Ron pulled his tattered cloak tighter about him as made his way down one of the seedy side streets off Knockturn Alley. Just barely October, and already the wind had a harsh bite to it. But the winter was only going to get colder as the months wore on, so Ron ignored his discomfort as he trudged forward. When he reached his usual place by the snake shop, he wiped all expression from his face and struck up the kind of pose that tended to attract customers.
Not that he had many of those. Most of the men prowling Knockturn Alley looking to satisfy their base urges didn't look to him. They wanted someone thin and delicate, fine-boned, someone who could put on effeminate airs, not a tall well-built man that in other circumstances could probably beat them to a pulp. Of course Ron was thin these days; starvation tended to do that. But not even the past year, every day of it defined by hunger, could hide the fact that here was no delicate flower.
Had it been a year already? Ron shook his head in disbelief, then huddled his face down more fully into his collar. No scarf. He hadn't had one with him that horrible day when Voldemort had announced his sentence. Ron had been expecting death, had almost welcomed the prospect. He hadn't wanted to live in the kind of world sure to exist now, a world without Harry Potter, a world in which the Dark Lord had achieved his ambition to rule wizarding Britain from shore to shore.
But it hadn't mattered what he'd wanted. All that mattered now was what pleased Voldemort.
"Your brothers were so unwittingly helpful to me," the Dark Lord had hissed at Ron's trial, his red eyes piercing as he began to chuckle. "Peruvian Darkness Powder. Ah, yes. Wonderful… I would reward them were they still here, but as you are the sole remaining remnant of your family line, you will have to benefit in their stead. You are free to go, Ronald Bilius Weasley."
No, you're supposed to kill me the way you killed Harry! Ron had almost shouted.
He couldn't say that, though. Deep down, he didn't really want to die.
Free to go, as it turned out, had been misleading but true. Times were lean under Voldemort's rule. What few jobs there were went to wizards far more "deserving" than Ron. The Dark Lord's favourites got the best positions. Then other Death Eaters. Then their relatives. Even when it came to thoroughly pedestrian jobs like shop clerk, or even street cleaner, Ron was shut out, and not just because he no longer had a wand. It was a new world order and everyone wanted to curry favour with those who mattered now. Ron was well-known as one who had stood beside Harry Potter to the very end. His pardon made no difference at all. Nobody would risk offending Voldemort by giving Ron Weasley a hand-out, let alone an actual job.
Not that there were many left who would be inclined.
Even those who had never heard of him knew better than to offer him any aid. The mark emblazoned on his cheek announced his loyalties to all who chose to look. He was Voldemort's enemy, no matter that their Dark Lord had let him live.
At first, Ron had been proud of the lightning-bolt etched into his flesh. He'd stood with Harry, yes. He wasn't ashamed of that, no matter what it had cost him in the end.
As the days gave way to weeks, though, and he'd been reduced to theft, he'd come to love that mark less and less. He grew his hair long in an attempt to obscure it, but people knew to look. He wasn't the only one marked that way, though really, there weren't very many, either. Hundreds had died. And then Harry himself.
And Ron was left living on the streets, stealing to survive.
He knew better than to steal from wizards, of course. There were too many anti-theft spells being strewn around these days. Ron could think of few things he'd enjoy less than being hauled into Voldemort's tribunal once again, accused of another crime. So Ron stole from Muggles.
A nasty run-in with the London police had put an end to that, however. Without a wand, unable to so much as Apparate, he'd barely managed to get away.
Unable to see much alternative, Ron had turned away from theft to the one job that remained. He'd returned to the wizarding world, where at least it was legal to sell the only thing he had left. At first he'd wondered if he'd find any takers. He wasn't the most handsome man in the world, and wouldn't hiring him for an hour or a night go against the unwritten rule that those with a lightning bolt on their cheek were beneath notice?
Ah, but degrading such people . . . that was apparently all right. Ron found himself with a sparse trickle of customers, along with two or three men who sought him out on a somewhat regular basis. It was enough to keep himself sparsely fed, though not always enough for luxuries like a roof over his head each night, let alone a proper scarf.
"Well, well. If it isn't Ronald Weasley," said a voice close by.
Lost in his thoughts, Ron hadn't even noticed the man standing near him until he heard that voice with its smooth, familiar tones. He recognised those tones at once. Something inside him twisted, but Ron ignored it. Life was really very simple these days. He couldn't afford to turn away paying customers, no matter how distasteful they might be.
"Hallo, Malfoy." For a moment Ron wondered if he should have said Draco. Old habits died hard.
"You don't look well."
It wasn't said with glee or even enjoyment; it was just a statement of fact. Ron answered in as level a voice as he could manage.
"Winter coming on."
"Ah." Draco looked up and down the alleyway. "Business isn't so good?"
"No." Business was a surprisingly polite way for Malfoy to put it. Ron braced himself, expecting that the ridicule would start now. Peddling your arse, are you, Weasley . . .
But that wasn't what Malfoy said.
"Perhaps I'll steer a friend of two this way, then. I wish you well, Ronald."
Ronald. . .
Draco walked off then, his heels clicking on the pavement. When Ron followed the noise with his gaze, he saw that the other man's shoes looked new.
Ron wouldn't have spent much time puzzling over the strange encounter if he'd had anything else to do. As it was, standing hour past hour in the spot where his few regulars would come look for him, his mind went back time and again to the brief conversation. Draco Malfoy, trying to be civil? He must have a reason, thought Ron. He must know something or want something or. . .
Ron just couldn't figure out what.
The promised "friends" never did arrive. A few days later though, Draco himself stopped by again.
Ron was ready that time; he'd been watching as the other man approached. "Draco," he said, voice level. If Draco was going to put them on a first name basis, who was Ron to object? The customer is always right. Not that Draco was a customer yet, but if Ron played his cards well, who knew? Maybe he could charge Draco more than the going rate. He somehow doubted the Malfoys bothered keeping current with prices. Draco's furred robes alone said that times weren't lean, not for them.
"I did mention you to a few friends," said Draco in a quiet voice. No mockery, no vicious satisfaction to see Ron brought so low. "But they aren't the type to frequent back alleys. If you set up shop a little closer to Diagon Alley proper, perhaps. . .?"
The suggestion hung in the air.
Ron turned his scarred cheek to face the wall. "You know I'd just be driven back into the shadows."
"Yes, well. . ." Draco made a noise that almost sounded sympathetic. Ron didn't think it was, though. More… non-committal. "That mark must make things difficult."
Ron almost snorted. That had definitely resembled sympathy, but he didn't believe it, not from Draco Malfoy. "If things had turned out differently, you'd be the one with that problem."
When Draco took a step closer and leaned over as though negotiating for his services, Ron felt a brief flare of hope.
But all Draco said was, "You're talking treason. Things could not have been different."
Oh, yes, they could have, thought Ron. If my brothers hadn't sold you that darkness powder. If you hadn't let Death Eaters into Hogwarts. If Dumbledore were still alive. . .
"I'll see if I can do something for you," Draco continued, stepping back. "For old times' sake."
Ron almost scoffed at that. What old times? They'd hated each other from the moment they'd met! He had too much sense, however, to reject the offer outright. Hunger had taught him that much. He opened his mouth, wanting to suggest two Galleons for a quick hand-job in the alley. Four for a nice, long blow-job. Or if Malfoy wanted to spring for a room, Ron would--
In the end, he didn't say any of those things, though, but not because he was too proud. It was more the fact that Malfoy wasn't looking at him in any way Ron could understand. Was the man even attracted to other men? Would he recoil from the suggestion that he might be?
Would his offer to see if he could do something vanish, the moment Ron offended him? Not that Ron really believed the offer. . . but he supposed it might be genuine.
"Thank you," Ron only said, nodding.
Draco nodded in reply, then went on his way, his cape a bright emerald streak against the drab grey storefronts of Knockturn Alley.
A crust of bread and a mug of hot soup. The little things were what made life bearable, Ron thought, cupping his bare hands around the mug and soaking in the warmth. He'd had a spot of luck the night before, and been solicited by a witch and wizard out to put a little adventure into their marriage. Ron had wanted to refuse at first. Ever since Hermione had died, he didn't like to sleep with women. Too many reminders. But beggars couldn't be choosers. As long as he had to put himself through it, though, he decided he should make it worth his while. Two at once is quadruple the regular price, he'd said with a hard glare. When that hadn't seemed to faze the couple at all, he'd quoted them a rate considerably higher than quadruple, and demanded they hire a room for the whole night, not just the hours he might be working.
So now he had coin enough in his pocket for a couple of days' meals and lodging.
It wasn't much, but it was more security than he'd had for most of the past year.
"You're looking cheerful this morning," said Draco as he stopped as though to make polite conversation.
Actually, Ron supposed that the other man actually was making polite conversation. The whole concept of that was just. . . off. So much so that Ron couldn't really believe in it.
"I had a good night last night." Ron looked Draco full in the face, realizing as he did that he'd been avoiding that up until now. But this was the third time Draco had come around. Time to take the wand by the grip. "Why do you keep walking down this alley, Draco?"
"The best tobacco in Britain is sold right there," said Draco, pointing. "And it's finest when bought fresh."
Ron thought about that. "You never smoked back at . . ."
He couldn't say it, not when this man was the one who had let Death Eaters into the place. The one who had ruined it. Who had helped ruin the whole world.
"Oh, it's a new affectation of my father's." Draco shrugged. "He's not the same since Azkaban."
In the old days, Ron would never have let a comment like that pass him by. Lucius Malfoy deserved to rot in Azkaban for the rest of his days, but Ron didn't say so. A few coins in his pocket, after all, weren't much security compared to what he might be able to finagle out of Draco.
"You were. . . going to see if you could do something for me, I think you said?"
"It's not forbidden," Draco sounded like he felt defensive to even be discussing such a thing. "It just might not be. . . terribly political."
Ron lifted the soup mug up to hide his expression, only to grimace when he realised his best meal in ages had gone stone-cold. He wasn't sure what to say next, but he couldn't just leave it at that. How to get Draco to make a move? Towards charity or a proposition . . .
"I'm not sure why you would want to take the chance."
Sincere, those smooth, cultured tones of Draco's. "You don't think you're worth it, Ronald?"
I know exactly what I'm worth these days, thought Ron, bitter. Or maybe he was bitter because he couldn't figure out how to play Draco. It probably wasn't possible to out-Slytherin a Slytherin, Ron thought with disgust. If the man wanted to have him, even for novelty's sake, wouldn't he have done something about it by now?
"I can't figure out what you want with me," Ron said flatly.
Draco smiled. It wasn't sly, but it was enigmatic. "Perhaps I see you as. . . a project. And walking past here, seeing you time and again . . . well, you really are down on your luck, aren't you? Not that you don't deserve to be, what with your disastrous choice of friends, but then again, you did have lovely taste in brothers, didn't you?"
"Fred and George," spat Ron, shaking with anger. While his mother had been alive he'd tried to get past what the twins had done, but he'd never quite managed. Everything a joke to them, no sense of consequences. . .
"Oh, Percy as well." Draco suddenly sighed. "Really, Ronald, you ought to be a little bit more political yourself. Your fury is really wasted. The world's a different place now. If you don't adapt, you won't do well."
"And I suppose that peddling my arse what you call doing well?"
"You walked out on the Dark Lord the moment he freed you," said Draco, eyes narrowed to silver slits. "Did you ask him for employment? Did you even think to ask for a wand to replace the one that was destroyed when you were captured? The Dark Lord was in a mood to attribute your brothers' aid to you, you realise. He might still be, for all you know. The Battle of Hogwarts was a turning point in the war, and that darkness powder was a big part of what made it so. Did you try to turn that to your advantage?"
"I didn't know he'd keep all the wand makers so cowed that I'd have no chance of getting another, did I? I'd didn't know I'd be turned away from job after job. And why would I want to work for him, anyway?"
"I suppose it only stands to reason that you wouldn't think ahead and that you'd be too proud, even now, to adapt." Draco glanced toward the shop he'd pointed out earlier. "Very well. If you don't want help I suppose I'll just have to find another project."
Panicking, Ron put a hand on Draco's sleeve to stop him from leaving. When he realised what he'd done, he snatched his arm back. He'd learned the hard way that he ought to let his customers be the first ones to do any touching.
Draco wasn't a customer, though. He didn't look upset, even. More mirthful. "So you do want help?"
"I . . . yeah," Ron said, even though he wasn't quite sure what was on offer. Somehow, it didn't sound like Draco was talking about coming by weekly for a shag or a blow.
"Let me put out a few more feelers," said Draco. "If I go about this in the wrong way, my own standing could suffer. And that's just not on."
Feeling desperate by then, Ron blurted, "Well, if your feelers don't work out then you could always . . . um, stop by here for more than a chat, you know? It's pretty obvious that's all right with . . . what?"
Draco was shaking his head and clicking his teeth. "I don't think you do know what you're worth, Ronald. I'll be back when I've decided how to go about this."
Draco didn't answer that.
Ron stared after him until he was a blur in the distance, then gnawed on what was left of the crust of bread in his pocket.
A few days passed, and then a few more. Ron started to think he'd pushed too hard and that Draco was never coming back. The few coins he'd netted that evening with the married couple were soon history, and as November wound to a close, Ron began to wish in earnest that his wand could still cast a warming charm.
Was his magic so limited because he'd walked out on the Dark Lord, as Draco had said? You are free to go. . . Ron had taken that on face value. Would he have been more clever to hesitate a moment and ask how he could be of service?
No. No. That would have been a betrayal of Harry and everyone else who had died. It would have been worse than what Fred and George had done. They'd only been thoughtless. Reckless. They hadn't intended to serve the Dark Lord.
It would have made him every bit as bad as Percy!
But was it so noble to stand in the streets and sell himself, starving and freezing all the while? What higher good was he serving now? The war was lost, now and forever. Nothing Ron did in Voldemort's service would change that.
Not that Voldemort would want Ron in his service, anyway. Maybe once . . . maybe if he'd begged or something, the day of his trial. But now?
Draco was off his rocker, telling Ron he ought to "adapt." There was nothing to adapt to, simple as that. And Draco must have realised as much, which was why he'd never returned. Maybe he'd put out those "feelers" he'd talked about, and found out how useless and hopeless it all was.
Or maybe, he'd found out something else entirely.
Because the next evening, Draco was waiting by the snake shop when Ron returned from servicing one of his regulars.
"Draco," Ron said, the name muffled since he had the collar of his cloak pulled up over the lower half of his face.
The other man sighed and unwound the scarf from around his own neck. "Take it," he urged. "I have several dozen more, you realise."
Ron didn't hesitate. The scarf was soft and thick, and Draco's body heat was still clinging to it. The moment Ron wrapped it around his neck, he felt better.
"So . . . " Draco looked Ron up and down, his silver eyes not quite calculating, but not quite benign, either. "Have you thought about my offer?"
"To help you."
"Does it really matter?"
Ron decided it didn't.
"Then come with me," said Draco, reaching out an arm.
Ron hesitated, but then he put his hand on Draco's elbow. He'd almost forgotten what Apparition felt like, he thought, as he was squished through a narrow tube that took him away from Knockturn Alley.
Hopefully, once and for all.
Ron glanced around the well-appointed flat he'd ended up in. "You live here? What about the fancy manor house you always bragged about?"
"My father fills it with smoke until I can't breathe."
Draco tugged off his soft suede gloves and laid them on a table near the front door.
"So, what now?" asked Ron, not sure quite what Draco had in mind.
The other man shrugged. "I don't know. Believe it or not, Ronald, it's not my usual practise to bring home men who were selling themselves on the street."
Ron was too hardened to let the words bother him. "Is it your usual practise to bring home men at all?"
Draco smiled slightly. "Oh, yes."
Feeling on firmer ground now, Ron nodded. "So I suppose we should negotiate price, then--"
"I'll pay you by the week and in return you'll be my . . . personal rent boy, we'll say. You'll live here. No other men."
That firm ground disappeared entirely. "Why would you want me to live here?"
"Do you have anywhere to live?"
"There you are, then."
"That's not the point!" Ron blew out an irritated breath. Again, that strange feeling was washing over him, that there was more going on here than met the eye. "Draco, what do you really want from me?"
"Easy access to regular sex, I suppose." Draco flashed a deprecating smile. "Without complications."
"Then why all that talk about help?"
A careless shrug. "Well, seeing as you're you and I'm me, I didn't think you'd come along, otherwise."
"Like I have so many better options."
"Ah, but you're a Gryffindor," said Draco quietly. "You know, you'd rather die than . . . all that sort of blather."
"Maybe a year on the streets has knocked that out of me."
Draco looked like he doubted that. But then he shrugged. "Muted it, perhaps. I can't think you like living the way you were. I can offer you something better."
"For how long?" asked Ron, sure there had to be a trick or a catch. Or something.
"Until either one of us wants out?" Stepping closer, Draco stroked the back of his hand down Ron's cheek. "You need a shower. It's through there, and then you can join me in my bedroom."
Ron hesitated. A warm place to live, plenty to eat, and just one customer to please. It was more than he'd expected from Draco. He knew he should be over the moon. So why did he feel so empty inside? Why did he feel like he was betraying Harry?
But Harry lost, he reminded himself. He's beyond all this, but you're still alive, and you have to find a way to live.
"What about that help you were promising?"
Draco laughed and trailed a finger down Ron's cold cheek. "Are you good, Ronald?"
In bed. Draco didn't say it, but it was there in his eyes. A little ashamed of his answer, Ron nodded.
"Then I'm sure you'll earn it," said Draco, his voice as soft as his fingertip. "So then, get yourself cleaned up, and don't put those filthy rags back on. You can wrap a towel around your hips for now. We'll worry about some new clothes for you a bit later."
It was a clear dismissal; Ron recognized that. It was also high-handed and arrogant, just like Draco.
Ron nodded again, all the same.
The flat was warm enough, but wearing only a towel after a shower was still enough to make Ron shiver. Or maybe he was shivering because he was about to go have sex with Draco Malfoy, the very man whose treachery had helped turn the tide of war against Harry. The Order of the Phoenix had never recovered from the loss of Albus Dumbledore.
And it was all Draco's fault.
Well, Draco's and also Fred and George's, thought Ron, grimacing as he put his hand on the doorknob. Did he really want to go through it, knowing what awaited him? Fucking random strangers . . . or letting them fuck him, that was one thing. Ron didn't like it, but he was used to it.
Ron clenched his teeth. He didn't have a choice. Or rather, not a good one. He had to adapt, just like Draco had said
Ron swung the door open and headed for the bedroom. He'd expected the other man to be sprawled on the bed, perhaps even wearing something provocative. It seemed like Draco's style.
Draco was standing at the foot of his four-poster, waving his wand. He tucked it away when he saw Ron come out.
Six steps forward and Ron was before him.
Draco looked him up and down, his silver eyes assessing. "You clean up well," he said, beginning to touch Ron. A palm on a pectoral, fingers skimming his ribs. "Though I think you need to eat more. That shouldn't pose a problem, now. Well? Let's see the rest."
Disrobing completely was always hardest when the other man was still fully clothed. Ron wondered if Draco knew that. He reluctantly pulled the towel from around his hips, and let it drop.
"Nice." Draco reached down to stroke his cock, his soft fingers feeling so much like a girl's that against his will, Ron felt himself hardening. "Good size, good weight."
He talked like Ron was something he was buying. But then again, that's exactly what Ron was.
"Do you prefer top or bottom?" Ron quietly asked, even as his cock grew thick and long.
Draco glanced into his eyes, his own glinting hard. "Top. I fuck you. You don't fuck me."
"Agreeable, aren't you? I think this will work out well. Come with me." Draco led him to the foot of the bed, where silken cords seemed to grow out of the bed posts, just at the right height to secure a kneeling man. He knew his suspicions were right when Draco next said, "On your knees, then. I want you to suck me."
"You don't have to tie me up--"
"I want to." Draco motioned for Ron to kneel. Sighing, Ron obeyed, saying nothing as Draco stretched his wrists out and fastened them. No spell; he did the work by hand. "I'm sure you're no stranger to this sort of thing, but you'll have to get used to it with me."
That loosened Ron's tongue. "You don't like sex any other way?"
Draco tugged his ankles out and bound them as he talked. "I'm sure you recall the Dark Lord's fondness for keeping his captives chained or bound. You spent some time in his dungeons before your trial."
"What does that have to do with--"
"I like them bound," said Draco matter-of-factly. "I would visit. Though the Dark Lord said you were off limits. He planned, even then, to reward your brothers by freeing you."
But Ron wasn't thinking of himself. He wasn't the only one who had been captured. Harry had been, too. Just once. He'd escaped, but afterwards he'd never been the same. Ron felt himself go cold all over. "Not Harry?" he gasped.
Draco's hands tightened around Ron's bare ankle. "I was out on patrol the one night he spent as a guest of the Dark Lord." He tugged a knot so tight that Ron winced.
Ron's knees usually ached when he knelt down to blow a customer, but Draco's carpets were plush and soft. Still, his position was far from comfortable. The way he'd been tied, his arms were stretched out tautly to either side, and his ankles were pinioned far apart, forcing him to spread his legs wide to accommodate the stretch. His balls hung down, vulnerable, his large cock no longer hard. Thoughts of Harry being raped had killed every trace of Ron's earlier erection.
Those thoughts fled, however, when Draco knelt too and began touching him again, squeezing his cock this time instead of stroking it. "Oh, yes," the other man whispered as he worked the flesh. "Yes, good. That's it, yes."
All too soon, Ron's cock was horizontal to the floor and straining forwards, his hips pumping himself into Draco's hand.
"Are you so cooperative with all your clients?" Draco didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he arched forward and licked Ron's neck from shoulder to ear. "No matter. You're with me, now. And you're going to be good. I can tell that already."
Ron didn't want to reply to that, but he couldn't stop himself from grunting slightly. He was so close now, so close . . .
Just when he thought for sure that one more firm squeeze would have him exploding, Draco took his hands away. "You're ready now, I think." Standing, the other man opened his placket and took his own cock out, spreading his legs apart a bit to achieve the correct height. "You know what to do, I'm sure--"
Before Draco had finished speaking, Ron had swallowed him whole and was sucking that cock for all he was worth. He'd never been so turned on before when blowing a customer, but then again, he'd never been played with like that, either. Most of the men who fucked him just wanted to get off. They didn't care about Ron's pleasure, though sometimes they had cared about his pain.
Of course, Draco might not intend for Ron to actually come. For all Ron knew, he'd driven him to a frenzy merely to achieve this end: a better blowjob. Slytherin.
Draco had already been hard when Ron had started, but that didn't mean that Ron's work was all but over. He licked and sucked and nibbled for what seemed like hours as he learned what Draco liked best. The other man was making it last as long as possible. Ron was sure of it.
But strangely, despite his pulled-taut position and the discomfort it involved, Ron found he didn't mind sucking on and on Draco's cock. Long and slender, it didn't stretch his jaw the way some men's equipment did. The way Draco slid his cock in and out, caressing Ron's lips and throat, was almost pleasant.
Certainly, he didn't use Ron roughly, as we all too often the case with men paying for a blow. And he could have, of course. Ron was bound tight, not just by silken cords but also by circumstance itself.
When Draco came at last, the taste of it was almost sweet on Ron's tongue.
Ron swallowed. He'd been cuffed too many times for trying to avoid that. He had to admit, though, that he truly didn't think Draco would cuff him. Whatever this encounter was about, it wasn't that.
"Mmm, excellent," said the other man as he pulled out. Ron arched forward without meaning to. Wanting more. "Most excellent, yes."
Draco stepped back and surveyed Ron as he tucked his cock back into his pleated grey trousers. "My, my. You look a trifle . . . well, more than a trifle, actually, interested. In me. How fascinating."
"In sex," said Ron, his voice rough.
"Either way suits me. I suppose you did well enough to deserve a reward . . ." Kneeling again, Draco wrapped a hand around Ron's cock and began to pull him off.
Ron licked his lips as the pleasure and the pressure built up again, the feeling so intense that his balls began to feel almost distended.
"Open your eyes," said Draco. "No fantasies. No other men, remember? You're with me."
Ron opened his eyes to find himself staring into silver. The talk of other men took him aback. There never had been other men, not before he'd been forced into this life. There'd only been Hermione. Shame rose up to engulf him. What would Hermione say now, seeing him like this, bound and on his knees, but not as a captive? Bound by his own consent, and letting Draco Malfoy jerk him off?
But Ron was just too close to completion. Not even memories of Hermione could kill it for him.
He groaned out loud as his come spattered into Draco's waiting hands.
Ron knew what came next. Those few times he'd been jerked off by a customer, he'd most often been told to lick their hands clean afterward. Draco was no different. He lifted his hands to Ron's mouth, and didn't take them away until every trace of semen had been laved away.
"Oh yes, I could get used to having you around," said Draco, smiling. His hands settled onto Ron's shoulders and began a massage. "You're really quite obedient and amenable. I never would have guessed it, but I suppose those months on the streets took a toll."
"What now?" asked Ron, a little uncomfortable with that analysis.
Draco's smile grew wider. "I think I'll leave you here until morning, and then we'll start again." He laughed out loud when Ron glanced up, startled. "Well, tempting as that is, I don't think you'd be quite so agreeable after another eight hours on your knees. So . . ."
He waved his wand to make the bonds vanish away, then began rubbing lightly at Ron's wrists. Enjoying the marks, Ron thought. But it felt good, so he didn't object.
"What now," repeated Draco in a musing tone. "I'd like our arrangement to stand, Ronald, just as we discussed before. You're even better at this line of work than I'd planned on. Of course I haven't buggered you yet, but I'm assuming you know how to please a man that way, too. But of course if you'd rather leave, you're free to go." The words were an echo of Voldemort's. A deliberate echo, as it turned out. "The Dark Lord himself freed you. No one would dare hold you against your will after that. But if you feel our arrangement will suit you as well, climb into my bed."
Ron swallowed and got into the bed, a little ashamed that the prospect of being Draco Malfoy's sex toy didn't horrify him the way it should. But the sex had been satisfying. And the bed was soft, a warming charm clinging to the silken sheets. And Draco had been decent.
So Ron stayed, though it wasn't lost on him when he sniffed the scent of Incendio that he no longer had anything to wear.
In the morning he woke up alone. A note on a marble-inlaid table by the front door said to make himself at home. The same table held a folded pile of clothing. Brown trousers and a white button-up shirt, along with socks and pants. The shoes on the floor beneath the table were stiff and new. Once he'd put the clothes on, a pile of Galleons shimmered into existence on the table, and the note glowed briefly, the text changing to say that Ron should go out and buy a new wardrobe.
I don't care to see you in Gryffindor colours, Draco had written. Remember that.
Arrogant as ever, but Ron was hardly in a position to argue the matter. He briefly considered taking the money and not coming back, but what good would that really do him, in the long run? As soon as the cache of coins was depleted, he'd be faced again with the prospect of selling himself to any stranger who would pay. Living hand to mouth, never sure where his next meal was coming from.
Better to stay. The weekly wage Draco had proposed was more than Ron could earn on the streets, even without considering that here, his room and board were included. And clothes. And then there was the allure of that promise, that perhaps Draco could somehow help him. Ron wasn't sure what that meant. He'd already been pardoned by Voldemort. Perhaps if Ron was properly grateful for that, the mark on his cheek could be removed and he could get a better job than whoring himself out.
But Draco likes easy access to sex, Ron thought. Why would he help you if it meant losing that?
Ron shrugged. There was no telling what Draco was really up to. He'd just have to wait and see.
Ron didn't debate with himself any further. The new shoes squeaking with every step, he left the flat to see about some winter clothes.
"I see you've been busy."
Ron started slightly as someone Apparated beside him. He'd been waiting outside the front door for some time for Draco to return. He was used to waiting. At least now he was warm while he did it. Nothing like proper overcoat to bolster you against the rain and sleet of a London winter, especially when you had no way to cast a warming charm.
Draco was looking at the paper carriers scattered at his feet. "I know you don't have much experience with the finer things in life, but wizarding shops will deliver, you realise."
Ron shrugged as he pointed to his cheek. "Isn't your address known, though? I wasn't sure you'd want your name linked to someone like me."
Draco slanted him an amused look as he grabbed Ron's hand to Apparate them both inside, paper carriers as well. "I told you, didn't I, that I cleared matters with the Dark Lord before I took you in?"
Ron hated himself for asking, hated himself for wanting anything from the horrible monster who had killed Harry. Maybe those months on the street had muted his Gryffindor traits, he thought bleakly. Because he did ask.
"What did he say, the . . . the Dark Lord?"
"Not much." Draco strode through to his dining room and took a seat at the head of the table, waving Ron into a chair at his side. "He warned me not to give you a wand."
"As if I could do much with it," said Ron, sighing. "If Harry couldn't manage--"
"Don't say that name," snapped Draco. "I let it go once but I won't again. When I want to talk about Potter you can be sure I'll open the conversation. You're not to bring him up."
Just as well their food arrived then, an elf tip-toeing in with two plates balanced on bandaged hands. Ron busied himself eating and told himself it didn't matter if he couldn't talk about Harry. It was kind of awful to talk about him to Draco, anyway.
After a few moments, Draco put down his fork. "That's not what the Dark Lord meant about a wand, Ronald. He thinks you might kill yourself. And if he wanted you dead, you would be already."
"Right. He's grateful to me on account of Fred and George," said Ron bitterly. "If I hadn't walked out that day when he set me free, what would he have done? Given me some sort of living?"
"I don't presume to know his mind. But when I told him what you were doing to get by, he thought you'd be better off with steady work. He nodded when I said I'd take you on."
Ron ignored his wine and drank some water. "And?"
"Anxious, aren't you?" Draco smiled. "It will take some time, Ronald. We'll see."
They finished lunch in silence, and then Draco led the way to his bedroom. "Time to see how well you do at something else, I think. Off with those new clothes. Hands and knees on the bed. Well? Why the reluctance? I'm paying you enough."
Ron wasn't reluctant; he'd just been startled by the demand for sex. He'd thought Draco would have to return to the office, so to speak. Of course, he wasn't sure exactly what Draco did for Voldemort, or what sort of hours were required. There were rumours that during the war, Draco had tortured captives for Voldemort. Ron didn't believe them.
"I'll ward the flat to let you in," said Draco as he removed his own clothes. "So, you're about to be quite thoroughly rogered, Ronald. I do hope your months on the street haven't made you horribly loose. I like a nice, tight arse."
On his hands and knees as directed, Ron shook his head. "Never had anyone complain."
"Excellent." Ron felt Draco's hand at the small of his back, shoving down until Ron's face was smashed into the bedcovers. He hurriedly turned his face to the side so he could breathe. "Now, bring your hands up behind your back," said Draco.
Ron did, but it put an awful lot of pressure on his neck.
"Had many customers who liked to restrain you?" asked Draco in a casual voice as he began to slip something over Ron's wrists. It felt like nothing so much as a sleeve. But it didn't stop at his wrists. Draco began smoothing it upwards, tightening it as he went, until Ron's arms were bound together behind his back almost to his elbow.
His shoulder felt stretched by the odd position, stretched to the point of pain. Ron did his best not to gasp as he replied, "Not many. Some--"
Finished with his arms, Draco began running his palms up and down Ron's bare sides. "Like this?"
Draco's voice was smug. "Intense, isn't it? And we're just getting started."
Ron felt something new, then. His knees were encircled by soft cloth that somehow hardened onto his skin, and then they were pushed apart, inch by inch by something in the middle.
"Spreader bar," Draco said, laughter lurking behind the words. "And I think we can go a bit wider, yes . . ."
A bit? Draco kept increasing the length of the bar until Ron's knees were stretched obscenely wide, until his arse cheeks were parting all by themselves. Ron felt so tightly controlled and pinioned that he could hardly bear it. Helpless, utterly helpless. And in no small amount of pain. His thighs were screaming for release, his arms bound behind him joining in the chorus. It felt like all his weight was resting on one side of his face.
Bound like this, his cock and balls hung free beneath him. Open to anything Draco desired.
Ron had a sudden, violent conviction that Draco had tied him up like this to do something horrible to him. Castrate him, perhaps. Make him regret standing with Harry for all those years.
Ron abruptly started trying to straighten his legs so he would lie flat upon the bed.
"Now, none of that," said Draco, still laughing. "Position too hard to maintain on its own?" Spells from his wand suddenly shoved Ron back up on his knees, this time lifting his arse even higher than before into the air. The pressure remained steady, keeping Ron in place as Draco moved behind him and cupped his balls.
"You're going to come harder than you ever have, Ronald," said Draco in a voice oozing with confidence. "You're going to love being tied like this. You'll see."
"Let me up," grunted Ron, panic beginning to overtake him.
"When we're through, if you want to leave I won't stop you. But I'll have you first." Draco's voice was smug. "And after that, you'll want to stay."
Ron doubted that. He never had much liked getting fucked up the arse. He didn't hate it, either, unless the man he was with made an effort to be cruel.
Draco's bonds were very cruel, but his hands were teasing and coaxing Ron to hardness, alternating between cock and balls, massaging Ron's foreskin until Ron felt a new sort of tension join the tightness in his thighs and shoulders. Now his cock was straining as well, his hips trying to hump despite his tightly confined position.
"Can't rub yourself off, can you?" whispered Draco as he removed his hands. "But you don't need to. This is to teach you that. You're going to come from my cock alone."
By then, Ron almost believed that he would. He was gasping and needy, crying out with it when Draco began to pay attention to his arse instead. He felt lube, lots of it. More than most of his customers used. And then familiar pressure, Draco sinking into him in one smooth stroke. God, but Draco's cock felt long.
Long and skilled, Draco setting up a rhythm that Ron could feel in his balls as well as his arse. The burn hurt, as it always did, but it was more than pain this time. It made his cock start to drip.
Ron heard himself start gibbering. Bound as tightly as he was, there was nothing Ron could do for himself. That was when gibbering turned to begging. For release. For Draco.
"Please, your hands. Touch me--"
"Cock alone," groaned Draco, slamming his hips forward in a sharp jerk.
Ron started yelling then, but nothing coherent.
"Don't talk," said Draco. "You aren't like the others."
He began moving differently then, his angle into Ron a bit sharper, and Ron felt jolt after jolt begin coursing through his cock.
When he came, it was as Draco had said. Harder than he'd ever come before, his jism practically spraying from him as he convulsed in his bonds and screamed.
"Mmm, you are good," said Draco, his thrusts slowing for a bit as Ron recovered. "Spectacular, Ronald."
"I . . . oh, Merlin," moaned Ron, ashamed.
"Oh," said Draco, his voice shifting toward wonder. "You mean you don't usually . . . ? Well. That's rather flattering, I suppose."
"Let me up--"
"Oh, no. You've still got me to pleasure." Draco did withdraw, though. An unfamiliar spell washed through the air, and Ron found himself gently sliding backwards on the bed, his shoulders lifted off the bedcovers by force of magic. Nothing holding them up . . . When he stopped moving he was looking down into the come he'd just spilled.
The spell holding his face up weakened, his head lowering until the come was within an inch of his mouth.
Draco shoved into him again, without warning as before. Somehow, now that he'd already come, it was less enjoyable than before.
"Lick it," commanded Draco. "Lick it all up while I have you. I want to see you do it. I want to hear you moan."
Ron did it, telling himself the Galleons he'd get were worth it. Telling himself that for all his strange demands, Draco wasn't the worst deal a man in Ron's profession could encounter. Not by a long shot.
"All of it," panted Draco as he came, shuddering, his long cock pounding into Ron so hard Ron felt like it was spearing all the way through him.
Afterwards, Draco released his bonds, rolled him over onto his back, and kissed him long and slow while Ron lay unmoving, his muscles screaming.
"You'll get used to it," Draco said when he pulled back. "Or will you? If you still want to leave, you know the way out."
Ron bit his lip. He really should, out of respect for Harry's memory if nothing else. Letting himself be buggered by Draco was bad enough, but enjoying it? Staying for more?
"I thought as much," said Draco smugly, moving to pillow Ron's head on his own shoulder.
The days drifted into weeks. Ron soon grew to understand what Draco had meant about easy access to sex without complications. Draco liked sex. Lots of sex. He fucked Ron every day, sometimes twice a day, binding Ron in increasingly creative ways as they went along. And just as Draco had said, Ron did get used to it.
Draco wasn't exactly generous in bed. He always topped, and made it clear that his desires were all that really mattered, but for all that, he always made sure that Ron climaxed as well. He liked to make Ron scream.
With pleasure, never with pain.
Except the maddening kind of pain that came with needing desperately to come and being denied -- until Draco was ready to let him. Ron never did get used to that. The gasping feeling wrapped around his lungs, squeezing, his balls filled to bursting, his cock straining, pumping against the empty air.
"Why-- do-- you--" he groaned one night as Draco had him.
"I like it," panted Draco. "Don't beg. You're . . . not one of them . . ."
That wasn't the first time he'd said a thing like that. Afterwards, when they were lying together in the bed, Ron asked. "One of them?"
Draco pushed up on an elbow and traced a fingers over Ron's lips as he replied. "Oh, the Dark Lord's captives. He saw me once, you know, having an Auror, making him beg. And he said this might be the kind of incentive some of them needed to make them talk. Pain meant nothing; they'd hardened themselves against it using powerful charms and potions. But pleasure?" He laughed, the sound low yet delighted. "Oh, they couldn't resist pleasure."
Torturer. It was true then. Draco had worked as one of Voldemort's torturers.
Ron wondered what information he'd gotten out of captured Aurors, and how it had affected the war. He felt bleak inside. Empty.
And Draco must have sensed that. "Oh, don't go noble on me now, Ronald. Not now, when I'm about to ask the Dark Lord to consider your petition for a living."
You can't afford nobility, Ron told himself. Your side lost. And nothing you say or do now will bring Harry back.
Nodding, Ron rolled on his side to go to sleep.
Apart from sex and meals, Draco didn't spend much time with Ron, but each week he did take him to Gringotts so Ron could deposit the salary he was earning. And over meals, he hinted about the progress he was making with Voldemort. Just a few more weeks, he said, and he'd be ready to ask the Dark Lord to take Ron back into his graces.
"Good thing you're pure-blooded," said Draco sagely. "He can overlook your siding with Potter as an indiscretion of youth. I've told him you've had sufficient time to re-think your position."
Ron looked away, uncomfortable. But what else could he do, but go along? The world he'd wanted to live in was gone forever, and this was what was left. It was as Draco had said: he had to adapt.
"Do you know yet, what sort of job he might let me have?"
Draco shrugged his thin, elegant shoulders.
"Not-- not whoring, though," said Ron.
One delicate eyebrow lifted, Draco simply stared at him without comment.
"I just mean, I'd rather have something else to do."
"Tired of me already, Ronald?"
Ron swallowed. What if there was no job offer being considered? He had only Draco's word for it. He couldn't afford to offend Draco. "No. I meant, not whoring to all of them."
The eyebrow hadn't ever gone down. "What did I tell you about not being noble?"
"I-- It's just, I'd rather stay on with you, than--"
"I doubt the Dark Lord has anything like that in mind," interrupted Draco. "But as I said, I can't read his mind. We'll just have to wait and see."
Swallowing, Ron asked the question that had been plaguing him for weeks. "Why would you help me get another line of work? You'd lose that easy access to . . . me, you seem to be enjoying."
"Oh, I enjoy you," drawled Draco. "You're a stunning good lay, Ronald. And very obliging, all things considered. Whatever the Dark Lord wants from you, I'm certain you can still fit me into your schedule. I know he'll expect me to continue keeping an eye on you."
"So you expect me to still--"
"Yes, of course I expect that. It's quite the favour I'm doing you." Draco smiled, the expression thin. "And it's not as though you find nothing to enjoy in our liaison. I'm not talking about your little nest egg at Gringotts."
Ron wished he could deny it. To try, though, would only make him look pathetic.
When he said nothing, Draco chuckled. Knowingly.
"You said it would only be until either one of us wanted out."
"Oh, and it is. But if I should have cause to complain of you to the Dark Lord, you might find your new job, whatever it is, abruptly vanishing."
So Draco had a hold over him, Ron realised. The surprising part was that he found he didn't mind all that much. It was just sex. Good sex, actually. And worth it, if it meant he didn't have to live on the streets any longer.
It was just a couple of weeks later when Draco stopped his constant admonitions that Ron must be patient.
Draco arrived home, a self-satisfied smile on his face. The elf took one look at him and served champagne with their dinner that night.
"So good to have well-trained staff," said Draco, sighing with evident pleasure as he drained his flute. "Well, you'll be pleased to know, Ronald, that the Dark Lord's mood seemed amenable today. We spoke of your situation."
"And he'll still want me to keep an eye on you, just as I'd anticipated. Just so long as that's clear?"
"We'll still fuck," said Ron, nodding. Strange how he didn't really mind. "I'll get my own flat, though?"
Draco shrugged. "If you like. You probably have enough saved to let something small and grotty. But you'll be here a good deal, all the same. I'm to supervise your work and I'd prefer to do it in comfort."
"What work, though?"
Draco smiled. "Oh, you'll be quite pleased, I warrant. The Dark Lord has decided it's time the history of the war was written. You're to supply information about the Order. Who said what, battle plans, amusing personal anecdotes. And I'm to edit your notes, since of course we expect your outlook to be . . . shall we say biased?" When Draco raised his glass, Ron noticed that it had been magically refilled.
"Oh, I know you were raised in a burrow, for Merlin's sake, but surely you understand that I'm proposing a toast--"
"I can't do a job like that," said Ron, feeling worse by the second. A job besides whoring. A flat of his own. And now it was all slipping away. "It's . . . betrayal."
"Betrayal!" Draco scoffed. " You have yourself to look out for, now. If you must know, I think this first job is a test of sorts. The Dark Lord wants to see if you're ready to let all that go. Are you?"
Ron chewed the inside of his cheek, debating with himself. What was he betraying, really? The Order was no more. What did it matter if Voldemort knew, now, details about a war already won? The people Ron would speak of were all dead, anyway. Nothing could hurt them, ever again.
"Yes," he slowly answered. "Yes, I am."
"Good." Draco leaned forward in his seat. "Then I'm ready to talk about Harry Potter. As a token of your good faith, the Dark Lord wants to know something about him. One thing."
Ron felt the whole room go chill. "I . . . There's a lot I don't know. Albus Dumbledore was the only one who really understood about the blood protection--"
"No, no. Nothing about his life." Draco smiled, but the expression was somehow grim. Feral. Predatory. "About his death, Ronald. You held him in his arms as he gasped his last. We saw. The Dark Lord's spell flung him right at you, and you cradled him close as he died." Draco leaned forward still further. "We want to know what he said. His dying words, Ronald. We need them, for the history."
Ron's eyes went blank as his thoughts fled back to that terrible day. Harry, a hole ripped through his chest from the force of Voldemort's spell. Blood everywhere. Harry's blood, as his life slipped from this world. And Ron, holding him, rocking him, the pain ripping through him worse than anything he'd ever felt. Worse than when Fred had died. Or George. Or Bill or Charlie or even his own father.
Because Harry wasn't just a friend as close as a brother or father, he was their only hope.
And he was dying.
A sharp noise brought Ron back to the present. Blinking, he saw Draco's fingers in front of him, snapping. "Ronald?"
Ron sat up straighter in his chair "I can't do it. I can't tell you that about Harry. It's private. It doesn't belong in . . . Voldemort's version of history!"
"The Dark Lord," corrected Draco, moving back into his seat. "You can't betray a dead man, Ronald."
"Yes, you can."
"Changed your mind about the job, and a flat of your own, and--"
"Shut up." Ron pushed back his chair. "I'll just go."
"You'll be back on the street inside of six months," said Draco, standing up as well. "No one will employ you in any decent capacity, you know that. Not unless the Dark Lord gives his leave. And he won't, after an affront such as this."
"I don't care," said Ron stubbornly. "I won't betray Harry."
"This is even more foolish than your walking out on the Dark Lord that day!"
"Friendship isn't foolish."
Draco gave a long sigh. "Gryffindor. Well, no need to go then, not unless you can't bear it here any longer. We can just continue our previous arrangement."
"He won't mind that?"
"There's still the fact that he's fond of you on account of your brothers, who could see sense."
Ron hesitated, then nodded. Not about Fred and George, but about the offer to stay.
"Bedroom, then," said Draco, waving a slender arm. "I'll finish my meal in peace, and calm down. And then I'll be in."
Ron nodded again, bitterly. He probably was a fool to choose whoring over any offer of employment. But that didn't matter. He couldn't betray Harry.
The bonds that night were tighter than ever before, Ron collared with his wrists firmly fixed to the back of his neck, his knees spread wide by the spreader bar, taut ropes connecting his ankles and elbows as magical forces held him motionless to be fucked.
Draco's thrusts were quick and crisp, bringing Ron to the brink of climax, again and again.
Ron bit his lips and moaned, but he didn't beg. He'd heard too many times by then that Draco didn't want him to.
But this night was different. Just when Ron was about to topple over the edge, Draco slowed, his hand tantalizingly cupping Ron's balls as they swung freely beneath his body. A massage, a caress, a feathery touch across the skin stretched tight over his prostate.
Ron's cock spasmed, but he didn't come.
"What did Harry Potter say as he died?" whispered Draco, close against his ear, the sound of his words so lover-like that Ron moaned again.
"I . . . no," said Ron, his cock aching. But no, he couldn't answer. Not even to assuage the sweet pleasure dancing just out of reach.
Draco's hand stroked the length of Ron's cock as he slid his own cock inside Ron again, all the way, his hand still cupping Ron's quivering balls.
"What did Harry Potter say as he died? Hmmm?"
A low moan of need, that was the only sound Ron could make. "No . . . "
Draco's cock began pumping in and out, smoothly massaging Ron's prostate from the inside with every thrust. Draco's fingers kept working magic on his balls and cock both as his low voice continued to wash through the room. What did Harry Potter say as he died, Ronald? Tell me, Ronald. I want you to come, Ronald. Tell me, Ronald. Tell me now.
Ron's heart rate increased until he thought his chest would burst open. He was burning up, he was being engulfed in flames, and every fiery lick only led to one place: his cock. Straining, thrusting, needing--
"I'll give you what you want," coaxed Draco in loving tones. "You know how good it is with me, Ronald. Come for me, Ronald. Just say the words--"
And still Ron resisted, until at last it was too much. He understood then, the Aurors spilling their secrets.
"Harry said it didn't hurt as much as he'd expected," gasped Ron, tears slipping from his eyes. "That's all he said--"
I'm sorry, Harry. I'm sorry--
Draco slammed into him, once more, hard.
And Ron came screaming, the pleasure bordering on pain.
Afterwards, unbound and shaking, he realised there was nothing left of loyalty. Nothing to hide. He'd betrayed Harry already. "I'll write up notes for the history," he said in a low voice. Concession. Surrender. "I . . . I want the job, after all."
"There's no job on offer," said Draco coldly.
Ron froze. "Because you had to force it out of me?"
Draco gave an ugly laugh. " There never was any job on offer, Ronald, or anything else."
"It was all a lie," said Ron numbly, reaching for his clothes, discarded on the floor. "You . . . you wanted--"
"I wanted to know what Potter said." Draco leaned against the headboard and crossed his arms.
"Then why didn't you start asking the first time we . . .?"
"You wouldn't have told me, not then." Draco's teeth glinted. "You wouldn't even have come here, not at first. I have a sense of these things. I told you, didn't I? I'm good at what I do."
Ron felt ill, inside and out.
"Oh, do stop dithering," said Draco in an impatient tone. "Are you getting dressed or not? You look a bit daft, sitting there holding your clothes with that look on your face. Get dressed and get out, or lay down and stay. You know the terms."
Ron felt the breath whoosh from him. "I don't have to go?"
Draco looked at him through half-closed eyes. "No, unless you want to be idiotically noble, again. Though I will say that Potter's last words are singularly unimpressive and hardly worth all this trouble. I should have known. When did he ever say anything of note?"
Ron wanted to weep, remembering the uplifting, rousing speeches Harry had said to inspire them, in those darkest days after Dumbledore had died. Speeches that lived only in his memory, now.
"There's no history being written, is there?"
Draco yawned. "Oh, there will be, some day. The Dark Lord will want his legacy, I dare say. But he won't want to hear from you. He had spies enough in the Order that he's no need of your betrayal, Ronald."
"And Harry's dying words?"
"I'm the only one who cared." Draco chuckled slightly. "Well, not cared, but I did want to know. To revel in it. I'm sure you couldn't possibly understand."
"No." Ron shook his head. "No. You thought of it when you ran into me that first day?"
Draco scoffed. "I waited to run into you until I thought the time was right. So are you leaving, then? There'll be no job, ever, of course. But you are a rousing good fuck. As I said, you know the terms."
Ron looked at the clothes in his hands, and then he looked out the window at the starry night. Clear now, but come winter the storms would roll in again, and by then he'd have spent through his savings. If he had any savings. That might have been a lie, too.
But it wasn't a lie that Draco's flat was warm and dry.
And it wasn't a lie that he'd betrayed Harry already. That he could sink no lower. He probably deserved to stand out in the rain. But that would be noble, wouldn't it? And he wasn't noble. He didn't deserve the satisfaction of refusing Draco. He deserved to stay right here and debase himself.
Ron lay down and let Draco pull his head onto his shoulder, the way they'd slept together so many times before.
"For how long?" whispered Ron.
"Until I tire of you," said Draco. "I told you that. But the next time I ask you something Ronald, you answer. Because I always win. Remember that, Ronald."
In the months and years to come, Ron did.