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Lucius leant on the stone balustrade that edged the small, secluded terrace, and drew with pleasure on his Havana cigar, before exhaling the scented, blue smoke out over the night-shrouded garden. The smell of tobacco mingled with the heavy scent of the roses that rambled up the wall of the house behind him, and underlying both aromas was the faint perfume rising up from the lavender bushes that had been planted along the base of the raised terrace. Across the grounds, lost in the darkness, lay woodland. An owl hooted softly, the sound carrying clearly in the still, late night, summer air.

The sounds of the party were thankfully muted here in Lucius’ little refuge, and as he drew again on his cigar, a faint smile curled the corners of his well-shaped mouth. The exhale was as much a sigh of satisfaction and relaxation as it was an expelling of smoke.

Abruptly the French door was eased open, a figure slipped through the narrow gap, and then closed the door behind it with a care to making as little noise as possible, which spoke eloquently of the interloper’s desire to escape notice.

“Blasted, bloody, fucking, sycophantic, fawning, buggering...”

Lucius could almost hear the grinding of teeth. His heart sank. His refuge had been invaded by none other than Harry Potter. Lucius stealthily changed the angle of his body to present an even more unwelcoming aspect. With any luck, the moment Potter realised this particular spot was already inhabited, he would move on and find somewhere else to vent his anger.

No such luck.

“What are you doing here?” Potter asked in a belligerent tone of voice, as if it were Lucius who was trespassing and not the other way around.

Lucius presented even more of a cold shoulder towards Potter, and ignored him.

There was a brief silence, during which Lucius desperately hoped the boy would take the hint and bugger off.

But then Harry Potter never had been very good at taking hints.

“Bit Muggle, isn’t it?” The voice had come closer. “Smoking cigars?” Potter added, as if he thought clarification was in order.

Lucius studiously ignored him.

“I mean,” Potter went on, coming to lean on the balustrade at Lucius’ side, “a pipe would be all very well for a wizard, but cigars?”

Lucius gave in. “I fail to see what business it is of yours,” he said coldly.

“None at all,” Potter said blithely. “I just thought it was odd. I mean, I’ve never seen a wizard smoking a cigar, and it’s doubly odd you smoking cigars when you’re so anti-Muggle. What are you doing out here, anyway?”

“Enjoying the peace and quiet,” Lucius said with heavy sarcasm. “At least,” he went on bitterly, “I was.”

“Shouldn’t you be inside? I mean, it must be hard to influence all those Ministry officials to do what you want them to do, from out here?”

“And you? Surely you would be able to hear the praise and adulation far better inside?” Lucius snapped back.

“I don’t come here for that,” Potter said viciously

“Then why do you come?” Lucius demanded.

“Because Ginny enjoys it,” Potter said, suddenly deflating. “She never used to be like this,” he added, almost to himself. “All dressing up in dresses and getting her hair done and such.” He stopped abruptly, as if he thought he might have said too much.

But Lucius was smiling, one of his rare, genuine smiles, that completely transformed his normally forbidding visage. “Then we have something in common,” he said. “I also come because Narcissa enjoys dressing up.”

He had turned to completely face Potter for the first time. Now they stared at each other in a rare moment of mutual sympathy.

Potter grimaced. “I guess I’d better get back before I’m missed,” he said. Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, he disappeared back through the French door; back to the party.

Lucius re-lit his cigar, which had gone out, and returned to his contemplation of the garden. Unlike Potter, he wouldn’t be missed: he hadn’t been missed for some time now.

 

The Everard-Hansons’ house had a number of out-of-the-way corners where Lucius could retire and smoke his Havanas in peace. But his particular favourite was a balcony on the second floor, the narrow doorway to which was partially hidden behind a large bust of Timothius Spelling (a late uncle of Geordiania Everard-Hanson, and benevolent bequeather of a rather handsome fortune to his one and only surviving niece).

Lucius wasn’t entirely sure if the Everard-Hansons themselves even knew of his retreat, and thus it was very galling when, no sooner had he lit his cigar, than Harry Bloody Potter slunk through the little door.

“Thought it was you,” he said by way of greeting. “Mind you, bit of give away, that hair...if you want to sneak around, I should get a hat, or dye your hair, or something.” He came to stand at Lucius’ side.

“If I was in the habit of sneaking—which I am not—then no doubt I would give the matter some thought,” Lucius said repressively. “And one might wonder what you are doing, following me about.”

There was several moments’ silence, then, just when Lucius had managed to blot Potter’s presence from his mind, the boy spoke again.

“I wondered where you were, you know...all those parties I’ve been to and no sign of you.”

There was a small part of Lucius that speculated briefly on the fact that Potter had thought about him at all. But he quashed the question that formed in his mind, and remained silent.

Potter went on. “I mean, I thought you’d be out there, mingling with the Ministry, trying to worm your way back into a position of power, but I never saw you. Now I know why, you were hiding away somewhere smoking your cigars.”

“I am not hiding,” Lucius felt obliged to point out, rather forcefully.

“No?”

“No! I am simply ...mind your own business.”

This time the silence was prolonged; but once again it was Potter who broke it. “So, you’ve decided not to get back into politics, then?”

“Quite.” Lucius felt the reply said everything it needed to.

Potter obviously disagreed. “Why? I mean, I know you were a...”

Lucius rounded on Potter, his patience at an end. “No,” he said angrily, “I am not interested in becoming involved with the foolish, Muggle-loving Ministry again, and my reasons are my own. Now, will you bugger off and leave me in peace?”

“Keep your hair on,” Potter said infuriatingly. “I only asked.”

Lucius went back to his plan of ignoring Potter, and stared fixedly out over the Everard-Hansons’ knot garden...which in daylight was a sight to behold.

Potter was blessedly silent, until he let out a long sigh. “Suppose I’d better find out where Ginny is...she’s bound to be looking for me.”

Lucius refrained from comment, and a moment later Potter slipped away.

 

Lucius’ chosen hideaway at the Chetwoods’ was a concealed corner that had been shown to him years before by the late Alick Chetwood, who was one of the only other wizards whom Lucius had known to smoke cigars. They had occupied the peaceful spot on any number of occasions.

One had to squeeze between a corner of one wing of the great house and a large holly hedge that had been formed into a topiary snake. There was only just enough room to get through, and one had to not mind the odd prick or two on the way. But once through one found a niche where the house made an odd, abrupt about-turn. The small triangle formed was bordered on two sides by high, stone walls, on the third by another holly hedge. Alick Chetwood had placed a wrought-iron bench in the space, and a stone plinth made a wonderful foot rest. And thus, a perfect, secret little bower of tranquillity and sanctuary had been formed.

And thus it was deeply irritating, to say the least, when Potter pushed his way into Lucius’ refuge.

“Fuck!” Lucius swore with uncharacteristic vulgarity. “What the bloody hell are you doing here...and how did you find me?” he demanded.

Potter squeezed himself onto the seat beside Lucius with apparent equanimity. He nodded towards Lucius’ cigar. “Smell of that,” he explained. “Followed it and it led me here.”

“Can you not find you own places to hide, Potter?” Lucius asked with a sigh.

Potter grinned. “So you are hiding, then?” Before Lucius had a chance to respond to the accusation, Potter went on. “You know all the best spots,” he explained. “You must have been doing this for years...sneaking off and having a crafty smoke.”

“Do you have some sort of agenda, Potter, following me about?” Lucius snarled. “Or have you simply decided to make it your mission in life to annoy the buggering hell out of me?”

“Neither,” Potter replied. “I just, I, well...”

He trailed off into silence, leaving Lucius wondering just what the boy was up to. Surely Potter wasn’t seeking him out for the sake of Lucius’ company? That would be too ridiculous. So, for all his denial, Potter must be up to something. Lucius frowned, staring through the haze of his tobacco smoke.

Beside him Potter sniffed. “Smells nice,” he commented, nodding towards Lucius’ cigar. “Don’t like fag smoke, that’s horrid, but this...” He sniffed again.

There followed a prolonged silence, and then Potter suddenly said savagely, “I really hate it, you know, all this ‘hail the conquering hero stuff’.”

“Tell it to someone who cares, Potter. I’m sure you can find someone out there who would have tremendous sympathy for your plight. I, however, am not in the least bit interested. So, if you want to leave, I, for one, will not stand in your way.”

Potter ignored him. “It’s so blatantly shallow, you know. I mean, they say, ‘Oh, well done, you’re so wonderful,’ with one breath, and then the next they’re asking me for some favour or other.”

“Potter, did you not hear me say I am not interested?” Lucius turned to fully face the boy, his patience run out. “Will you stop whining and please just go away and stop bothering me?” he said desperately, the desire to be simply left alone adding deep feeling to his voice.

To his amazement, Lucius saw a flash of hurt pass across Potter’s face, and then Potter stood up and was pushing his way back out of Lucius’ little sanctuary without another word.

 

Melchester Towers was a rambling sprawl of a mansion, comprising a number of different architectural styles that had been added by various members of the Aston family over the nine hundred years since they’d built the place. For the last hundred years or so, most of the side wings had been closed off, as the Astons’ fortune dwindled due to several generations of inveterate, unlucky gamblers.

Lucius’ smoking spot for parties held at the Towers was a derelict Victorian orangery. The place was still crammed with plants that had gone rampant in the humid atmosphere provided by the hot pipes that ran around the walls. A fountain trickled in the centre of the huge area, and a bench provided Lucius with a tranquil spot to sit. Often he would forgo his cigar; instead he would sit and breathe in the moist, heavy, plant-scented air that made Lucius’ normally straight hair curl at the tips.

The place was dark, secluded and the door to the glass house hard to open due to the fact that the wood had swelled in the humidity and caught on the terrazzo tiles of the floor, but Lucius had only been seated there for five minutes before a slim figure made its way between the overhanging vines.

Potter halted at the edge of the fountain clearing, his eyes on Lucius. “Would you mind...could I...join you please?” Potter asked hesitantly.

Lucius mentally gawped. Totally surprised by the polite request, he found himself saying, “If you like,” before remembering that he had come here to be on his own.

Potter advanced into the clearing, and then perched himself on the edge of the stone basin that caught the falling water. “This has to be the best place yet,” he remarked, looking around. His gaze returned to Lucius. “No cigar?” he asked unnecessarily.

“I enjoy the scent of the plants,” Lucius explained, and then wondered why he was bothering to be civil to the boy.

Potter nodded, as if Lucius’ answer made perfect sense to him.

Lucius watched Potter’s eyes scan the dark, plant-filled space, and saw him take several deep breaths.

“It’s amazing,” Potter remarked after several moments. “Has it really been left to run wild?”

Lucius nodded. “The place was built by Angelica Aston; she was a very keen gardener. Since her time none of the Astons have been the least bit botanically minded, thus the rampant jungle you see around you...I rather think I prefer it this way, to the orderly place it must have been in her time,” he added, almost to himself.

“Oh, I agree,” Potter said earnestly. “I much prefer it all wild and untamed.” His eyes abruptly returned to Lucius. “Do you mind, can I ask you a question?”

Lucius eyed the boy, then he nodded reluctantly. “If you must.”

“Do you have places you go in every house where there are these parties?”

“Pretty much.”

“Have you always?”

Lucius thought about Potter’s question. “I have always smoked cigars,” he answered, leaving Potter to draw his own conclusions.

There was a short silence, and then Potter spoke again. “Why are you hiding yourself away? Surely, even if you don’t want anything to do with the Ministry anymore, you still have friends you can talk to?”

Lucius was beginning to regret his earlier civility. He had managed to get rid of the boy at the Chetwoods’; if he had pushed Potter away here, he might have got rid of the boy once and for all. He sighed and reached for a Havana. “Perhaps I have said all that I want to.”

“What, forever?” Potter demanded, his voice full of disbelief.

Lucius shrugged and lit his cigar. “And what of you?” he countered, surprising himself when he realised that he really was interested in Potter’s answer.

Potter stared at his feet for a moment, then looked back at Lucius. “I already told you, but you didn’t want to listen then.”

So he had, Lucius remembered. “Surely it can’t be that bad?” he queried, drawing deeply on his Havana.

Potter paused before he answered. “You really want to know?”

Lucius debated with himself. “I asked, didn’t I?”

It was as if, given sudden permission to speak, the verbal dam broke. “It’s like I said, everyone is all over me, praising me, thanking me, saying how wonderful I am, then they ask if I can support some good cause they’re involved in—I did at first, you know...”

Lucius remembered, it seemed like every day the Daily Prophet had sported a headline about how Harry Potter, the Saviour of the Wizarding World, had opened some hospital wing, or new restaurant, or attended some charity ball, or endorsed a new product...he had cancelled his subscription in the end.

“...until I realised that in a lot of cases people were just using me to make money, for themselves...I wouldn’t have minded if it was for charity or something,” Potter went on.

“You should have got better management,” Lucius remarked, wondering just who was looking after the boy’s interests: not that he himself would care to manage Potter, but he had acquaintances who could do the job.

“Management?” Potter echoed. “You mean like a rock group or something?”

“I mean like someone whom many people are interested in having a part of.”

“What?”

Lucius sighed. “Look, you admit there are a lot of people who are interested in using you; they want your face or name on their particular product, or to have you involved in their particular pet project?”

“Yes,” Potter agreed slowly.

“Well then, you refer them to your manager, who will assess the request—whether it is a simple money-making scheme, or whether a charitable cause—and then decide on your availability. Charities, good causes and the like, well, your services would be free; for those of a less deserving nature, well then you make a charge, an appearance fee if you like...”

“I don’t want to make money like that,” Potter said in a scandalised tone of voice.

Lucius held up a hand. “It is, of course, entirely up to you, but there would be nothing to stop you either collecting the money yourself and then donating it to a cause of your choice, or specifying that any fees be paid directly to your charity,” Lucius explained, wondering at the boy’s altruistic nature. He himself would certainly not have sold himself cheap...hadn’t, come to think of it. He smirked quietly to himself.

“I see,” Potter said, obviously turning the idea over in his mind. “If you put it like that...and I could donate the money instead of keeping it?”

“Of course,” Lucius said, beginning to be rather bored by the whole conversation. He glanced at his watch, and suddenly, and rather fortuitously, remembered that Narcissa had wanted to leave the party early in order to go on to a rather more select gathering. “You must excuse me,” he said, stubbing his cigar out in the damp earth of a nearby flower bed and getting to his feet. “I must go.” He started making his way towards the door back to the house.

“Who?” Potter called after him.

Lucius frowned and turned back. “Who?”

“Who would you recommend...to manage me?”

Lucius gave a short, incredulous laugh. “You would take a recommendation from me?”

Potter nodded, his expression earnest.

“Then I suggest you speak to Johnny Dawlish of Dawlish and Queens: he’s expensive, but he’s experienced and won’t take advantage of you. Goodnight.”

This time it was Potter who was left in possession of Lucius’ secret smoking spot.

 

A long, drawn-out sigh was Lucius’ reaction the next time Potter intruded into his chosen smoking spot, and he surprised himself rather when he realised that it was only a half-felt sigh: he had started to expect Potter’s appearance.

But this time Potter was silent. He simply squeezed himself onto the swing seat by Lucius’ side, and then stared into the distance moodily.

Lucius may have become accustomed to Potter’s presence in his sanctuaries, but he was damned if he was going to become the boy’s agony aunt. So he too remained silent, smoking his cigar, and eventually Potter went away again.

 

He did, however, speak the next time Potter turned up. “How, by Merlin’s balls, did you find me this time?” he demanded

Potter’s expression, which had been somewhat glum, brightened. “I asked,” he explained simply.

“Asked?” Lucius echoed. “I would be interested to hear just what excuse you came up with for wanting to know my whereabouts...people will talk,” he went on, his tone more serious. “There is nothing that travels more quickly than gossip, and should it become known that you are actively seeking me out...well, people might wonder. You wouldn’t want your saintly name to become tarnished,” he couldn’t resist adding with a malicious grin.

Potter came to lean against the stone crenulations of the tower that loomed over the buildings below; he pulled a face at Lucius’ last words, but refused to rise to the bait. “Don’t worry, I was discreet.”

“Why?” Lucius found himself asking. “Why do you keep seeking me out, Potter?”

Potter’s face turned an interesting shade of red, obvious even by the only source of light: the moon.

Lucius’ eyes narrowed.

“I...it’s just...well,” Potter began to stutter. He stopped and took a deep breath. “I suppose I just find you restful to be with,” he said frankly, turning to face Lucius.

“Restful?” Lucius repeated incredulously.

Potter turned back to look out over the moonlit landscape. He shrugged. “Yeah, I know, sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it’s true. You don’t expect anything from me.”

“Aside from irritation.”

Potter turned back to him, a grin on his face. “Yeah, besides that. And be honest,” he went on, “you’ve come to expect me now. And I’m not that irritating, surely?”

Lucius refused to comment, either on the fact that he did indeed now expect Potter to find him out, or on the fact that actually, although it pained him to admit it, Lucius no longer found the boy to be irritating at all.

“How many more?” Potter asked suddenly, after several minutes’ silence.

“Unless you wish me to practice Legilimancy on you, Potter, you had better elaborate.”

“Of these bashes, how many more are there?”

Lucius counted in his head. “Five. Then there will be a short break, and then the round of Christmas parties begins.”

Potter’s face had brightened at the thought of only five more parties to attend, and had then fallen comically when Lucius mentioned the Christmas season. “Maybe Ginny will have had enough of dressing up by then,” he said, sounding as if he hadn’t much hope.

“Don’t you believe it,” Lucius said darkly. “Perhaps you had better just learn to enjoy them.”

Potter shuddered.

Lucius tossed the butt of his cigar over the battlements.

“Hey, that could hit someone,” Potter cried, leaning between the crenulations and peering down.

“So it might,” Lucius agreed gleefully, leaning forward himself to see if he could spot the red glow as it descended.

Potter let out a bark of laughter, then he sobered as a voice reached them faintly from below.

“Harry? Harry?”

“It’s Ginny. I’d better go.”

“Yes, run along, do,” Lucius said infuriatingly.

 

“I missed you,” were Potter’s opening words the next time he invaded Lucius’ peace.

Lucius raised an eyebrow, but refrained from comment.

“I searched just about every nook and cranny, went about sniffing like a bloody bloodhound for any whiff of cigar smoke, until Ginny asked me if I was coming down with something, and then I found out you weren’t even there,” Potter went on, plonking himself down on the small brocade sofa next to Lucius.

There was nothing overly secret about this particular smoking spot, but it was off one of the lesser used corridors at the Kemple-Adams’. Clarissa Kemple-Adams had shown the little room to Lucius personally and always ensured there was a fire burning in the stone hearth. It was the only light in the room, and Lucius found it a very restful and comfortable place to be. He had fallen asleep on this very sofa any number of times in the past.

Apart from the crackling of the logs burning in the small grate, silence reigned.

“Women!” Potter said suddenly and vehemently.

Lucius turned to him. “Potter, do you not have any friends?” he asked wearily.

“Of course,” Potter replied blithely, “but none like you that I can complain about Ginny to.”

“One, I am not your friend, and two, even if I were, listening to you witter on about your benighted relationship with a Weasley would be well down on my list of topics for discussion with you.”

Potter took no notice. “Honestly,” he went on, scowling. “Whoever said you can’t live with women was right, the only bit he got wrong was the bit about not being able to live without them.”

“You should have stuck to men, then,” Lucius remarked uninterestedly. Potter’s reaction startled him.

The boy skewed round to face Lucius. “What? Stuck to men?” Potter’s expression was a combination of indignation and disbelief.

A thought formed itself in Lucius’ mind. Of course, being brought up by Muggles....

“Harry!” A piercing voice was heard from the corridor outside. It was unmistakably the less than dulcet tones of Ginerva Weasley.

Harry appeared not to have heard her; he was staring intently at Lucius. “What do you mean?” he demanded.

A slow smile spread itself on Lucius’ face. “Really, Potter, don’t tell me you limited your quest for sexual enlightenment to members of the female persuasion? Tut tut.” He lounged back in his seat, enjoying the expressions chasing across Potter’s face.

The sound of doors being opened and closed reached Lucius’ ears

Lucius had almost reconciled himself to having his quiet moments interrupted by Potter, but having them invaded by a Weasley could not be countenanced. He jumped to his feet, reached down and, gripping Potter by the scruff of his neck, hauled the boy to his feet, marched him across the room, thrust him through the door, then hastily shut it.

“There you are!” Lucius heard Ginny say. “Honestly, Harry, I’ve been looking all over for you. Why do you keep wandering off? Was there someone in that room with you?” The tone had become suspicious and accusatory.

Lucius briefly considered ignominiously hiding behind the long velvet curtains. But Potter saved him, although the distracted tone of his voice made Lucius grin.

“There was no one, Ginny, I...I just went for a bit of sit down...had…had a bit of a headache. Clarry told me I could use this room.”

“Hmm.” Ginny sounded far from convinced, but the next time she spoke her voice came from farther away. “I wish you’d told me. Janus Melville wants to speak to you about an idea he’s had, I looked very stupid when I had to say I didn’t know where you were.”

 

Jenifer and Michael Brown’s firework party was one of Lucius’ favourites. He had a very secret, almost childlike love of fireworks and used every family occasion he could to employ Roquet and Bangs Pyrotechnical Inc to put on a display.

The Browns’ house was ideally suited to host such a party: when the weather was fine the guests assembled on the long stone terrace at the back of the house, overlooking a gently sloping lawn that ran down to a large ornamental lake. The fireworks were set off on the far side of the lake, perfectly arranged so that their multi-coloured sprays of light were reflected in the still water beneath. Should the weather prove inclement, then a conservatory made a perfectly adequate and sheltered viewing place.

Lucius had found a spot near the far end of the terrace, away from the crowd. If there was one thing guaranteed to ruin his enjoyment of the spectacle, it was some fool trying to talk to him—or to someone else—during the display. However, Lucius was expecting Potter when the boy slid into the shadows next to him, just as the first rocket sped skywards.

“I get it,” Potter hissed. “You were pulling my leg!”

Lucius affected ignorance. “Pulling your leg? I haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about.”

The crowd let out a loud gasp of pleasure as a rainbow chrysanthemum of colour lit up the night.

“The other night...at Clarry Kemple-Adams’.”

Lucius frowned without taking his eyes off the fireworks, and shook his head in apparent puzzlement.

“What you said,” Potter insisted, “about, well, about...doing it with men,” he finished in a hushed rush.

Lucius didn’t need to look at Potter to know he was blushing. He squashed a smirk.

Silver, sparkling rain floated down to cries of awe.

“You’re not telling me,” Potter went on, his voice firmer now, “that you’ve ever done it with another man.”

Lucius turned his face to Potter. He said nothing, but allowed one eyebrow to quirk and the corner of his upper lip to twist.

He had not lost the art of the ‘speaking look’ it seemed, as Potter’s eyes went round, and his mouth opened slightly. Looking down at Potter, Lucius surprised himself to note that the boy was not at all bad looking, now that he had filled out a bit...and those green eyes.... Lucius allowed his expression to change very subtly.

A second later the space beside him was empty as Potter scuttled back into the darkness.

Some time after the end of the display, as Lucius moved through the throngs of party guests, he debated the question with himself. Is that what he wanted? Lucius’ steps slowed. Did he really want to bed the Potter boy? A curl of warmth in his groin gave him his answer. He smiled.

“Anyone I know?” came a voice from his side.

Lucius glanced down at his wife; his smile broadened. “Oh, yes.”

“Kiss and tell?” Narcissa asked mischievously.

“Nothing to tell.”

“Ah, and does your prey know they are being stalked?”

Lucius’ grin became wolfish. “A hint has been given.”

“Oh, the thrill of the chase,” Narcissa breathed, a devilish twinkle in her eye.

“And the sweet taste of a successful hunt,” Lucius responded, a sudden image of Potter, naked and wanton in his bed, springing into his mind. He was surprised how much the image moved him.

Narcissa must have noticed something in her husband’s expression. “Be careful, Lucius, my love, one of these days you’re going to fall.”

Lucius’ attention went back to his wife. “I fell the day I set eyes on you, my sweet,” he said gallantly.

Narcissa’s laugh peeled out, causing heads to turn in their direction. “Fiddlesticks!”

But Lucius noticed a soft look in his wife’s eyes, and he drew Narcissa’s arm over his, and led her towards the exit.

 

Lucius fully expected Potter to avoid him at the next social event on the calendar, so he was not at all surprised when he remained the sole occupant of his smoking sanctuary. However, rather fortuitously, this particular haven had the added advantage of being a small room that actually overlooked the main ballroom, disguised behind a circular stone filigree through which the room’s occupants could observe the goings-on below without notice. Lucius supposed it had been constructed with the young maidens of the house in mind—back in the days when one had to be of a certain age before one could be formally introduced into society. Of course, he— and certain of his associates—had used the room for other spying purposes in the past, but now he was the only one left who had been in on the secret.

From his elevated vantage point, he could clearly see Potter trying desperately not to look as if he was searching the room for someone...a self-imposed task at which he was obviously failing, if the vicious dig in Potter’s ribs by Miss Weasley was anything to go by. Plainly she did not appreciate Potter’s distracted air.

He lit a cigar, and watched the boy’s eyes wander around the room, until they fell on Narcissa and a bunch of her cronies. Potter started, and glanced quickly over his shoulder as if expecting Lucius to have crept up behind him. Then Potter went still, a moment later his nose had lifted and Lucius could see the boy was sniffing the air. Lucius smiled, and his smile became a grin when Potter turned in his direction and his eyes began to search the assembled throng. A frown descended on Potter’s face when he obviously could not locate his prey.... Lucius blew another cloud of perfumed smoke through the stone filigree.

Potter sniffed again, and then his eyes lifted until he was staring directly at Lucius’ hideaway. He smiled a very small, almost involuntary smile that he immediately squashed, and his face reddened. Then he looked quickly away, and bent himself to the job of giving his undivided attention to the Weasley chit.

So, Lucius thought to himself, he had not been wrong. Over the intervening time between the Browns’ party and this one, Lucius had reflected on his meetings with the Potter, and had put two and two together and come up with a rather interesting answer. Lucius remembered a certain blush when he has asked Potter just why he was seeking Lucius out. And there had been something in the boy’s expression, that night at the Kemple-Adams’, something behind the obvious dismay; perhaps a hint of well-buried interest, curiosity maybe, and not a small amount of desire.

If Lucius was any authority on the subject—and he would challenge anyone who might suggest he wasn’t—then he would say that Potter had been seeking him out not because Lucius made no demands on him—although that might be what Potter told himself—but more because he was attracted to Lucius.

Why else would he be courting the certain censure of his peers and his friends by actively choosing to spend time with an ex-Death Eater and a man who, although now tolerated by society, was certainly not its favoured son as he had once been?

Although Lucius was content for Potter to keep his distance for a while, he made a point of descending from his eyrie when he saw Potter and the Weasley girl heading for the buffet room, and thus he was able to surprise a vivid blush and a dropped sandwich from Potter when the boy turned from the long tables and found Lucius right behind him.

Lucius deftly kicked the sandwich beneath the table before Potter could bend to pick it up. “I do beg your pardon, Mister Potter,” Lucius apologised. “I didn’t mean to disconcert you.” He could see the pulse beating wildly in Potter’s neck and resisted a sudden, reckless urge to place a sucking kiss on the spot.

Potter managed to regain some of his composure. “That’s okay, Mister Malfoy.” He gave a half grin. “It takes more than that to disconcert me!”

“Really?” Lucius dropped his voice so that only Potter could hear him. “Some might take that as a challenge, Mister Potter.” He fixed his eyes on the boy, and watched as Potter took a shuddering breath.

“Might they?” Potter responded, equally softly. And Lucius could have sworn a ‘come hither’ look flashed momentarily in Potter’s ridiculously green eyes.

“They might.” Lucius smiled, and then turned away as the Weasley girl bore down on them.

 

The costume ball at the Chetwoods’ was the last social gathering of the season before the short break that preceded the round of Christmas parties. In the past Lucius had used the legitimacy of disguise as an excellent excuse to work his Machiavellian machinations under cover; now he had another quest in mind.

The summerhouse was cold; broken panes of glass let in a chill wind which stirred the dead leaves that carpeted the floor. But it was also remote from the house and secreted behind a high hedge. Lucius would have defied even Potter to have found him here without the use of magic—which was, of course, strictly forbidden at these gatherings—if he hadn’t made quite sure that the boy had seen him leave the party.

The summerhouse door opened with a protesting squeak, Potter forced himself through the narrow gap, and then pushed the door shut behind him.

He turned and looked at Lucius.

Lucius raised an eyebrow, as his own eyes took in the full splendour of Potter’s ensemble.

“Oh don’t,” Potter groaned, noticing Lucius’ expression, “it was Ginny’s idea…I did all I could to talk her out of it.”

Potter’s costume consisted of a tall, conical white hat with two black pom-poms on the front, a voluminous white shirt, also graced with black pom-pom “buttons”, and wide, white trousers. Around his neck was a floppy ruff. His face was painted white, except around the eyes where black makeup had been thickly applied, and his lips had been reddened.

“I frequently find,” Lucius said, “that it is often best to let women have their way…of course, there are exceptions. I well remember a year when Narcissa took it into her head to come as a Little Bow Peep; I had to be rather forceful in my objections to dressing as the ‘lost sheep’.” It was a lie, but it served its purpose in raising a laugh and, from his expression, making Potter think that perhaps his own Pierrot costume wasn’t so bad after all.

Lucius was seated on a rather rickety wooden garden seat that had most certainly seen better days. Potter now eyed it doubtfully. “Is that thing safe?”

“I think we might trust it to hold together for just a little longer,” Lucius said with a smile, shifting slightly to make room for Potter to squeeze next to him.

Potter let his eyes wander over Lucius’ own costume as he took his seat. “You look ho…erm, really good.” There was a moment’s silence during which time Potter continued to scrutinise Lucius’ outfit, a frown forming. “If you don’t mind me asking, what are you meant to be?”

Lucius reached to floor beside the bench and lifted into sight a white crown. He set it on his head, and turned to fully face the boy.

After a moment Potter’s face cleared and he smiled. “Chess! The White King.”

“Indeed.” Lucius removed the crown. He was rather pleased with his costume. Close-fitting, white leather trousers showed off his well-muscled, long legs—not to mention rather snugly cupping his not inconsiderable package—and the full white shirt, laced at the throat and caught in at the cuffs, was sheer enough to tantalise the viewer. A heavy, white velvet long cloak, trimmed with ermine—which might have been considered over-warm in the enormous hall where two huge fires burnt in grates the size of small rooms at each end—kept out the cold night air.

There were several moments’ silence and then Potter blurted, “I’m finding this all a bit…odd, you know. You and me,” he added, wafting a hand in the air between the two of them.

“That’s...understandable…Harry. All I will say is that I would very much like to take you to bed…” Lucius picked his words with care. “But I would not wish you to do anything you are not entirely happy with.” He turned again to face the boy.

Harry skewed round in his own place—accompanied by some rather alarming groans from the seat—to face Lucius; his eyes searched Lucius’ face, and his tongue came out to moisten his lips.

It was all the invitation Lucius needed. He leant forward and placed a chaste kiss on Harry’s mouth.

For a moment Harry froze, and then he made a low moan and began to return the kiss with fervour.

When they finally broke apart, even Lucius was short of breath; Harry was actually panting, his eyes wide and bright.

Lucius swallowed and tried to collect his thoughts; the kiss had affected him more than he cared to admit. He reached into a pocket secreted in the lining of his cloak, and brought out a small rectangle of white card. On one side was printed an address, on the other Lucius had written a time and a date.

Lucius bent to collect his crown and his white, bejewelled mask, and then got to his feet, handing the card to Harry as he did so. “I shall leave it up to you, Harry. This is where I shall be, and when I shall be there…if you choose to join me, I will be…most pleased.” He crossed to the door of the little summerhouse, then paused and turned back with a smile. “I should, erm, reapply your lip colour, if I were you,” he said, withdrawing a handkerchief from his own pocket and wiping at his own no doubt red-smeared lips.

Harry grinned at him and nodded.

 

Had it been any other of the lovers Lucius had invited to his little maison d’amour, he would have laid on a supper. The two of them would have enjoyed an evening of teasing and flirting, building the sexual tension between them until finally they would have adjourned to the bedroom to wile away a few hours.

But Lucius would have to treat Harry differently. He was aware that it wasn’t so much an affair the boy was after, but a way to satisfy his curiosity. Lucius had a feeling that anything that smacked of simple enjoyment of the situation might well drive Harry away, so, although the fire was lit in the small sitting room, there was no repast laid on the little table for two and when the house-elf showed Harry into the room, Lucius was seated in an armchair, reading, and smoking one of his ubiquitous cigars.

He rose quickly to his feet to greet his guest, tossing the cigar into the fire, and inwardly smiling when Harry bid the house-elf a sincere “thank you” which left the creature bemused and surreptitiously twisting its fingers as it backed from the room.

“Harry, it’s good to see you. I’m so pleased you decided to come.” Starting as he meant to go on, Lucius drew Harry into an embrace and kissed the boy soundly. Again it took Harry a moment or two to respond to Lucius’ coaxing tongue, then he did so with enthusiasm, pushing his own tongue into Lucius’ mouth, tasting and exploring at the same time as his body pressed itself against Lucius’ taller form.

Rather reluctantly Lucius broke the kiss, then, taking Harry by the hand, he nodded towards the open bedroom door. “Shall we?”

Harry eyed the door with a rather wary expression, but Lucius simply gave the boy’s hand a gentle tug, and Harry began to follow him.

Lucius was rather good at interior design; he had assisted Narcissa with the decoration of many of the rooms at the manor. He knew when to be flamboyant, and when to be subtle. His bedroom in the little house on Chantry Square fell into the latter category. It had been decorated in shades of dove grey, with discreet accents of silver and dark sapphire blue.

Harry looked around him as he entered the room. Lucius allowed him to do so, giving Harry time to familiarise himself with his surroundings.

“It suits you,” Harry said.

Lucius was pleased. He had, in fact, designed the room to be a setting, with himself as the jewel. The colours at once highlighted him and complemented his colouring.

“I though it would be more, well, flashy,” Harry went on. “Not that I think you’re flashy,” he added quickly, a blush beginning to rise on his cheeks. “Only that, well…”

Lucius kissed him soundly before Harry could dig himself any deeper in the hole he was working on. Then he moved away and began to undress, aware of Harry’s eyes on him.

Lucius was unselfconscious about his own nakedness. Although he wasn’t in the first flush of youth, he knew his body remained firm and well muscled, and it didn’t bother him to be watched as he disrobed.

Harry was still fully clothed when Lucius laid aside the last of his garments. He watched as Harry’s eyes ran over his body, time and again returning to where Lucius’ cock was beginning to stir from its bed. Finally he said with an encouraging smile, “This tends to work better if we are both naked.”

Harry started. “Oh, oh yes.” Slowly the boy’s fingers went to the fastenings of his shirt, and Lucius turned away and busied himself with turning down the covers on the bed. Whilst he himself was comfortable putting on a strip show, he knew others found it rather unsettling to be watched as they undressed; he was sure that Harry would fall into this category. Finally, when from the corner of his eye he noticed Harry fold his pants and place them on top of the pile of his clothes, he turned back and let his own eyes run over Harry’s form.

The boy was petite, there was no other word for it, but beautifully formed. All neat lines and smooth skin. A dark ring of hair fringed each brown nipple and a black thatch of almost straight hair ringed the base of Harry’s cock. And a very nice cock it looked too: neither too big nor too small, already rising with interest, the foreskin rolling back to reveal the darker head. Lucius licked his lips.

“Come,” he said softly, climbing into the bed and patting the space next to him.

With almost hesitant steps, Harry crossed the room and then paused as he got to his side of the bed. Lucius watched the boy swallow. “I…” Harry began, before stopping and swallowing hard again.

“Harry,” Lucius said gently. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. We can simply lie here and hold each other, if that is what you want,” he went on, with the confidence of a man who knew that once he had Harry in his bed, it wouldn’t be too long before Harry was begging for everything that Lucius could give him.

Harry nodded, and, with a deep breath, slid onto the sapphire blue silk sheets.

Lucius reached out and drew Harry to him, feeling the trembles that ran through the boy’s body. His kissed Harry softly, careful to keep the boy to his side, his hands running the length of Harry’s back in a soothing caress. It wasn’t long before Harry began to melt against Lucius’ body, letting out a gasp as their cocks collided.

Lucius was fully erect now, the feeling of Harry in his arms having awakened his cock. Now their lengths slid against one another in delightful friction. He could have brought Harry off with just this action alone—the steady thrust and parry of their cocks—but Lucius had other plans for his young lover, and none of them involved Harry coming quite yet; although Lucius had an idea that Harry was going to come more than once that night if he had anything to do with it.

It had been a long while since Lucius had brought such a young, inexperienced lover to his bed—had been a long while, in fact, since he had taken anyone to his bed—but he remembered how to move things slowly and not to threaten or overwhelm.

Now he eased Harry onto his back, dropping kisses randomly on Harry’s neck and chest as he did so, alert for any signs that the boy was uncomfortable with the way things were progressing. Harry remained attentive, but pliant, and Lucius’ kisses made their way to Harry’s hard little nipples. Harry made a loud gasp as Lucius’ mouth dropped over one of the erect nubs, and Lucius wondered if this sensation was new to the boy.

“Ginny never…” Potter began, confirming Lucius’ suspicions.

Lucius had few rules in the bedroom, but now he reached up, laid a finger over Harry’s lips, and shook his head, his meaning plain: all other partners, lovers, husbands or wives were to be left at the door.

Harry obviously understood; he nodded, and an expression of something akin to relief appeared on his face, as if he was grateful for the opportunity to leave his life behind for a while and forget it all in this beautiful room.

Lucius recommenced teasing Harry’s nipples, testing until he found the intensity of touch that had Harry keening his enjoyment and arching his chest, forcing the excited nubs further into Lucius’ sucking mouth. Harry’s fingers had been digging into the bed sheets; now, all of a sudden, it was as if he had given himself permission to touch Lucius, for his arms came around Lucius’ back and the fingers that had been scrabbling at the sheets began to dig into Lucius’ shoulders.

Lucius decided to up the ante. His mouth left Harry’s nipples and began to travel over Harry’s firm, toned stomach—still faintly tanned from the summer’s sun—down to where the thatch of hair began. He paused there, dropping light kisses along the fringe, gauging Harry’s reaction to this next form of play.

Harry made no sound of protest, although his body tensed.

Lucius carefully manoeuvred himself, without ceasing his kisses, so that he was lying between Harry’s spread legs, and in the perfect position to take Harry’s cock deep into his mouth.

Harry made a long, drawn out moan, his head fell back onto the plump pillows behind him, and his hips jerked, thrusting his cock deep into Lucius’ throat. Lucius’ experience saved him from being chocked by Harry’s thrust. Instead, he swallowed around Harry’s length, causing another cry from the boy.

Judging from Harry’s reactions, it wouldn’t take much more of this to bring him to his climax. Lucius was content for this to happen; it would serve to relax the boy and make him more amenable to what was to come.

He mouthed back up Harry’s length, his tongue dancing around the column of flesh, until only Harry’s cock head was left in his mouth. Lucius dipped his tongue into the slit to taste the pre-come that was already welling up.

Harry’s hands had moved to weave into Lucius’ hair; now they clutched convulsively, almost tugging the hair from its roots. He gasped an apology.

Lucius murmured a reassurance, before bending once more to his task of sending Harry into orbit.

One hand now went to rest on Harry’s hip, ready to forestall any involuntary thrusts; the other joined his mouth on Harry’s cock, the fingers curling and rubbing around the length, dipping every now and then to tease and roll the boy’s balls in their delicate sac. When doing this, Lucius also allowed his fingers to roam further: to rub at the tender place behind Harry’s balls, the spot over which lay Harry’s centre of pleasure, and further, to delicately brush towards the puckered entrance to Harry’s body, acclimatizing the boy to being touched there, in a place Lucius had every reason to believe no one had touched him before.

The muscles in Harry’s thighs were trembling; Lucius could feel them quiver against his cheeks every time he sank his mouth down Harry’s cock, as if Harry were straining to hold back his orgasm.

Lucius sucked up Harry’s cock, and then blew against the saliva slicked length. Harry’s cock jumped and Lucius could see that the boy was biting his lip.

“Relax, Harry,” he said softly. “Just let yourself come.”

Harry made a small moaning sound as Lucius ducked once more to reclaim Harry’s cock. The next moment Lucius felt the first spurts of come hit the back of his throat. He swallowed every drop of Harry’s offering, then licked Harry’s member dry.

He moved back up the bed and took Harry into his arms. The boy was still shaking, his eyes closed and his breath coming in shuddering gasps. Lucius held him silently, until Harry’s breathing steadied, the trembling lessened, and Harry’s eyes opened.

Lucius smiled at him. “Wait a moment,” he said, then slipped out of bed and padded naked out of the room to fetch a glass of the spiced wine that had been warming by the fire in the sitting room.

When he re-entered the bedroom, Harry seemed a little more composed, but he took the proffered glass gratefully and drank deeply. “Hmm, that’s good,” he said, licking his lips. His voice only shook a little and Lucius was pleased to see that Harry’s eyes held no trace of regret.

Lucius had brought a glass of the wine for himself, and now he sprawled at Harry’s side and sipped it. His eyes raked over Harry’s body, and his own neglected cock reminded him that it had yet to be pleasured. ‘All in good time,’ Lucius said to himself; he knew better than to try and rush a novice such as Harry. Slowly and gently, with patience, was the way forward, ‘but,’ Lucius promised his twitching cock, ‘you shall have him in the end.’

Before Harry could finish his wine, and before he could perhaps decide his curiosity had been satisfied enough, Lucius took the glass from the boy and placed it with his own on the bedside table. Then he bundled Harry onto his back and hungrily seized his mouth.

There was no reticence in Harry’s reaction this time; he met Lucius’ thrusting tongue with his own, arching up and pressing his body against the one above him, his pleasure and arousal obvious from the hardening cock that pressed against Lucius’ thigh.

All Harry’s shyness seemed to have evaporated; left him as surely as his come had surged from his body earlier.

Lucius prepared the boy until, as Lucius had rather smugly predicted to himself, Harry was begging for Lucius to fuck him. Lucius was more than happy to comply; his own cock was achingly hard and his body finely sheened with sweat. He started to roll Harry onto his stomach, but Harry resisted, and, for an awful moment, Lucius thought Harry had changed his mind, but then the boy said, “Can’t we do this face to face?”

Lucius was puzzled, but he smiled. “If you wish, it may not be so comfortable for you, but if that is what you want....”

“It is,” Harry said vehemently.

“Any reason?”

Harry looked embarrassed for a moment and then he said, “If I can see your face...well, then I’ll know.”

Lucius wasn’t sure what Harry meant, but he didn’t mind humouring him.

He positioned himself between Harry’s splayed thighs, his eyes fixed on the vivid green ones that stared up at him.

“Bend your legs,” he instructed.

Harry complied.

“Now get your knees as close to your chest as you can.”

Again Harry did as he was told.

Lucius ran his hands up the undersides of Harry’s smoothly muscled thighs, revelling in the feel of the warm skin beneath his fingers. Looking down, he could see the entrance to Harry’s body, clenching slightly beneath his gaze.

“Can you rest your legs on my shoulders?” he asked. “Or you can wrap them around me, if that is more comfortable.

Harry paused, and then his legs went around Lucius’ sides and he could feel the boy’s heels on his buttocks.

Taking his weight on his knees and one hand, Lucius reached down to guide his cock to Harry’s waiting entrance, then pressed the head of his cock against the ring of muscle.

He had prepared Harry so well that there was little resistance to his intrusion; his cock head slipped into Harry’s tight passage, and Lucius had to stop and take a breath. It felt so good, so very...right, somehow, and it took all Lucius’ self control not to come like an overexcited teenager.

Inch by inch he eased himself into Harry’s body—angling his cock so that it stimulated Harry’s sweet spot—until he was fully sheathed in the boy’s slick, pulsing heat. Looking down, Lucius saw that Harry had his eyes closed. His bottom lip was caught between his teeth and his face wore an expression that spoke volumes about the pleasure he was feeling.

After giving Harry a moment or two to adjust to the feeling of being filled, Lucius began to thrust: small increments at first, a slow rhythm that was more a rocking motion than anything else. But he couldn’t keep the slow pace up for long; his own body was crying too loudly now for its release and Lucius began to increase the depth and speed of his thrusts.

He allowed himself to fall forward onto Harry’s body, trapping the boy’s cock between their sweat slick bellies. His arms went around Harry, pulling the boy tight against him. Harry’s own arms had joined his legs around Lucius’ back and he clung to Lucius as if he were trying to meld their bodies together.

And now Lucius could feel his orgasm approaching. His vision went blurred at the edges and all he could focus on was Harry’s face. The green eyes opened, and Harry gazed into Lucius’ eyes. Harry was panting now, gasping each time Lucius thrust deep inside him, and the sight took Lucius to the edge.

He crushed his mouth down onto Harry’s, sucking the boy’s tongue into his mouth.

It was Harry’s cry of attainment and the feel of the boy’s come pooling between their bodies that pushed Lucius into his own orgasm. His drove his length one last time into Harry’s body, and then stilled as his cock pumped itself empty into Harry’s warmth. His whole body shook with the intensity of his climax and he held Harry even tighter as if to anchor himself.

Harry too was shaking, his fingers digging into Lucius’ back and his heels hard against Lucius’ buttocks, his channel still pulsing around Lucius’ softening cock.

It really had been too long, Lucius told himself as he carefully withdrew from Harry’s body. It was the only explanation he could think of to explain one of the most intense orgasms he had ever experienced.

He rolled off and collapsed onto his back by Harry’s side, his breathing still ragged and his chest heaving, heart pounding and the muscles in his buttocks and thighs aching. He reached out for Harry, and drew the boy into his side. Harry nestled against him, laying his head on Lucius’ shoulder, and Lucius found that he was glad of the boy’s warmth, even though his own body still dripped with sweat.

 

“Lucius?”

Lucius had been dozing, but the sound of his name on Harry’s lips roused him into full consciousness. Even in the throes of passion, Harry had not used Lucius’ given name; now Lucius was surprised how good it felt to hear Harry say it.

“Yes?” he responded.

“You’re not...you’re not just going to walk away in the morning, are you?”

Lucius never spent the night with his lovers, but even as he heard Harry ask the question, he realised that the boy was going to be the exception to his rule, and that, actually, the prospect of waking up with Harry in his arms gave him an almost forgotten feeling of contentment.

“I mean,” Harry went. “This isn’t just going to be a one night stand, is it?”

Lucius was shocked. He had been so convinced that Harry was here in his bed purely to satisfy his curiosity, that the thought that Harry wanted more...that he wished to extend his relationship with Lucius beyond this one night of passion...it rocked Lucius to his core.

But even as he turned Harry’s words over and over in his mind, his voice was saying, “Of course not, Harry. I have enjoyed our time together far too much to be content with just one night of your company. Besides,” he added, his hand sliding down Harry’s back and coming to rest on one of the boy’s buttocks, “perhaps next time we meet you will have gained the confidence to reciprocate, shall we say?”

Harry shifted, his hand coming to rest, palm down, on one of Lucius’ nipples. “Oh yes,” he agreed, his voice now heavy with sleep. “I’m glad,” he added, “I hated the thought that we would only have this...one...night.” His breathing slowed, and Lucius realised that Harry had fallen asleep.

Lucius pulled up the covers, folding them carefully around Harry’s sleeping form, then, closing his own eyes, Lucius got himself comfortable, tucking Harry more closely against his side. As he was drifting towards sleep, Harry’s words came back to him, “Then I’ll know,” and Lucius suddenly understood what it was the boy had meant. He had wanted to see Lucius’ expression as he came; to read what lay there; to know if Lucius was honest in his reactions. To know if Lucius felt anything.

And he had, oh, how he had. Lucius refused to analyse what or why, but he had felt.

Lucius heard the little carriage clock in the sitting room chime two o’clock. He let out a deep breath he had been unaware he was holding, felt himself relax completely, and then, lulled by the sound of Harry’s soft breathing, he fell asleep.

He slept better than he had for years.