to the bar, he heard Potter mumble, “m'kay, Draco.”  Had Potter just used his given name?  It must have been the first time ever.   He had certainly never heard it.  Why now?  Why when he was drinking?  

It didn't matter.  Who knew why Potter did anything ?

Draco made his way to the bar, dodging a group of drunk and rowdy wizards on his way.  It was busier at the Hufflepuff's end of the bar, so Draco headed to the end tended by the toothless old codger who owned the place.  He asked for water for Potter and then ordered a double Firewhisky for himself.  He suspected he'd need it to babysit the soused Saviour.

The barkeep—Tom, he suddenly remembered—started to pour his Firewhisky and then swore when the bottle ran out.  He muttered something and then disappeared to a back-room.   Of course.  Because even getting a drink in a pub has to be as hard as possible.

Draco was suddenly aware of a large body standing next to him.  “Aren't you a pretty thing?” said the rough, unfamiliar voice.

“Piss off,” he replied reflexively without even a glance.  This was a typical part of Draco going out.  

“Ah, don't be like that.”  A hand grabbed at his arse and Draco whipped around with his wand drawn.  

“I said, piss off!”  He was now face to face with the cretin, who was a little shorter than Draco, but broader, and had a nasty grin on his face.

“What do you say I get you a drink and see if I can't tame that temper?”

“I'm getting my own drink, thank you , so you are of no use to me.”  

The man advanced on him, pressing further into Draco's space.  “There's no reason for—”  A wand on the man's nose caused him to freeze.  At the other end of the wand stood Potter, looking surprisingly menacing despite his sway.

“Get 'way from 'im,” Potter managed to say, “or I'll curse buttocks—bollocks—off.

The man stepped back.  Whether he recognised Potter, a drunken idiot, or just uneven odds in a fight, he turned and walked away.

“My hero,” Draco dead-panned.  It was lost on Potter, who turned to him with intense green eyes that spoke of outrage.  

“You 'kay?  Did he hurt you?”

“I'm fine, Potter.  He was benign.”  

“He grabbed your arse!”  Potter seemed suddenly sober as his eyes flashed and he bared his teeth.

“Yeah, well . . . He's not the first and he won't be the last.”  Draco really didn't want to talk about all of the hands that felt entitled to grab at him.

“ I'll be the last!” Potter growled.  “No one else is touching you!”  

The drink must have aggravated his temper.  “Let's get you home, Potter,” he said as he led Potter to the Floo.  He sent Potter through first and followed immediately after repeating, “Buddleia Cottage,” in a much clearer voice than Potter had.  He stepped out of the Floo to find Potter face down on a rather nice looking rug.


“Comfy,” came the muffled reply.  

Well, at least he's alive .  Draco leant over and brushed the soot off the other man.  “Come on, Potter.  Let's get you to bed.”  He helped him to his feet.  “Which way's the bedroom?”

Potter made a groan, and it was not a sound of pain, but of desire.  “Yes, Draco.  Want you.”  Suddenly insistent lips were pressed to Draco's and his vision was filled with messy black hair.  The kiss was awkward, wet, and messy, but there was a passion to it that was compelling.

I'm kissing Harry Potter. Harry Potter is kissing me.  And he is a total drunken mess.  Draco took a step back, panting for breath.  “Bedroom, Potter.”  A nod pointed him to a set of stairs that he helped Potter up.  A large door was open at the end of the hall, and Draco led them to it.  The room was definitely the master bedroom and was tastefully decorated in warm browns and creams that brought to mind different types of chocolate.  He all but carried Potter to the large four-poster bed that dominated the airy room.  

Potter dragged him down onto the bed with him.  “I want you, Draco.  Merlin, you're so hot!”  He was slurping, nipping, and biting at Draco's neck and collarbone.  Potter's hands wrapped around him and grabbed his arse cheeks, pulling them apart and up through his trousers.  “Ugh!  Your arse is amazing.  Feels as good as it looks.  Want it.”  Potter was arching off the bed so their groins rubbed together.  Draco was at a loss.  Should he stay and let Potter—a ridiculously drunk Potter—fuck him as planned, or should he leave the man to sober up?  A few minutes later, the choice was made for him.

Potter's kisses and rubs slowed along with his breathing until Draco realised he'd fallen asleep.  He carefully extricated himself from the tangle of limbs, removed Potter's shoes, and tucked the man into bed.  Lying fast asleep, Potter looked peaceful and surprisingly sweet.  Draco had never seen him look so young and vulnerable.  

Draco kissed him lightly on the brow before returning to the Floo to go home.

* * *

Harry had been kissing Draco.  He had him in his home and was calling him “Draco” and admitting how much he wanted him.  And Draco, instead of laughing in his face, had moaned erotically and kissed him back.  Somehow, they'd ended up in Harry's bed, kissing and groping, and he'd been tasting Draco after fantasising about it for years.  His mouth had been sweet, while his skin had been salty and the slightest bit spicy.  He had buried his face in Draco's neck and breathed in that perfect scent of musk and mandarins that was so delicious and erotic and perfectly Draco.  He'd closed his eyes to give himself over to the scent, only to open them to the morning sun and an empty bed.   Fuck .

He was an idiot.  He'd gotten Draco, the star of his dreams and wank fantasies, to agree to dinner, and then he'd run out without a proper explanation.  Then, he'd come to meet Harry at the pub, but Harry'd already gotten soused.  To top it all off, Harry had ended the night with Draco in his house, in his bed , and he'd fucking fallen asleep.  What was wrong with him?

Draco had seemed receptive to all of his advances, both romantic and sexual, but Harry wasn't sure how many fuck-ups the other man would endure.  Draco Malfoy was not known for his patience, even if it did seem to have increased over the years.

Harry vowed that he would make Draco his by the end of the night.  The question was, how?  It was Sunday, so he would be expected at the Burrow for a late lunch and Quidditch as usual.  He could cancel, but he always hated to do so with so little warning.  Mrs. Weasley surely had the roast half done at this point.  Besides, his evening was still free.  

He leapt from bed, grabbed parchment and a quill and wrote a hasty note to Draco.  He said a brief thank you to Hagrid for insisting on getting him a new owl as he tied the note to Iris and watched her fly out the open window.  

Once Iris had flown from view, Harry set about cleaning his cottage.  Whilst Draco had been there the night before, Harry could hope he hadn't seen the overflowing laundry hamper in the closet or the pile of dirty dishes in the sink.  And maybe the darkness had hidden the layers of dust in his sitting room.  He figured he could get a good two hours in before he'd need to shower and dress for lunch.

* * *

A small, sleek barn owl was perched outside his bedroom window when Draco returned from his shower.  Tightening the towel wrapped around his waist, he used both hands to fight with the temperamental window latch.   This was why magic was so essential.  He strode to the bureau and snatched up his wand.  With a flick of his wrist, both bird and early autumn air were rushing into his previously toasty apartment.  

“Fuck it's cold!”  Another swish closed the window, but did little to settle Draco's goose pimples.  “Alright bird; you'd better have good news.”  What the bird had was a simple—and did the man do another type?—note from Potter explaining that he had a very busy day in Weasel-ville with the people he actually cared about, but could spare some time to shag Draco that evening.  There wasn't even a mention of dinner.  

Okay, maybe it hadn't been phrased quite that way, but it was close enough.  Clearly Potter felt that he had made a sufficient show of being nice to satisfy his chivalrous need to buy dinner before a shag, and now he could stop pretending about what he really wanted Draco for.  Hadn't that been clear enough last night?

And why did Draco feel disappointed?  Wasn't his interest just the same?  

It was probably the lack of etiquette offending his sensibilities.  If he had ever chosen to court someone, be it for marriage or sex, he would have shown far more tact and class than Potter had thus far managed.  Yes, it was simply an aesthetic reaction to a classless letter.

Remembering his own breeding, Draco chose a sheet of his finest parchment and wrote a simple but gracious reply.  He decided that he would rather have Potter on his own terms, so he invited Potter to his house that evening.  

He came to regret that decision when he was pacing across his living room at half past five that evening.  In an effort to feign indifference, he had casually worded his invitation for Potter to come by that evening and had not given a specific time.  Unfortunately, his attempt to portray relaxation had led to increased pressure.  

He could arrive any minute.  Any second now .  His mental chant had been the same since five o'clock.  Cursing his nerves, he went into the kitchen to open a bottle of wine.  It was as he was debating taking out a second glass that the Floo roared to life in the other room.

“Draco?”  So he was sticking with “Draco,” huh?  

Draco carried the bottle of wine and two glasses back into the sitting room.  “I don't suppose you're expecting me to call you Harry, are you?”  

Potter grinned at him.  “It seems appropriate.  What with you being in my bed and all last night.”

Draco raised a single eyebrow in the way he'd perfected in his youth.  “Was last night all you have to offer in bed?”

Potter had the decency to blush.  “No, last night was—I was exhausted , what with the tailing and the stake outs . . .”

“Tails and steak?  What are you on about?”

Potter did a little snort-laugh, and it was actually rather cute.  Not at all like Pansy's.  “No, no.  We were following a suspect.  The information you gave us about Euphora and Scotland, it was pure gold.  We had a suspect right away, and then he led us to the lab and his associates.”

“And that's what you were celebrating last night?”

“Yeah, we raided the place and arrested the suspects.  We have a really strong case, thanks to you.”  Potter was looking at him with big soppy eyes, and Draco took a deep drink of his wine to calm himself.

“I was really impressed with your report on the case,” Potter went on, “Even Ron was saying how great you were, and he's not usually your biggest fan.”

“So I've won over Weasley.  I can die happy now,” Draco drawled.  Potter rolled his eyes but was smiling.  “Now,” Draco continued, “I believe you were telling me about what more you could do in your bed.”  He took a step forward and placed his hands on Potter's chest.  Potter didn't seem to need further encouragement as he pressed his mouth against Draco's and slid his tongue past his lips.  Their tongues moved against each other briefly before their lips closed in a wet kiss.

Potter's hands were cupping his face and sliding into his hair.  He was kissing every part of Draco's face, returning again and again to his lips.  The kisses began to move down his jaw and neck as Potter's hands moved from his hair to his waist and then slipped under his jumper.  

“Mmm . . . soft,” Potter mumbled against his lips.

“Cashmere,” Draco replied.

Potter laughed and his breath was warm and soft against Draco's neck.  “Your skin, you twit.”  He kept chuckling as his hands slid up Draco's back, and it was very tempting for Draco to stand still and simply enjoy the attention being laved on his body.  But that wouldn't do.  This had to be pleasurable for Potter if Draco was to get his defender.  

Draco fumbled with Potter's Muggle jumper.  It was some weird fabric and Draco found himself distracted by wondering what it was and what kind of animal it came from.

Potter must have noticed him feeling it.  “It's just fleece.”  

Draco may have had a genteel upbringing, but even he had touched a sheep, and it hadn't felt like Potter's jumper.  “It doesn't feel like wool.”

Potter laughed.  “No, not sheep-fleece, fleece-fleece.  It's made from poly-tecni-something.  It's like plastic or something.”  Draco's face must have shown how unhelpful that explanation was, because Potter continued.  “Plastic's a Muggle material.  They make stuff with it.  Hell, they make almost everything with it!”  Draco was feeling even more out of his depths than when he was trying to figure out what to do with his hands whilst Potter kissed him.  At least that had felt good, so he went back to his fumbling.  

He tried to lift the confusing jumper over Potter's head, but it got stuck just below the man's nose.  “Ow!  Wait!  Hold on, there's a zip!”  Draco froze and watched awkwardly as Potter lowered the garment and fiddled with a little piece of metal on the front.  The neck of the thing grew and he easily pulled it off over his head.  “There's one on my jeans, too.  Want me to show you?”  Potter's flirty tone helped Draco get over his embarrassment.  He had done some reading about what to expect that night, but none of the magazines or books had addressed removing his partner's Muggle clothes.  

Seeking to regain some comfort, he took control.  “Come upstairs.  My room is on the top floor.”  Draco headed to the stairs and relaxed as he heard footsteps following him.  

“Nice place.  That Hyde Park out there?”  Potter was gesturing out the window over the stairs.  

Draco began to relay the history of the estate that had been in his mother's family for over a hundred years before it had been given to her by a distant aunt.  Bragging about family assets was familiar and he felt his body relax.  It was only as they reached his bedroom that he remembered Potter was not there for a tour.

* * *

The elegantly furnished London house fit Draco perfectly.  It was beautiful, classic, and undoubtedly incredibly expensive, but it lacked the intimidation and excess of Malfoy Manor.  It also came free of memories of torture and imprisonment: all good things in Harry's book.

Making their way to Draco's bedroom, Harry found himself growing nervous.  He wanted this desperately, he wanted Draco , but it still felt monumental.  Maybe it was because they had once been enemies.  Perhaps it had just been far too long since Harry had been with someone.  In fact, he hadn't had a real lover since Auror training three years ago.  He hoped Draco didn't find him lacking.  Harry knew that Draco had plenty of suitors—he seemed to get chatted up constantly—but Harry wasn't actually sure how experienced he was.  It wasn't something he really wanted to think about.  He'd nearly hexed Zabini in the toilets last week.

He was torn from his thoughts when Draco reached the top of the stair and pushed open the wood door to his spacious bedroom.  He had only a moment to take in the large white bed before Draco was on him.  Hot kisses peppered his lips before deepening into a passionate kiss of tongue and teeth.  Harry focused on undressing them both, desperate to feel the other man's skin against his own.

As soon as they were both naked, Harry backed Draco onto the bed.  The sight of his long pale body and silver-blond hair falling back against the crisp white duvet was otherworldly.  He stared for a long moment, committing it to memory and feeling grateful for the existence of Pensieves.  He must have stared too long, because a glance at Draco's face showed a small frown and a furrowed brow.  Harry gave his biggest grin and was glad to see the tension leave the other man's features.

He climbed onto the bed between Draco's legs and lowered himself over him.  After indulging in more kissing, he asked about lube.  A small vial was thrust in his hands and he briefly wondered where Draco kept it to have it to hand so quickly.  The thought disappeared among more urgent thoughts of Draco's smell and taste when he kissed him.  

He struggled to open the vial with one hand, but he was able to coat a finger and set it aside without ruining the pristine bedding.  He ran his palm down Draco's side and arse, keeping his slick fingers away until he reached those perfect, plump cheeks.  He pulled the globes apart and ran a finger down the cleft in between.

Draco's whole body went rigid.   Shit!  What had he done wrong?  Maybe Draco still didn't trust him.  Maybe Draco had been with men who were too rough and hurt him.  The thought made Harry sick and he vowed to make tonight pleasurable for Draco.

He kissed Draco fiercely, pouring his outrage at any mistreatment into his lips and tongue.  He kissed his way down Draco's body and settled himself on his belly between the other man's legs.  Hovering above Draco's groin, he was reassured by the sight and smell of his arousal.  He stretched out his tongue and licked a long stripe from the dusty pink balls along a thick vein to the tip of his cock.  He teased the slit with his tongue before taking the head into his mouth.  He licked and sucked until Draco's heavy breathing gave way to moans and whimpers.  

He was bracing himself against Draco's thigh, and he used the muscles there to gauge his lover's tension.  His lover.  Draco Malfoy was his lover.  The thought excited him further and he plunged himself down on Draco until he could feel his cock in his throat.  Draco was babbling and his hand was carding through Harry's hair.  He briefly hoped those long fingers wouldn't get caught in his tangles.

Confident in Draco's pleasure, he fumbled for the lube again.  He slicked his fingers again and, his mouth still sucking Draco's cock, began circling the puckered entrance hidden between firm buttocks.  He would have loved to watch his finger tease and ultimately penetrate that tight little hole, but he sensed that Draco's needed his ministrations to stay relaxed.  He sucked hard as he let his first finger push inside.  Draco tensed again, but quickly relaxed.  

He was incredibly tight, and Harry felt a jolt of possessive pleasure as he considered that it must have been a while for Draco, too.   Take that Zabini!  Remembering his concern about rough former-lovers, Harry took his time to stretch Draco gently.  When he added a second finger, he began to feel around for that sensitive spot that would add to Draco's pleasure.

“Ah!”  Harry smiled to himself; he must have found it.  Draco was moaning louder and bucking his hips such that Harry had to pull back to keep from choking.  A moment later, Draco's body clenched around his fingers and hot cum splattered against the side of Harry's face.

Harry blinked in his surprise.  He hadn't realised how close Draco was and felt embarrassed for having pulled off just before he came.  Would Draco think he was squeamish about swallowing?

Draco looked equally surprised, propped up on his elbows with his face flush and his mouth gaping.  “Um . . . sorry,” Draco said quietly.  He looked abashed as if he'd done something wrong rather than being the picture of sexual perfection spread out beautifully for Harry to see.  

Harry placed a finger to his own wet cheek and saw the grey eyes follow the movement intently.  Then he brought the finger, now wet with cum, to his lips.  He couldn't claim that semen was the tastiest thing he'd ever put in his mouth, but the thought that he was taking in Draco's own fluid made it erotic.  He licked his finger clean, watching Draco as Draco watched his tongue.  When their eyes met, Harry grinned at the disbelief and lust he saw in the large grey eyes in front of him.

He wasn't sure whether Draco was still hypersensitive from his orgasm, so he started his massaging on his thighs.  When he saw Draco's cock twitch, Harry grew bolder in his ministrations.  He began to lick and bite between the strokes of his hands and soon the moans had returned.  He eased his fingers back into Draco's hole and found his prostate more quickly than before.  He returned his mouth to Draco's cock as he added a third finger.  Draco was still very tight, but he had relaxed under Harry's hands and mouth.  Harry's own neglected cock was aching and he didn't think he could hold off any longer.  His sanity was at stake.  

He wiped his mouth and cheek with the back of his arm and then climbed up Draco's body until their foreheads touched.  “Like this?  Or do you want to ride me?”  Draco looked a bit panicked, so Harry answered his own question.  “Let's do it like this.”  He lifted Draco's hips and slid a thick pillow underneath.  Then he pressed Draco's knees up to his chest.  “Comfortable?”  Draco nodded.  

Harry found the vial of lube again and poured it liberally over his cock.  As soon as he pressed the head of his cock against Draco's hole, he felt Draco's body tense.  “It's okay, Draco.  I'll be careful.”  He leaned forward and kissed him soundly before pulling back and lining up again.  He pressed in gently, using his hands to soothe Draco's body beneath him.  It felt amazing and it took an act of will not to lose himself completely in that first moment.  

He let his eyes fall to the thin, faint scar he'd been ignoring on Draco's chest.  The brief reminder of what a moment's stupidity could have cost them was all it took to sober him and pull him back from orgasm.  He could never undo that scar or the terror that must have accompanied it, but he could create new memories of pleasure and joy.  

He took a deep breath and let it out.  Draco wiggled beneath him.  “Still with me?” he drawled lazily despite their position.  Harry had to laugh.  Draco was naked and spread out with Harry's cock up his arse, yet he still managed to talk down to Harry with that dry tone and an arched brow.

“Yes, still here.”  He smiled with the fondness he felt for his feisty, beautiful bedmate.  And then he began to move.  He started slowly, still too afraid of causing pain, but soon built up speed.  One hand gripped at Draco's thigh whilst his other stroked his cock.  It wasn't easy to keep his hands and hips in time, but the concentration helped Harry delay his own orgasm.  He was determined that it be good for Draco and that he come first.

Harry was rewarded with the sight of Draco Malfoy falling apart in his hand.  He was flushed and gasping beneath him as his cock spurted across his chest.  His legs, still jutting up in the air, were trembling and slick with sweat.  Harry knew he wouldn't last long with that sight burned into his eyes.  He let go of himself and thrust hard and deep as his balls tightened and his whole body tensed into an explosion.  

He lost himself to the bright light and the rushing in his ears.  Sweat was dripping into his eyes, causing them to sting.  He ran the back of his hand across his eyes and realised he still had some of Draco's semen on his cheek.  He would have laughed, but his body was spent.  It took the remains of his energy to pull out gently from Draco's body before collapsing next to him on the bed.

“That was fucking fantastic,” he murmured, already half-asleep.

* * *

Draco was more than a little surprised to find Harry Potter in his bed the next morning.  It wasn't that he'd forgotten what they'd been up to the night before—his arse would have reminded him anyway—it's just that he had assumed Potter would disappear in the night.  Maybe the man was still tired from the Shaw case.

In any event, it was Monday morning and Draco had a new boss to earn favour with, so he slipped from bed and headed for the shower.  He certainly needed it.  

He emerged from his bathroom to find a sleepy Potter sitting up in Draco's bed and smiling at him.  The smile suddenly transformed into a pout.  “You left.  Come back to bed.”

“Some of us have work to do, Potter.”

Potter scowled and it was far more authentic than the pout had been.  “Harry.”  It took Draco a moment to understand Potter's objection.  

“Really,” he drawled.  “I've been calling you Potter for years.”

“And you used to say it like a curse.  I don't want us to do things just because we used to.  We don't fight like we used to.  We're not enemies.  We can use each other's real names.”

“Malfoy is my real name, Potter.”  The glare grew fiercer.  “Fine, fine.   Harry .”  He'd never admit it, but it actually felt rather thrilling to call him that.  He couldn't resist trying it again.

“Draco,” came the purred reply.  

He shivered.  How on earth could Pot—Harry—say his name like that?  Unbidden images of the night before rushed through his mind and he felt himself growing hard.  “Enough, you.  You stink of sweat and I'm hungry.  For food!” he clarified at Potter's leer.

Harry got up from bed, but didn't head for the shower.  He was approaching Draco with his arms forward.

“No!  You're covered in sweat and cum, and I freshly showered!  Go!  Bathe!”  Draco ignored the kicked-puppy expression and hurried to his closet to dress.  The distant sound of water running met his return to the bedroom and he had to smile.  Harry Potter was naked in his shower.  He allowed himself a moment of giddiness before heading downstairs to make breakfast.

He was finishing preparing breakfast when strong arms wrapped around him and the smell of buttery toast was replaced with that of his own shampoo mixed with the unique scent of Harry.  He looked down at the sleeves around his waist.  “Yesterday's clothes, P—Harry?”  There was a squeeze and a kiss on his neck before Harry let go.

“Meh.  They don't care what we wear, just so long as we get the job done.”

“Well eat up.  We've only twenty minutes before those of us who work on the clock have to be at the Ministry.”

“Is Clearwater a stickler for punctuality?”

“Clearwater is gone.  Off to Venice on a glorified vacation.  It's Sothman, now.”  Draco congratulated himself for saying the man's name without shuddering

Harry scowled.  “Bernard Sothman?”  Draco nodded.  “ He's your boss now?  I don't like him.”  They finished eating in silence, and Draco wondered at Harry's sudden brooding.  

They Apparated to the Ministry together and stood in comfortable silence on the lift ride to Level 2.  When they reached the turn where their paths separated, Draco was surprised that Harry continued with him toward Substances.

“Lost?  The floor isn't that big,” he teased.

“Just walking you to your desk.”  Harry was looking further down the hall and there was a determined set to his jaw.  They made a turn and Draco's desk came into view.  Sothman was standing right next to it.  Sothman glanced briefly at Draco before he locked his eyes on Harry as they approached.  Harry stared right back.

“Auror Potter.  What brings you to Substances?” Sothman asked in the sycophantic tone he saved for those who might prove a powerful ally or threat.

“Just walking Draco to his desk,” Harry replied as he wrapped an arm around Draco's waist and gave a squeeze.  

Sothman's eyes widened before narrowing.  “Well, here it is,” he growled, throwing a hand toward Draco's desk.

“So it is.”  Harry looked happier and perhaps a bit smug as he turned to Draco.  “Have lunch with me?”  Draco wasn't sure whether Harry meant an actual meal or Apparating home for a quick shag.  Either sounded good, so he nodded.  “Excellent.  See you then.”  And then he leant forward and kissed Draco square on the lips in the middle of Substances and in front of Draco's boss.  Draco could already hear the murmur of gossip spreading in the distance.

Sothman stomped off and no one touched Draco that day.  

* * *

It was good to be Harry Potter's lover.  It was surely because of Harry that the Minister had named him Substances Liaison, put him in charge of advising other departments about potions and other regulated substances, and had even given him his own office.  Now when the Aurors needed him, they came straight to his office.  And he found Harry needed him constantly.  Luckily, having his own office allowed them to shut the door and throw up a silencing spell.  His large mahogany desk had proved to be a very practical piece of furniture.

They often had lunch together, sometimes alone and sometimes with one of Harry's Gryffindor friends.  Draco discovered that he could share a meal with Weasley and Longbottom, so long as they discussed illegal potions cases and little else.  He assumed that was why Harry invited him along in the first place.

Harry usually ended up at Draco's house in the evenings, and it was much clearer what his intent was then.  He ate Draco's food—despite having a house-elf, Draco found he liked cooking—drank his wine, and then fucked him into the mattress.  Harry would then be too tired to go home, so he'd sleep in Draco's bed.  After a couple of weeks of this, Harry even had clothes and some personal items stored there.

On weekends, Harry would pester Draco into spending time at his cottage with him.  He was probably just lonely now that his two best friends were married to each other.  And Draco found he didn't mind helping Harry tend his garden or going for long walks through the neighbouring farmland.  

He did, however, draw the line at Sunday lunch at the Weasley hovel—um, house.  One Weasley might be tolerable over good food and Auror talk.  A dozen Weasleys, including little Weasleys, was too much.  So it was that Draco had created a standing lunch date with Pansy for Sunday lunch.  They would try new restaurants or visit Theo or Greg, and he would remember what it was like to spend time with people not intent on saving the world.  When he would get home on Sunday nights, he would find Harry reading Quidditch magazines on his couch in nothing but a t-shirt and his underwear.

* * *

Harry and Draco had been dating quite seriously for over two months.  Despite all of the time they spent together, Harry found he still couldn't get enough of Draco's dry sense of humour, insightful comments, and firm arse.  And people had been surprisingly accepting of them as a couple.  

Hermione had made her peace with Draco when they'd both returned to Hogwarts after the war, Neville was too forgiving to hold a grudge, and Ron couldn't hate someone who was doing such great things for his career.  In fact, Ron had suggested that Draco be available to the Aurors as a permanent advisor, and Kingsley had gone ahead and made up a new position just for Draco.  

Even the public had been supportive—though largely due to Hermione's meeting with Rita Skeeter in which Hermione suggested Skeeter write the story as a sweet romance if she didn't want an Auror investigation into her being an unregistered Animagus.  The article published the following day had told a melodramatic story of star-crossed lovers finally united that the public had greedily devoured before begging for more.

Life was going so smoothly, Harry had too much time to focus on the one thing he'd yet to resolve: asking Draco to the Burrow for Christmas.  It was already December, and Harry had yet to ask.  It was just that Draco was so opposed to even a Sunday lunch at the Burrow; how was Harry going to get him to agree to a major holiday?

But Harry couldn't bear the thought of Christmas without him.  He thought back to the year before and how he had been the only person over the age of six not in a couple.  Charlie and Alin had flown in from Romania, Ginny was in town with her new boyfriend, and everyone else was the same picture of domestic bliss he faced every Sunday.  And he'd been alone, nursing an eggnog with Firewhisky and a huge crush on Draco Malfoy.

He'd pined for Draco last Christmas because he'd had no idea the other man might have any interest in him.  There was no way he would repeat that fate when he and Draco all but lived together.

He waited until the weekend, exactly two weeks before Christmas, before broaching the subject.  They were at his cottage, as was their Saturday tradition, eating toast with tea as they struggled with a crossword from the newspaper—the Telegraph, because Harry figured it was as Malfoy as a Muggle paper could get.  They were sitting in the conservatory that jutted out into the garden, allowing them the sense of the outdoors without the cold.


“Hmm?”  Draco was still studying the crossword, his brow slightly creased as he stroked the edge of the quill along his jaw.  When Harry remained silent, he glanced up with curious grey eyes.

“I was thinking about Christmas.”

“Thinking what to buy me?”  Draco was smiling with the materialistic glee of a small child, and Harry fought not to laugh.  Draco could be so sophisticated and mature one moment, only to regress to childishness when promised a present or denied a treat.

“I've already sorted your present—”

“Just one?”  He sounded put-out.

“I'm not talking about presents!  I want to talk about plans!  Your plans.”

Draco suddenly looked quite bored, but Harry had a feeling it wasn't genuine.  “I was planning to visit my mother in Vienna.  She has a lot of tiresome parties planned, but I suspect I'll find ways to entertain myself.”

Harry's mind filled with horrible images of ways Draco could entertain himself unaccompanied in a foreign city.  Hadn't Draco once mentioned some Viennese wizard his mother had tried to set him up with?  He felt his body heat with anger at the thought of Draco with another man.

“You wouldn't—We're . . .  Are we . . .”   Well that didn't come out right .  Harry just wasn't sure what he wanted to ask or say; they'd never really discussed their relationship before.  He tried again.  “There's no one else, right?  You wouldn't . . . you know . . .”

“Are you asking if I intend to involve myself with other men whilst on holiday?”  Harry nodded, hating how articulate Draco sounded in contrast to his own ramblings.  “No, that is not my intention.  And you?  Will you fill your bed in my absence?”

“What?  No!  Of course not!”  He was about to ask how Draco could even think that, but had the good sense to shut up lest the question be turned back on him.  “I don't want anyone else.”  He delighted in the way Draco blushed at Harry's confession.  “But I was thinking . . . maybe we don't need to spend the holidays apart at all.”

Draco's brow scrunched together as if he were decoding something cryptic.  “You want to come to Vienna and go to balls that even I find tedious?  You don't even like Ministry balls where everyone speaks English and your friends are there.”

“Well, no.  I was kind of hoping we could spend Christmas here.  With the Weasleys.”  Harry watched surprise, confusion, a hint of disgust, and more confusion cross Draco's face.

“Why would I—do you think they'd even let , I mean want, me in their house, let alone at Christmas?

“Draco, you've been invited to Sunday lunch ever since we started dating.  I know you have a rough history with some of the Weasleys, but I'm part of their family and you're my boyfriend.”

“Rough history?  I poisoned their son!  My father gave their only daughter a cursed diary which almost—wait, boyfriend?”

Harry was thrown by the sudden change in conversation.  Why would Draco be surprised to hear Harry call him his boyfriend?  What else would he be when they were sleeping together and spending all their time together?  He put that thought into words.

“I don't know.  Lover, I guess.”

“What's the difference?”

“Well, boyfriend sounds rather . . . I don't know, domestic.”  Harry glanced from the mugs of tea—his with a snitch and Draco's with a little cauldron and the words “morning brew”—to the half-complete crossword and then back to the bed-rumpled man wearing the grey flannel pyjama bottoms he'd stolen from Harry that morning.  What about that scene wasn't domestic.  Draco seemed to have guessed his thoughts because he turned a little pink.  

Harry wasn't very good at talking about feelings and relationships, especially without Hermione to translate, but he suspected he and Draco needed to do just that.  Knowing that he worked best when he acted on impulse, he did not reflect on his words before speaking.

“I really like you, Draco.  I mean, you’re super-hot, but it's more than that.  A lot more.  I miss you on Sundays, and I spend most of the time we're apart thinking about you and what you'd think or say if you were there.  I always think that you'd love Mrs. Weasley's pies, but you'd be disgusted by how much red and brown sauce Ron can use on his potatoes.  I wonder what position you'd want to play if you joined us for Quidditch and then I wonder if you'd want to play on my team or against me.  

“I think about you all day and then I Floo to your house and love the fact that you allow me in at all , let alone when you're not there.  I browse your books and your photos and try to glean little details about you from where you live because I can't know enough about you.  Fuck, Draco.  I'm completely smitten and falling for you, and you’re not sure if you consider yourself my boyfriend?”

Okay, so maybe Harry had gotten a little petulant at the end.  He realised that he had been crumpling the Telegraph with his fingers whilst talking and tried in vain to smooth it out again.  As the silence grew, he looked back up at Draco's face.  His eyes were still wide and his jaw hung loose so that his mouth made a delicious little “O” shape.  Had Harry scared him with his confession?  Did he think he was some crazed stalker?  Should he say something else, or would that just make it worse?

“You're . . .” came Draco's raspy voice, although his face did not change from his expression of shock, “falling for me?  What do you mean, falling for me?”

Should he say what he really meant, or should he try to tone it down?  “I mean it's not just this Christmas I want to spend with you.  I think about us years from now.  I think about us living together and wonder about us having children.  I know we've only been dating a couple of months, and maybe you think I'm crazy, but I've known you forever and I've liked you for years, and I . . .  I don't know, I just feel like it's always been you .”

* * *

Draco was completely shocked.  Harry Potter had basically just confessed to falling in love with him and thinking about spending their future together.

Should he, could he believe it?  He'd made bad choices in his lifetime; he had put his faith in things that had blown up in his face.  Dare he put his faith in Harry?  

But hadn't he already done so?  Didn't he trust Harry to pull him out of the Fiendfyre and out of Azkaban?  And he'd come through.  He'd saved Draco from death and imprisonment.  So didn't it make sense that Harry would be the one to save him from loneliness?  Because he had been alone.  He hadn't even realised how much so until Harry filled that space in his life, and he couldn't bear to imagine Harry leaving again.

He looked into those deep green eyes and knew, knew , that he would find happiness if he gave in to hope.  He took a deep breath, smiled, and placed his hand over one of Harry's fidgeting ones.  

“I'll spend Christmas with the Weasleys with you, if you come with me to Vienna for New Year's.”  Harry's whole face glowed as his smile transformed him.  It was beautiful and it filled Draco with hope that this would work.  He would have Harry, and not just as a lover or a bodyguard.

A troubling thought occurred to him, and he frowned.  “Do I have to buy the Weasleys presents?”