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February 15th

Chapter Text

February 15th:

"And when did the incident occur?"

The witch slumped her shoulders a little further down, mumbling into the scarf around her neck. "Last night, sir."

"Were there any other witnesses?"

Slowly, the hat facing him swung side to side, in a glum no.

Draco scratched his quill against parchment with sharp, brusque strokes, noting every necessary detail in shorthand to be deciphered by a clerk later. The department was always swamped after a holiday, with Valentine's and Christmas proving the worst.

"Miss Thatcher, I do apologize for your unfavorable experience. A Ministry Obliviator will be around Mr Lamprey's place within the hour to eradicate the compromising memories."

Penny Thatcher sniffled a few times but didn't burst into tears all over his desk like some did; the last wizard he'd processed left great piles of tissue all over the cubicle.

"If you'd like to speak to Lorna," Draco continued, much softer than before, "you can make an appointment with June on the way out. She makes it a bit easier to swallow, I find."

With one choked sob followed by a watery smile, a nod of thanks, and Miss Thatcher left his cubicle to move on with her day, and eventually her life.

Thankless. He made the process as bearable as possible, but there was no reward in watching a parade of magical people each week reporting they needed a licensed Obliviator to finalize their break up. Work in the Magical Detachment Facility, a special branch monitored by the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, was a delicate cure to Muggles rejecting their wizarding partners. He never blamed the witch or wizard at his desk for attempting to bring them into their world, he loved the wizarding world after all, but if wix didn't take the proper precautions the whole operation would be blown. Only their love for their partner really saved the Muggles from botched Obliviations. St. Mungo's didn't need more than one Lockhart.

"Mr. Malfoy?" called a voice outside his cubicle. The flimsy walls hid nothing from each section without silencing charms, and when the girl outside tried to lean against it, pulling the strap of her shoe more securely over her heel, she almost knocked over the whole department.

Draco shot up to balance the secretary and his makeshift walls, grumbling banal assurances under his breath to make her stop apologizing and get on with it, he still had several hours of heartache in front of him.


"What?" he snapped, turning around; eyes wide, hair unkempt from running his fingers through it too many times…Potter stood outside of his cubicle the day after Valentine's.

"Get lost on the way down from the DMLE, Potter?" Draco asked, folding his arms and raising a brow.

Harry's cheeks turned from bronze to red under Draco's scrutiny, but he didn't retaliate, and the slow realization creeped over Draco's skin as he noticed Harry was holding a ticket with a number and his name was next on the list he was still holding for the secretary. Clearing his throat, Draco dismissed the still apologizing girl and strode back to his desk.

"Name?" he asked, burying his face in his paperwork.

"Malfoy, could we just-"

"Your name is not Malfoy." Draco looked up at Potter through his lashes, his fingers pinching the quill so tightly they trembled, wondering if the dark circles under the other man's eyes were from lack of sleep over Auror business or whatever brought him into his office on the worst day of the year.

"I know it's not," snapped Potter, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his bright red Auror robes. "I just want this done quick as possible and you're the only one they promised could process me quick enough to get through my lunch break."

Draco tapped the quill gently on the parchment, to avoid ink stains, but also to release the pressure building in his body. It really was not his day. "I can process you, and quickly, if we do this the right way. Now. Name, full given name?"

"Harry James Potter," through clenched teeth.

"Not yours, the name of the Muggle."

A sharp intake of breath, the sound whispering in the air before a firework exploded. "Jeffrey Barnard Richardson."

Draco's quill stuttered, but continued to skitter over the parchment, words exploding in dark ink over the crisp form. "Length of relationship?"

"Ten months, four days."

"Living arrangements?"

"Could I just fill out the form myself?"

"No. Living arrangements?"

"I could return it to you by the end of the day, or you could just give me the temporary license to do this myself."

"Potter, I will have you detained for obstruction of justice and threatening a Ministry employee while on duty. Living. Arrangements?"

"We share a flat," Potter whispered. Draco could feel his eyes boring into the top of his head. "Shared a flat, I guess. It's his flat, he can have it back, I banished my stuff back to Hermione's anyway, it's not like it was a lot-"

"Potter how much magic did you perform in front of Mr Richardson?"

A click of teeth as Harry stopped babbling. "None, before last night."

Draco looked up at him then, trying to make eye contact with the extremely fidgety Auror filling his tiny cubicle with blood red robes, dark and perpetually messy hair, and the sudden realization that the Boy Who Lived was gay. Blaise would win a bag of galleons off of him after all, if he ever found out.

The rest of the processing took seven minutes. Throughout, Harry never once made eye contact with Draco, moving his hands from his robes, to folded on his lap, to his hair, to under his thighs, repeat. The same platitude he gave to Miss Thatcher he also gave to him, but the dismissive shrug of shoulders told him everything he needed to know.

Before he could bolt, rushing off to whatever greasy food cart would provide his lunch that miserable day. Draco stood to stop him.

"You have to sign," he explained, presenting the form to the taller man.

Harry reached over to take the quill from Draco's hand, and he took the opportunity, gut clenching, to rest his fingers against the back of his hand in what he hoped was a reassuring way. Frozen beneath his touch, Draco moved his hand up to Harry's forearm.

"This is normal," he intoned, pulling every tactic from his training he could think of in that stifling moment. "We'll make sure he's taken care of."

Releasing a breath that washed warmly, sweetly, over Draco's face, Harry nodded and signed his name at the bottom of the form. "Thanks, Malfoy. Let me know if you need anything from the DMLE for this."

Draco couldn't find his voice with the suddenly attainable face of Harry Potter a foot from his. When did he notice how lovely his hair looked, messy on top of his head but shaved on the sides and the back? He didn't want to answer that. After the last flash of red left his cubicle, and before his wits failed him, he flipped the sign outside his office to Lunch,told the receptionist he was taking his thirty minutes, and ran after Harry.

"Your stomach must be in knots," he said, grabbing Harry's shoulder to slow his marching pace. "You can't go to that greasy spoon today."

A small moue of surprise, covering the ache of rejection and despair hanging on his clothes from the night before, filled Harry's face. "How did you know-?"

"You're interrupting me again, Potter," Draco teased, finding solace in needling the other man.

His hand still on Harry's shoulder, Draco led him up through the Atrium and up to the streets of London to seek out a lunch where he could learn more about this new Harry Potter.

Chapter Text

The day after Valentine's was always hard.

Lorna adjusted her overlarge glasses, the ones with the purple rims she wore for the added affect of "trustworthy aunt" that relaxed the outgoing wix of the Magical Detachment Facility. Her robes smelled like every witch and wizard that came into her office for a hug, a reassuring word, while they tried not to think about the Obliviator headed to process their former lover.

She yanked on her desk drawer, the top one on the right that stuck on cold mornings, and ran her finger over the tops of several bottles before selecting a perfume that would cover the smell of despair before she walked out of her office for the day.

The blinds on her door rattled against the glass as June walked in. A pile of manila folders and loose parchment filled the secretary's arms, almost as haphazard as the bun on her head. The filing cabinets were all in Lorna's office, since their department didn't see much traffic except for those special holidays and space was limited.

"There are probably a dozen more to process tomorrow," June began, walking back towards the door. She left briefly, returning with both of their cloaks from next to her desk.

The Department Head, who doubled as a counselor and therapist, smiled as June handed her the heavy wool. "Typical post-Valentine's. Did the other counselors go home?"

June shook her head, and gestured towards a cubicle still bathed in light. Letting out her bun, she fluffed it around the top of her scarf before replying. "Draco Malfoy is catching up, his lunch hour ran over."

"Did it?" Lorna asked, watching her relatively distant and distracted secretary pull on leather gloves. There was still a ten minute walk up to the streets for the girl's commute home, and Lorna knew she'd be burning up, but didn't make a comment. "He is usually so efficient."

"Something about today flustered him; he ran out on his lunch break like he was going to miss the birth of his firstborn."

"June," Lorna chided gently, "you aren't still harboring a crush on our Mr Malfoy?"

June's cheeks went redder than her hair, dyed unnaturally, and she turned away to continue fussing with the ties on her heavy boots.

Lorna pursed her lips and fit her woolen hat on top of her French twist. She stood to her full height, a diminutive four foot ten, and shooed her blushing secretary. "I'll check on the troops before I go home. You, run along."

She could hear the fierce note taking several strides before reaching the beacon of light shining from Draco's flimsy-walled office. "Late night, Mr Malfoy?"

He startled, swore quietly, and three forms fell off the corner of his desk when his elbow knocked into his IN box, several notes taped around the box reminding him of document deadlines.

The desk was the messiest she'd ever seen it, a complete disarray compared to his standards, but still cleaner than anyone else in the office. She counted her blessings to Merlin after every busy season that this boy was assigned to her for Death Eater Rehabilitation. The exposure to raw human emotion and Muggle Liaison committee members grew the boy to the man she was incredibly fond of.

"I got behind today, day after Valentine's and all," Draco said, reshuffling his desk to organize it under the scrutiny of his superior. "How was your day, mum?"

"As pleasant as can be expected," she replied primly.

Draco smiled and put his quill back in the inkwell. "I thought I smelledNo 5 floating through the air."

"And I'll thank you, again, for the Christmas gift." Lorna's prim smile folded into a warmer greeting. "You were able to process over a dozen wix this morning, I was quite impressed."

Looking down, a sheepish blush appearing on his neck, Draco's voice didn't waver when he said, "It's unfortunate I had that many to process, really. Makes the whole holiday a bit painful."

"Yes, it does," Lorna agreed. "Though, I think it hurts more for them than for us, my dear. The wix passing through our office come to us in a time of upheaval when they can't trust themselves to safely administer the Obliviation, and bare intimate details of their personal life. Do well to remember that."

His movements, as her short speech flowed through his cubicle, grew gradually more wooden until he stopped moving altogether. His gaze searched hers before opening his mouth slowly to reply.

She held up a hand. "I know you went to lunch with that Potter boy. Believe me, I was happy to see you away from your desk and talking to someone that wasn't required as part of your job, but please be careful with him. Do not break that confidentiality. I know your history, the Wizengamot briefed me for hours, literal hours, Draco about your life so I would be prepared to handle you." She adjusted the strap of her purse on her shoulder, the prim line returning to her mouth. "And I'd like to think over the last three years you've worked with me, I've gotten to know you better, but if you break that man's heart just to prove you can, there will be consequences."

She walked over to rest a hand on his arm, to break him out of the stony trance of staring at his cubicle wall, grinding his teeth. "And don't let him break yours, either."

The scent of Chanel No 5 lingered in his office long after Lorna walked away.

Chapter Text

June tapped her wand against her boots to protect the suede from the disgusting February slush. She didn't need to ruin her expensive boots, and place a cherry on the top of her shitty day. Her bright red hair with blonde at the ends earned her a few whistles by passing muggles and wix alike, but she ignored them all, just continued to walk towards the closest Apparition point for home.

Her white earbud cords crackled and sparked in her ears, almost painfully, as static electricity built from her knitted scarf and the wiring inside. Hissing, she pulled them out, annoyed she wouldn't be able to finish her podcast before getting home and the never-ending din of her roommates, two of them currently fighting and threatening to break the lease. She couldn't wait until the lease was up at the end of April, and she could say her final goodbyes to the mixture of exchange students and student wizards in her apartment complex.

After Apparating, she looked around at the dark street with small piles of dingy slush, and decided she would need to stop at the corner store before heading home.

Nothing like finding out your crush wasn't interested in your entire sex to make a girl want a glass of wine.

With her arms full of plastic and paper bags from the local grocers, she wished she were better at Featherweight charms, wiggling her hip in just the right way to make it hit the up button for the elevator. No way she was taking the stairs, even if the lift smelled a bit stale on the best day. Once she got to the end of her hall, saying a cordial hello to her neighbor that worked nights at the Underground on her way out, she reached her door and sighed, leaning her head back. She didn't want to put all of the groceries down to open the door just to pick them back up again. The toe of her boot would have to do for a knock.

No response. Of course. She tried to hit their doorbell with her nose, and realized how sticky it was, and hoped it wasn't something utterly foul.

"Alright, there?" called a familiar, muffled voice. Henry, the only half-blood among the flat of muggleborns, opened the door for June, holding out an arm to take one of the bags.

"Thanks, Henry. That bag's got fridge things."

Henry nodded and adjusted his grip on the bag before disappearing to the communal kitchen. A silencing charm on the door and the walls, refreshed every few days, kept the noise of an argument down the hallway from reaching outside of the apartment, and from the way Henry rubbed at his eyes between putting fruit in the fridge, Cassie and Kevin had been at it for ages.

"Want to split a bottle?" she asked, not wanting to be alone in her melancholy.

He shook his head, smiling apologetically. "I've got to get this midterm assignment finished before tomorrow night and I was going to head to the twenty-four up the street for the wi-fi and some privacy."

"Throwing spells, are they?"

"Oh, yeah," Henry replied darkly, scratching his neck where a small duck tail of his blonde hair rubbed his collar. His glasses were smudged, so he whipped them off to clean them when he continued, "Ruins the fucking internet connection and I can't risk it crashing in the middle of this."

"We've only got two more months," June said as she pulled her hair back into the bun from the office, uncorking the dark red with practiced ease.

Henry collected the rest of his schoolwork, already half-packed when she'd arrived, and laughed ruefully, before leaving for the diner with free wifi and decent coffee.

June brought her wine glass into her room, breaking her own rule of no food or drinks except for water in the bedrooms, and silenced the world outside both literally and figuratively. Her fuzzy clothes and the warmth from the wine soothed her hurt feelings, and she hoped she'd get moved out of her department before she had to see Draco Malfoy ever again.

Chapter Text

The last time he only slept for two hours, before coming in to work, Draco was a terror to behold. Only the threat of more years on his rehabilitation sentence was enough to stop him from wreaking havoc on anyone who crossed his path.

Today, the lackluster coffee in the break room was enough to make him feel almost alive, and the much shorter list of names with appointments was close to bringing an actual smile to his face.

Draco knew he was being a sentimental fool. He had lunch with Potter, and only once. The last few years spent processing blubbering and heartbroken people must have softened him, it was the only logical explanation, there was no way in three salt circles that spending forty one minutes with a former schoolmate could make him this happy.

Another sip from his mug and he spluttered, vowing to buy a French press for his desk after work so he could make his own instead.

"I think Lorna made it today," a voice called over the cubicle wall. "And you know how heavy handed she is."

"Only with coffee," Draco replied, his teammate Braxton humming in agreement before the two returned to preparing their desks for the appointments that day.

The clock above the door chimed once to signal half past seven. "Good morning, Jorkins."

"It's Jenkins, Braxton. Jenkins." The name was drawn out with an annoyed whine. "Please just call me June."

"Oohh! She's got her sunglasses on inside!" taunted the other man. "Leave some wine for us on Ash Wednesday, yeah?"

Draco rolled his eyes. It obviously wasn't enough they all had to be in early, but Raphael Braxton was unquestionably a morning person, and though he wasn't intimately familiar with Catholic custom, the comment seemed ignorant and incorrect. Glancing up from his paperwork, he watched a heavily cloaked June walk by with a middle finger up towards her tormentor.

The day passed much the same as the one before, except the second day there were more appointment cancellations and rearrangements, as couples made up or the wix had second thoughts. Each time June came around with an updated list for the four counselors in the office, his cheery attitude took another dent, until the shining gloss dulled to a more complacent, normal countenance. His watch, moving at a glacial pace the whole day as he promised himself he was absolutely not looking for someone around the office, showed there were only a few more minutes until it was time to go home.

"Draco?" Lorna called from her office after one of her appointments from the day before left, a fresh handful of tissues and puffy eyes their most distinguishing features.

Standing, his head and neck able to reach over the walls without strain, he watched his tiny department manager beckon and disappear back into her office. He felt the curious stares of the other three counselors as he walked as nonchalantly as possible towards the office. For the last three years he'd worked in this same department processing wix, and watched dozens of other counselors arrive as temps and leave to other parts of the Ministry, so when they showed more curiosity in him, he ignored them even more. By the end of next month they'd all be someone else's issue.

"How are you?" Lorna asked, looking fondly up at Draco as he walked through the door. Waving a bangled hand, costume rings glittering in the bright lighting, she asked him to close the door behind him. Lorna stood to grab another cup of coffee from the pot near the filing cabinets, offering Draco a cup as well, which he refused with a smirk. "Cheeky boy."

Closing the door was their signal Lorna wanted Draco to be completely honest with her. With a small wave of his wand, he cast a freshening charm on his favorite chair, to rid the legs of the street salt from workers' boots. He crossed his legs and relaxed into the comfortable leather.

"It's been dismal," he said. "Reminds me of my first Valentine's Day here, actually."

Lorna copied his freshening charm on the chair next to Draco, sitting down and crossing her legs up onto the seat, cradling the warm mug of tar in both hands. "I'm not sure if it's because it is a year of nine," Lorna began, "a year of conclusions and sealing up loose ends, but there were three times as many wix in here these last few days as there were last year."

Tapping his finger on his knee, Draco tilted his head and offered, before Lorna could continue, "I have a theory, actually." When she indicated her interest through leaning towards him, eyes large behind her frames, he said, "Since the war ended, things with Muggles have been a bit...different? More friendly? That, or witches and wizards who were in hiding during the war started dating Muggles and living like them in order to hide, and now the relationships are going sour."

When he paused, looking a bit apprehensive for how Lorna would respond, she gave him an encouraging nod. Smiling at him over the rim of her mug she said, "You've given a lot of thought to this, what else? I know there's more."

"I've been writing some equations," Draco said, barely containing his excitement, her interest breaking through the clouds of his sour mood. "And I haven't kept any copies of the confidential files, I promise, but I remember the average length of each relationship of every person I've processed. I've excluded some of the variables like age or gender, and I've only been around for three years, but I've noticed there are more and more people reporting relationships lasting over five years. There's more invested there. And, I hope it's not overstepping, but I would like to add more questions to the process so it can be analyzed."

Lorna considered Draco silently, her legs still folded and the warm mug almost forgotten in her lap. Taking a deep breath, she asked, "What kind of investment are we talking here? Changing the forms will take time and money, and approval from a committee, along with a thesis to make our case. We handle very sensitive information, though we're treated as a throwaway department."

"That's the exact issue, I think this department could be built into something...bigger."

"How so?"

"Well," Draco licked his lips and cast his eyes towards the shaded windows to make sure no one overheard him. Years under surveillance heightened his paranoia. "We're seen as a necessary annoyance to the rest of the Ministry. We work with the DMLE and Muggle Liaisons to take care of people who are the remainders. I think there should be an exit program in place for the Muggles, a follow up to make sure the Obliviation worked. We tell the people here we will take care of them, but we don't."

"Draco Malfoy," Lorna said fondly. "This is incredibly thoughtful of you. I feel I've been remiss to not notice that before. Did Mr Potter inspire this notion?"

Draco blushed, the one that started at his collar but didn't make it to his face. "We talked at lunch, he mentioned he was swamped with paperwork after a string of incidents involving accidents with Muggles."

What Draco didn't mention was how solemnly Harry stirred his tea when he talked about the late nights of work, his concern over the rise in accidents, and how he whispered that's probably why Jeff left him. He didn't say how Harry coughed to cover up how he almost started to cry. He didn't say how Harry admitted no one besides Draco and Hermione treated him like 'just Harry' in the last few months. He didn't say he was late back from lunch because he was watching Harry fold his napkin into a terrible origami swan as the Auror admitted he was glad Draco had listened, though they couldn't keep eye contact for more than a second, and had not spoken a word to each other since.

"It's not why I called you in here, but I'm glad you've shared this with me. Come back with some written research and we'll see what we can do."

"Why did you call me in?" Draco asked, absently reaching one of his long arms over to Lorna's desk to grab one of the chocolate biscuits there.

"Toss me one of those. I wanted to congratulate you on completing your rehabilitation."

Several crumbs fell from Draco's mouth as he said, "What? I have another year!"

"Wrong," she said cheekily. "I have it on good word your, shall we call it good behavior? It's been noticed. You aren't required to stay in my department after Friday, but I was hoping to extend a real job opportunity to you."

Draco wandlessly cleaned himself after the ungentlemanly display of poor manners left him covered in bits of chocolate. "Thank you, Madame Gastigan!"

"Oh hush, that is my mother's name; please just keep using Lorna, my dear. You're sure our little 'necessary but annoying' department will keep your attention?"

"Of course," he said cheekily, his breath coming a bit more rapidly from excitement. He was free! "The end of my rehabilitation means my accounts are my own again, so I could fund the changes myself. I could even get decent coffee in here."

Lorna laughed, but didn't disagree, taking a sip of her dark roast pointedly.

His smile faltered a bit. "Do you know who put in the report? I'll need to thank them after the Wizengamot hearing to officially graduate me."

"You already know, boy," Lorna said as she walked back to her desk. "Aurors have a lot of clout around here, especially when they've defeated a Dark Lord twice."

Chapter Text

The lackluster tea sold by the shop at the Ministry wasn't sweetened by the pretty barista, or the handsome one either.

"Sorry excuse for two knuts," Blaise grumbled to himself, drinking at the scaldingly hot and watery beverage with caution.

Without a good drink or pleasant conversation to distract him, Blaise's eyes wandered lazily over the Atrium below. He was at least forty minutes early for his appointment, but he made a point at least once a week to restore his knowledge of the underbelly of the wizarding world.

Though many would argue the Ministry had improved in the last several years after the war and the 'proper sentencing' given to those that participated on the losing side, Blaise knew better. There were still underhanded dealings to exploit. At least once a day someone exchanged a suspicious package while on the lift or through the Atrium, if you knew what to look for.

Blaise knew exactly what to look for; the nervous adjustment of robes or carefully not making eye contact with anyone. There were still disreputable characters, and he'd had so much fun weeding them out as part of his Rehabilitation with a clerk in the Wizengamot, he intended to make a living out of it.

Checking his watch, he saw he had fifteen minutes to get to his appointment downstairs, which left him five minutes to finish his unpalatable breakfast. Scowling, he tried to take another sip, but almost spat it back out over the table when he discovered it'd gone tepid. On his way to the bin at the end of the cafe to recycle the paper container, a flash of red caught his eye; Auror robes always stood out, and he never understood why they needed to be so visible. The lot of them were obnoxious enough as it was.

With the remnants of Valentine's decorations hanging in the Ministry, a red streamer caught his eye rather than Auror robes, though there were several of them in the Atrium just before nine in the morning. Blaise checked his watch one more time before walking around the throngs of employees milling around like ants in an overturned nest.

The lifts were crowded, but since only one went down to the Wizengamot levels, his queue was shorter. Unless you were headed all the way down you were barred from that lift from eight in the morning until six in the evening.

"Right on time, as always."

Blaise grinned and turned. "A gentleman is never late."

Parvati Patil scoffed. "You are hardly a gentleman, Blaise Zabini."

"I do hope I proved so last night," he said, relishing in the girl's blush. "My valentine may still be recovering from the other day, by the looks of it. I haven't seen her around yet."

"Ugh, please shut up. You'll make me vomit with your vulgar displays of heterosexual debauchery, even more disgusting than the decorations still up around this place. Really, Valentine's was three days ago."

Blaise laughed and checked Parvati's chin with his fist, holding out his arms to carry some of her paperwork. "Always a treat, Patil."

"I can't say the same for you," Parvati sniffed, giving Blaise over three quarters of the items in her hand, the lift creaking to a halt in front of them. The last two in line, they had the elevator to themselves on the way down to the lowest levels of the Ministry, where the Department of Mysteries and Wizengamot clerk offices were tucked away from the rest.

Their playful banter continued back and forth until the two reached the corridor filled with office doors nearly flush together, betraying how cramped the spaces within truly were. Blaise left Parvati after attempting to give her a peck on the cheek while passing over the paperwork he was carrying, but she managed to dodge him, laughing and scurrying to open her office and disappear inside. He went four more doors down, still smiling from the exchange, and knocked on the one marked with a golden plate of Percy Weasley, Head Clerk, which was slightly ajar.

"Come in, Mr Zabini," came the crisp welcome.

Percy looked up to acknowledge his appointment with a smile, before returning to his task of rustling through a ceiling-high cabinet. He tapped his heels to float back down to the floor and walk to his desk, a slim blue folder in his hand, and welcomed Blaise to sit down.

"Thank you for coming in on short notice," Percy began. "I won't waste too much of your time this morning, the letter should have explained your presence for the witness of a signature. I trust you had a good weekend?"

A slow smile eased over Blaise's face, but he didn't push Percy's buttons the same way he did with Parvati; he figured he owed the man for his early release of the Program. "I had a very satisfactory weekend, thank you for asking, Mr Weasley. Yours?"

Percy's high cheekbones colored slightly, and his eyes sharpened with humor. "My weekend was blessedly quiet, as I stayed home with a glass of red wine and a riveting thesis. I immensely enjoyed - ah, Mr Malfoy, thank you for joining us."

Blaise turned to face the door as Percy stood to greet his guest. While he was expecting Lucius Malfoy, based on the formal tone and greeting Percy supplied, he was surprised to see Draco standing in the doorway.


"Draco?" Blaise stood to embrace his long time friend, whom he hadn't seen for weeks. The scratchy wool of formal robes itched at his face during the embrace, and the physical memory of a similar embrace years ago caused the realization to dawn on him that Draco hadn't worn these robes since his trials just after the war.

"Now that we're all here, do sit down gentlemen so we can begin."

"He's the witness?"

"Don't be rude, Draco," Blaise chastised, patting the chair next to his. "Percy asked me in as a favor today."

Scowling as he thought on it, Draco conceded and sat down. "Not a word of this to Pansy, she'll be quite put out for the missed opportunity."

"Pans is probably still in the Lovegood girl's bed in some foreign state; she has more pressing concerns on her mind."

Percy cleared his throat pointedly to regain control of the meeting, raising an eyebrow at Blaise's suggestion. Both men nodded, Blaise still smirking and Draco rolling his eyes, and turned to face the Head Clerk with interest.

Throughout the formal proceedings, Percy read a long list of duties now expected of Draco as a fully rehabilitated member of wix society, and Draco agreed to uphold each to the best of his ability. A bitter and metallic taste was on his tongue throughout, but he could see the comradely sighs of annoyance Percy released on his behalf after several of the more redundant ones, but pressed on to be free of the invisible manacles of relative indentured servitude.

"Finally, Draco Lucius Malfoy, do you have any final questions before you are officially released from the Death Eater Rehabilitation Program?"

Draco's lips popped with a sharp release of breath, and his "No," was as emphatic as could be.

"So shall it be. Blaise Tamir Zabini, please confirm through your signature that you have witnessed these proceedings and they were completed with true intentions."

"Sure you still want Pans?" Blaise asked, winking before he signed the document with finality.

Draco grinned slightly, his hands shaking from excitement as he watched the document glow around the name momentarily, taking the quill from Blaise's outstretched hand. "She'd make me do something ridiculous as repayment."

The scratch of the quill was the only sound in the office as he signed and they held their breath, waiting for the official charmed document to accept the signature. Once the white light faded, and both names remained after passing muster, each man relaxed visibly.

"I promised you a quick meeting," Percy said, regaining his professional demeanor. "Mr Zabini and Mr Malfoy, the document will be placed on both of your permanent record. You are free, truly free to go. And Mr Malfoy, please confirm with your coordinator on the future of your position."

"Done, thank you, Percy." A glance at Draco confirmed he was floating on cloud nine, slumped back in the office chair with a dazed and pleased look on his face.

The walk to the lift was more chaotic as the court dates and appointments flew by, but everyone skirted the two imposing men, striding with purpose towards the queue back up.

"Thank you," Draco whispered, quiet enough the wizard snatching interdepartmental memos from the air to make extra notes couldn't overhear.

One hand resting on his friend's elbows beneath the folds of robes, blocked from the view of passerby, Blaise squeezed once. "You're getting too sentimental."

"Piss off. Sentimental enough for you?"

"Quite." Entering the lift, still surrounded by random Ministry workers, Blaise carefully chose his next question. "Seems a bit early for the meeting, don't you think?"

Draco glanced at him, a trace of venom in his glare, but he understood. "Special circumstances."

"Not a golden opportunity, then?"

"Without the right access, those opportunities weren't...afforded me until recently."

Blaise nodded, biting his lip from asking just what sort of special circumstances, barring the use of gold, Draco used to be released early from his rehabilitation. The two wizards were the only ones left as they reached the level below the Atrium, only a two minute lift ride left to go, and he turned to take his chance, when a hand shot out to stop the lift doors from closing.

"Sorry, mates, I need to get this up to...Zabini. Malfoy."

Mouth still open in preparation to properly interrogate Draco, Blaise coughed out, "Potter."

Several silent moments passed as Blaise waited for Draco to greet the Auror as well, and he turned to chastise his friend for blatant rudeness, when his mind went into rapid-fire.

"This is my stop actually," he said smoothly, slipping on his most charming smile. "I've come to see someone in Magical Games and Sports about leprechaun gold. Got to be proactive, only a month until St. Patrick's Day, you understand."

Blaise tipped his head to the two still silent men, sweeping around Harry to exit the lift, slyly hitting the button that would override their trip to go a few levels down before going back up. The look his friend gave the broad shouldered Auror told him everything he needed to know about the sudden expedited length of his sentence. The heat from their cheeks would melt an iceberg in no time flat.

Yes, Blaise knew exactly what to look for when he was at the Ministry.

Chapter Text

The lift doors caught on the bright red Auror robes as they clattered shut behind Harry, warning him how close he'd been to the exit. But, Draco was pressed against the back wall, arms crossed and face bright pink.

Harry cursed under his breath for staring.

"You can't leave well enough alone, can you?"

The words were soft, but Harry couldn't help his grimace at their accusatory nature. As the lift jerkily went down instead of up, he groaned at the multitude of lights showing they would have to stop at every level before going back up to the floor the two of them needed. Rubbing the back of his neck, he glanced at Draco, an apology on his lips.

"Don't." Draco pushed off the wall and moved towards Harry, halting a foot away, the enclosed space suddenly feeling a touch more stifling. "Don't apologize, I shouldn't have said that. I...I should thank you."

Harry froze as they made their first stop, a green haired witch joining them, her voluminous robes forcing the two men off to the one corner, nearly touching.

"It's nothing," Harry insisted, hating his skin for blooming in a blush so easily. He couldn't get the memory of Draco grabbing his arm out of his head, the memory replaying over and over again in his mind the last several days. He'd hoped pulling one of his favors in the clerk's office would rid the intrusive thoughts, but it had only served to place the way Draco looked when he smiled, or waved his hand at him when he insisted he was paying for lunch, though he knew he was on a fixed income with the rehabilitation.

"Daft." The word whispered over Harry's shoulder as Draco was forced to stand behind him. He repressed a shudder from the chill down his spine.

The bright haired witch exited the lift after two more stops, and no one took her place, leaving them alone again. Before Harry could step forward, he felt Draco's hand on his arm again, and he nearly jumped out of his own skin, spinning to face the shorter blonde.

At this proximity he realized the height difference wasn't that significant, once he'd gained the final few inches of growth defying his childhood malnourishment. For years Draco was taller than him, but he got a strange flip flop in his stomach looking down slightly into wide eyes. Guilt swarmed him instantly, realizing Draco was the same height as Jeff, and a wave of nausea twisted inside of him.

Things hadn't been going well between them for ages, a lack of communication and frankly a lack of anything at all growing a rift between the two men who'd fallen into bed too quickly and made commitments both regretted. Harry was too excited at his own personal revelations, and Jeff didn't have the patience he required to move through the stages of a relationship so new to Harry while also handling his terrible hours in law enforcement. He swallowed down the memory of the night a week ago when Harry had finally lost control out of exhaustion over something admittedly trivial, and Jeff demanded he get his shit and his mutant ass to get the fuck out of my flat.

Draco still had his hand on his arm, so he gently grabbed it and removed it so he could take a step backwards. The slight gap between Draco's slips snapped shut as Harry moved away, and his guilt twisted even tighter at the bereft expression on the man's face.

"You didn't deserve to remain in that bloody program," Harry said, desperate to fill the silence hanging between them. "I did what I could, and you only had a year left, so I can still get Parkinson off early, too."

He realized his mistake instantly as the openness of Draco's gaze closed instantly. Rapt attention snapped to an emotionless mask.

"So I was just another on your list of people to fix?"

"No, that's not what I meant, I-"

"Just...stop talking. Please." Draco cleared his throat.

Stupid stupid stupid. "Malfoy, don't do that," Harry said, pressing on past the discomfort and anxiety, desperate not to take five steps back when he thought they were taking so many strides towards civility, the reason he put in a good word for him in the first place. "I did it because I wanted to. What good is this stupid Auror position if I don't do some good with it? I hate the stuff here I can't fix, and Hermione is helping me, especially now that I'm living with her, to try to find out ways I can help. I'm pants at this, I'm not a Slytherin like you and Blaise. I'm like a bull in a fucking china shop and -mmph!"

Harry's eyes went wide as Draco put a silencing finger over his mouth, and saw how close they'd gotten in the lift.

"If you'd like to make it up to me," Draco said quietly, not moving his finger, "meet me after work for dinner tomorrow night."

Without breaking contact with his warm hand, Harry nodded, some of the anxiety releasing from his gut.

After several more silent, but more comfortable, stops on the lift, they reached the Atrium level. Harry turned to let Draco out first, and he controlled his breathing as he kept quiet, working to keep this truce. He'd already fucked up one relationship this week, he wouldn't forgive himself for ages if he did the same with the blossoming friendship he was reaching for in Draco like a buoy in a storm.

Chapter Text

Slamming the door to his flat, Draco continued the litany of self-depreciation out loud instead of in his head like he'd done the last seven hours since his encounter with Harry in the lift.

"Inconsiderate, stupid, the shittiest thing I could be doing right now. Merlin's balls and Circe's tits why did I ask him to fucking dinner the man is fresh out of a relationship. I don't even think he knows I am interested, and I took advantage of him."

The kettle slammed in a more satisfying way than the door had, rattling on the metal. He shoved his wand violently at the gas to light the fire and was granted a four foot high blaze for his trouble.

"Fuck!" he screamed as he lowered the power, shutting off the gas completely.

In all the commotion of the day, taking the time to complete his paperwork with Blaise and Weasley, on top of the normal weekly workload of wix to process and documents to file, Draco had completely forgotten one of the perks of his newfound freedom. The dampening on his wand was completely removed, and what spells he was allowed before were returned to full power, and the buzzing in his veins made him light-headed. Though he was craving a cup of tea, something warm to hold in his hands to calm his nerves, he decided to sit down. Right where he was, in the middle of his kitchen floor while the wave of lightheadedness subsided.

Furious knocking on his door startled him, almost hitting his head on the counter above. Brandishing his wand, the buzzing still in his veins, he army crawled over to his foyer, only a few feet away from the kitchen, to peek at the shoes beneath the crack: nondescript, brown, no robes swishing above. Not an Auror or his parents. Since only a few people knew where he lived, it was easy to deduce who it was, and back away enough to avoid a broken nose, as Hermione used her key to open the door.

"Draco Lucius Malfoy!" she berated, tripping over him to land with a wumph on the carpet of his living room. He winced as he heard the knee of her jeans rip. "Dammit, these are my favorite."

"Sorry, Granger," he said, the static in his veins from the aftershock of magic numbing his lips and tongue so it came out with a heavy lisp and the last r rolling around in his mouth like the purr of a motor. He used his foot to kick the door shut and then lay still.

"Look at you, you idiot, didn't you read the flier Percy gave you? I stayed late at the office to process you for nothing. Went up to your department and Lorna just looked at me like I was a ninny and said you'd gone home and I should have known you wouldn't read the bloody flier."

"What flier?"

"Oh, I'll kill him," Hermione said, scootching on her bottom over to Draco and putting her hands on his face. "I will just curse Percy if he forgot to give it to you. Each time someone with a damper on their magic is released they need to go through my team to get reacquainted. It's like jumping from your magic as a first year to an adult in two seconds and the aftershock can knock you out. And, depending on what you cast, which judging by that smoke from your kitchen towel, was fucking fire, the untamed spell can kill you!"

Draco hummed to prove he was listening to her chatter, and the feeling tickled his lips and made him start to chuckle, which tickled the rest of him until he started to laugh uncontrollably.

"Draco drink this immediately," Hermione demanded, holding a tiny vial to his lips that he drank without question. The fit of laughter, compounding upon itself, slowed to a halt when the Calming Draught took hold. "Better. Now, we need to get you to bed immediately so you can rest this off. Now that you've cast, you're going to be exhausted. Did you Apparate home?"

"No," he muttered, trying to keep his lips apart to stop the ticklish feeling. "Took the train."

Her sigh of relief relaxed him as well, the sympathetic tension dispersing. "Good, you should be recovered after just two days, then."

"Two days?" he exclaimed. Didn't he have something important happening in the or...he couldn't remember, lethargy replacing the static electricity in calming waves.

"Shh, Draco, I already told Madame Gastigan where you'd be. You need to rest."

"But tomorrow...I have to...he won't know, you have to tell him-"

Hermione cast a featherweight charm on him, he felt the sudden loss of mass and it halted his comment as his stomach went to his throat, like missing a stair step.

"No excuses, you won't even wake up for a few days at least," she said, guiding him to his bedroom and charming his pajamas on. "I'll come check on you, or send someone over to make sure you're alright and haven't burned the building down from making tea."

He felt her hand on his forehead and saw her face swim around a bit while the exhaustion sunk little tenterhooks into his muscles and drew him further into the mattress. She muttered a few other things before tucking the sheets around his body and the last thing he heard was the click of his bedroom door shutting, and wishing he'd asked her for some tea.

Chapter Text

Sunlight warmed the outside of his eyelids, and the world was a cloud of soft blue; not even the bitter taste of his tongue and the crust of sleep in his eyes could destroy the calm flowing through him.

He sat there, slowly waking up in the light, not particularly caring if it were morning or afternoon sun shining through the window, and took stock of his body. The buzzing in his veins remained from his most recent memories but instead of an intrusive shaking of limbs, he felt electrified and full of purpose and energy. He felt as if he were to look in a mirror he would be blindingly bright.

The bone cold he normally awoke to was nonexistent. His muscles and body were as soft and warm as a beautiful pudding. Christmas pudding. The kind with a pile of galleons to find instead of a single sickle. Every tick on the clock next to his bed woke him up further until he felt like stretching his arms high above his head and stretching so grandly his toes spread and peeked out from underneath the down comforter, a chill air nipping at them, and he brought them back under with a rustling of sheets.

While laying on his side he faced the window, and he decided to succumb to that sweet pull of sleep one feels even after the most restful sleep in weeks. Rolling to his belly, however, proved just how awake he was.

Or, how awake his cock seemed to be.

Groaning, his hips pressed involuntarily into the mattress to rub against his sleep pants in a way he hadn't experienced in months. Would this have been on the Ministry flier? Part of Granger's pep talk? A renewed libido after years of suppressed magic and resigned exhaustion? He doubted it, even as he hiccuped from the surprise of sensitivity.

He kept his eyes shut, his breathing increasing as he couldn't stop the roll of his hips, the wakefulness he'd gained in the last slow minutes falling away like a broken sieve. A hand, previously gripping into his sheets beneath the pillow like a lifeline, moved down the material, hypersensitive to each bump created by his tossing and turning while sleeping, smoothed over the elastic waistband. The coolness of his hand against the burning heat of his hip made him buck twice and his breath hitch again, the muscles of his abdomen contracting-

"Oh good, you're awake."

"What the fuck?"

Draco lifted his hand from where he desperately wanted it, shooting it out violently in an arc while he twisted himself around. A shock of dark hair and bright eyes flew in his vision as he overshot his turn and wrapped himself in his comforter and made a swift acquaintance with his bedroom floor.

"Malfoy! Jesus, are you alright?"

Landing facedown had its perks, like being able to mumble unintelligibly into the floor: "Oh, smashing, Potter, just enjoying the pleasure of being alone in my own fucking house."

"Hermione asked me to check on you, she loaned me her key."

Draco knocked his face against the floor a few times, his head softly thudding against the carpet. Of course Potter heard him. Of course Potter sounded put-out.

The unmistakable rattle of a tea tray broke the short silence while Draco's thoughts spun between the distraction in his pants he had been so looking forward to taking care of, and trying to ignore the idea that it was ardently not going away because the very wizard he'd been starting to imagine to speed things along was standing in his bedroom.

He wanted to die. He prayed for an Avada to get him out of this hell.

A heavy sigh. "Let me help you up, you're probably still exhausted. You were only asleep twenty hours."

"Twenty hours?" Draco croaked. Hermione's final conversation warning him about the side effects slowly piecemealed back together in his brain.

"Yes, and you probably need help standing."

Draco looked up, turning his body so his torso was facing up. Harry knelt next to him, and the shock of red Auror robes was conspicuously missing. At this angle he could see the slight stubble dusting the underside of Harry's chin and a spot of something white on his neck right near his Adam's apple, which moved even as he watched Harry swallow automatically. Toothpaste, perhaps? Shaving cream?

The clock in the living room chimed three times before falling silent again, and he was still on the floor with an unfortunate erection and Potter reaching over to help him up.

"Wait," he stuttered groggily, his tongue and lips still a bit numb from the after effects. "It's three o'clock on a...uh…"

"It's Thursday," Harry supplied for him, reaching over to tug at the blanket around Malfoy's torso, pinning his right arm to his side, and admittedly exactly where Draco did not want him to see.

At least, not yet.

"Don't you work Thursdays?" Draco stammered, stalling for more time.

Harry chuckled and Draco hated himself for thinking the crinkles around his eyes were attractive. "No. I have Thursdays off until midnight."

Draco worked to control his breathing and tried to keep himself from being compromised once the comforter was off of him, grasping at anything he could say to possibly distract Harry from helping him up. "So you agreed to dinner with me even if you had to go into a midnight shift right afterwards?"

"Yes," Harry said, his hands slowing as he dragged out the single syllable into not quite a question.

Finding the moment he needed, he used every ounce of focus and strength to push himself into a seated position. Leaning casually against the wall below the window, he primly arranged the comforter around him, and almost released a sigh of relief that the down texture covered his distraction. Harry's hands were too preoccupied messing up his own hair to assist his movements and cause an even more unfortunate incident.

"I apologize for standing you up," he said, keeping a straight face and putting a heavy sincerity in his voice, ignoring the slight lightheadedness from sitting up. "But you see this meddling man at work released me from indentured servitude and I haven't been myself since."

The snort that left Harry's lips made a raspberry sound followed by a true guffaw. "You must have hit your head when you fell. Hermione will kill me if I don't take care of you, she would be here but -"

"She's got her parents tonight, I know."

Harry faltered. "How do you know that?"

It was Draco's turn to blush. "There aren't many neighborhoods in wizarding Britain pleased to share space with Muggles. I may have suggested a realtor a few years ago…"

"You helped her find her parent's house?" Harry gaped a bit, sitting back on his bum to cross his legs in front of him. "I always wondered how she managed to get them into that area, it's so difficult to get in touch with a realtor. Dawlish, Auror I work with, he had a hell of a time applying."

"Favors aren't as fun if their details are given away, Potter," Draco said, trying to shut him up.

"So you won't tell me why she has your flat key?"

"Do you ever shut up?"

"Not normally."

Damn him and his rakish grin; Draco could feel his already strained resolve crumble. "Silence can be golden. Wear your heart on your sleeve all the time and it will dry right out. Poof." He used his free hand to illustrate just that: a fluttering of fingers that would have mortified him without the haze of exhaustion.

Harry's grin twisted into an amused grimace. "Alright, that's enough. Time for bed, soup and tea. In that order. Up you get."

A fit of giggles bubbled in his throat at the way Harry scrunched up his nose, the little wrinkles up under the bridge of his glasses. He'd been able to distract himself sufficiently and when Harry's arms went beneath his armpits to lift him like a rag doll, his entire body was as languid as a cat.

"Whoa there," buzzed against his shoulder. The feeling of Harry's voice against his neck, that line of skin behind his ear, was more heavenly than the few moments of solitude, before interruption. "You're dead weight. Hold on."

The feeling of hitting turbulence on a broom washed over him again, but instead of a featherweight charm from Hermione, his feet were swept up from the rug. Panic flowed through him as his shoulders pressed against a bicep and a familiar warmth flooded through his abdomen with a deliriously fit chest pressed against his hip and arm.

"Stop struggling, Malfoy, I've got you."

"Yes, and now you can put me down!"

More chuckling, and that damn vibration of Harry's voice doing things to him he wished were happening in any other situation, except the one where he was draped uselessly in his arms.

Well. Maybe this was exactly where he wanted to be. Damn.

"Relax, I'm serious, Hermione will lecture me for hours if anything happens to you," Harry said as he leaned over to put Draco back on his bed.

Reaching down to pick up the discarded blankets, Draco caught a glimpse of the top of a set of boxers printed with golden snitches, but the line of tanned skin above the waistband and below Harry's black shirt was worth almost revealing his erection to the other man. He swallowed something that felt like the size of a Quaffle as he reached out to help arrange the comforter, careful to haphazardly arrange it below his midsection. The line of skin remained in his vision as Harry walked away to grab the tea tray off of his dresser. As he returned, Draco openly observed him, his head cocking to the side as the electric buzzing began again. Harry's face was stoic in concentration, working to not spill a drop of the food on the tray as he placed it in front of his charge.

"Do you need me to help you?"

His tone implied Harry had asked the question more than once, and he attempted to regain the balance of the conversation. "What? Oh, no, I am certain I can handle feeding myself. You've got a bit of toothpast on your neck, by the way. Noticed when you manhandled me."

Though it was delicious soup, and he was so parched he finished two pots of tea in no time, the constant presence of Harry in his flat unnerved him and he only half finished the serving. Had he folded the couch blanket? Were his counters clean? His mother would be so disappointed if he had a houseguest as lovely as Harry without offering him something to eat.

Harry seemed preoccupied enough with his seat in a chair taken from the kitchen, a magazine Draco recognized as a local Quidditch gossip rag, to not notice Draco's own distraction.

"Was chicken noodle not the best choice?"

Draco blinked to break his stare at Harry's stocking feet, the informality drawing his attention. "I love chicken noodle. Who made it?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Molly. She made a huge batch today when she found out you were under the weather."

A creeping dread filled his half-full stomach. Harry's face fell exactly how it had done in the elevator, realizing exactly what he'd said.

"Molly doesn't know any details, Malfoy. I only mentioned I wouldn't be around for dinner tonight like I do on Thursdays, meeting Ron for Auror duty and all that, that I would be checking up on you for Hermione. She gets very overprotective and sent me over with enough food to probably feed both of us for a week."

The notion of spending a week in his flat with Harry made his already twisted stomach flip.

Biting the inside of his cheek, which only served to make the numbness worse, he replied, "I believe you, Potter." A sudden thought occurred to him, "Aren't you going to eat with me? I did ask you to dinner after all."

"Not particularly hungry, I'm afraid," he replied with a small smile, waving his hand at Draco to get on with his meal. "Besides you're the one whose metabolism is in overdrive, according to that little pamphlet Hermione shoved under my nose this morning. She hasn't made me study in years and it did not bring back fond memories."

Draco chuckled a little, understanding completely the overbearing nature of his rival-turned-friend. Hours poring over the Archives of the Ministry during his first year in rehabilitation, spending almost every hour with her, had ground down his patience and reshaped his perception of her entirely. He stared at his soup for a few more minutes, eating another couple mouthfuls, before his head started spinning and his eyes stung with exhaustion. He pushed the tray away gently and painstakingly adjusted himself in order to sit up further on the bed.

Without a word, Harry set down his tabloid with a picture of Ginny Weasley grimacing from a page, and took the tea tray away to the kitchen. When he returned the gentle clinking of the dishes washing themselves rang in the next room.

"Did you," Harry cleared his throat, casting his gaze around the room, and stepping closer to Draco's bed. "Did you need anything else? You look bushed."

"You sure know how to compliment a man," grumbled Draco, but he couldn't deny the growing feeling of exhaustion washing over him. A man's hand, Harry's hand, rested on his shoulder as he slumped down into the mattress, eyelids fluttering and eyes unseeing. He unconciously moved into the warmth of Harry's hand as it smoothed the comforter over him.

He was certain he'd already fallen asleep, and Harry had left his bedside, when a sweep over his brow caught him unawares. With his eyes opening in shock, he caught Harry staring with eyes comically wide, his traitorous hand still hovering over the fringe he'd swept out of Draco's eyes.

Feeling small, and the slow drone of bees buzzing filling his ears, Draco searched his gaze and asked, "Will you be here when I wake up?"

Without hesitation, Harry nodded. "Go to sleep, Malfoy."

And he did, with the softest grin to grace his face in months.

Chapter Text

Instead of a languid awakening, Draco's eyes shot open immediately. Sitting up with a gasp, breathing as heavily as if he'd run up his flight of stairs, he clutched his sheets at his waist and took stock of his room.

Replacing the drifting motes of afternoon sun through his window, the streetlamp outside glowed a sickly yellow onto his sheets, coloring everything a dingy sepia tone. The door across the hall, the one to his bathroom, was open and the soft glow of the automatic night light illuminated the contours of his shower curtain and the outline of the single bar of soap, razor and toothbrush. He blinked to adjust to the darkness of the hallway after staring at the night light too long, trying to see around the corner into his living room.

He smacked his lips a few times, shuddering at the taste of food and tea in his mouth gone sour. The incantation to cast a breath-freshening charm on himself was halfway from his lips before he remembered the burst of flames out of his stove. It would not do to lose his teeth in some freak mint-scented accident, as they took two days to grow back properly. Self-preservation won out and he stumbled out of bed towards his bathroom to brush his teeth.

Stumbled was painfully accurate, he found, as one knee hit the floor, the other leg tangled in sheets that held onto his leg as if begging him not to leave their comfort.

"Fucking hell," he groaned, plopping heavily on his arse to check if he'd ripped through his sleep pants.

"Malfoy," croaked a voice down his hallway. "Y'alright?"

Footsteps, sliding along his carpet groggily, preceded Harry before he put his head around the corner. His eyes blinked a few times, and rubbed them with his fingers to clear away the sleep. Draco's throat went dry as Harry leaned against his doorjamb.

There was no way to tell how long Harry had been in his flat, but the red Snitch boxers were replaced by dark blue sleep shorts that showed miles of deeply tanned legs, and what could have been the same black shirt.

Swallowing, pushing up from the floor, knees shaky from more than just exhaustion, Draco said, "Of course, just need to use the loo."

Satisfied with that answer, Harry turned and ambled back down the hall. Stepping slowly out of his room and pausing in the small space between the bedroom and the bathroom, he unabashedly watched Harry walk away. In complete darkness, the dark haired man found his way easily to Draco's couch, settling down carefully but laying boneless as soon as his head hit the pillow again. As he face planted, Harry arranged himself so he was facing the door, the hand hanging off the side gripping his wand, but there was nothing on the couch besides an extra pillow to make him comfortable. Trying not to stare at the man's arse like he had earlier, Draco followed Harry into the living room. He reached into the chest that doubled as a coffee table, rifling through to grab a fleece blanket.

The dark room didn't show the true color of the blanket, the street lamps outside through the curtains in this room giving the illusion of a black and white scene. Drawing out the first blanket he could find.

When the first corner of the blanket touched him, Harry turned with his wand pointed right at Draco's chest, eyes flashing green in the gloom.

Draco froze as if he'd been charmed to, the blanket fluttering out of his hands and onto Harry's hips. The Auror pushed his glasses onto his nose with the hand not holding his wand, and relaxed immediately upon seeing his apparent assailant. With a glance at the blanket and Draco's still outstretched arms above his body, Harry lowered his wand and sat up.

"What's this for?" Harry asked, his moment of wakefulness not extending, now that the threat of danger disappeared. Grabbing the fleece, he looked to it and then at Draco, who'd stood up as soon as the wand was no longer pointed at him, his arms crossed defensively.

"It's a blanket, Potter. Surely you've-"

"Thank you," Harry interrupted. A huge yawn split his face. "Didn't have to, you know. M'fine."

"Stupid Gryffindor, you'll freeze. It's mid-February for Merlin's sake."

"Worried about me?"

Draco froze again, arms still crossed, and watched as Harry arranged the blanket over himself and settled back into his couch, his feet extending to reach the end at an almost uncomfortable length. "Don't need a frozen Auror on my couch, is all." His excuse sounded lame even to him.

Harry didn't seem to notice, only the shock of curly hair and his nose appearing from the top of the blanket. "Go to bed, Malfoy. It's two in the morning and I need to sleep before work." One eye cracked open to look at him blearily. "Unless you need something?"

Shaking his head and slowly making his way back to his bathroom, Draco muttered, "Not right now, no."

He could barely hear Harry's hum in reply as he flicked the light on in the bathroom, momentarily blinded. Shutting the door with care, so the stark light wouldn't disturb the man on his couch, Draco let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding, the gust shaky and rattling in his lungs before escaping. The sides of his porcelain sink protruding from the wall were smooth and cold beneath his palms as he gripped it for dear life.

His reflection stared back at him, wide-eyed and ghostly. What was he doing? Nurturing an unhealthy obsession and misreading it into some sort of infatuation? Preying on a man who'd just left a committed relationship and had been obligated to share intimate details with him? If that were the case, why was Harry currently sound asleep on his couch, relaxed as though he didn't have a care in the world in a former enemy's home?

He didn't have the answers, but as guilt rocked through him, Draco promised himself, his reflection with a trembling lower lip blood red from spending the last several minutes worried between his teeth, he would stop this before it even started. The toothbrush was methodical across his teeth and gums. Too forceful, his spit was pink with his own blood, bright against the white of the sink. He avoided looking to his right when he passed from bathroom to bedroom.

Burrowing beneath his covers, Draco willed himself to fall asleep, but the breathing a room away kept him awake until the dim yellow of the lights outside were replaced with the glow of dawn.

Chapter Text

Draco couldn't deny any longer that he'd stayed up through the night, but the indiscriminate amount of time he'd spent sleeping likely destroyed any sense of pattern to his wakefulness. He drank from the glass of water at his bedside greedily. As soon as the water hit his stomach, however, he realized how empty it felt and coughed from the suddenness of it.


Damn it. "Good morning, Potter."

Standing from his bed, Draco slipped on his plain black slippers to protect his toes from the permeating cold from the air outside. The large windows were a blessing in the summer, the warm light spilling into the flat, but there was always a chill in the winter. Grabbing his dressing robe from behind the door, he tied it deftly around his waist as he checked the time on the clock in the living room, just in his vision at this angle.

Ten minutes to six. He cleared his throat and consciously attempted to sound like he had also just woken up. "What time do you need to be in today?"

"Eight thirty," Harry answered, as scratchy as morning stubble against a palm...stop it, Draco.

One last hesitation before he left his bedroom, not nearly as fearful of casting a breath-freshening charm now that he'd practiced casting several small charms while hopelessly awake, Draco's stomach was in knots, caused by the occupant in the next room.

Harry sat up on one elbow as Draco walked into the living room, and he gripped the spare bathrobe in his hands very firmly to resist reacting to the sight of muscles over an expanse of rib cage. The shirt fell again as the Auror sat up fully, running his hands slowly through his hair and yawning.

"Did you sleep alright, Malfoy?" Harry asked, his voice smoothing from sandpaper to the feeling of a very dry bath towel running over your arms, still sending Draco's hyperactive mind into fits of distraction.

"Slept fine," he replied, walking over to hand Harry the robe, to save him from further torture if at all possible.

Before he could drop the soft fleece onto his lap and walk away, Harry stood in front of Draco and stepped forward to grab it from him.

He smelled like the soap provided in the Ministry showers, something Draco had used a few times before fixing his bathroom that first month in the Ministry provided flat: sharp and clean, an overabundance of tea tree oil to make up for the cheap product. The white of his teeth stood out sharply against his cheeks, tanner than Draco would ever naturally achieve, and during the startling moment the most coherent thought he could form was he'd used a breath-freshening charm, too.

"Thoughtful," Harry said, breaking Draco out of his reverie. "Your flat gets cold as shit at night, why haven't you appealed to fix it? New warming charms or something?"

"I like the windows," Draco blurted.

With both brows raised, Harry put his arms though the robe one at a time, glancing at the windows behind the couch then back to Malfoy. "The windows?"

He hated that he was blushing. "Not many on this block have them. I make do."

Harry nodded as if he understood, but had nothing else to provide on the topic. Cinching the robe, he put his hands on his hips. "Well?"

"Well, what?"

"How do I look?"

Draco kept his eyes on Harry's face, narrowing his eyes and turning his head skeptically. "Warmer."

"Great! I'll put a kettle on. Don't want you burning the whole building down." Harry's cheeriness was incredibly off-putting so early in the morning, and Draco wondered if this was typical, since to his memory both Potter and Weasley nearly dragged their bodies through the doors of the Great Hall each morning.

"Thank you for your vote of confidence. I'll have you know I have complete control of my magic now."

"I won't say I don't believe you but I'm not going to be responsible if you leave this flat and cause havoc; you'll have to contend with Hermione." Harry turned back to the kettle after giving Draco a stern look, and he could see by the way his cheeks and ears moved that the Auror started smirking as soon as his face was turned away. "Milk or sugar?"

"Depends on the tea," Draco replied, moving a bit woodenly as he tried to fuse the idea of Harry Potter making tea in his flat and asking him how he took it.

A brush of a hand while passing the sugar dish, too many smiles, and an easy conversation mixed the mess of guilt and infatuation in his gut like a beater turned too high. If he wasn't careful, some of the batter would eventually fly out, and ruin everything it landed on. He watched the way Harry carelessly ruffled his hair, the fringe forever falling into his eyes, but his fingers were careful with the delicate china cups from Draco's favorite tea set.

When Harry stood and moved to put his dishes near the sink, Draco stood and waved his wand both to show that he had recovered and to not watch his guest continue to do the duty he was sure was meant for him as a host.

"You've done enough, Potter," Draco said as he watched the cups and saucers swoop down to begin washing themselves in a bath of warm soapy water. "You should head into work."

Though he saw Harry check the time on the grandfather clock, the man still cheekily asked him, "Trying to get rid of me, Malfoy?"

After a beat, and when Harry was far enough down the hall to not hear him over the sound of the dishes, Draco turned to lean against the counter and fold his arms, mumbling, "That's what I'm afraid of. I won't be able to."

Chapter Text

The smacking noise of an interdepartmental memo hitting the side of his head rang loudly in the quiet lift. One of the wizards in the elevator with him chuckled a bit, and leaned over to hand Draco the blue parchment that was a bit bent at the tip.

"Thanks," he said, taking the memo with his free hand. What he didn't say was thank you for stopping that particularly Potter-oriented train of thought.

The coffee in his other hand, in a travel mug he'd gotten for Christmas that year from Granger, filled the small space with the rich aroma of a dark Italian roast. He couldn't open the memo with only one hand, and he was not about to set the mug down with how greedily one of the witches was inhaling the scent. However, he could make out his first and last name written in untidy scrawl over the top, without a return department on the other flap, as was customary.

Only through his considerable force of will did he not sprint to his desk to open the note immediately. No one sent Draco Malfoy of the Magical Detachment Facility, little blue notes. But over the last week he'd been sending requests for documents to several departments. And, there was the little detail of full reinstatement of both his funds and power.

Signing Lord Draco L. Malfoy, Arithmancy Master was sincerely gratifying.

When he rounded the corner of his cubicle, he was struck by how many other little notes were flocked on top of his desk. He struggled to find a safe place for the ceramic mug, and gave up, putting it on top of his metal filing cabinet.

"They were waiting to fly in when I opened the office today," Lorna said, smirking as she marched up to Draco's cubicle. Her pride shone like a star. "You'll find your theories and ideas have caused a stir up above."

"A stir? You call...forty five memos in one day a stir? Madame Gastigan, this is an uproar!" The incredulous, and delighted, wonder in his voice was not lost on her.

"Lorna, dear boy. The next time you say that name I'll put grounds in your coffee."

A slow build of giddiness, shadowed a bit by nervous energy, tipped his lips up in a smirk. "I brought my own, thanks."

Lorna lightly smacked the highest part of him he could reach, the meat of his shoulder, and chuckled as she trotted back to her office. He could see a small flock of notes waiting for her as well, hitting the door insistently, and all of them unceremoniously fell ontop of the already mountainous piles of paperwork. He sat down heavily in his desk chair, summoning his coffee from its perch, and sighed happily at the task before him. Several weeks stood between his department and Valentine's day now. Without the extra witches and wizards filing through the office, he had both time and energy to devote to the happy distraction before him.

Lord Malfoy, it has been brough to my attention you've requested copies of the census...

Draco, darling, so good to hear of your probation ending! Do make the stop in my office for tea like you promised last month. Theo should be back from India by that time. I did find it interesting the motivation for your request to my department's attendance records...

Hello, Master Malfoy. St. Mungo's is thrilled in your interest towards the ongiong development of our Muggle Relations team...

Malfoy - stop avoiding the office and ask your questions here.

The last missive caught him off guard. This one was clipped, undiplomatic, and refreshingly not vying to get in his good graces now that he wasn't under strict probation. Two letters scrawled on the back raised the hairs on the back of his neck. R. W. Was it too much to hope the handwriting belonged to Randall Wilkins?

"Hey, Malfoy."

Draco cleared his throat and dropped the note on top of the others he'd read. "Good morning, June."

"You've got a few dozen more notes at my desk. Mind taking them?"

"Send them down, please."

June didn't say a word as she turned and went to the next counselor with their morning announcements and appointments. He didn't mind the cold shoulder. Much more comfortable than the unsubtle hints dropped before Valentine's day. He hoped she'd found someone to hold her attention, as fiery as she was, his flames burned in a different direction. A direction Ronald Weasley all but demanded he run down.

He ignored the note, moving it to the bottom of his in folder when he couldn't stop looking at it on top of all the others. His fingers were freckled with ink by the time the lunch hour rolled around, and he couldn't blame the rolling of his stomach to only drinking coffee.

Without pausing to let anyone where he was going, to avoid the predictable oh could you grab me this's or mind stopping here's. Draco left the scarf on the coatrack but grabbed his jacket. March was more forgiving than February but not by much.

The hallways were full of wix on their way to their lunch break, a clock several meters above their heads chiming noon in the Atrium. He counted the chimes in his head like he always did at noon, adjusting his steps to move in time with the rhythm. The lines were too long at the lifts and he refused to Floo if he could help it, so he made his way to the solitary desk near a set of black doors, nodding to the witch at the counter. She glanced up from her book Werewolves of the Second Moon to jerk her head towards the exit for him. He sprinted up the two flights of stairs to the street level, passing by a second witch who was an exact duplicate of the one below, a mirage for the sake of Muggles attempting to enter.

A wave of rain hit his head before he had the sense to pull his shrunken umbrella out of his coat pocket. Cursing, he fumbled until he had it, hiding beneath the eaves as much as possible. He cast impervius on both shoes and his trousers to repel the splashes of puddles all around.

He noticed around the first corner that a pair of footsteps were matching up with his own, a sound missed in larger crowds, and wondered how long he'd had a follower. Living in London with insomnia afforded him a relative confident knowledge of back alleys and streets. The steps persisted, giving themselves away as a potential assailant. Taking a deep breath, he raised his arm as if to hail a taxi as he reached another street corner, but he let momentum carry him and swung the arm instead to forcefully use his palm to hit their sternum. It wasn't enough to knock the wind out of anyone older than a child, but it was enough to stun Harry Potter as he was caught.

"Merlin!" Draco exclaimed, fisting his hand into Harry's drenched cloak instead of pulling away, dragging him under the plastic covering outside the cafe he'd been headed to. He let go as soon as they were under and all but launched himself to the opposite side. "Fuck, Potter. What's the matter with you?"

"I could ask the same!" Harry fired back, ripping off his glasses and reapplying an impervius. The rain poured on top of the cover, loud and near deafening, but Harry's voice cut through the sound like an arrow. "I came up for lunch, you numpty, didn't know you were the one dragging your heels in front of me."

Draco narrowed his eyes as he watched Harry put the glasses back on and run his hand through his hair to push the curly mop back. "So you weren't following me?" Harry shook his head once, firmly, his mouth in the most distracting pout. "I hate it when you Gryffindors tell the truth. Utterly infuriating."

It seemed to soften Harry, the pout twitching as if he wanted to laugh. "It's wretched out, let's go to the loo."

"What?" Draco spluttered, swinging his head from gazing in the steamed windows to examine Harry closely.

"It's a Muggle shop, I usually use the bathroom for any spells, and I refuse to eat wearing rain-soaked clothes. Besides. You still owe me a date."

Draco swallowed, watching Harry slip into the door, glancing once over his shoulder to throw Draco what could have been a shy grin, but he couldn't tell properly with raindrops stuck to his eyelashes, distorting his vision to a kaleidoscope. The bell chiming loudly before it was cut off by a thunderclap overhead.

He shuffled his feet. He took his hands out of his pockets and folded his arms petulantly. He shook his head to release the last of the water droplets gluing the strands to his face. He let four other people walk in before him and wished he hadn't quit smoking so he would have an excuse to stand outside. Through the distorted fog he could see straight to the men's room, where Harry held the door open for a bloke who almost stumbled directly into him. The sight of his winning smile facing someone else snapped something in him.

"Fucking hell," he grumbled, yanking the door more forcefully than necessary, and hoped Fate was having a good laugh at his expense.

Chapter Text

When the waitress asked if they wanted a booth or a table, Harry turned to look at him with raised eyebrows, allowing him to pick.

"Booth," he blurted, silently working to smooth his ruffled feathers.

Though they both had taken the time in the loo to dry their clothes and shoes, Harry evidently thought damp hair was okay, and kept pushing it out of his eyes to stick to his forehead in dark swirls. The Auror nodded as if to approve of his choice before gesturing that Draco follow her first. Throwing him what he hoped was an inscrutable raised eyebrow, Draco slipped his hands in his coat pockets to appear nonchalant and strode after the girl in black skintight pants and a t-shirt emblazoned with the café's logo and name.

He took the far side of the booth, hanging his jacket up primly on the rack that looked little used at the end of the seat, wishing he was able to shrink the umbrella to go in the pocket. When he was settled, the sleeves of his sweater pulled up just enough over his wrists for free movement but not enough to show the bottom of his Dark Mark scar, he watched as Harry ordered tea for the two of them.

"Presumptuous, Potter," Draco commented dully, grabbing one of the plastic lined menus from behind the salt and pepper rack.

Harry didn't answer, except for a throaty chuckle that made the hair on Draco's arms stand on end.

The two men perused the options, though both knew the other had been to this restaurant enough to know their favorites. One of them hid behind the tattered menu while the other folded his hands on top of the paper placemat.

"Do you need my glasses?" drifted over the top of the picture of an enticing rocket sandwich that would not come out looking like the image at all.

Draco pulled his cover down just enough to give Potter a confused glare. As he watched the man, relaxed enough to put one arm up on the back of his seat and cross his legs beneath the table, Harry motioned lazily at the menu three inches from Draco's face.

"You're holding that awfully close to your face. Either you need glasses or you're hiding from me."

"Am not!" Draco automatically said, slamming the menu down onto the plastic tabletop. A few people in the tables and booths next to them stopped talking or eating to gawk at the two men. Glaring at them all until they looked away, even the three year old toddler who stuck out his tongue before going back to his mushy peas, Draco smoothed his hands over the top of the battered plastic. His voice was much quieter as he hissed, "I am not hiding."

Throughout it all, Harry was annoyingly unruffled for Draco's taste. The waitress returned as the Auror opened his mouth to make a comment, and he again motioned for Draco to make the first move, and he ordered their caprese in a practiced cadence before Harry asked for the turkey club, extra arugula, with the same tone only regulars can carry.

The tea was delicious. Draco focused solely on that, and not the way the edges of Harry's glasses fogged while his hair slowly dried. Certainly, he wasn't watching his hands as they deftly undid the napkin around his silverware and unfolded it over one knee.

"Are you a vegetarian?"

The question startled him enough to answer honestly, breaking his focus on the clean, though slightly bitten, nails on the hands he was definitely watching, . "Not really."

Harry's lips turned down into a discouraged moue. "The caprese sandwich...I thought, that. still play Quidditch?"

"Broom was confiscated," Draco replied, trying for nonchalance and landing on bitter. "Haven't purchased a new one yet. I hope they donated my Nimbus to Hogwarts, at least. The brooms they expect first years to learn on are atrocious."

"I've not flown in a while, myself, but Ginny asked me if I wanted to run drills with her while the Harpies are on break for a few weeks."

"Is that so?"

"You're welcome along, if you'd like. Got a spare broom you could ride."

Draco choked on the tea he was sipping after his snippy comment. Harry was quick to lean over their small table to hit his back a few times to clear his airways, and bit his lip to keep from laughing. The same customers who'd turned to look when Draco slammed the menu down this time looked on in concern, but he waved his hand to redirect their attention once more.

"Spare broom? Potter what game are you...what are we even doing here," Draco spluttered as he wiped his mouth, a few lingering coughs interrupting his hushed questions.

"We're having a lunch date, Malfoy." Harry said as he returned to his seat, finding a spot on the cushions that was the least lumpy. "Thought that was obvious."

Right on cue, before Draco could barb Harry again, their plates of food appeared on the arms of their waitress. After requesting more napkins and tea, she was gone again, leaving the two without the distraction Draco craved, so he focused intently on his sandwich and crisps. Halfway through eating their sandwiches, Draco paused while cutting another bite from his. Knife and fork still poised in his hands, he looked up at Harry whose elbows were on the table, the sandwich held in both hands, and a small drop of sauce one corner of his lips.

Harry chewed slowly, savoring each bite of his sandwich in unhurried happiness, and raised his eyebrows at Draco who realized he was staring again. The words he wanted to ask were choked at the top of his throat and he couldn't take another bite until he'd asked. He took a deep breath and looked at Harry with a stern expression.

"You'd have to promise not to whine when I beat you at Seeker's Doubles," Draco said, looking back down at his knife moving steadily back and forth over the ciabatta.

"Seeker's Doubles?" Harry parroted, after he'd swallowed. "You're out of your mind if you think you'd beat me."

Draco's shoulders relaxed at the return to their status quo, and he finished his own bite of food before replying, acting as though Harry hadn't said a word. "You'll need to practice, though, Potter. I won't stand for excuses after I've solidly trounced you."

"You're on, you git," Harry said, throwing a single crisp at Draco, that bounced off his chest onto the blond's plate.

As he picked up the crisp, the salt beneath Draco's fingers reminding him how sweaty his palms were, he put it in his mouth with a defiant crunch.

"Same for you, you know," Harry continued. He wiped his hands on the napkin in his lap, only a few bites of their meals remaining on their plates. "Practicing. If you're free on Saturday night, the Quidditch Pitch at the Ministry is open. No one really uses it on the weekends, and Mungo's completed all their physical fitness tests of the players down there two weeks ago."

He purposefully hesitated, and furrowed his brow, counting the appropriate number of seconds to imply he was internally checking his schedule, before he answered, "I could be free on Saturday."

Draco looked up and tipped his mouth in a small grin before wiping his mouth with his napkin and folding it on top of his empty plate. Harry, whose hair was completely dried now, grinned back at him while the sun broke through the clouds outside to shimmer on the foggy windows.

Damn that grin, Draco thought to himself as Harry insisted on paying. I am in trouble.

Chapter Text

Draco didn't know what exactly to expect when he arrived in the bowels of Ministry at four minutes past four o'clock on Saturday. He'd puttered around his office between two thirty and three fourteen, realizing he didn't have a key yet to get in by himself but sat there for as long as he was planning on working anyway. The walk down to the Pitch wouldn't normally take from three fifteen to three fifty two but he made sure to leave the lift and walk up and down the hall of every floor before reaching the courtroom levels. At the end of the hallway, the opposite end from the Department of Mysteries, the floor sloped down deeper into a corridor that became more well-lit each passing step. The black bricks were broken up here and there by the mosaic image of a Quaffle or goalpost until several wooden doors blocked his path.

He paused in front of the upper entrance to the men's locker room, but strode on towards the door to the indoor pitch. One deep breath, in through his nose and shuddering out between his lips, Draco pushed open one of the double doors.

The false sunset stunned him a moment, the enchanted ceiling mimicking the charms on Hogwart's Great Hall, though not nearly as detailed. He walked out from what would normally be the spectator level, with dozens of rows of stands above his head, and the sunken pitch below his feet. Down below he saw a solitary figure dressed all in black jogging in place at the opposite end, near the referee's chambers, and tried to keep his breathing as steady as it was before entering.

"Ready for me to fly circles around you, Potter?" he called, thanking Merlin his voice was steadier than his stomach at that moment.

Harry kept pulling his knees up to his chest as he waved, and laughed, the sound reverberating off the walls of the stadium and right down Draco's spine.

Draco lifted his hand as well in a short wave back, dropping his arm lamely, unable to recall the last time he'd waved to someone. The bag holding his change of clothes weighed heavily on his shoulder, and as he moved it to the other, he was startled by the sound of Harry's voice much closer than it'd been a minute before.

"Are you going to change or play me in your perfectly pressed trousers?"

Harry looked up at Draco from the ground of the pitch several feet below, breathily heavily, belying the sprint he'd taken to get over to Draco's side that quickly. His cheeks were bright red already from exertion, and several trails of sweat ran rivers down his temples.

"Where are your glasses?" Draco blurted, as much to break himself of his own fixation on the different textures he could see in Harry's hair, as he was genuinely curious.

With a shrug, the smile still stretched from ear to ear, Harry said, "Contacts! Just for flying, though. Hermione made me."

"Granger is such a busybody," Draco grumbled, gesturing at Harry to back up a few paces as he put one foot on a railing. Two more steps and he leapt over the metal guardrail and landed on the soft ground of the pitch, knees slightly bent to absorb the shock. "And needs to keep her cosmetic suggestions to herself."

"Are you implying you like my glasses, Malfoy?"

"I'm implying that a woman who takes fashion advice from grocery ads should stay away from anyone else's appearance."

Harry held his stomach while he laughed, insisting under his breath that he was a terrible friend for laughing. The other hand landed on Draco's shoulder in an effort to keep Harry upright, and Draco automatically braced his weight on the foot closer to him in order to make that easier. After presumably warming up, the heat of that connection seeped through the layers of his button up and sweater, and he felt tension release where the hand rested and move elsewhere on his body.

"I'm going to...I'll just...excuse me."

Rushing over to the lower entrance to the locker room, Draco hunched his shoulders up and didn't breathe again until he was safely down the hallway and among the solitude of metal lockers and empty showers. The air pulled through his nose sounded explosive in the otherwise quiet room, and he tried not to think about changing his clothes with Harry only a few dozen yards away.

A broom waited by the entrance to the pitch when he returned several agonizing minutes later and he raised his eyebrows at the stamp of Firebolt Five. This was Potter's spare broom? Trying to change quickly, but not wanting to appear too eager, had caused him to fall on his arse. Twice. Like hell he'd let one blossoming bruise stop this from happening.

As he wrapped his gloved fingers around the handle, he almost purred. He wasn't allowed a broom like this for the entire tenure of his rehabilitation, Quidditch deemed too aggressive an activity for someone of his history. His muscles screamed for the exertion, and in lieu of warming up properly, he swung his leg over the broom and kicked off into the air.

The air whipping past his face, destroying any styling he'd attempted on his hair that morning, nearly made him cry with joy. A whooping laugh echoed around the Pitch as he leaned down as close as he could to the handle. Responding to his bidding, the broom shot forward, and he pulled up harshly in a backwards arc to avoid slamming into the stands around the stadium. Draco remained upside down for several seconds, slowly corkscrewing around, torn between carefully gauging his movements and reacquainting his body with the feel of flying.

Without added wind resistance, Draco picked up velocity on his laps around the room until the broom reached its maximum speed. His eyes stung, and his hands already ached from his grip, but he hadn't felt this alive in months.

Great gasping breaths whooshed in and out of him as he slowed and landed a few yards from where Harry sat on his own casually floating broomstick. With his legs folded in a figure four, toes skimming the ground, Draco had the image of a Quidditch magazine coverboy, before landing on his own two feet again. He felt shaky and let his knees give way to fall to the ground in a smiling heap, still dragging air into his lungs.

"Is that all you can last?" Harry teased as he jumped off his broom. "Ten laps?"

"Shut up, Potter," Draco said. He couldn't help his grin and he could feel the burning heat in his cheeks from his exertion.

Harry put a hand on his hip and looked down at Draco, so the man on the ground saw his face upside down. "Seeker Doubles?"

Draco took in the crinkles of mirth around Harry's eyes, momentarily lost in the unhindered view of the bright green color of the irises. "Seeker Doubles."

Though Harry would have called it scrambling to his feet, Draco would deny that claim and state he did not scramble, for he was not an egg. He stood and dusted his sweatpants and shirt off, watching Harry walk over to the small crate near an exit door, the one holding several practice Snitches. The reused balls didn't have the lasting flesh memory of game-Snitches, where that skin contact was often needed to call the winner of the one hundred fifty points, and usually the victor. These had temporary memories and forgot who'd caught them within a few minutes so they could be reused again and again. One of these Snitches rolled into Harry's palm, its wings unfolding almost sleepily, before bouncing up and taking off into the air.

"Best two of three?" Harry asked, eyes never leaving the Snitch as it tested the boundaries allowed in the underground pitch.

Draco traced the line of Harry's neck with abandon, choking out a quick, "Can't last more than ten minutes, Potter?"

Harry ducked his head with a huge grin, looking up at Draco with that grin he'd come to despise because of the way it made the muscles of his thighs and abdomen clench. Rakish. If he wasn't already distracted enough, the side of Harry's lower lip pulled between his beautiful, perfect teeth.

"Fairly confident I can," he said, holding out an arm to call over his broom. "Count of three, Malfoy?"

With his muscles firing on all pistons and his brain woefully dysfunctional, Draco could barely stay still long enough to hear the first sound of one leave Harry's mouth before he pushed up into the air.

He forgot how much he loved this, flying until his legs ached and his lips stuck together from how dry they got, of the way his senses were stretched to find the Snitch faster than someone else, specifically Harry whose effortless talent used to make him so sick and angry he'd stamp his feet and slam fists into lockers of the Slytherin den. Equal attention paid to the twisting body closely tailing him, or next to him, or under him, and using momentum and leverage of his own body to whip around and catch the little golden ball...he vowed immediately to do this as often as possible.

The first time, Harry caught the Snitch, and Draco snarled and threw several sarcastic comments about an unfair advantage with contacts, but instead of rising to the bait and re-establishing their previous rivalry, Harry laughed and reminded him it was best two of three. The Snitch required three minutes to reset the flesh memory and its desire to outrun the two Seekers, so they floated tensely above the west end of the stands, and Draco hid the way his arms were shaking. He'd always been a thin man, especially after a distinct lack of appetite following the Dark Lord's occupation of his home and watching several people, Muggles and wix alike, butchered on his dining room table. With this level of exertion his muscles hummed a warning that he'd be barely able to walk the next morning.

Harry didn't count down for the second round, the sharp change in the Snitch's behavior telling them all they needed to know, and Draco found it easier to ignore the round shape of Harry's ass in his tight sweatpants when he outstripped him, so he leaned dangerously close to the broom handle.

His thighs were the strongest part of his body, and he hooked his legs around the broomstick with interlocking ankles, and used that to his advantage. He nearly copied Harry's move from first year, the swing of his arm snatching the prize and almost rolling him off balance, but his ankles held fast and he joyously released a whoop! as he flew a few hundred feet upside down. With his shirt untucked, the breeze against his chest made his stomach contract again.

When he noticed the comical way Harry's eyes widened at the sight of his stomach, Draco did fall off of the broom, tumbling to the astroturf a few yards below him, rolling as the breath rushed out of him. The broom landed lamely on the ground, bouncing once on the springy turf before hovering a few inches, patiently waiting.

Two heavy footfalls reverberated through his skull as he gasped for air, and Harry's green eyes and dark mess of hair filled his vision. His hands hovered over his face before one ran fingers over his skull, checking for concussions, likely.

"Malfoy, are you alright?"

"Never better, Potter," Draco coughed as his head stopped spinning. "Back up, you're stealing all my air."

"Unlikely," Harry said, but he pulled back to sit on his knees next to Draco's prone form.

Draco didn't complain about the moment to recuperate. Their second round was much longer than the first and he was having a hard time stopping his arms from shaking and his gaze from wandering, several lines and patches of sweat discoloring Harry's shirt by now, causing it to cling rather than flap in the breeze.

The sound of several small intakes of breath was driving him mad. His eyes were closed so he could focus on regaining his breath and lowering his heart rate, so he could hear each time Harry opened his mouth.

"Instead of sounding like a fish you could just spit it out," he said, eyes still closed.

Harry laughed softly, the sound shaky...dare he call it nervous? "You, erm...are those from what I think they are?"

Draco cracked one eye balefully at Harry, the adrenaline and endorphin highs slowing his comprehension skills to a snail's pace. As he opened his mouth to retort, the realization of exactly what Harry was talking about washed over him violently, filling his ears simultaneously with a painful ringing and the rushing sound of a river.

"Fuck off, Potter."

This time, Draco would concede he scrambled, standing as quickly as he could and stalking away from the gaping man on the opposite side of the pitch as the locker rooms.

"Malfoy! Malfoy, wait! I'm sorry, I just-"

"Just what, Potter?" Draco kept walking, timing it so he would appear less like he was running away and more indignant.

"Stop and listen to me, would you?"

By now Draco had reached the hallway into the locker room, and he could hear the slap of Harry's trainers on the stone floor, close at his heels but giving him a bit of space. That way, when Draco stopped short and spun to face him, they didn't collide, but only just.

Throwing his arms over his head, Draco let the surge of adrenaline still filling his ears with ringing and his muscles with violent energy push him to pull his own sweat-soaked shirt over his head, throwing it harshly onto the floor.

"You want to talk about these? The scars from the war we fought as teenagers playing soldier? Piss off, Potter. What does your sympathy matter to me, son of a Death Eater and my own special brand of pariah? This was a mistake. Your concern is misguided, same as mine. So go coddle someone who deserves it, yeah? I've had worse done by better."

The corridor echoed with the sound of his rapid breathing, and he knew in the starkly bright light of the locker rooms that every line on his pale chest stood out, whether it was white from age, dark and angry from a curse, or a shining burn. Death Eaters, as well as the Dark Lord, were very careful to make marks that were easy to hide.

"You're a right fucking wanker, sometimes, Malfoy." Harry's mouth, the cupid's bow of his upper lip, curled back defensively. "And you talk big, but you need to take some of your own goddamned therapist advice."

"The fuck are you saying-"

"I'm not fucking coddling you, and you know it. You're the first person to treat me with respect and not immediately trying to jump into bed with me after finding out I like cock." Draco winced, and Harry groaned in frustration. "Jesus, for someone who prides themselves on being a damned good Slytherin you're fucking useless at reading me right now. I can't fix what I did when we were stupid teenagers, and you can't either, but that's the point! I want to move forward from this, away from the idiots we were and maybe make something good? Excuse me for thinking we were least better. I'd settle for friends, if that is all I can get."

Draco gulped, the arms previously raised in an open and challenging stance now hanging by his sides. "What are we doing, Potter?"

"I should ask the same of you," Harry said, taking one, then another step forward. "You're so damn thick-headed."

Several seconds, where the men shared breathing space, siphoned all the air from the room. For the first time in several minutes, Harry's gaze wandered from Draco's eyes and moved slowly down to his lips. Draco licked them in response, his mouth unable to properly wet the lips still dry from flying.

"But you've got a beautiful smile, and I've been dying to kiss you for weeks. Months, really," Harry said, each breath hitting Draco's neck and face. Draco realized he wasn't breathing anymore when Harry's eyes met his again. "May I?"

Chapter Text

"May I?"

Draco was certain he'd gotten a concussion when he fell off of the broom.

Harry was still a few inches from his face, that bottom lip worried between his teeth, and his eyes flicking back and forth between Draco's eyes and lips. Seven heartbeats passed and Draco still hadn't spoken. His breathing was still erratic and his ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton.

"Malfoy, may I please kiss you?"

Nearly cross-eyed from simultaneously trying to hold his breath and the air fighting to move rapidly in and out of his lungs, Draco hissed, "Yes."

If he expected hot and forceful, he was gravely mistaken. Hot? Certainly. That much was clear as Harry's hands moved to grip Draco's hips over his sweatpants and he pressed his forehead into Draco's. Their sweat mingled, the air around them cooling their skin wherever a rivulet fell, and Draco was so focused on the way Harry smelled and how warm his hands were even over his clothes, he gasped when Harry's lips met his and the chapped skin on their lips caught and sent a shiver down their spines.

Harry had even asked and he was still surprised, and completely transfixed on the movements where their bodies connected. The Auror, slightly taller than Draco, used that height to his advantage as he moved one of the hands at Draco's hips up to cup the back of his head.

As Harry's soft kisses nudged him backwards, he felt his over-exerted limbs shake for an entirely different reason. Draco reached behind him to press a palm into the cold steel of a locker to brace himself.

With a hiss, when his bare back hit the line of steel behind him, he bit down on Harry's lower lip without thinking. The responding moan, and the bruising grip on Draco's hip, made the guilty feeling deep in Draco's gut struggle against the bonds he was trying to reign it with.

"Wait," Draco gasped, moving his lips to the side to break the kiss, not trusting himself to stop with one bite if he didn't move now.

Harry's hand was still tangled in the short hairs at the back of his head, and though the biting grip on Draco's hip released slightly, he didn't move away. Still close enough to steal another kiss, he searched Draco's face with his irises blown wide and cheeks flushed with arousal. Draco pulled in a shaky breath and would have hit his head back against the wall behind him if Harry's hand weren't still there.

"You don't want to do this with me," Draco said, each word cutting his throat like glass as he tried to save Harry from the fucked up possibility the Auror's fingers seemed intent on exploring. "I'm a fucking Death Eater, freshly released from rehabilitation, and you are-"

"A man who doesn't give two flying fucks about that."

Harry's forehead still pressed into Draco's, so he could feel when the blond shook his head back and forth. "You don't know what you're saying."

"What about the last two months gives you any indication I don't want this?" Harry asked, adjusting himself so he could more comfortably run his fingers over Draco's skull, the slight massaging pressure making Draco's lips part. "You''re beautiful , and so infuriating...incredibly infuriating, actually."

"That's not helping."

"Stop pouting, or I'll bite that pretty lip of yours."

Draco couldn't help the increase to his blush, or the way a laugh slipped through his parted lips, complimented twice now and if Harry continued...well, he could already feel his resolve cracking anyway.

"I could tell, you know. That day after you were taken off of probation." For the space of a breath, Draco's quickly drawn in one to be precise, Harry considered his next words. "I could feel the way you were watching me, stoned out of your mind from your own magic. I thought I was imagining things, at first. But the more I thought about it...the more I liked the idea of you watching me."

This was it. He'd survived a war on the wrong side and years of excruciating self-reflection, but there was no way in hell he would survive if Harry continued speaking.

"You've given this thought, then?"

A purr, just south of a growl, vibrated through Harry's chest and reestablished the goosebumps up and down Draco's arms. Harry shifted his legs so his thighs straddled one of Draco's. He wasn't so far gone from lust, the combination of praise and physical contact muddying his mind, to imagine the move was unintentional. This time, when his mouth parted further at the feeling of how much thought Harry had given this situation, Harry's lips were there to make good on his promise.

"Do you want me to say it, Malfoy?" Harry asked, pulling away and speaking between heated touches and demanding kisses. "Do you want me to tell you how much I've wanted to kiss you, how catching a glimpse of you walking around the Ministry in those well-tailored robes makes me think of what your body must look like beneath it? I knew I would see the Dark Mark, and the scars from the curse, but I couldn't have dreamed up the way you fucking glow on the pitch. Or the way you push your body to the limit on a broom until your muscles are shaking and your chest is heaving and, fuck , Malfoy. Even Ron noticed how much I stare at your ass and imagine just-"

Draco cut him off with a kiss that pulled Harry's tongue into his mouth and rubbed their teeth together, and was not gentle in the way he forced Harry to stop talking. "Never mention Weasley again before fucking me."

Starry eyed and panting, Harry moved his lips to Draco's neck and started to test where to bite, to lick, or to mark. "Deal."

Distracting Draco sufficiently, until he was wantonly rolling his hips, the fabric of their sweatpants riding up and bunching around their fully erect cocks and providing the friction the both were chasing, Harry pulled Draco from the lockers and moved towards the showers.

Chapter Text

Draco was fully erect and painfully aroused before Harry started kissing his way down his back. He bit back a whine as Harry continued to wax eloquent on the way his skin was so smooth and how watching the muscles move beneath it was something he could watch all day. By now he was certain Harry could tell how far his blush extended and cock twitched each time a compliment left his mouth, if the way Harry rutted against him was any indication.

The steam from the shower they'd turned on several minutes before clouded the mirrors, which Draco didn't mind. Without the reflection, he couldn't see the white and silver lines crisscrossing his torso and legs from the Sectumsempra curse, or the burns and scars from beatings and worse he received at the hands of Death Eaters when his father wasn't present to protect him. His mother all but drugged the summer after fifth year, to avoid her interference. He believed he deserved those marks and lines for all the terrible things he did then, or attempted to do.

However, each time Harry's scorching hot hands ran over a mark and lingered to pay it close attention, Draco thought he might learn to accept those scars. If Harry would never stop touching them.

"Jesus," Harry said breathlessly, his hips flush with Draco's, and the sweat of their bodies mingling with the steam of the shower. The combination slicked the hands holding tightly to Draco's bare waist. "You're a fucking masterpiece ."

Draco couldn't speak by this point, and responded by pushing his ass backwards so Harry's hard cock could slip as much between his cheeks as their clothing would allow.

With a squeak of skin on skin contact, Harry kneaded his hands down to the line of skin above Draco's pants, and began to push them down, massaging his fingers wherever they went. His fingers pushed them down tantalizingly slowly, and Draco pressed his burning face against the cool tile wall where the top of his chest and hands were braced. The cold of the wall across his nipples mixed with the overheated touch of an exploring Harry Potter filled his head with white noise. There was no movement for several intakes of breath, and he realized his eyes were closed when they fluttered open to turn to look behind him.

Harry's hair was still sticking up in every direction as though he were still in the air on his broom, but his eyes were transfixed on where his hands rested at the top of Draco's pants, as though he were steeling himself.

"What's wrong?" Draco asked quietly, moving to pull himself away, stomach sinking as the litany of I knew it, I told you not to get involved ran through his head.

"Nothing," Harry readily replied, his hands still digging into the meat of Draco's back, where knew he had dimples above the top of his ass; something a few lovers had commented on, but he didn't want to think about that in this moment. Harry thumbed the dip in his skin where he'd once had a piercing. "Nothing at all, I just...Merlin, do you know what you look like?"

Draco shot Harry an uncertain look, and continued to stare when Harry lifted his eyes from watching his tanned hands against a pale tableau. It appeared to physically pain him to move his gaze, but it softened when their eyes met. "You don't know."

Biting his lip and searching Harry's face for all of a second, Draco whispered, "Tell me."

Harry moved his gaze back down to where his hands shook, glancing once more up to Draco's face for confirmation, before pulling the pants down as swiftly as he could. Draco hissed, not in pain, but at the feeling of both his sweatpants, and tight fitting briefs with padded protection in the front, pulled down at the same time, grazing over every part of his arousal.

"Fucking hell," Harry exhaled, his breath far lower than Draco remembered, and he fought to relax as Harry's hands roamed over each half of his ass, fighting the urge to rock his hips back and forth. "I've been dreaming about your ass for weeks; I wanted to run my hands over you this week when the rain made your trousers skin tight against it. And, if you’d let me, I’d pull those trousers down so I could just bury myself here, fucking claim you."

Draco whimpered as Harry punctuated each of the final syllables with increased pressure with his massaging fingertips, moving closer and closer to exactly where he needed them most. It couldn't be heard over the thrum of the shower they were still ignoring, but Draco's cock jumped at a particularly demanding squeeze, a drop of precome slowly sliding down to hit the floor.

"Would you like that, Malfoy? Would you like me to touch you, to fuck you, and make you forget everything but my name?" Harry's finger brushed against the spot between Draco's perineum, moving back and forth. When Draco didn't answer, Harry fully cupped Draco's balls and rolled them experimentally. "I'm waiting for an answer, Malfoy."

" Fuck ," Draco panted, the keening tone threading through his voice. "Fucking Merlin, yes , Potter."

"Say my name." Another roll of Harry's palm.

"H-Harry!" The end of his name rose in pitch as Draco convulsed from Harry's other hand gripping the base of his straining cock, moving slowly up and down, paying careful attention to the foreskin pulling away from the head.

"Yes, Draco. Perfect, you are just fucking perfect."

When he thought he might spill himself into Harry’s hand after only a few coarse touches, Harry pulled away, leaving Draco shaking. The combination of cold on his top half and heat on the bottom, as well as his muscles still exerted from the first set of Quidditch he'd played in years, kept him where he was while he prayed Harry wouldn’t leave him like this: pants down, ass up, and begging to come.

Harry wasn’t gone for long. When he returned to stand behind Draco, the surrounding warmth of him drew Draco back from the wall like a snake seeking the warmest spot to bask in the sun. As Harry’s teeth grazed his earlobe, and he moved closer, Draco took a sharp intake of breath when he felt a naked and very hard cock resting in the cleft of his ass. Both arms wrapped around Draco in a hold that would have been chaste if they’d been clothed, Harry languidly kissed Draco’s neck and slowly moved him under the stream of water falling from the ceiling.

“You’re shivering...your arms are cold as ice,” Harry said against Draco’s shoulder. Running his palms over the raised skin on Draco’s arms, Harry started to slowly thrust his hips forward, as if he weren’t aware he was even doing it. A throaty moan vibrated against Draco’s spine as he lifted his hands behind him to grab onto Harry’s hair.

Hands on shoulders became hands on hips. The way the Auror’s hands could reach around so his fingertips gripped Draco’s slightly protruding hips and his thumbs could dig into the dimples above his cheeks, did wonderful things to stimulate him.

The movements behind him were sure and dominant, and though Draco had bottomed before, he’d not been treated to such a display of desire. Rosy blushes criss-crossed his cheeks, chest, and back as murmurs of approval, punctuated by colorful profanity, coursed from Harry, pouring like warm honey over every inch of his body.

Was he too skinny? My god this ass is perfect .

His scars? Constellations...stars all over you .

Draco exhaled loudly, ending in a short plea of, “Merlin yes ,” as Harry’s hand finally moved down to place first one finger, then another, right where he wanted him. He stuttered for a moment, taking one hand out of Harry’s hair to temporarily halt the wandering fingers. He wandlessly cast two spells over each of them, quickly, to not break the moment. A moment of discomfort was well worth the added protection, and with those details taken care of, Harry wasted no time in moving his hand back to where it was.

He moved so slowly, working Draco open with movements that just scratched the surface of what Draco needed, desperately at this point, and would give up all the titles he’d just regained in order for Harry to just shove his cock inside of him already. Moving his hips back, the tip of Harry’s cock brushed his now relaxed opening and both men grunted from the sensation.


“If you are going to ask me if I’m ready, I swear I will hex you, Potter,” Draco said, teeth grit in a heady mix of anticipation and frustration. “Would you fuck me, already?”

“Gladly.” Harry grazed his teeth harsher than necessary against an already purple love bite on Draco’s shoulder in retribution for the cheeky comment. His hand pushed against Draco’s shoulders to bend him over enough to gain a better angle.

He’d scoffed each time someone told him how they saw stars during the act. Years spanned between what happened at the Manor, and sex was something Draco had worked very hard to see in a positive light, but the way Harry saw him, he could believe he was beautiful. And that first time he took Harry, all of him, one of his final coherent thoughts was I am done for , the edges of his vision blacking out to form the stars he’d envied.

Water was not the best lubrication, but Harry took that into consideration as, before he guided himself inside of Draco, another spell whispered over his backside. With a vice-like grip on Draco’s hips, Harry lined up his cock and pushed in slowly. As he pulled away, pushing forward further, away again, repeating a few more times until he was fully seated, blunt fingernails marked Draco’s hips. One of Draco’s knees threatened to give out.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Harry said, pushing forward so Draco could gain better purchase on a soap dish to the right and a towel rack on the left.

The foreplay heated their blood, a slow burn flaming to an inferno, but the snap of Harry’s hips and the way Draco could feel Harry’s balls hitting his own from the rapidity of the movement completely drove out other thoughts. Draco’s fingers slipped a bit on the residue left over from the substandard-quality Ministry soap on the ledge he was trying to grip. When he twisted his body to rely more on the steady towel rack, it slanted his hips where Harry’s cock suddenly hit his prostate at the best angle.

“Ohhh fuck , there, Potter!”

Moving his hips to repeat that thrust over and over, Harry’s voice echoed off the shower walls as he commanded, “Say. My. Name. Draco.”

Ahh, Harry... Harry !”

“Yes! Jesus, Draco, I’m going to come!” He kept moving his hips to try to make Draco repeat his name, each syllable matching a thrust.

Draco knew he wasn’t far behind, and grasped his own cock with the hand slick with soap, and set a blinding rhythm on himself in double time to Harry’s already faltering pace. His vision was unreliable at this point, and he knew magic was the only thing keeping him standing, but he forced himself to turn back to look at Harry.

Lips parted, eyes lidded where he stared at the grip his own fingers made on Draco’s body, wherever they landed, Harry was a vision. His cheeks were red from exertion and the lines of his biceps and pecs were so prominent in the too bright light above them, that dark lines of shadows appeared. His timing was perfect, as he watched the parted lips meet, and Harry's lower lip pull between his teeth in a final, echoing, animalistic grunt, filling Draco. His head arched back and water from the shower trailed over the scar on his forehead, over the planes of his face and into his mouth.

As Harry slowed almost to a halt, Draco redoubled his efforts on his own cock, most of his attention caught on Harry to the point of distraction. Out of his mind from scrabbling at that last hurdle, he was only half aware of Harry slipping out of him, lifting his torso upright, then turning him around, before those chapped lips met his again. Draco’s chest felt flat compared to the hard muscle blanketing him against the wall. He didn’t stop his hand until Harry replaced it with his own, using the other to fondle Draco’s balls, freeing Draco’s hands to dig into Harry’s shoulders for purchase.

The bruise from Harry’s prior attention to Draco’s neck twinged painfully as Harry placed his mouth there again. Harry’s voice sent a final wave of chills over his scalp as Draco’s own hips lost control. “ Come for me, Draco .”

“Harry, yes !” he cried out, uncaring that the Auror’s ear was just south of his pleading mouth, and came hard enough between their bodies that his knees truly did give out, magic or not.

They lay panting for several minutes, curled up facing each other with Harry’s chin resting on top of Draco’s head, their legs tangled together. Absentmindedly, Draco trailed his hand up and down Harry’s arm, one of his eyes able to track the movement and where little goosebumps appeared on the tan skin.

A soft kiss landed on the crown of Draco’s head. “Holy shit.”

“Indeed,” Draco agreed softly, pulling Harry’s legs a bit closer to him, enjoying the way the man’s coarser leg hair rubbed and scratched his skin.

The shower switched off when the automatic timer for an hour kicked in. Steam covered the locker room baths, but without the constant jets of water, the floor leached their body heat greedily. Draco stood first, assisting Harry up and using the moment to assess any injuries the taller man may have received when they’d fallen.

“I’m fine,” Harry said, his tone equally annoyed at the obvious appraisal and charmed by the attention. He moved his hand in Draco’s to intertwine their fingers. “You?”

Feeling bolder than before, Draco pushed himself up on his toes a bit to kiss Harry, lingering only a moment. As he pulled back he summoned his wand from the pocket of his robes several feet away. His fingertips were pruny which made it harder to grip the hawthorn, but he managed to clean them both up and dry their forgotten clothes left on the damp floor.

“I’d feel much better if I weren’t so blindingly hungry,” Draco said as he handed Harry his pile of clothing. He schooled his tone to hide the uncertainty in his voice as best he could.

Harry’s responding kiss was contorted by a grin. “I’ll take you to dinner then, you prat.”

“We’re hardly dressed for dinner, Potter.” Pulling Harry along behind after they’d both tied the waistbands of their sweatpants, Draco headed for the exit, his jelly-like legs regaining balance with every step. “Takeaways at my flat?”

“Merlin, yes, there’s the best curry place in London down the road from your place.”

Draco allowed himself a smile at the way Harry gripped his stomach and how his face flashed almost as reverently as when Harry’d been fucking his brains out. “They close at seven on Sundays, we’ll need to hurry.”

“I’ll hurry for some curry.”

“Shut up, Potter.”

Chapter Text

"Excuse me, ma'am?"

June looked up to greet the arrival in the office with a wide grin, automatic after the last few months faking happiness in the face of the misery wix brought to their doorstep. She chalked it up to practice that she didn't immediately fall out of her chair at the apparition of a man whom she was certain she'd never seen before, or else the fruitless crush on Malfoy would never have started.

Her smile morphed to genuine pleasure, red lipstick bright against pale teeth and skin. "Welcome to the Magical Detachment Facility, Mr…?"

"Zabini." The man's voice ran down her spine like melted candle wax. "Blaise Zabini, here for Draco Malfoy?"

"Do you have an appointment?" she asked, trying to stop her thoughts from straying, and failing. He's so damn fit, of course he's here for Malfoy. Two in three months, now, June, pull yourself together and stop falling for every beautiful man walking through those doors. She bought herself a few moments by rifling through her planner of all the appointments of the following week.

"We had a breakfast appointment, and he's never missed one before."

June bit her lip. Of course. Her luck would make it so the two men she'd found devastatingly attractive would find each other attractive and have regular breakfast dates.

"I'll check if he's in his office," she said. If her voice lost a few notes of sweetness, she couldn't be blamed.

At least she had another bottle of wine waiting in the flat, hidden in her bedside drawer.

The office was quieter now, as the last threat of snow disappeared outside and those with children chatted animatedly about their offspring returning for the Easter holiday. There was never a lack of appointments for the consultants, but without such an emotionally heavy holiday, the department wasn't as overwhelmed. She kept her head down towards the dingy carpet to avoid eye contact with anyone who might ask her to do something for them, reminding herself only two more weeks of interning here before applying for other departments that needed more than secretaries who collected coffee and paperwork.

"Mr Malfoy, you have a visitor - oh, my god!"

Typically she'd knock before entering, but privacy was a joke in their small makeshift office with walls barely taller than her average height. So, her surprise at witnessing a very occupied Draco snogging the Auror on his lap, was more than warranted.

Her voice died in her throat and she moved swiftly back to her desk, standing on the same side as Blaise, realizing at the back of her awareness that he was easily a full head and a half taller than her, even without the hat he had tucked under his arm. She was quiet enough that it didn't seem her coworker and his apparent consort had any clue she'd almost walked in on them. Cheeks aflame with shock, she cleared her throat and explained herself without looking up.

"He's got an eleven o'clock, I'm afraid."

"Does he now?"

Really, that voice should be a registered weapon.

June looked up in time to see Blaise's gaze craning over to get a better view of the desk in the furthest corner. He was tall enough to see enough, as his gaze suggested.

"That bastard owes me fifty Galleons," he said, more to himself. June was certain he'd forgotten she was even there, a self-satisfied smirk playing at the corners of his full lips, until he turned that sparking look towards her. "Pity, that I've missed him this time. Do me a favor and let him know I dropped by, and he had better not miss Thursday as well."

She'd already committed the words to memory, mesmerized as she was, but she nodded and jotted a few notes down in her planner dutifully. "Was there anything else this department could assist you with, Mr Zabini?" June winced at the canned tone of her voice, the phrase cascading off her tongue in a pre-rehearsed ramble.

"Just one thing, Miss…?"

"June Jenkins."

"Miss June Jenkins," Blaise repeated smoothly. "A lovely name for a lovely woman. Would you do me the favor of joining me for lunch, today? I am a man of routine and I'm woefully lacking a companion for a meal for the day."

The man looked at her hungrily, and she couldn't tell if it were something meant to steal her breath away, or plant ideas in her head like the one blossoming about maybe not coming back from lunch and exploring all the sordid uses of an empty Ministry office, proper silencing and locking charms cast, of course.

She found she didn't care if it were the former, latter, or both.

A slow blink from the man whose eyes she was staring into worked as well as a slap to the face. Imploring her mouth to form the words, she blurted, "Of course!"

Brilliantly white teeth appeared in a wide smile, and she imagined for a moment a forked tongue flicking between those monuments to oral hygiene. "Excellent."

Maybe that wine would be saved for a different night.

Chapter Text

Lazy sunlight drifted through the kitchen windows, shining on the tea in Harry's cup, turning dark amber into liquid gold. He could see the crystals of sugar at the bottom that hadn't quite melted yet. One more stir of his spoon and they disappeared.

"Did you hear me?"

Draco's voice snapped Harry out of his blank stare into his breakfast. The sunlight flashed on his glasses and blinded him when he looked up, leaving little stars in his vision as he looked over the table at his boyfriend.

The sweater Hermione knitted for him last Christmas was bunched up unevenly over his collarbone, the bright white shirt beneath the mossy green wool almost too bright to look at with the light through the curtains. Harry blinked away the sleep edging his eyes and the dots still dancing over his vision. He could see the little lines around Draco's mouth that meant he was concerned and trying to be patient.

", I'm sorry. What were you saying?" Harry picked up his tea and sipped, immediately pulling it away, his tongue burnt.

"Are you...are you okay, Harry? You haven't been home in weeks and I feel like I still don't have you here."

Harry nearly took another sip of scalding tea in his surprise. Rare was the moment that Draco would say anything emotionally revealing even if it was just the two of them. Harry knew there was still a big part of Draco that expected him to 'find someone whole' as he'd described in a very heated fight a few months ago. Treading carefully was the steadiest course forward with this topic.

Standing with the help of pushing on the arms of his chair, Harry shuffled over to grab Draco's hand. The blond looked up and stayed quiet, though Harry could see his patience was waning.

"C'mere," Harry said. He tugged on Draco's hand a bit.

Leading Draco to the living room, he guided him to sit down first then placed himself so that his legs draped over Draco's lap and he could pull Draco's head down onto his chest. Their legs moved into more comfortable positions as Harry moved them to lay down on the couch.

"I'm just very, very tired," Harry said. "I promise. I'm sorry it's taking me a bit to wake up."

"Lying here on the couch isn't going to help that," Draco said. His breath tickled Harry's throat. The rumble of his voice against Harry's chest felt like a giant purring cat, a feeling that made Harry's chest ache with homesickness, even though he was already home.

"I missed you," said Harry into the top of Draco's head. "It might help if...can I just hold you for a few minutes?"

Draco's hand moved to rest on Harry's opposite arm, fingers curling around his bicep. He knew Draco could feel the new scar there beneath his elbow and spiral up towards his shoulder by the way those long fingers tensed against him. But he didn't say a word. Later Harry knew he would need to tell Draco exactly what happened - words always worked better for him - but for now, a quick nap on the couch while holding him close was exactly what Harry needed.