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Two Weeks

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Harry sat down heavily into his chair, and placed both palms on the sturdy wooden table.

"This is the end of the world, Ron."

Across the table, Ron’s expression didn’t change. Slowly, his eyebrows lifted up and his mouth turned down, like they were attached to a string behind his head. Without breaking eye contact with Harry, he inched a hand across the table surface to grab a chip.

"It not go well at the Healer’s, then?"

"Fuck, no, it did not fucking go well!" Harry exclaimed, flopping back against his chair, and then sitting upright again in agitation. He couldn't sit still for longer than a few minutes these days, like some kind of twitchy rabbit. Only a really big, anxious, horny one. Which...might still possibly just be a rabbit. He groaned again.

"Do you know what they told me, Ron?"

Ron nodded slowly. "I have a suspicion it might start with a V?" he said in a soft voice which Harry knew was the one Ron used when he was trying to be kind. It just made him sound like he was a bit simple, but Harry appreciated that Ron was trying. Harry rested his elbows on the table, uncrossing one leg and crossing the other over the top, and nodded.

"Got it in one. Apparently," he said with a sneer, "according to Healer Mani-thingy, I am a fifth generation Veela, on my fucking Father’s side. My father’s side, of all things!" Harry grimaced, running a hand through his hair. "I mean, how can they even tell that! On my father’s—who knocked a Veela up there?!" Harry exclaimed incredulously.

"I think you might...be focussing on the wrong bit there, mate," Ron tried, but Harry kept talking.

"And look at me! I’m not even fucking blond!"

"Do Veelas have to be blond?" Ron asked quizzically.

"Well, obviously not," Harry complained sarcastically to no one in particular, throwing his hands up in exasperation that his perception of Veelas as lithe, flaxen-haired women and youths was so appallingly wrong. Ron sniffed, chewing thoughtfully.

"Pretty sure they had all kinds of hair when they danced at the World Cup, now I think about it." He made a dreamy sort of face that implied he did in fact think about this quite a lot, then motioned for another chip. Harry pushed the bowl towards him in frustration, nearly knocking it over. He wasn’t angry with Ron in the slightest; frustrated was just his default setting now. It ran under his skin like a second circulation system, a constant undercurrent of annoyance, agitation and bone-melting sexual frustration. The first two were driving him up the wall, but the last one was driving him fucking insane.

"I’m with you Harry, it’s a bit surprising," Ron said sincerely, switching belatedly into "consoling friend" gear. "If it helps, you’re not really how I picture a Veela either," he offered, and Harry snorted a weak laugh in reply. Ron smiled. "It’s what the Healers thought it would be, though, yeah? After that initial, err, consult at Mungo’s."

Harry grumbled and nodded. "Yeah that was the most likely offender, with the weird thingies. Those marks on my back." He waved a hand in the direction of his shoulder and then scratched distractedly at his ear. "And the...well." Harry trailed off, looking away, and Ron smiled, then took a sip of his lemonade.

"Occasionally glowing skin, and distracted, twitchy, crazy behaviour?" he suggested. Harry closed his eyes and nodded. Glowing skin, strange markings, mad behaviour; Merlin, why was his life constantly like something out of an insane fairytale?

Harry had known about the odd, shiny markings on his shoulder blades for almost four days now, but it was the Healer’s guess they’d been there for a while longer—anything up to two months—without him noticing. It made sense, really. Not a lot of people saw him with his kit off these days, and Harry wasn’t in the habit of staring at his own spine. The weird behaviour, though, was something he had acquired much more recently, and was much easier for people to notice.

Harry scratched at his left knee, then folded his arms and jiggled his leg, making the whole seat wobble. Ron watched him, then leaned forward.

"Do you want to go somewhere else for a bit?"

Harry shook his head, bouncing lightly in his chair. "No, doesn’t matter. I’m not gonna be more comfortable at home, or at yours. Here is as good as anywhere."

Harry meant it. Here was as good as on top of a cactus, as far as his body and nerves were concerned. On top of that, it wasn’t like there was anyone in the pub at this time of the morning; Harry’s appointment had been at nine, and they’d hit The Unicorn’s Horn at around ten. They pretty much had the place to themselves, but Harry had shot up a few silencing spells and a glamour as soon as he’d sat down, just to be on the safe side. He was quietly confident, though, that if anyone tried to leak this story to the press, they’d be laughed out of the building. Silver linings, he thought testily.

Ron licked some salt off his thumb, and Harry made another face. How the hell Ron could eat chips and vinegar at ten in the morning was beyond Harry, but then again, Harry was apparently part sex-crazed harpy, so. Perhaps best not to start throwing stones, he thought.

"So what else did they say?" Ron asked. Harry shrugged, then did it again a few times to scratch his shoulder blades against the back of the seat.

"Not much that was any help. It’s some kind of dormant, Veela expression, thing. Or something." Ron looked at him blankly and Harry scrunched his face up as he tried to explain. "Like it was there, but dormant, and something's set it off. Most likely stress, or another volatile kind of situation, or a new...relationship."

"New relationship?" Ron pretended to look thoughtful. "You broke up with your hand then?"

"Har-bloody-har, Ron." Harry sighed. "That is what I said to the Healer though," he added with a small smile, which Ron returned.

"Well, it has been a while since you saw anyone, Harry."

"Tell me about it," Harry scoffed, then rubbed at his forehead. "They reckon it can be any kind of new relationship though, not necessarily a sexual one."

"That makes no sense at all," Ron said blandly, fishing an ice cube out of his drink and popping it into his mouth.
Harry shrugged, tapping his fingers on the table top. "Yeah, look, I’m not gonna pretend I understand it. I think they mean that even a new friendship, or really liking someone—that could be enough to kick-start my, well…" Harry trailed off, lost for words.

"Predatory and possessive Veela mating instincts?" Ron supplied helpfully, and Harry dropped his head onto the table.

"This is insane."

"A little bit, yeah," Ron agreed, before taking the ice out of his mouth and dropping it down the back of Harry’s t-shirt.

"Oh, gross, Ron!" Harry yelped and sat up, the ice sliding down his back and down onto the seat behind him, and then the floor. He glared at it, and then at Ron, who placidly ate another chip.

"So who’s your new best mate then?"

"Who’s my what?" Harry shot back, wiggling in his seat. The cold streak down his back left by the ice was actually rather nice, but he’d rather eat his shoe than admit that.

"Your new bestie, the one who’s getting you all hot and bothered, and also causing you to erupt into the longest case of ants-in-your-pants anyone has ever seen," Ron said happily. Harry narrowed his eyes at him in return.

"You know who it is."

"I do," Ron agreed, grin widening. "I want to hear you say it though."

"And people in hell want ice water," Harry gritted out, grinding his heels into the floor and then tapping his toes softly on the stones. Ron laughed, and then held a hand up placatingly.

"Fair enough, fair enough, you don’t have to say it. Figures it’d be something to do with him though, yeah? You have always been a bit barmy where he is concerned. I’ve been saying it for, literally, years. Not figuratively, Harry. Literally years," Ron finished smugly, tapping his finger against the table.

"Yeah, your award is in the post—"

"And, I mean," Ron went on. "I would’ve had my money on him being the one with the Veela blood—"

"Ron—"

"Although, maybe that’s not exactly pureblo—"

"Ron!" Harry barked, and Ron stopped and looked at him rather sheepishly. "Can we not talk about him?" Harry said weakly, one hand coming to rest over his rapid heartbeat. Ron leant his elbows on the table, and watched Harry for a moment, then smiled kindly.

"Medics tell you what to do then?" He said, changing the subject, and Harry took a few steadying breaths, then nodded limply and cracked his neck.

"More or less," he mumbled. "Stay indoors, avoid too much stimulus, exercise when I feel like I want to tear my hair out, and wank. A lot." Harry knew he was skimming over some of the more important things they had told him would help in this situation, but there was a limit to how much he could say aloud, even to Ron. He cleared his throat again.

"They gave me a stack of shit to read, too, which will be great now I’ve got all this bloody free time," Harry snitted half-heartedly. He was still angry about being put on leave, although he could absolutely concede that he was in no fit state to be on active duty. He was so distracted it was becoming a health risk for himself and others around him, but more than that, he really couldn't be in the same room as his Auror partner. Which was…He groaned again and shut his eyes. Which was a fucking disaster, in every way it could be.

He and Malfoy had been partnered together for going on nine months now, and Harry had initially assumed that all hell would break loose as soon as they were in the same room as each other. Saying they had a pretty acrimonious history was putting it mildly, and although they’d managed to avoid each other for the majority of the training program (Harry was deemed advanced, whereas Malfoy had to start on a lower rung), Harry hadn’t imagined anything would have changed in the Potty-hates-Ferret department. Therefore, getting assigned with him as his junior partner was downright idiocy, as far as Harry was concerned. This was the attitude he had subsequently brought to his first meeting with Malfoy; judging by the sour expression on his face, Malfoy appeared to feel similarly.

He looked exactly as Harry remembered him looking at school, Harry had thought that day. A little taller perhaps, if that was possible. Harry wasn’t short, not by a long-shot, but Malfoy now had a good inch or two on him. Bastard. He’d filled out more as well, Harry had noted with annoyance, wore his hair slightly longer but still neat and clipped around the neck. His eyes were still that striking pale blue, his brows arched and honey gold, and his lips pink and soft as they curled into a somewhat half-hearted sneer. Stupid fit bastard, Harry’d amended. He rolled his eyes internally—pointy git didn’t deserve to have somehow gotten even more attractive—before he’d cast that thought aside and into the ‘things that piss me off about Draco Malfoy’ compartment of his brain. He had long resigned himself, in about sixth year to be precise, that Malfoy having nice hair and a great arse was just all part of his very long-reaching plan to wind Harry up any way he could. It was a very effective one, so far, and had apparently lost none of its potency over the years.

They’d stood in the assignment room, awkwardly fishing for topics of conversation, and in the end had agreed to just focus on the job, get it done, and not intentionally step on each other’s feet in the process. Harry had wanted to add ‘and try not to be such a snivelling dickhead while you’re at it’, but had magnanimously held it in. Hermione would have been proud of how much he’d matured, if she’d been able to hear that story without bursting into laughter when he’d told her that night. Harry’d looked at Malfoy with his fine, neat hair, his sharp eyes and sharper cheekbones, and sighed internally, locking his shoulders and preparing for the worst.

But, to Harry’s surprise, it had turned out they were actually very well matched. It was assumed Harry would be the brawns, and Malfoy the brains, except Malfoy was also quite a lot of the brawns. This meant Harry had to pull his weight in the thinking department, which he found he rather enjoyed. Malfoy was quick on his feet, but also tended to think before he acted, and was very good at stopping Harry from charging in and getting his head hexed off. Harry, for his part, found that he had quite a knack for puzzles and noticing connections others had missed. Somehow, they complemented each other, both in the field and when completing the endless scores of paperwork this entailed. Despite not really liking each other, they made a formidable team.

And then, without Harry really noticing it, they started being a team who did quite like each other after all. Somewhere, amidst the late nights poring over case notes in their stuffy shared office, Harry had lost his resentment and irritation towards his partner, and in its place had grown a sort of confused fondness. Harry guessed it was sometime after Malfoy had finally started to remember how Harry took his tea, and he was definitely aware of it by the time Malfoy had started bringing him said tea unprompted and at exactly the right time. He suspected it was a result of the night they’d interrupted an illicit potion smuggling ring, and had celebrated by getting roaringly drunk at Malfoy’s small yet rather posh London flat. They’d never really socialised before that, keeping all interactions between their rostered working hours. Harry had been surprised by the invitation, but he was riding the adrenaline from a successful arrest, and wasn’t ready to go home to his quiet, empty house just yet.

Harry had drunk far too much that evening, and ended up rather antagonistic, and Malfoy had bitten back with relish. The details were still a little blurry, but Harry knew he’d made a comment about how Malfoy can’t have been punished that badly if he was able to afford a tidy little London place like this. Malfoy had looked like he wanted to strangle Harry. He’d told him in clipped, quiet tones that he could afford this place because he worked fucking hard, which Harry would be aware of if he ever deigned to take his head out of his own arse and look at the hours Malfoy put into their cases. Furthermore, if Harry didn’t like the fact that Malfoy could afford nice things, then he was welcome to shove the very fucking nice wine Malfoy had given him this evening right up his arse too.

Harry had been rather taken aback, both by Malfoy’s statements and by the amount of space he thought Harry had in his backside. They’d sat there on opposing lounge chairs, staring at each other awkwardly while they simmered down, for a good five minutes. Harry’d felt like a bit of an arsehole, and realised with a start that he regretted even bringing it up. Apparently he just wasn’t as invested in fighting with Malfoy as he’d once been. He’d finished his drink, hesitantly apologised, and offered to order a curry for them both as a peace offering, which Malfoy seemed very glad—almost relieved—to accept. Harry suspected from then on that he wasn’t the only one who also done with picking at old wounds, or fighting for fighting’s sake.

Harry’d always thought of Malfoy as being on the posh end of posh, with his rich parents and crisp accent. He grew up in a Manor, for Godric's sake. Too posh, essentially, to eat biryani while wearing weathered jeans, bare feet propped up on his sofa and with his usually stylish hair making Harry’s look neat by comparison. Yet it appeared that this was something Malfoy did all the time, judging by the way he was shovelling food into his mouth with a papadum and washing it down with the beer Harry’d brought. Either that, or he was just a natural, Harry had thought tipsily as he watched.

Malfoy flushed when he was drinking, Harry had noticed that night. He also had a tendency to talk with his mouth full when he got excited about something Harry said, then realise what he was doing and noticeably stop, chew and swallow before continuing. This show of etiquette verses enthusiasm was somehow one of the most endearing things Harry had seen someone do—although he did suspect that might have been the alcohol talking. Either way, it was hard not to end up a bit... Well, fond of someone, after a somewhat cathartic evening like that. And, of course, not to wait until Malfoy had taken a large bite of korma and chutney before saying outrageous things.

By the time they went out for drinks to celebrate their third major case, Harry had had to admit to himself that he was not only enjoying working with Malfoy, but he was enjoying Malfoy’s company too. It was...Nice. Malfoy was funny, and incredibly silly at times, and always on his best behaviour with any members of the public they dealt with. He was, at times, even downright charming—well, to the people who couldn't hear his offside remarks, which often had Harry laughing into his fist. He did work hard, Harry noticed now, and always pulled his weight, never leaving the office before Harry. He never complained too loudly when they needed to stay back, which was more than Harry could say for himself in that regard. When Malfoy was away for a week back in June, Harry found he missed him almost an embarrassing amount, and had ended up ringing him on their office’s clunky, old rotary phone ‘just to chat’. The Auror Phone System was a new addition to the offices, allowing urgent calls to bypass the owl delivery system—and curiously bored and lonely Potters to annoy their partners out of hours, according to Malfoy. He hadn't really sounded bothered though, Harry recalled.

At that point, Harry was quite resigned to his new friendship with Malfoy, both in and out of the office. Well, resigned was maybe not the right term, but ‘rather elated and enthusiastic’ was a step farther than Harry was able to process without feeling a bit dizzy. Either way, it wasn’t exactly an issue for him.

Until, that was, Malfoy got hurt. And Harry lost his mind, he thought, feeling his blood rush in his ears. Harry hadn’t felt right since that incident, and now… Well, now he knew why, at least.

Harry was very vague on the details of what had happened that night. Everything had been going wrong, he knew that much. They’d had a tip off about a resurgent Death Eater group; small time terrorists, big time wankers, and worth pulling in before they got any big ideas. But if their Intel had seemed too good to be true, that’s because it had been. Fucking useless informants—what was the point of having insiders feeding them information when it was always bad? They’d been outnumbered, outwitted, and shit out of luck as soon as they’d walked in, and Harry had grabbed Malfoy and legged it as fast as he could. Malfoy was usually running the show on their active missions, but cases with Death Eater ties tended to bring out something reckless and angry in him. Malfoy would have hit him if he knew, but it made Harry worry. Among other things, it seemed.

Harry vividly remembered that one moment he’d been calling for backup as they fled from their pursuers, and the next he…wasn't. He wasn't moving at all. He was utterly transfixed by the way the light from the street lamp hit Draco’s hair, curved shadows in the hollows of his cheeks and between his brows as he frowned at Harry and tried to pull him, get him to walk.

He’d stared, mesmerised, poleaxed by the simplest things on a face he saw most days of the week. He’d felt like he’d suddenly been submerged underwater, or into a vat of thick, warm molasses.

Harry couldn't hear what Malfoy was saying as his mouth moved, as his forehead creasing up in fear—until Malfoy grabbed him by the shoulders and screamed "I said fucking duck, Potter!" Before pushing him down and out of the way. Harry had blinked, disoriented, as the street sounds suddenly rushed back to him. Everything was spinning, and his tongue felt thick and strange in his mouth as he tried to speak. An odd, tingling sensation crept up his spine, settling in the place Malfoy’s palms touched his shoulders. It felt like the only stable point in Harry’s lurching and off-kilter surroundings. He clung to it, then reeled as it was wrenched away again as quickly as it came.

The hex hit Malfoy square between the ribs, and knocked him back nearly a metre, and completely unconscious. Harry remembered feeling his chest constrict and his stomach drop, as he crawled over and saw the huge, red welt in the middle of Malfoy’s now exposed sternum. Angry, purple, vein-like tendrils began to spread from the point of contact, as Harry watched Malfoy’s still chest in shock. He couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. He couldn't find a pulse.

Harry remembered that he’d thought Draco was dead.

Luckily, backup had arrived just then, because Harry had proven to be utterly useless. He was blinded by what felt like crippling rage and an agonising horror that his partner was dea—had been hurt. He had no memory of being taken to St Mungo’s, and he found out later this was because he’d had to be subdued after lashing out at any one who came near them. It was all incredibly embarrassing, and confusing, especially when they’d told him he wouldn’t let anyone near his partner’s prone form until they’d knocked him out. The only saving grace about Malfoy being unconscious at the time was that he wasn't aware of this, and hopefully never would be.

Harry had spent the night at Mungo’s, not because there was anything especially wrong with him—other than showing signs of being a complete lunatic. The Healers were very interested in why he was guarding his fallen partner, which he’d answered with an annoyed shrug. Wasn't as if he had any idea what was going on. They also wanted to check out this ‘dizzy spell’ he’d said he’d had, which had facilitated the partner falling in the first place. And then, of course, a Healer had noticed his back, and the pearlescent markings criss-crossing his shoulder blades. Harry’d been as surprised as they were to hear about this. Mostly, though, he’d just been incredibly anxious to see if Malfoy was okay—and breathing. Despite being assured that he was absolutely fine and would be up and about in a matter of days, Harry couldn’t seem to believe it. He’d remained anxious and jumpy regardless, which the Healers noted down in their beige charts. He just couldn't sit still; he felt restless all over, and itchy. The Healers had said they’d like to run a few tests, but had let him go soon enough, on the promise of his return as soon as they got the results in.

Malfoy had recovered relatively quickly, which still felt like an eternity to Harry. He spent three anxious days pacing the halls of the hospital, before Malfoy eventually hobbled out—and promptly whacked Harry upside the head for deciding that the middle of a raid was the right time to turn into a gaping goldfish. He looked genuinely angry, and Harry felt his heart skip a beat at the familiar annoyance on Malfoy’s sharp face. His sharp and very much alive and healthy face. Harry had never been so happy to be called a recklessly idiotic wanker in his entire life. He had felt such relief to see that Malfoy was okay—overwhelming relief—followed by an even more overwhelming urge to...touch him. That tingly, twitchy, anxious feeling had started up all over again, like a swarm of bees under his skin, only even worse than before. And now accompanied by the desire to do something a bit unusual, like put his hands on Malfoy’s shoulders, run them up his neck and into his hair. Like place his palm over the pulse point on Malfoy’s neck, or rest his thumb against the dip of his throat. Like kiss him. Kiss Malfoy.

He wanted to take those two steps forward and place his lips on Malfoy’s cheek, on his jaw, over that confused frown between Malfoy’s dark blond brows. Harry could hear his heartbeat drumming in his ears, the thrum thrum thrum getting louder, and louder, disconcerting him. Until he realised that wasn’t his own he could hear. That was—that was Malfoy’s heartbeat. Which was even more disconcerting, really. It was on a whole different level of disconcerting. Harry wasn’t used to hearing heartbeats, or hearing any other organs functioning, really, his own or otherwise. He felt he ought to panic at this revelation, to wonder what was wrong, but somehow this was comforting him, soothing the anxious feeling inside him. The sound of Malfoy’s heart beating, strong and alive and well, echoed softly in his ears as he stood and stared, and Malfoy folded his arms and frowned back.

It was also freaking the hell out of him. Blinking in the sterile hospital light, Harry hadn’t known what to do about any of this sensory overload in the slightest, so he’d stood there like an idiot and done nothing.

Malfoy had stared back at him in quiet anger, and then frowned and asked, bizarrely, when Harry had found the time to get a new haircut and a tan over the last three days. Harry, having done neither of those things, had taken one look at his fingers, saw the faint golden sheen emanating from them, and marched himself back in to see the Healers. He could hear Malfoy yelling "oi, what the hell, Potter?" in the background, but he needed to get away from him, and find out what was going on, before he did something he’d regret.

He’d assumed it had been some kind of undetected hex from the earlier field operation, but now… Well, here he was. Confirmed part fucking Veela, he thought angrily. And also fixating intensely on his Auror partner. Who was also his friend, and who Harry would very much like to keep as a friend, and so his dick and his stupid Veela heritage were going to have to learn about the joy of abstinence until he could get this whole thing under control.

"Thinking about Malfoy again, eh?" Ron’s voice startled Harry out of his thoughts, and he sat up with a start. He rubbed the back of his neck, and blinked.

"No?" he tried, then sighed. "What gave it away?" Ron gave him a wry smile.

"Honestly?" he said, and Harry frowned. Ron went on. "Well, you started making a funny, rumbly sort of noise, and then went a bit...shiny again," he said with an apologetic grimace, and Harry blinked at him in disbelief, then screwed his face up.

"Jesus," he said gruffly. "A noise?"

"Yeah," Ron said consolingly. "That’s a new one. Want me to take you home, then? Before you go full squawking bird on me, that is," Ron joked, concern tinging his voice.

Harry itched at the back of his neck, and then up into his hair, jiggling both legs now. He let his breath out on a long sigh.

"Yeah, think you’d better," he mumbled, getting to his feet. He let Ron get the bill, then steer him towards the Floo.

***

The next four days were a nightmare. Harry couldn’t sleep, was having trouble eating, and overall, he felt like he was going to burst out of his skin.

Ron and Hermione were popping around at least once or twice a day, in what they said were ‘friendly visits’, but which were clearly ‘let’s make sure Harry hasn’t completely lost it’ calls. It was partly annoying, but Harry was also rather relieved to see them; the company was a nice distraction, even if they had both stopped even trying not to look worried. Ron kept waggling his eyebrows at Hermione over the top of Harry’s head, and Harry’s eyes hurt from rolling them so much. Honestly, he didn’t look that bad, he thought, even though the markings had now spread to the tops of his shoulders and were tip-toeing up the base of his neck. Other than that, he was just a little drawn and pale, and restless. Very restless if he was honest. He knew he was maybe not getting any better, but he also wasn’t getting that much worse. He’d be fine in, what had the Healers said, between seven and eighty-five days. Admittedly, Harry was banking on it being on the seven end of that rather large day count, but even he was conceding by now that this would probably take a fortnight at best.

Ginny had come around a few times as well, languishing in the doorway and pretending that she was crumbling under the effects of his Veela charms. Harry had thrown a pair of dirty socks at her as he laughed. She’d cackled back at him, then spent the afternoon running laps with him in the backyard, and kicking his arse in a mock-up match of Quidditch. She made them both lunch—sandwiches and apples as Ginny was no cook; Ron had ended up with all of those skills—and then listened valiantly to Harry complain as they ate. Eventually, she left him to his own devices for the evening, with explicit directions to call her if it got too much, and to eat the leftovers she’d left in the fridge, on pain of her telling Molly. Harry readily agreed; the last thing he wanted was Molly round here with a bloody casserole.

It was already pretty much beyond too much, as far as he was concerned, but he kept that to himself. He was going completely stir-crazy, as well as Veela crazy. He wasn’t used to having this amount of spare time, and after reading the information the Healers had given him so many times he’d memorised it, he was bored out of his skull. What was happening to him was apparently not unique, and even common amongst those with Veela blood or ancestors—of which there were quite a few more in the wizarding world than Harry had realized. Passages from the gently worded and supposedly "informative" parchments the Healers had given him were rattling around in his head constantly, as he did star jumps in the kitchen, or attacked the weeds in his neglected garden in the afternoons.

This may be new and strange, but it is all part of the joy of being a Veela or of Veela heritage…Veelas by nature are fiercely loyal and possessive creatures, which form strong and sometimes highly volatile attachments to others....stressful experiences occurring to either you or to an important person or significant other may result in a strong response, both physically, emotionally, and often sexually...You will find there will be symptoms during this episode which may be difficult to manage. These may include anxiety, sensitivity to light and loud noises, erratic magic, pale, golden or black markings and skin discolouration, cravings for sugary foods and pumpkin, a heightened physical awareness of your significant other and their well-being, and in most cases a significantly increased libido...you will desire contact and physical affection from this person...spending time with this significant other and engaging in physical contact will help to soothe these symptoms...having a bath with a sprig of rosemary in it, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, add some lavender...try and reduce exposure to powerful magic, bright lights, stressful situations, garlic, cats or feline-shaped animals, and aubergines. Above all, spend as much time as you can in the company of the person who has triggered this response…

‘Joy of being a Veela’, my arse, Harry thought as he pulled at a stubborn nettle, then threw it onto the pile by his outdoor bin. He wanted to nuke the lot with a strong Carthamus Reducto but he was wary of using too much magic, or anything that would make this worse. So far he wasn’t really seeing much of the joyful side, just the inconvenient erection side, with a hefty dose of wanting to crawl out of his skin. He could have as many adventurous lavender baths as he liked, but that feeling wasn’t going anywhere. As for the increased libido and craving the physical company of his important person—well, Harry was trying his best not to think about that, but it was like trying to drown out loud music; he could stick his fingers in his ears as much as he liked, but he could still hear it in the background.
Harry had surmised that his particular ‘episode’ was definitely induced by the stress of The Incident With The Bastard Hex, as he had begun to refer to it. That, combined with the rather strong, fond feelings he felt for Malfoy had apparently sent his dormant Veela genes off the deep end, and now they were all clamouring for Malfoy. It explained why he was hyper-aware of him, of his body, and had wanted to grab him and not let go in the hospital hallway. The Healers had talked to him about needing to ‘meaningfully connect’ with this important person, as this was integral to alleviating the symptoms. However, in the event that this was not possible, which Harry had adamantly ensured them it would not be, they had scratched their heads and simply recommended he avoid his partner like he was some kind of plague-ridden Acromantula. People generally didn’t react this intensely unless it involved someone they were already romantically attached to in some way, Healer Manigault had told him sternly, one thin brow raised. Harry had blanched. He didn’t like the sound of that. But, he reasoned frantically, it would be just his luck that his Veela genes would be faulty somehow, and had erroneously latched on to Malfoy.

The information they’ve given him seemed to skim over this part as well, preferring instead to simply list a number of ways those with Veela blood could become intimate with their significant other in order to alleviate their symptoms—the aforementioned bath in the company of various herbs, a massage, a quiet picnic in a sunny location. Harry could just imagine ringing Malfoy up to invite him around to have a shower with him, or asking for a massage; Malfoy would probably have a heart attack on the spot. That, or laugh until he fell over. Which might actually feel worse than him dropping dead, Harry thought sourly.

He thought Malfoy might be able to handle him asking for a spot of lunch in the sun, but Harry wasn’t certain he would be able to handle it—not without trying to touch him as soon as he walked in the door. Of all the side effects, he was finding that the hardest to ignore. He wanted Malfoy. It was like a switch had been flicked in his head, and now his body wanted Malfoy around him, near him, touching him, in a way he’d never even entertained before. At least, he didn’t think he had. His desire for Malfoy was hitting him so hard, and in so many different ways, it was hard to recall if there was a time when he hadn't been getting weak in the knees over him. It would help if he could even think properly about him without feeling hot and strange, his skin prickling and his heart thumping, but that wasn’t really an option at the moment.

He knew that it didn’t necessarily have to be sex with Malfoy that would make him feel better. So far everyone had talked about physical contact, the assurance that this important person was safe and in close proximity, as probably being enough to calm his Veela side down. But Harry also knew that he really, really wanted sex. With Malfoy. A lot of it. He couldn't even really think about his name without getting flushed and dizzy—and starting to turn that ridiculous shimmery golden hue. It was like he was some kind of half-arsed human lantern now, which ran on sexual frustration. The bottom line appeared to be that while he knew he and Malfoy absolutely didn’t need to fuck for some of his symptoms to alleviate, there was also no way in hell he could even sit down with Malfoy for a game of scrabble without trying to bury his face in his groin.

And therein lay the issue; Harry really wasn’t sure that would be a great idea. His body thought it was a fabulous one, but his body wasn’t really concerned with anything more long-term than right now. It was what would happen afterwards that were causing Harry to sit in his kitchen and sulk rather than contact Malfoy. The risk of losing him as his partner, as his drinking buddy and as his friend was rather, well, terrifying, if he was honest. He’d gotten used to spending time with Malfoy, in and out of work. Even worse was the idea that if he told Malfoy what was happening to him, he would feel obliged to help out, even if he didn’t particularly want to. Harry wasn’t even sure if Malfoy liked men, let alone if he liked Harry type men. They didn’t talk about their love lives, except to say there was a current lack thereof, and Harry could count the number of months they’d been hanging out properly on one hand. Nothing had ever happened there to make Harry think Malfoy might want more than that. Harry also hadn’t really been aware that he himself might, so maybe he wasn’t the most observant of people, but still. He didn't trust himself not to ruin everything they’d carefully built up between them, and which he was surprised to find meant an awful lot to him. Harry wanted to keep Draco around, not whip his cock out and frighten him off forever.

So there was nothing for it; he was just going to have to sit in his lounge room, twitching and staring at the ceiling, until the buzzing in his skull and the ache in his groin fucked off for good. For seven to eighty-five days. Merlin.

Realistically, it was going to be horrible—there were only so many star jumps, press ups, and long, intimate showers he could have in a day. Between that and the lack of sleep, he was feeling decidedly unhinged. It seemed every time he lay down to sleep he couldn’t manage more than two hours at a time, without waking up covered in sweat, his chest aching and his dick hard. The dreams were getting madder and madder. In one, he and Malfoy were building a nest together in the Whomping Willow. They were using torn up pages of The Daily Prophet and old Potions textbooks, while Snape stood on a branch, supervising and giving them directions. In another, Harry was locked in the shrieking shack, which for some reason now had a piano and a large chandelier hanging from the ceiling, and Malfoy had broken the door down with an axe. He was wearing a cloak made of thick, dark wolf pelt, and had left it on while he fucked Harry into the floorboards. Harry’d woken up a shivering wreck after that one, his stomach covered in come and sweat sticking his hair to his forehead.

The worst, though, were the times he woke up from visions of vicious hexes and dark red burns on pale skin. Those made his chest ache in a different kind of way.

He was almost beginning to dread sleeping, and was vaguely grateful it was eluding him so successfully. At least then he could avoid dealing with his apparently completely barmy—but also rather sexually enlightening—sub-conscious. Which meant he was now not only avoiding Malfoy, but also his own brain.

Not that Malfoy was making it easy to avoid hm. Even cooped up in his house Harry was finding that hard. So far, Malfoy had owled him seventeen times, and tried to call a further six, on the clunky, off-white phone Harry had sitting in his kitchen. He’d left one very terse message, which Harry was ashamed to admit had made him so hard, and so quickly, that he’d ended up dizzily tossing off over the kitchen sink as he listened to it, knuckles white as he clutched the stainless steel with one hand, and his cock with the other. Malfoy’s voice sounded annoyed, concerned, confused. His accent was stark as he announced that Harry was an arsehole for not telling him what was going on, and that he had half a mind to march over there and kick the door down and find out for himself.

Harry found himself half hoping he would, as he sank down to his knees, hand a blur on his cock. He had a flashback to his earlier fevered dreams, and almost choked on his tongue as his dick twitched in his palm, as he slid his fist up and down it. Merlin, he really did want Malfoy to kick the door down, he realised with a shocked gasp. Harry knew he’d always gotten a rise out of making Malfoy mad, getting under his skin. Apparently his libido had been taking notes; just picturing Malfoy’s scowling face, colour high on his cheeks and his jaw tight with anger was making Harry light-headed, his dick leaking as he pumped his fist around it.

He wanted Malfoy here, now, his presence hard and angry and alive, and all around him. He wanted Malfoy to bend him over the kitchen table, get him on his knees, or maybe the other way around. He didn’t have a lot of experience either way, didn’t really know what he wanted, but he was sure, as he felt his balls tighten and his mouth fall open, that he would be happy with anything as long it involved Malfoy, and skin, and fuck. He gasped, coming with a loud, strangled groan, hands down the front of his trousers and legs turning to jelly underneath him.

He sat on his kitchen floor, sweaty and breathing hard, feeling a strange relief wash through him as the answering machine clicked and beeped to let him know it was full. His skin glowed faintly gold, fading out as his breathing steadied and he rested his head back against the kitchen cupboard. He felt sated, bone-tired and completely wrung-out, his mind a comforting blank. His eyes slid shut, and he fell into the first proper sleep he’d had in days.

***

Harry woke to the shrill tone of the phone ringing, and the taste of his own linoleum floor. He swallowed thickly and made a face, as the fact that he was sleeping facedown in his kitchen, one hand still down his pants, slowly came back to him.

Veela. Malfoy. Crap.

He groaned, rubbing his eyes and rolling over onto his back, grimacing at the uncomfortable mess in his pants. He could see out the window that the sun was setting, which meant he’d slept for a good four hours—the longest he’d managed in days. He felt somewhat better, although completely disorientated. Which was bound to happen after getting yourself off in the kitchen, and then having a grand old nap to celebrate, he thought wryly, summoning his wand and cleaning up the dried mess he’d made. He made an unhappy face, and let the phone ring out. The machine could get it.

The Auror Phone System was, essentially, based on nothing that the Muggle telecommunications system used, beyond the physical receiver and some elements of the general concept. The system itself was based around a complex long distance Transmission Charm, which allowed Wizards to project their voices to a specific recipient, to the exclusion of all others and over any distance required, whether it was the office down the hall, or the French Aureur division. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement had been working on it as a faster form of communication than relying on owl post, however it had been Hermione who had fine-tuned it and really got the whole thing off the ground. Using Muggle phone receivers as a physical portal for the charm had been a stroke of genius. Through some complex Arithmancy, Hermione's team had managed to make it viable, allowing the Aurors to contact each other in and out of the office roughly ninety eight and a half times faster than by owl. It had taken a lot of campaigning by Hermione and her team of researchers to get the board behind using the Muggle technology, something she lamented was incredibly short-sighted of them, as Muggles had a lot to offer Wizards. Besides, it was still entirely magical, just running through a Muggle device.

Harry thought the system was brilliant, and backed her the entire way, as did the majority of Aurors. Even those who had initially opposed it were thoroughly on board by now. The owl system was still in use for important correspondence and to back up anything discussed by Phone Charm, and overall the system was remarkably secure. There were really very few drawbacks to it, and Hermione was currently working on bringing it to other departments in the ministry. Almost all Aurors had them installed in their homes, in case of emergency. Which, Harry thought as he glared at the receiver, Ron, and by proxy Hermione and Ginny, seemed happy to completely abuse so they could pester him while he was off from work.

He pushed himself up onto his elbows, and then sat up and yawned. He was still feeling tetchy and buzzed, that anxious, needy feeling whirring under his skin and on the back of his neck, but it was more muted than previously in the afternoon. He felt less like he was covered with electric ants, and more like he’d spent the day at the beach and was covered in tacky seawater residue. Although, that might just be from his earlier exertion. He wrinkled his nose. He probably could do with a bath.

He stood and grabbed a glass, leaning over the sink to fill it with water, when the phone began to ring again. Harry groaned at the sound. He didn't want to talk to anyone. He wanted to go upstairs to his bed and try to capitalize on the fact that he felt like he might be able to sleep now. Apparently listening to Malfoy’s voice, and the spectacular wank, had had some kind of calming effect on his nerves; he had every intention of seeing if he could manage to sleep through the night now. He finished his glass of water, letting the phone ring out again. It was probably Ginny using Ron’s phone, wanting to find out if he’d eaten the sandwich she’d left him or not. More likely, though, she just wanted to make a few more terrible jokes at his expense. His stomach grumbled loudly, letting him know his appetite had somewhat returned. Maybe food wasn’t such a bad idea.

He was just getting said sandwich out of the fridge, when the phone trilled again. He clunked his plate onto the table with a loud sigh, and angrily picked up the receiver. Bloody Weasley family.

"What?" he barked into the line.

"Well at least I know you’re still alive," the deep, male voice responded dryly. Harry blinked, feeling suddenly dizzy again. He reached a hand out to fumble for the nearest chair, pulling it out and then sitting down in it heavily. He swallowed, feeling his heart rate begin to speed up.

"He-hello Malfoy," he croaked, wincing at his voice.

"Hello indeed," Malfoy replied sardonically. "Lovely of you to pick up." He enunciated the P sharply, and Harry felt a pang of guilt about not replying to any of his messages or calls. Above that, however, he felt heat flood his face, the room turning fuzzy around the edges as his vision began to swim.

"What the fuck is going on?" Malfoy went on in an irritated tone. "First you went weird on me at St Mungo's, and now you’ve bunked off work, on indefinite leave. Which as far as I can tell isn't even a thing! Robards won’t talk to me at all about why, other than that you need time to recover. I mean, recover from what?!" Malfoy exclaimed.

"I..." Harry tried, but he couldn't seem to get his throat to work properly.

"I can only assume it has something to do with both of your hands falling off, given you haven’t replied to any of my correspondence." Malfoy waited a long moment, during which Harry stared at the white surface of his kitchen table, breathing hard, before Malfoy spoke again.

"Potter?" He sighed in irritation when Harry didn’t respond. "Has your tongue suddenly fallen out too, then?"

Harry opened his mouth and closed it again, as the sound of Malfoy tapping his fingers against his desk came filtering through. Tip-tap, tip-tap. He was probably balancing on the back legs of his office chair, one ankle crossed over the other as he rested them on his desk, the way he always did when he used the phone. He’d taken to the new communication system like a duck to water, and used it the most out of all of them, which had surprised Harry. But then again, it possibly shouldn’t have. If there was one thing Malfoy had that superseded any lingering reticence towards adopting Muggle technology, it was curiosity. And, of course, a burning need to understand and be as good—if not better—at anything which Hermione Granger was involved with.

"Look, Potter," Malfoy said quietly into the silence running between them. "What is going on? Are you…" Malfoy paused. "Is everything okay?"

Harry breathed in sharply, resting one hand on the table and squinting his eyes shut as a wave of arousal ran from the base of his spine to the back of his neck, and back down again. If Harry had thought Malfoy sounding angry was making him feel hot, then he’d been wholly unprepared for what Malfoy sounding worried would do to him. The concerned tone in Malfoy’s voice made Harry want to melt.

"You can tell me, Potter. Maybe...Maybe I can help."

Harry made a sound, muffling it with the heel of his palm as he clapped his free hand over his mouth. Maybe Malfoy could help, he thought feverishly. Maybe Harry could tell him everything, and Malfoy could come over here and, and—

And what? Pity fuck him until he felt better? Harry groaned, lips smashed against the meat of his palm, and eyes scrunched closed. Fuck. He didn’t want that. He wanted—

"Harry?"

Harry slammed the phone down so hard the receiver nearly cracked. He looked at his hand with wide eyes, until he gently prised his shaking fingers off the receiver. He stared at the wall opposite him, breathing hard, until the sun came up.

***

"Well you look like complete and utter shit, Harry."

"Good morning, Ronald. Please, do come in," Harry deadpanned as Ron pushed past him and inside the house.

"Did you sleep at all?"

Harry grunted in reply.

"Have you eaten?"

Harry grunted dismissively again, plonking down into the kitchen chair and resting his elbows on the table, and his head in his hands.

"Did you break your phone?" Ron asked quizzically, dropping some shopping bags onto the kitchen bench and staring at the cracked receiver.

Harry made a third unhappy sound, and Ron looked between him and the off-white receiver, before sighing in understanding.

"Well, that explains why Malfoy was in such an amazingly foul mood today."

"What?" Harry sighed in irritation.

"You need to speak to him Harry," Ron pronounced.

Harry rolled his eyes, then widened them and pointed at the receiver. Ron sighed, and nodded his head.

"Okay, let me clarify. You need to speak to him, and not break anything. You’ll feel better. That’s what the Healer crap says, doesn’t it. Your body is flipping out because you care—don’t make that face, you might as well get used to hearing it. Maybe one day you could even say it," Ron said, with fake wonder and Harry glared. "Seriously, you’ll feel better for it. That’s what Fleur said, anyway," Ron added casually, scratching his nose, and Harry stared in horror.

"You told Fleur?!"

Ron hummed and turned back to his shopping bags. "Might’ve done, yep."

"Why the fuck did you tell Fleur!" Harry exclaimed, and Ron snorted.

"Err, I dunno Harry, maybe because she might have some interesting insight into this situation, what with her grandmother being a Veela?" Ron retorted, unloading some fruit and crisps from one of the bags.

"You said you wouldn't tell anyone else!" Harry hissed.

"Yeah, and you said you were handling this, so it looks like we’re both liars!" Ron shot back, pointing accusingly at Harry with a banana. Harry blinked at him angrily, about to yell that he was handling this all fine, when he sat back in his chair with a sigh. Even he wasn’t that deluded. The markings on his back had now crept up the sides of his neck and down the tops of his arms, and while they were still relatively thin, they were turning a dark, grey colour. He wasn't as twitchy, but instead he felt bone tired and on edge. He felt wrong. Whatever this was, he was definitely not getting better—or coping with it very well, if he was honest. After hanging up on Malfoy, he’d not slept at all, and he felt anxious and worried again, like his body was punishing him for being so stupid as to not be on his knees in front of Malfoy right now. Or maybe that was just him that wanted that. He couldn't tell anymore, he thought miserably.

"What did Fleur say, then?" Harry asked in resignation.

"Oh, poor ‘Arry! ‘E ‘as already been t’rough so much!’" Ron trilled in a thick, high-pitched French accent, and Harry snorted an involuntary laugh. Ron grinned back at him over his shoulder. "Nah, she said the same thing happened with her and Bill, actually, believe it or not. After the—after he got hurt." Harry looked up in surprise.

"Really?"

"Yup." Ron nodded, unpacking raspberries and yoghurt, and three blocks of chocolate. He paused over one, then threw it at Harry who caught it and smiled in appreciation.

"So what did….what did they do?"

"Shacked up, shagged up, and conceived the first of my many nieces and nephews, according to her." Ron turned to look apologetically at Harry. "She said it took about a week to settle down, and she couldn't really handle having him out of her sight during that time. Said it made her feel mental, she just wanted him, and, well, his company, constantly. I'm pretty sure that was a euphemism," Ron said with a grimace. "Anyway, I thought, maybe, all of that..." Ron waved a hand, then ran it over the stubble of his jaw. "Is maybe something you can relate to right now?" Harry looked at Ron, his expression pained as he chewed slowly on his square of chocolate.

"Yeah. I can relate to that," he said, remembering the way he’d felt just hearing Malfoy’s voice. Ron nodded back consolingly.

"He asked about you, y’know. When I saw him today," Ron offered. Harry paused, second square of chocolate halfway to his mouth. "Caught me just before I was sneaking off during morning tea to come here. I spun some crap about it being confidential. He looked like he was ready to hit me. He also looked pretty worried, Harry, if I’m honest. " Ron looked at him, and Harry looked away.

"How was he?" he asked quietly, heart hammering in his chest. Ron puffed his cheeks out.

"Well, pissed off, as always. Completely fucking clueless about what is going on with you, and angry as hell that you won’t talk to him. And that you’ve left him with the ‘interminable incompetence of Millards’ as his partner. His words, not mine," Ron added. Harry swallowed thickly, his mouth suddenly dry.

"How did he look?"

Ron frowned. "Same as always?"

"And how—how was his…" Harry licked his lips then waved a hand around his chest area, before pressing the heel of his hand against his rapidly beating heart.

"How was his shirt?" Ron asked, looking confused, and Harry shook his head.

"His chest," Harry managed to say around the nausea rising in his throat. "The injury."

"Oh the—" Ron looked up in understanding, then smiled slightly. "Harry, he’s fine! He’s been fine for days!" Ron said, sounding surprised. "You saw him at the hospital. He’s completely healed."

Harry nodded emphatically, feeling like his heart was trying to beat its way out of his skin. "Yeah, good. Okay. I remember that. That happened."

"Harry, you don’t look good. I think you better...lie down for a bit maybe—"

"Is Millards really useless?" Harry blurted out, blinking fast. "I think you better check her out, Ron," Harry said breathlessly. "If they’re on the field, and she’s really incompetent, then something could happen and maybe—"

"Harry—"

"Maybe Draco could get..could get h—hur—"

"Harry!" Ron interrupted. "Stop!"

Harry blinked rocking back and forth on his chair, hand on his chest, still massaging over his left pectoral muscle. "Yeah. Fuck. I don’t feel so good."

Ron put both hands on the table and leaned over Harry, looking at him until Harry looked back.

"Millards is fine," Ron said in a quiet yet firm tone. "She’s more than capable. You trained with her Harry, you know this." Ron stared him down until Harry nodded back, feeling his breathing come slightly more under control again. Ron watched him quietly until he nodded himself, and stood up.

"Right, fuck this. I’m getting Healer Manicure."

"Argh," Harry made a weak noise and waved a hand. "It's Manigault, Ron, and she’s awful. She’ll just say this is...part of the whole process."

"This is not fucking normal, Harry," Ron declared, hands on his hips. "I’m not gonna sit here and watch you die of this...weird case of emotional blue-balls!"

Harry groaned and dropped his head, as Ron scrubbed a hand over his chin. "I’m not gonna die of this—Alright, alright!" He said raising a hand placatingly at Ron’s expression. "Maybe...Maybe this is a bit worse than I thought it would be."

Ron snorted. "No shit." He looked down at him. "Harry. Talk to him."

Harry groaned, and looked away, then back to meet Ron’s eyes. "Ron…" He started, but Ron shook his head, expression hard and determined. Harry sighed heavily. He knew when he was beat.

"Fine. I’ll talk to Malfoy," he mumbled dejectedly, ignoring the twinge of excitement in his groin and the uneasy, nauseous feeling in his gut.

"Excellent. Now, what do you want in your smoothie?"

***

Harry stared at the phone. He lifted it up, and placed the cracked, clunky receiver on the table, then pulled the base towards himself.

He could do this. This would be fine, he thought restlessly. A strange feeling fluttered in his stomach, swirling around with the remnants of Ron’s smoothie, and the pumpkin soup he had forced Harry to eat afterwards. Ron was a great cook, but Harry’s appetite seemed to have completely gone. He felt rotten.

Ron had left late morning to head back to the office, after spending a good hour brainstorming with Harry about how he could contact Malfoy, explain what was happening, and get some relief over the phone for how he felt—while simultaneously not make a giant, turned-on fool of himself. He’d even helped Harry write down some notes, which was embarrassing as fuck for Harry, but also an affirmation that Ron was possibly the best mate a person could have. It took a special kind of friend to sit you down and help you manage something like that, and an even better one who fed you while they did it.

In the end, they had come to the conclusion that it would be best if Harry simply dialed Malfoy’s Phone Charm Code, explained what was going on in the barest detail possible, and then arranged to speak to him on a daily basis until this passed. Ron was sure that it wouldn't be enough, that Harry needed to be in the same room as him. Harry, however, was equally convinced that meeting Malfoy in person would be a messy, embarrassing disaster involving Harry’s erection and Malfoy’s horrified face, so over the phone it was. It had all seemed very manageable and sensible, and Harry wasn’t nearly as put off by it as he thought he would be. He couldn’t make that big a fool of himself, with the distance still firmly between him, and he found the idea of being honest with Draco about what was happening was settling his nerves in a way he didn’t want to think about.

Or course, as the day wore on, those same nerves began to fray. He started to change his opinion on it all. This was a horrible idea; there was no way he was going to be able to control himself; his previous track record over the past few days were a pretty good indicator of that. On the other hand, he had to admit, this was all not going as he’d expected it to. It didn’t seem this episode was going to settle down on its own, no matter how occupied he kept his mind and body. He felt tight and wrong all over, and his shoulder blades felt like they were covered in constant pins and needles now. His face had an ugly grey pallor, and the bags under his eyes looked like they’d just arrived from France via long distance Floo and were there to stay. He was exhausted, and he’d lost what little extra weight he’d been carrying as a result of his poor appetite. Harry was hardly a waif these days; he was no Viktor Krum, but he was strong, and fit. Right now, though, he looked dull and miserable, those feathery grey markings creeping all the way up the nape of his neck, like someone had splatted him with paint. The persistent arousal felt like more of a dull ache now, behind his overwhelming tiredness, one which he was too restless and jumpy to find any relief from. He felt like he was made of lead, and yet he still couldn't sleep for longer than a few hours at a time.

Ron was right. He wasn’t handling this on his own at all.

It was nearly ten in the evening before he finally managed to sit down in front of the phone. He took a breath, and hovered his wand over the numbers. This was fine, he repeated in his head. He had his notes. It was all planned out. He just had to explain what was happening, in the barest terms, and then hope he would feel better. He took a deep breath, lifted his wand, and began to slowly tap the numbers in the order of Malfoy’s personalized code. He tapped the final number and then waited, until the staticky dial town filtered down the line.

He nervously drummed his fingers on the counter top, then cracked his neck and wiggled in his chair. Maybe Malfoy wouldn’t be home. Maybe he wouldn't answer. Maybe he was—

"Auror Malfoy speaking."

Harry swallowed, startled. He fumbled as he tried not to drop the receiver. Okay, maybe Malfoy was home. He wiped his sweaty hand on his track pants, and swallowed again.

"Who is this?" Malfoy asked. His voice sounded slow, thick, like maybe he’d been sleeping. Like maybe he was in bed. Harry made a soft sound, feeling flush at the image of Malfoy curled up in his bed, hair tousled and clothing rumpled, before getting up to answer Harry’s call.

"Hello?" Malfoy repeated. "Is anyone there?" Harry heard the sound of Malfoy moving around, getting comfortable. Harry breathed in deeply, and then out again. He could do this; he just needed to focus on what he was doing, and on Malfoy’s voice. Merlin, Malfoy had a lovely voice, deep and strong, even when it was twisted up in sleepy irritation, and—Merlin, Harry, focus!

"Look, is this some kind of joke? I’m hanging up—"

"No, wait!" Harry blurted, closing his eyes and breathing hard.

"Potter?" Malfoy sounded surprised. "Is that... What’s going on?"

"Hey, Malfoy," Harry breathed, finding his voice and sinking his claws in so as to keep it functioning in his throat. "How are you?" Smooth, Potter, he reprimanded himself.

"I’m well, thank you," Malfoy replied. He sounded like he was aiming for curt, but being both confused, surprised, and newly out of bed, he just sounded a bit muddled. Harry struggled not to sigh. He’d missed talking with Malfoy, he realised. It was something he was used to doing most days.

"And yourself?" Malfoy asked, in that same politely confused tone.

"Yeah. I’m...not so good," Harry admitted. "Sorry I haven’t been answering you." He let his breath out in a rush. That felt good to say, he realised. He meant it, too.

"Yes. That’s been odd." There was a long pause as Malfoy mulled that over. "Are you ready to tell me what in in the name of Circe’s gaping cunt is going on here?"

Harry smiled. It sounded like Malfoy was waking up and recovering his composure, he thought fondly, feeling another rush of warmth across his shoulders and up behind his ears.

"Yeah. You um. You’re not gonna believe it though," he said as he traced a whirl on the kitchen counter top with one finger, and then over it again with two. Malfoy cleared his throat, the sound coming through clearly down the line.

"Try me."

Harry took a deep breath, and started to talk, the words falling out of his mouth far more easily that he’d imagined.

Twenty minutes later, he felt relieved, ridiculous, and slightly turned on all over again. The antsy feeling crept up his spine and down his limbs as he finished explaining in somewhat disconnected sentences what had happened, and why. It felt different this time though. Less restless, and more excited—more like anticipation. He knew he was pushing it by continuing to talk to Malfoy this long, but he didn’t want to stop just yet. He wanted to keep talking as long as he possibly could. Whatever was going on with him, Malfoy’s voice was stirring it up even more, making it worse. Or better, Harry couldn’t tell. Either way, he liked it—which was probably not a good sign.

"You’re a Veela," Malfoy repeated for the third time.

"Part-Veela," Harry corrected, massaging a sore spot at the back of his neck. "On my father’s side," he added redundantly.

"And, you’re...having a what?" Malfoy said again, in that somewhat dumbfounded tone. Harry took a deep breath, and read off his notes once more.

"I am having an instinctive Veela episode as a result of the incident with you and the hex on the Fielding mission, and in response to the—" Harry cringed, but ploughed on. "Friendly feelings I have for you. According to the Healer," he added, trying to further downplay what he had already downplayed significantly. After a moment, he also added, "Sorry. I don't know when I'll be back at work. Water my plants?" he joked, then frowned. He didn't have any plants. Merlin, he felt giddy and ridiculous.

There was a long pause. Harry stared at the table, and waited for a response. He scratched at his leg, and jiggled his knees, trying to keep his breathing under control, when finally Malfoy started speaking again.

"Okay. You're a Ve—part-Veela. I get that bit. It’s insane, but I get it. I don't understand any of the rest, though." Malfoy sighed, his voice quiet down the line. "You're having a reaction to me being hurt?"

"Yeah," Harry replied.

"And now you need to avoid me or "meaningfully connect," somehow?"

"Pretty much." Harry looked at the ceiling. God, it sounded even madder repeated back to him.

"And so you’re taking two months sick leave to avoid me, rather than do that?" Malfoy said stonily.

"Fuck off, I am sick," Harry retorted. He pinched the bridge of his nose, then sighed. "It’s just. It’s sort of...complicated. It’s best I’m alone until this, just, sorts itself out."

"Sorts itself out," Malfoy repeated blandly. "Right, of course. Merlin, Potter, never a dull moment with you is it? I'm the Chosen One, I'm a Horcrux, I'm a Veela now, and on Tuesdays I’ve got three heads."

Harry rolled his eyes at Malfoy’s high pitched imitation. "Wednesdays, actually," he said, rubbing one eyebrow.

"Pardon?"

"It's Wednesdays I've got three heads. Tuesdays I'm The Sorting Hat."

Malfoy snorted an indelicate laugh. "Glad to see your astounding wit has survived your transformation into reclusive hermit." He sighed loudly down the line. "Look, can't I just come over and you can explain this all in a somewhat less confusingly insane way? To my face?"

"Definitely not," Harry replied, almost too quickly. He heard Malfoy’s throat click as he swallowed.

"Oh. You don't want to see me."

Harry felt his chest clench at the almost hurt tone in Malfoy's voice. Oh, that didn’t feel good, he thought, his stomach lurching and pins and needles spreading across his shoulder blades and down his ribs.

"Is that the reaction, then?" Malfoy asked, voice confused and somewhat quieter than before. Harry laughed slightly manically in response.

"No." He rubbed at his jaw. "No, it’s not like that." Harry sighed, weighing up what to say, and then decided all of a sudden he was too tired to keep omitting certain facts. Lying was exhausting, and confusing, and getting him nowhere. "It's kind of...The opposite, really. That's the… that’s the reaction. That's what I'm trying to say here." He took a deep breath. "I’m avoiding you because I want to...The reaction is that I..." Harry broke off, feeling light-headed and short of breath, and suddenly aware that he was half-way to hard. He raised his eyes to the ceiling, shaking his head incredulously. Apparently he was getting off on being honest with Malfoy, now.

There was a short pause, before Malfoy replied, his voice sounding clearer and more certain than before.

"I think I might understand this now."

Harry made a weak affirmative sound. This was the bit he was dreading, the part where Malfoy put two and two together and came up with "never speak to me again, Potter." He braced himself.

"You want to fuck me."

Malfoy’s voice sounded deafening in the room, the only thing louder than the thud of Harry’s heart in his chest. He put his free hand on the edge of his seat, to have something to hang onto—and to stop it from wiggling down into his pants. Fuck, this was so…Messed up.

"D—Don't sugar coat it, will you, Malfoy?" Harry managed to grit out, his face red.

"I don't believe I did. I'm correct then. Is that what this is?"

Harry groaned miserably. "Y—yeah." He shut his eyes and waited for Malfoy to react. To tell him he was a freak, a pervert, or worse, to kindly let him down.

"Okay."

Harry blinked up at the ceiling, slowly tilting his head back down to stare at his knees. "Okay? Okay what?"

"I think I should come over and we can talk about this properly," Malfoy said, his voice sounding louder, as though he had brought his mouth closer to the receiver. Harry brushed his hair off his overheated face.

"No, no, Draco," Harry mumbled, sounding strange and needy even to his own ears. "I just explained...I just said why that's not a good idea."

"And I just said ‘okay.’"

"I don't understand what that means," Harry responded, voice hoarse.

"I think you do."

Harry leaned forward, hunched over the table. "Shit. Malfoy. Well then you don’t understand what that means!" He tried to catch his breath, his heart thudding like he was running for his life.

"I can assure you, I absolutely do."

"Malfoy, no, look—"

"Are you hard, Harry?"

Harry stilled, mouth falling open at the blunt question.

"Am I…" he stammered out, unable to process what was going on, the direction Malfoy was taking this. He shut his mouth again, not trusting himself to answer. Malfoy hummed.

"Okay. Let me ask another way. Are you touching yourself?"

"Fuck, Malfoy!" Harry exclaimed. He shook his head groggily, then realised Malfoy couldn’t see him. ‘No,’ he gasped out. He spread his thighs slightly before he realised what he was doing and tensed them once more.

"Do you want to?" Malfoy’s voice sounded deep, a timbre in it Harry had never heard before. He drew in another shaky breath, then let it out again too fast as warmth crept up his neck. He couldn’t answer that question. He shouldn’t answer that question. He took a deep breath, then sighed. He was so tired of lying.

"Yes," he whispered, blinking incredulously at the table top. He let his shoulders sag slightly, tension leaking out of him at the admission. He imagined he heard Malfoy’s breath hitch down the line as well.

"And is it from talking to me?"

"Y—yes," Harry gasped, heart thumping and mind whirring.

"Then I want to come over and talk to you properly," Malfoy replied, his voice controlled and measured. It made Harry want to do whatever he said, which was not something Harry was used to. But he couldn’t let Malfoy come over. There was a reason he couldn’t, wasn’t there?

"I—if you come here, then I'm going to—" he bit his lip and gripped the material of his sweatpants covering his thigh, fisting it.

"I know. I want to come over, Harry."

Harry gasped, releasing the material and running his hand up and down his thigh, his hips pushing up against nothing. He wanted to touch himself. He wanted Malfoy to touch him. He wanted Malfoy here.

"Let me come over, Harry," Malfoy repeated. "Let me...let me help you."

"Uh!"

"Harry," Malfoy paused. "Touch yourself."

"Oh my god," Harry keened, his hand flying up and gripping his aching cock through his sweatpants, before he realized what he was doing. He moaned, pressing the heel of his palm against his overstimulated dick. He was so close already. "Malfoy, I’m gonna—"

"Good."

"Ahh, fuck!"

Harry groaned low in the back of his throat. The sound seemed to reverberate right through him, from the balls of his feet to the tip of his cock, as he came to the sound of Malfoy’s voice. Dampness spread through the cloth of his pants, onto his hand. He gasped, feeling like he’d been punched in the gut. He leant his head against the cool surface of his kitchen table and breathed hard, waiting to calm down, to make sense of what had just happened. He jumped when Malfoy spoke again, having almost forgotten he was there.

"Harry." Malfoy’s voice sounded somewhat hoarser than before, lower, breathy. "I’ll be there in three to seven minutes. Let me in."

Harry opened his mouth to reply, but heard the click of Malfoy hanging up. He pulled the phone away from his sweaty face and stared at it, and then at the mess in his lap. He blinked stupidly at it for a long moment, still breathing fast, before he finally summoned his wand. He managed to get himself cleaned up after a few tries, then felt his wards tingle, and a sharp knock on the door. He stood up shakily, clinging onto the chair momentarily as his head spun. He breathed in deeply, then padded over to the door, bare feet cold on the wooden floorboards.

Malfoy stepped inside, and Harry stepped back.

"Hello, Potter," he said quietly looking down at Harry from that slight height advantage. Harry nodded back, feeling strange, and awkward, and somehow the calmest he’d been in days. Malfoy looked the same as he’d looked the last time Harry had seen him, in that hospital hallway; composed, eyes bright and lips quirked in a wry smile, brows furrowed into a frown of slightly bemused concern. Harry opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again, floored by the wave of soothing calm that was washing over him in Malfoy’s presence.

Malfoy raised a hand and tucked an errant strand of pale hair behind his ear, pulling his cloak off his shoulders and hanging it over one arm. Without turning he gently kicked the door shut behind him, as Harry shakily replaced the wards. They stood there silently, too close together, watching each other and breathing each other’s air. Malfoy smiled.

"So. Tell me how can I help you, Potter."

***

Malfoy swished his wand, and the stream of water filling the tub clicked off with a soft wshh. Harry sat tensely in the warm water, elbows on his knees, and stared at the tiles ahead of him. Malfoy rested back against the chair he was sitting on, his back straight, one leg crossed over the other. He was wearing a pair of dark blue pyjama bottoms, a white t shirt, and a long grey dressing gown made of thin material draped over the top. His hair was slightly messy. Harry had been right; Malfoy had been in bed when he’d called him.

"Temperature alright?" Malfoy asked. Harry grunted in reply.

"I could have run my own bath," he griped, and Malfoy nodded in acknowledgement.

"True. You also could have told me what was wrong with you a week ago, and not have let yourself get this bad." He smiled thinly. "I preferred not to take the risk that you’d somehow mess this up, boil yourself, and then do another Saint Potter martyr routine. Presumably leaving me in the hallway to push polite notes under the door inquiring after your well-being."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Polite notes, sure. Water’s fine, thanks," he snapped, still looking at the tiles and not Malfoy. Malfoy, who was completely dressed, while Harry was very much naked and in the fucking bath.

Merlin, if he could go back in time and stop himself blurting the idea out in front of Malfoy as soon as he’d asked to help, he’d have done it twice already. Why the hell this had been the first thing to come to his mind, Harry didn’t know. His awful subconscious again, he assumed, trying to ruin him. He felt mortified. And the best in days, a little voice chimed in helpfully. Harry ignored it. True, he was feeling saner. But he was also naked in front of Malfoy, after letting him talk him off on the bloody phone, which was exactly what Harry had been trying to avoid all along. Well, not specifically that, but things of that nature, all the same.

"Says here I should have put rosemary in it," Malfoy said with interest, and Harry’s head whipped around to look at him in disbelief. Malfoy had Harry’s Veela parchments spread out over one knee, and was reading them casually as though it was the morning Prophet.

"How did you—" Harry started in alarm, but Malfoy cut him off.

"Swiped them while you were dithering about whether to get in here in your swimming trunks or not. I assume that’s because of the lovely artwork you’re currently sporting," Malfoy looked up at him briefly through his fringe. "I do hope that’s not permanent, for your sake." Malfoy sniffed, resting his foot up on the edge of the bath and leaning back in his chair. "Rosemary, honestly. What are you, a leg of lamb? Next they’ll be saying to add potatoes and half a pound of carrots."

"Jesus, Malfoy." Harry covered his face. "You weren't meant to read that!"

"Why not? You as good as said all this before. Makes sense I should have all the information I possibly can so as not to make anything worse."

"I don't see how this could be worse," Harry said with feeling, lifting his head and running a wet hand through his hair, making it stick up awkwardly.

The corners of Malfoy’s mouth turned down as he continued to read. "Add a sprig of Lavender. Bloody hell, what a load of tosh." He skimmed over the last few pages, raising his eyebrows at what Harry could only assume we're the parts about the important person or significant other and the ways Harry was yearning to meaningfully connect with him. Bloody fucking hell indeed, Harry closed his eyes with a wince, as Malfoy re-folded the parchments and rested his hands in his lap as he mulled this new information over. He looked away, and then back again, his head tilted at a slight angle. His expression didn't change.

"I get the feeling this isn't turning out to be very relaxing for you."

Harry snorted. "Very perceptive, Auror Malfoy," Harry deadpanned. "I feel ridiculous."

"Perhaps if you lay back in the water," Malfoy suggested.

Harry chewed on his lip, while Malfoy stared at the side of his head. "I won't look, if that helps. Or comment on what the stork left you, or the fact that you look like a child's abstract painting right now."

Harry huffed a laugh, then exhaled a resigned sigh. What did he have to lose now, anyway? He slowly relaxed back until his head hit the porcelain lip of the tub, and his knees peaked out of the water. He tried to relax, and immediately felt tenser. Underneath that, he felt agitated, embarrassed, and utterly thrilled to have Malfoy in the same room as him, all at the same time. It was bloody confusing.

He startled as he felt fingers on his face, and opened his eyes to see Malfoy leaning forward to pull his glasses away. He folded them gently, carefully, then placed them on the opposite ledge near Harry’s head. Harry’s vision blurred, the world softening around the edges.

"Thought that might help," Malfoy explained, casting a soft spell that dimmed the light. "Make you more comfortable."

"Thanks," Harry mumbled. He rested his neck, let the water slosh over his shoulders and the hair at his nape. It gently swirled around him in the bath water; he badly needed a haircut.

"That is better," he admitted. With his vision softened and the lights down low he felt marginally less like a golden-hued, bizarrely tattooed, emotionally and sexually constipated freak. Well. A bit less like one. He hummed, letting his body relax as he moved his fingers through the water in time to the soft thudding beat he could hear in the room. He frowned, then laughed incredulously when he realised what it was.

"What?" Malfoy asked inquisitively. Harry licked his lips, and debated whether to say anything. Fuck it, he decided. He'd said far more incriminating things on the phone.

"I can hear your heartbeat."

Malfoy made a surprised sound. "I very much doubt that."

Harry looked up at the shape that was Malfoy, and smiled.

"No, I… Well, I can. It's nice. I like hearing it."

"Potter," Malfoy said after a short pause.

"It's kind of comforting," Harry elaborated, babbling slightly. "After you got." He licked his lips. "I think it's because of the… When you got..."

"Potter, I'm not dead," Malfoy said seriously.

"I know," Harry said quietly. "You’d be a bit less chatty if you were de—um. That way," he finished lamely. He couldn't bring himself to say it somehow. Malfoy looked at him calmly, then dipped a hand into the warm bath water, just above Harry’s thigh. He moved off the chair and knelt beside Harry, rolling his sleeve up so he could keep his hand in the water. He trailed it back and forth over Harry, not touching him, but gently stirring the water up, letting it wash over Harry’s tired and tense body.

"I imagine I would be less chatty, yes." Malfoy kept swishing his hand through the water. At this distance, Harry could make out his features better, could see the colour on his cheeks, the lines around his mouth and the jut of his jaw. They were silent for a long time.

"It’s weird seeing you in your pyjamas," Harry muttered eventually in a faint voice. Malfoy’s mouth twitched up into a faint smile.

"It’s weird seeing you in the bath," he agreed quietly, and Harry groaned softly, a warmth spreading through him from his navel upwards at the tone. And then again, from his navel downwards as well. He covered his face miserably. He was getting hard. He was naked, in the bath, and Malfoy was sitting next to him with his long fingers trailing through the water just above his abdomen, and he was getting hard. He closed his eyes miserably.

"Potter."

Harry made a muted, unhappy sound in reply, both hands over his eyes.

"Potter, it’s fine."

Harry groaned again, angrily. Fine. Yes, this was all perfectly normal and wonderful, something friends and acquaintances did every evening. He heard Malfoy shifting around, and then felt the water move gently against his side as Malfoy dipped his hand lower and ran his knuckles softly across the hard line of Harry’s belly. Malfoy did it again, and Harry’s stomach twitched, his forehead creasing as he tried not to combust from how good it felt.

"This is fine, Harry," Malfoy repeated, voice soft and comforting. Harry was completely hard now, and if Malfoy moved his hand just an inch lower he would be touching him. But he didn’t. He simply kept moving his hand back and forth through the water, fingers brushing lightly over Harry’s skin.

"Are you ready to get out now?" he asked quietly.

Harry shifted, the feeling of Malfoy's knuckles brushing against his skin electrifying, as he considered his answer.

"What happens then?" he asked breathily. Malfoy stilled his hand, rested the back of his knuckles just under Harry’s sternum, at the edge of the water.

"We go to bed." Malfoy didn’t break eye contact, just stared Harry down with a kind of soft determination, until Harry cottoned on to what he meant. He felt a deep flush run up his chest to his neck and face.

"Oh," he mumbled. His head swam, and he suddenly wished he was wearing his glasses so he could orient himself better. He felt that buzzing anticipation hum through him again. Bed. Bed with Malfoy. Sex.

"Shall I let you get out and sorted, and meet you there?" Malfoy asked quietly, swishing his hand one final time then pulling it out of the water. He shook it, flicking little droplets off onto Harry’s chest, as Harry nodded dazedly in reply. Malfoy smiled and then ran his eyes up and down Harry’s torso, before raising his eyebrows in surprise.

"You’re glowing," he said, voice tinged with wonder, and Harry cringed.

"Merlin. Not again." He began to apologize, until he saw the odd expression on Malfoy’s face.

"What?" he asked nervously. Malfoy opened his mouth, but didn’t say anything.

"What is it? I know it's fucking weird, it's part of the—"

"No, no, not that. It's just…" Malfoy broke into a grin, his eyes crinkling at the corners and his teeth a straight line. "You’re golden."

Harry blinked back at him, nonplussed. Malfoy ran his hand through his hair. "You’re literally the Golden Boy, Harry," he explained, and Harry covered his face again.

"Oh, fuck you," he whined, as Malfoy started to laugh. "I’m not doing this on purpose!"

"Aren’t you? It is rather your style. At least, if twelve-year-old me is to be believed," Malfoy joked lip quirked in a wry smile.

"Piss off," Harry laughed quietly. He rubbed his face, then looked up. He felt suddenly immensely grateful for this nod at the way they usually acted around each other, at their normal friendship. The friendship he was possibly about to ruin, he thought bitterly for a moment, before he pushed that aside. Malfoy was here and willing, and that had to count for something. Didn’t it?

Harry frowned, and Malfoy smiled back, expression warm and open and creased with humour, then stood with a creak of knees. He picked up the nearest towel, watching Harry for a moment before he dumped it on Harry’s head.

"See you in a bit, Potter. I’m sure I can find your room."

Harry swallowed, removing himself from the tangle of material. He heard the door click shut as Malfoy left. Harry sighed, heaving himself out of the water, a combination of nerves and fierce desire swimming in his stomach. He grabbed his toweling robe, wrapped it around himself, and tried to count to fifteen to calm himself down. He made it to seven before following Malfoy out.

***

Malfoy appeared to have found Harry’s room after opening nearly every other door on the upstairs floor. Harry padded along the carpeted hallway, shutting the door to his spare room, the study, and even the linen closet. His footsteps slowed as he reached his bedroom, noticing that this was the only door Malfoy appeared to have closed after he opened it. He took a deep breath, twisted the handle and walked in.

It took him a moment to adjust without his glasses to the dimly lit room, but he could make out Malfoy on the other side of the bed, and the sound of a drawer being pushed shut. He squinted, laughing gently as Malfoy walked around the bed towards him, coming into focus.

"Were you...going through my stuff?"

"Yes," Malfoy confessed, stopping in front of him. "You are both incredibly boring and impossibly untidy. Nothing scandalous in any of your drawers, just ratty pants and unpaired socks. Really, man, hire an elf. And—what?" Malfoy cut off his rant as Harry stared at his bare chest.

"You took your shirt off," Harry blurted. Malfoy folded his arms across his chest and frowned.

"Yes. It seemed appropriate," he replied somewhat defensively. Harry blinked, looking back up at Malfoy’s face. He looked self-conscious, and Harry thought that was ridiculous considering he himself was standing here in a damn toweling robe with an erection. He felt a rush of empathy all the same at this slight show of vulnerability, and reached out to touch one of the silver-white scars criss-crossing Malfoy’s torso, He stopped just short of touching them, spreading his fingers out so his little finger and index were at either end of a long slash. He bit his lip, feeling the strangest combination of emotions at the sight. Guilt, yes, and remorse, but above all curiosity, desire. Affection.

"Oh, those," Malfoy said, dropping his arms and relaxing his shoulders. "Is that all. I thought you saw them when I got hexed. I mean they said my shirt was mostly off."

Harry stretched his fingers out, amused that Malfoy seemed relieved Harry was staring at the faint remains of the Sectumsempra curse, and not bothered he’d removed some of his clothing. He clenched his fingers into a fist, though, at the reminder of the hex. There was no scar there, he thought with a kind of frantic relief, as he looked at the spot over Malfoy’s heart. There was no sign he’d been hurt at all.

"It’s funny, you know," Malfoy went on quietly. "You didn't seem that bothered when I got hurt the first time." Harry opened his mouth to protest, but Malfoy held up a hand, cutting him off. "No, you misunderstand me. You didn’t get like this." He waved a hand at Harry’s dimly glowing skin, the markings on his neck. "I would have noticed," he said, and Harry nodded, then looked away.

"I didn’t like you very much back then, I guess," he mumbled.

"And now?" Malfoy asked gently, cocking his head to one side.

Harry shrugged one shoulder, feeling his face heat up. "I'm not saying it again, Malfoy."

"I don’t think you’ve actually managed to properly say it once," Malfoy replied playfully, and Harry sighed, rubbing one hand over his jaw. Something was still bothering him here.

"Look, Malfoy. Draco. You don’t." He cracked his neck from side to side, and ignored the restless feeling creeping up his spine at what he was about to say. "You don’t need to do this," he gritted out before he lost his nerve.

Malfoy frowned at him. "Harry—"

"No, I mean it," Harry interrupted. "This is. I’m really glad you’re here, well kind of amazed you’re here really, but this is." He shut his eyes, feeling his shoulders twitch as pins and needles crept angrily along the blades again. "This is not something I should be asking you, because you’re my friend now, well, I’m pretty sure you are. No, fuck that, you are my friend, and this is not… this is way out of the...realm of..." he broke off, feeling dizzy and faintly nauseous. That didn’t feel good. Veela instincts or not, he was saying this though, he thought, clenching his jaw. "I don’t want you to feel like you have to," he ground out, breathing heavily. He started when he felt Malfoy's palm on his shoulder.

"Are you done?" he asked quietly, almost kindly, and Harry almost moaned at the wonderful feeling of relief that caused in him. He looked up miserably.

"I’m serious, Malfoy—"

"I know you are. But listen, so am I when I say I want to be here, and that this is okay." He moved his hand to Harry’s neck, looking him in the eye. "Because it is. I want to help you."

Harry flinched, but Malfoy tightened his grip on his neck and kept talking, shaking his head determinedly.

"No, no, not like that. I don't mean it like that. This isn't a favour, Potter. I want to be here. This is fine for me. I mean, I’m hardly about to put myself in a position that makes me uncomfortable for the sake of your precious health, am I?" he joked.

"It's just—I don’t want you to—"

"Potter." Malfoy stepped closer, crowding him. He placed his other hand on Harry’s neck. "Whatever it is you don’t want me to, I can assure you I’m not." He paused as if weighing his next words. "I’m quite fond of you too, you know. In case you’re too thick to have noticed," he added quietly, and Harry almost laughed at the awkward expression on his face. Malfoy pinched his neck gently, then smirked back at him. "So, stop underestimating me, alright? You always do that."
Harry nodded his head weakly as Malfoy began to massage the nape of his neck.

"Things might be weird, though," he mumbled. "After we. After this."

Malfoy smiled wryly. "Your entire life is full of weird, Potter. Dark Lord weird, Auror weird, now Veela weird. I’m usually caught in the crossfire. I’m quite used to it by now." He stepped closer, and Harry felt his cock beginning to fill out again. He opened his mouth to say something, suddenly feeling awkward. Malfoy seemed to sense this. He took the final step closer, and moved his head, placing his lips against the skin just below Harry’s ear. Harry made a startled noise, then another deeper sound as Malfoy kissed the skin gently.

Malfoy ran his lips softly up the line of neck, over his jaw, around the shell of his ear, and Harry moaned before he could catch himself.

"What have you done before?" Malfoy asked.

"Wha—what have I what?" Harry asked breathily.

"Done. Before." He pulled back, and regarded Harry, his thumb resting just under Harry’s Adam’s apple. He stroked over it gently. "We’re going to have sex. I need to know what you want, and don’t want."

Harry flushed, dizzy and excited, his skin tingling pleasantly again as opposed to anxiously. "How courteous of you," he tried to joke, but his voice came out barely louder than a whisper.

"I’m a gentleman," Malfoy whispered back, his mouth so close to Harry’s own they were almost touching.

Harry huffed out a laugh, then gave in and reached his fingers out to brush his knuckles against Malfoy’s belly. He could feel Malfoy’s pulse there, feel the tick of it against his fingers, feel the warmth of his skin. He blinked fast, his cock twitching and his knees shaking slightly, threatening to bend. Merlin, it was beyond weird to be turned on by someone’s pulse, he thought, as another bolt of pleasure shot through him at the sound of that steady heartbeat. He tried to focus.

"Um. I’ve." Harry licked his lips. "I’ve done this before. Just, I don’t really do this that often. And not usually with men," he murmured, more distracted than embarrassed. He’d be having sex every weekend if he could just find out where all the nice, sexy people, who weren’t horrible fame-seekers, were hanging out. Or if he wasn’t hanging out with Malfoy, he added in a rare moment of self-awareness. Malfoy, who was here now, standing in front of him and touching him, alive, and hot, and here. He wondered briefly if this pseudo-virginity of his would put Malfoy off, but he didn't look it. If anything his eyes were darker now, colour creeping up his neck and onto his cheeks. No, Harry didn’t think that was putting him off at all, which was encouraging, if nothing else. He didn’t think Malfoy would be here if he wasn’t at least somewhat interested in having sex with him, although he couldn't shake the feeling that this was more out of pity and bizarre obligation than anything else. Some kind of you pull me out of the fire, and I’ll pull you, tit for tat thing. Malfoy was helping Harry, that’s what this was to him.

Still, Harry was finding his reservations and fears were being buried under the overwhelming calm Malfoy’s presence was having on him. This felt good, Malfoy felt so good, that Harry couldn’t really keep a grip on those worries. Helping him or not, Malfoy was here because he had asked to be, and that had to count for something.

Harry felt his eyelids flutter shut as Malfoy ran his lips over his cheek. "Is there anything you don’t want me to do?" he asked.

"Um." Harry swallowed. "Hate me in the morning?" He tried a wry grin, but it came out much shakier than he’d intended.

"There’s no chance of that, Potter," Malfoy said confidently. "I'm going to feel exactly the same about you," he whispered, before pulling Harry’s lower lip between his own and kissing him.

Harry didn’t think he was a very good kisser. He’d never really had a chance to do it at Hogwarts, not like his friends had, and then after the war, he’d just never really seemed to get the hang of it. Kissing like this, though, felt different. It felt easy, somehow, like something he could do for hours. Malfoy ran his hand over Harry’s throat, up into his hair and across his scalp, and Harry felt like he wanted nothing more than to stand here for as long as he could and feel Malfoy's lips moving against his. He parted his mouth on an involuntary sigh, his toes curling in the carpet of his bedroom floor, and Malfoy swiped his tongue against his lips. Harry groaned, loudly, frowning as he shut his eyes and deepened the kiss. He moved his hands to Malfoy’s hips, ran his palms over them as he tried to steady his breathing. This felt far too good for just a kiss; it was making something inside him sing, something that had been begging for him to do this since the Hex Incident. Possibly longer.

He stepped forward, wanting to feel Malfoy’s chest against his own, then stepped back again with a gasp as his cock touched Malfoy’s groin.

"Sorry—" he gasped out, then stopped as Malfoy made a low sound, kissing him deeply and pulling him back flush against him, one hand against the small of his back. Harry groaned, struggling to keep kissing Malfoy back as Malfoy ran his hands over his back, keeping Harry pressed snug against him. He rolled his hips, then broke away with a gasp at the answering hardness he felt there. Malfoy kissed down his neck, bunching up the material of his robe as he massaged his arse. Harry rolled his hips again, then impulsively shrugged his robed off and threw it in a corner. He grabbed Malfoy's face, kissing him again before he could feel embarrassed about the markings, the glowing skin, how turned on he was from so little.

"Merlin, look at you," Malfoy murmured.

"Can we just ignore the stupid mar—"

"No, not them." Malfoy ran a hand appreciatively over his side, then down to grab at his arse again. "Not the markings. The rest of you." He rolled his hips again and they both groaned.

"Bed," Harry managed. "Bed, now."

Malfoy let himself be walked backwards, then pulled Harry down with him onto the soft blue duvet. Harry clambered over him as he awkwardly scooted backwards, not breaking the kiss, until they were in the centre. Harry leant back, giving Malfoy room to wiggle his pyjama bottoms down. He stared at the length of his cock, lying against his belly as Malfoy settled back down.

"You're hard," he blurted, eyes wide. Malfoy looked down, then back up at him, raising one eyebrow.

"Yes, I’m told it’s all the rage during sex."

"No, shut up, I just. I just didn’t expect—"

"What, that I’d enjoy this? You expected I'd sort of lie back and think of England?" Malfoy suggested, making a strange face, and Harry didn’t have the guts to explain that yes, a not insignificant part of him had been kind of dreading that. Malfoy raised both brows somewhat incredulously, and Harry kissed him again rather than explain, and to help with the whole Malfoy shutting-up side of things. Malfoy chuckled slightly, as Harry kissed him again, hard. The movement brought their groins into line, their cocks against each other, and Harry gasped as Malfoy gripped a palm around them both.

"Is that good?" Malfoy asked, moving his hand slowly. Harry nodded, shifting his hips. It felt amazing. He'd done this before—he liked doing this—but it had never felt this good those times. He wanted to say that was because of the Veela business, and not because Malfoy’s hands felt so perfect wrapped him, but he couldn't tell anymore. He shut his eyes, then opened them again when he heard Malfoy laugh breathily.

"What?"

"I should’ve, ah, should’ve brought sunglasses," Malfoy said, frowning as he sped his hand up. Harry looked down at his persistently glowing skin. He groaned in annoyance, then thrust his hips down hard, smiling faintly when he felt Malfoy's dick twitch against his own.

"Fuck you," he replied, with a low laugh.

"Okay."

"Huh?" Harry blinked stupidly at Malfoy, who leant up and caught his lower lip between his teeth, then released it again.

"I had rather hoped to fuck you, though," he whispered against his mouth. Harry ground his hips down hard as he realised what Malfoy meant, almost crushing Malfoy's hands between them. He kissed Malfoy feverishly, sucking his tongue into his mouth.

"Yeah," he managed in between kisses. "That. I want that."

"Really?" Malfoy asked, sounding somewhat surprised. "Okay." Malfoy smiled beatifically and Harry almost shut his eyes, blindsided by the heat surging through his chest at that. And aware that he was glowing even brighter now. He was not going to miss that, he thought angrily, the way his body seemed to react so obviously to Malfoy.

"Have you ever—"

"Never," Harry replied defensively. "Is that a problem?"

"No," Malfoy replied, eyes darkening. He shifted slightly, running his thumb along the top of Harry’s thigh. "There's a spell I know. It'll loosen you up a little. Make it easier. There’s other ways too, of course, but this is good for first times." Malfoy looked away, and then back again. "I liked it," he added softly.

Harry swallowed, then nodded. A spell sounded good. He wanted this, but he was also more nervous that he would like to admit. He'd been with men before, a handful or so, but never that far. Mostly, he'd just never particularly wanted to. But he did now, he found, and as much as he liked the idea of just getting on with it, Harry was aware he also didn’t really have the faintest idea what he was doing in that department. Best let Malfoy run the show, he thought.

Malfoy pulled him back down for a kiss as he quietly summoned his wand.

"It’ll feel a little strange. But it shouldn't feel bad," he said into Harry’s mouth. "Breath in. And out. And in again—"

"I know how to breathe Malfoy—"

"Then shut up and do it."

Harry rolled his eyes, inhaling deeply, then exhaling. Beneath him, Malfoy raised his wand, muttering the soft spell, and Harry blinked at the sudden wet sensation.

"Merlin," he mumbled, clenching and unclenching his arse cheeks experimentally.

"Mm," Malfoy reached behind him, running a finger around his rim and then easily slipping the tip inside. "Good?"

Harry nodded, frowning. "I think so?"

"That's not very convincing, Potter."

Harry laughed breathily. "Convince me, then." He wiggled back against the tip of Malfoy’s finger.

"Alright then." Malfoy smiled at the challenge, then shifted slightly. He ran one hand over his cock, and the other along Harry’s thigh, pulling gently at the hair on it. He pushed Harry up slightly, settling him back against his cock, and Harry got the idea. He pushed back harder, staring at a point just over Malfoy’s shoulder, as Malfoy bit his lip and flexed his fingers on Harry’s hips.

Harry settled down inch by slow inch. It didn't hurt, but it was maybe uncomfortable. It was easier than he’d expected, too, that spell having clearly done what Malfoy had said it would. He rolled his hips, pushing back until he felt Malfoy's hand against himself, and Malfoy let go. Harry wiggled down a bit further, frowning at the ceiling and breathing hard. He pulled forward slightly, then sat back again, and closed his eyes.

"That," he said slowly. "That feels…Fucking weird," he finished. Malfoy choked out an incredulous laugh at the expression on Harry's face.

"Good weird? Or—"

Harry shifted slightly. "Yeah, good weird. Nice I think. I don't know. Definitely not bad."

He moved his hips slightly, up and then down again, and felt Malfoy’s chest vibrate as he moaned. He did it again. No, this was definitely not bad, he thought, pushing back again more enthusiastically and sitting up a little higher.

The slight change in position caused his dick to bounce in front of him with his movements, and Harry spared a moment to feel really embarrassed by that. He paused, moving his hips back and forth by increments as he sat on Malfoy’s dick, trying to get his bearings, trying to figure out what he was doing. It felt weird, yes. He felt full and strange, but he also felt amazing, felt aware of every point his skin touched Malfoy’s.

He closed his eyes, rocking again as he lifted up slightly. That was better, he thought, as he dropped back down. With his eyes closed, he could just concentrate on how it felt, not how ridiculous he looked, with his glowing skin and throbbing cock jutting out in front of him. He moved up and down again, bracing his hands back against Malfoy’s thighs, above his knees, and that was...oh, that was good. That seemed to make Malfoy’s cock push deeper inside, filling him completely and pushing against something that sent electricity running up his spine and down to the backs of his knees. He moved, searching for that amazing spot, again and again. He moaned low in the back of his throat, as he inched his hips forwards, backwards, felt staticky goosebumps run up his legs and his forearms. Fuck, this felt good.

He couldn’t really move up and down much in this position, though, he realised. He frowned, moving faster but still not finding the momentum he wanted, unconsciously digging his fingers into the tense muscle of Malfoy’s thighs. If he could just…He growled, thighs aching, the need to somehow get more movement and friction overwhelming.

"Fuck," he panted, voice sounding high and desperate even to his own ears. Malfoy made a strangled sound in response.

"Potter." Harry’s eyes flung open as he felt strong fingers grip him just above the elbow. "Stop."

Malfoy pulled Harry’s arms forward, throwing him off balance but holding him lest he fall, until Harry got the idea and placed his palms on the bed by Malfoy’s head. He stared down at him, at his lust-blown eyes, and the tension in his jaw. Malfoy licked his lips, hands firm and gripping Harry just above his hips. "You’re gonna fucking kill me if you keep doing that."

"Huh?" Harry gasped as he blinked, feeling the tingly, agitated feeling tip-toe up his spine as he tried his best to sit still. "I didn’t realise it was bad—"

"Oh, it is definitely not bad," Malfoy said. "This’ll...This’ll just be even better. And has less chance of making me come before we’ve even started." Malfoy’s lips curved into a smile that made Harry’s throat tighten and his cock twitch. Merlin, Malfoy smiling should not have that effect on him. He looked away and down, watching the rise and fall of Malfoy’s chest and tried to match his breathing to it.

Malfoy lay underneath him, fingers tightening and loosening against Harry’s sides. "Harry. You’re not moving."

Harry shook his head, feeling disorientated and like every nerve in his body was perking up to attention at the sound of Malfoy’s voice. "You told me to stop."

"Do I need to tell you to start again?" Malfoy asked in a low voice, pulling Harry towards him a fraction, brushing his lips over Harry’s gently, and then pushing him back.

"Ah," Harry gasped at the slide of Malfoy’s dick inside him, at the spike of arousal from Malfoy’s words. He tensed his thighs.

"Y—yes," Harry stammered, his face turning red in embarrassment even as every cell in his body tingled. Malfoy frowned, then groaned in response when he realised what Harry meant. Harry felt his dick throb inside him, and felt the lingering shame dissipate in the knowledge that Malfoy was getting off on this just as much as he was.

"Harry. Move," he ground out, and Harry moved forwards, then back again, hard. His mouth fell open, and he did it again, dropping back faster this time, and setting a pace that made his pulse race and his arms shake as he braced over Malfoy. This was better. He spread his fingers against the sheets, and then his legs slightly, as he thrust himself back, impaling himself deep and hard on Malfoy's cock. Fuck, yes, this was better. This felt so right he couldn't believe it had never occurred to him to try it before, that he hadn’t realised it would feel so good.

"Harry. Merlin, Harry," Malfoy groaned. "Yes, keep doing that. Keep..." Malfoy ran his hands up Harry’s sides, then back to his hips, pulling him forward as Harry kept up his relentless pace, his thighs burning and his nerves on fire with a chorus of yes yes yes.

Malfoy moved his legs slightly, bracing his feet on the mattress. Harry rode him faster, and faster, nestled in the V of Draco’s hips, staring down at his flushed face, at his hair splayed out on the pillow, at the thrum of his pulse in his neck. Draco’s eyes were hooded and dark, a slight frown between his brows as he made soft, low sounds, licking his lips and tightening his fingers against Harry’s sides. He dug them in, holding Harry in place for a moment, then released them again as Harry moved back hard onto his cock.

"Fuck!" Harry shouted, as Draco suddenly thrust up to meet him, then did it again, fucking up into Harry as he pushed himself down on Malfoy’s cock. Harry fell forward onto his elbows, his forehead hitting Malfoy's collarbone and his hips continuing to piston back to meet Malfoy’s thrusts.

"Is that good?" Malfoy panted. He thrust up again, and Harry nodded his head against his chest, moving up to mouth at his neck, feeling the beat of his heart against his tongue. He could hear it again, under the slap of Malfoy’s hips and his own overheated breathing, could hear that steady powerful thrum of his heart. Harry moved one hand over the left side Malfoy’s chest, his fingers a claw as he gave up on trying to set the pace and simply panted against Malfoy’s skin and shoved his arse back as Malfoy thrust up into him.

"Tell me that’s good, Harry."

"That’s good. That’s really good," Harry moaned, struggling to think around the onslaught of stimulation as his cock rubbed against Malfoy’s taut belly, as Malfoy’s cock pushed inside him, rubbing up against his prostate.

"I’m think I’m..." He pressed his lips against Malfoy’s neck, sucking on the taut tendon there, moving up to mouth at his jaw. "I think I’m gonna come," he gasped, voice breathy, eyes scrunched shut again as he felt pleasure tingle and thrum up his spine, his cock, in the balls of his feet and his toes.

"Ahh, yes," Malfoy groaned, his voice thick and slurred with arousal. His hips faltered in their rhythm, his nails leaving brands as they dug into Harry’s hips. "I want you to come."

He wound his arms up and around Harry’s back, pulling him down against him and rolling his hips up into Harry as he moaned into Harry’s hair. Harry made a strangled sound, the sensation of Malfoy’s skin against his dick overwhelming, Malfoy’s arms holding him tight against him, pinning him there as he teetered on the brink of orgasm. Malfoy moved one hand into Harry’s hair, his breathing harsh and loud and filling the room, before he tightened his fingers and pulled.

Harry’s back tensed, fingers pulling at the sheet and knuckles white as he came all over Malfoy’s belly, moaning into his neck. He slammed his eyes shut as he spurted between them, dick throbbing. Malfoy thrust up into him one final time before he threw his head back, mouth open and fingers digging into Harry’s thigh, pulling at his hair. Harry felt warmth inside him as Malfoy’ cock twitched and he came, rolling his hips and groaning low and hard. Harry rode it out, running his lips over Malfoy’s neck, tasting the salt and sweat there as he tried to catch his breath.

"Fuck. Harry," Malfoy panted, hair sticking to his damp forehead as he blinked at the ceiling and sagged into the mattress. Harry grunted in response, a dead weight on top of him. Malfoy let go of his hair, running his fingers through it gently as they lay there, chests rising and falling heavily in the aftermath.

Harry felt himself lulled into a contented daze, his body calm and quiet for the first time in what felt like months, but was really just under a fortnight. He felt like he could fall asleep like this, on Malfoy’s chest with his face buried into his neck, but the feeling of Malfoy’s come leaking out of his arse reminded him that might not be the smartest move. He shakily pushed himself up onto his elbows, feeling Malfoy’s softening cock slip out of him. He made a face at the sensation. Malfoy grimaced up at him in sympathy, summoning his wand and cast a cleaning charm over them.

"You’ll get used to that," Malfoy said, still breathing hard. He pushed his hair off his face, making it stick out awkwardly. Harry tried not to find it endearing. He leant onto one elbow, exhausted and wanting for all the world to curl up against Malfoy’s side, but not knowing whether he should or not, how Malfoy would react. He squashed a strange wistful feeling Malfoy’s words brought up in him, as well; getting used to that implied it would be happening again. That idea made him feel a bit giddy all over again. Merlin, he was clearly far soppier than he’d ever realised, if he was getting romantic over wet spots. He shook that thought away.

His lids felt heavy as he watched Malfoy, their legs still tangled. Malfoy placed one warm palm over the flank of Harry’s thigh as he stared back. Harry breathed in deeply, then licked his lips.

"Are you..." He swallowed and tried again. "Are you staying?"

Malfoy tilted his head away slightly to better gauge Harry’s expression, hair catching on the pillow as his forehead creased.

"Are you kicking me out?" he asked plainly, after a long moment.

Harry shook his head. "No."

"Then I’d like to stay," Malfoy stated, running his hand over Harry’s thigh before lifting Harry’s leg up and off him. He reached down to gather up the blanket and pull it over them, then nestled back against the pillow. He sat up again and plumped the pillow once or twice, and then settled down once more. He gave Harry a small smile, before turning over to face away from him.

Harry nodded, confused and happy and tired right down to the core of him. He stared at Malfoy’s back, at the long line of his spine and the angle of his shoulders, before he dropped his head down onto his own pillow, then turned on to his other side as well.

He stirred restlessly, before he felt Malfoy’s hand reach back and clap him on the thigh, holding him still. Malfoy left it there. After a moment, Harry moved back an inch, until he felt the line of Malfoy’s naked back against his own. He moved again, pressing against it, and felt Malfoy hum contentedly in response. He drifted off to sleep, the room filled with the sound of Malfoy’s soft breathing and the loud patter of his heartbeat in Harry’s ear.

***

Harry woke, disoriented, to the feeling of hands sliding up his back, into his hair, and then down over the blades of his shoulders and over his ribs. He mumbled happily, warm and sleepy, as he blinked awake. This was nice, he thought, rolling his shoulders. He felt the owner of the hands hum in response.

He’d been dreaming that he was in the Gryffindor common room, sitting by the fire and watching Hermione and Ginny knit a long, deep green scarf for him. Ron had been dressed in fine black robes and a bow tie, and kept bringing Harry pumpkin pasties and damson gin. In the corner of his eye, Harry’d seen someone else, mixing a potion that had deep, mauve steam wafting off of it and curling towards the ceiling. Harry had happily watched the fumes form the shapes of women and men with enormous feathered wings before they dissipated back into nothing.

"These look better," a deep voice said, and Harry felt a long finger trail over the faded line of a marking on his back. He blinked his eyes open wide.

Malfoy. Right.

Harry swallowed and rubbed his face on the pillow, curling his arms up under it. He’d slept with Malfoy last night, he thought with a dizzy rush. It had been fucking fantastic, and now he was in bed with him. This was in itself a pretty big event, but he also realised with a start that he had managed to sleep all night. It looked like the sun was up and shining vaguely behind his thick curtains. He felt good, he noted; still, and calm, and well-rested after what felt like an age. He didn’t feel like he was going to burst out of his skin anymore. It was still there, a vague, persistent, needy feeling, but it was far from urgent. He felt normal, he thought with a rush of happiness. Merlin's tits, he felt normal.

"‘Bout time they dialled it down a notch," Harry mumbled into the pillow, and Malfoy chuckled softly in response. Harry smiled contentedly, shuffling under the blankets and the weight of Malfoy as he sat over the backs of Harry’s legs. The smile was dragged off his face, however, and down into the pit of his stomach as he remembered that those markings were the reason Malfoy was here in the first place.

"You, um." Harry brushed the hair off his face. "You probably don't need to keep doing that. If they're fading." He shifted against the mattress, as Malfoy's hands stilled.

"Do you want me to stop doing it?" he asked and Harry bit his lip as he stalled. He felt a twinge in his shoulder blades, the faintest tingle running up his spine. He rolled his eyes at the not so subtle "be honest" policy his body appeared to still be encouraging around Malfoy.

"No," he admitted.

"Then I'll keep doing it," Malfoy replied.

"You don't need to do it just because I still want it, though," Harry said, determinedly ignoring the restless feeling in the pit of his gut. "I'm getting better. You um. You really helped. Th—thank you." Harry took a deep breath, cringing at how stupid he sounded. Thank you for coming over and fucking me, Malfoy, I appreciate the favour. Let me know if you need me to help you move house some time, or you run out of sugar.

He lay on the mattress feeling stupid, and wishing he could see Malfoy's expression, could see how he was reacting to this. Maybe he was angry. Maybe he was hurt, thinking Harry was asking him to leave. Harry didn't want Malfoy to leave, not in the slightest. He wanted him to stay for breakfast, and then the night again if he wanted. He wanted to feel Malfoy's skin against his for as long as he could, in a way he could now tell he’d wanted for some time, and which had nothing to do with his newly identified Veela genealogy. It was nice being able to tell the difference, he realised, now that he could think properly for more than half a minute. Nice, but still confusing, really.

Regardless, he didn't want Malfoy to stay out of obligation. That thought sat heavy and bleak in the bottom of his chest, along with the worry that Malfoy may have already acted out of an idea that he had to do this, rather than wanted to. He’d clearly enjoyed it, at least physically, but what Harry felt seemed to run a little deeper than that.

Harry breathed in deeply, and then out again in a startled rush as the gentle press of Malfoy’s hands resumed on the skin of his back, over his shoulders. Harry made a startled noise, as Malfoy brushed the hair over his neck aside, then pressed his lips against his nape.

Harry moaned softly, then cringed in mortification, before giving up and arching his neck so Malfoy could continue kissing along the back of it, up to his ear. He took the lobe between his lips and pulled gently.

"This isn't a chore, Harry," he whispered into Harry’s ear, and Harry shivered. "I told you that last night."

Harry turned his face to the side, frowning. "I know, I just… I don't want you to think that you have to…"

"Merlin, this again. Harry, are you still having trouble believing my sincerity here?"

Harry pressed his forehead into the pillow and shrugged rather than answer. He felt Malfoy sigh above him. He drummed his fingers on Harry’s back, and then appeared to reach a decision about what to say next.

"I wonder, Harry. Do you remember what you called me at the Auror Christmas party last year?" Malfoy asked, working his fingers into a knot at the base of Harry’s neck. Harry frowned at the change of subject.

"Um." He scrunched his face up as he thought. "A six foot albino model?"

"No." Malfoy laughed and slapped his arm. "After that, idiot. On the balcony."

"Oh." Harry breathed out as he tried to recall that slightly drunken conversation. He’d been impressed by Malfoy’s composure in the face of those in the Ministry who were displeased Malfoy was even allowed to be there. They seemed to tolerate him at best, and were outright rude to his face at worst. It had raised Harry’s hackles no end, but it just seemed to glide over Malfoy. He’d shrugged elegantly and poured them both more expensive French wine, flicking the cork with his finger and thumb over the edge of the balcony, and looking for all the world as though he couldn’t have cared less if you’d paid him.

"I said something about you being...resilient, I think?" Harry said.

"Yes, that one. Good boy." Malfoy adjusted his weight slightly. "You were right that time. Wrong about the other one. I’m six one, actually, and the men in my family are just fair. I think someone cursed us in the thirteenth century, but who can remember. Anyway, you were right about resilient. It’s one of the few attractive qualities of mine I wasn’t born with, I’ll have you know," he added haughtily, and Harry snorted a laugh. Malfoy moved his lips close to Harry’s ear.

"And do you know then, Harry, how long I’ve wanted you?"

"Err," Harry managed, feeling his body flush at the words Malfoy breathed into his ear. "Within the last forty eight hours, I would guess?"

"Try again."

Harry frowned. "Um...since the Christmas party?" He guessed, propping himself up onto his elbows.

"Wrong again."

"Longer than that?" Harry asked, creasing his forehead in disbelief.

"A long time," Malfoy answered. "Much, much longer than we’ve been partners." Malfoy licked the shell of his ear, and whispered. "Long enough to need to be resilient about it. It got so I barely even noticed it anymore, if I’m honest. Go to class, want Potter. Read the paper, want Potter. Solve a case, celebrate, want Harry bloody Potter. So, if you're telling me that you want me too, then I," he punctuated this with a slow press of his hands, down to the small of Harry’s back and then up to his shoulders again, "am in."

"Oh," Harry murmured. "That’s...oh."

"Quite," Malfoy stated dryly, but his voice sounded amused. Again, Harry wished he could see his face, but then he’d have to stop Malfoy’s hands from doing those amazing things to his muscles. And Malfoy would be able to see him blushing, of course.

"You’re not just saying that?" Harry breathed out.

"What purpose would that serve?"

"Good point." Harry smiled into the pillow, feeling stupid and happy again. Malfoy leant back to run his hands up and down Harry’s back.

"So, we can keep doing this?" Harry asked.

"Absolutely. In fact, I insist on it, for your health and mine," Malfoy replied, and Harry chuckled, rubbing one eye and wondering if blushing was another Veela side effect. It was possible it was just a Malfoy side effect, actually.

"And what do we do about, uh, my Veela…ness." Harry made a face. "I mean is this gonna happen every time you get in some kind of danger?"

"I imagine so, yes. Poor saviour Potter, struggling to cope with—ow!"

Harry pulled his hand back from pinching Malfoy’s side. "And what if it’s outside, huh, or in the middle of a field operation again?" he said half-seriously. Malfoy leaned down, swinging his legs off of Harry and flipping him onto his back. He braced himself above him, then brought his face close to Harry’s.

"Then you’ll get grass stains on your knees, Potter."

Harry laughed, catching himself before he brushed Malfoy’s fringe off his face. He realised that he was probably allowed to do that now, and tucked it behind Malfoy’s ear, which earnt him a lopsided smile. Harry licked his lips, and blinked, something fluttery and strange and wonderful trapped in the pit of his stomach.

"Sounds like a health and safety nightmare," he said breathily.

"Sounds like you," Malfoy replied, leaning down and brushing his nose against Harry’s, then pulling back abruptly and getting out of bed. He stood naked in the middle of the room, looking around before he found Harry’s dressing gown slung messily over a chair.

"Now, I’m going to make breakfast. Or attempt to, considering I doubt you have anything edible in this house. Honestly, Potter, that whole wasting away look might have worked for you in first year, but let’s not revisit that." Malfoy sniffed, shrugging Harry’s dressing gown on. Harry watched with amusement as Malfoy proceeded to put his slippers on too.

"Please, make yourself at home, Draco," he said, playfully scratching at his belly and delighting in the simple joy of being able to lie still. Malfoy looked up at him as he ran his fingers through his hair, trying to neaten it.

"I am. Thank you. Now, as I was saying." He pointed at Harry. "I prescribe a full English and several pots of tea, followed by a crossword, and a walk by some kind of lake. Then, we eat at that Lebanese place you’re obsessed with for dinner, before heading back here for more of…" He looked pointedly at Harry sprawled in the tangled bedsheets. "This. Sound alright?"

Harry grinned, leaning up onto one elbow.

"That could work for me."

Malfoy smiled back, then ran a hand over his face. His mouth contorted as he tried to contain his grin, and Harry thought that maybe he wasn't the only one feeling happier about these new developments than they would rather let on. Malfoy nodded and looked down at him, a lock of pale hair falling over his face.

"I thought it might, Harry."

***