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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001
“Fillywig,” Draco said to the door. He stepped through it, began to shed his coat, and then froze to the spot: After two days of absence Potter was sitting at his desk and flipping through a stack of parchments, forehead furrowed in concentration. He glanced up at Draco and nodded in greeting as if nothing were amiss.
“Feeling better?” Draco asked as he crossed to stand before Potter's desk. Potter looked pale and tired, as if he hadn't eaten or slept well in days. Except for a freshly-healed cut on his cheek, Draco could almost believe he had really been sick.
Potter shrugged. “More or less.” He didn't meet Draco's gaze, and he looked like he was uncomfortable with Draco's proximity.
“Right,” Draco said. He looked over at Weasley, who had his feet propped up on his desk, reading the Daily Prophet. “Weasley was so concerned about your health that he took most of yesterday off.”
“Actually, I wanted to shag my wife,” Weasley said from behind the newspaper. “The doctor finally gave us permission.”
“You had to get permission?” Draco asked, incredulous.
“Yes. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sick to death of blow jobs.”
“Ron!” Potter looked horrified.
Draco smirked. “Too much information, Potter?”
Potter scowled at him. “Did you two get any work done while I was gone?”
They spent the morning discussing ideas they'd started working on the week before, but it was clear that Potter's and Weasley's hearts weren't in it. They both looked tired, even defeated. Draco found himself watching the way they looked at each other, the subtle means by which they communicated. They were both thinking about something else entirely, which frustrated Draco to no end. He'd been made to feel welcome here at first, but it was now clear that it had all been a façade. It wasn't real. They didn't trust him with whatever it was they were really doing.
Potter and Weasley went for their daily run, which would have struck Draco as odd if he'd believed Potter had actually been ill for two days. He made sure he wasn't there when they returned, spending nearly two hours in a nearby Pret café and reading a book on ancient potions he'd got from the library.
His mind kept wandering back to the events of Saturday night. After reading the same page three times without understanding what it said, he gave up and closed the book. He had spent much of Sunday lazing about his hotel room and thinking about Potter, wondering if Potter was thinking of him as well. He'd even sent a note through the enamel box Potter had given him, but never received an answer.
He just needed to get Potter alone. He was desperately curious to see if there was still a spark of connection between them. He'd been sure of it on Saturday.
He cringed at his own thoughts – this wasn't like him. He didn't worry about connections generally, nor did he care if someone liked him or not. Usually, Draco just wanted to get laid, with no strings and preferably no exchange of names. He had friends, and he didn't fuck them. Friends weren't for fucking; they were for bragging about the fucking later. He had started to think of Potter as a friend, but he'd also thought about fucking Potter. It was more than a little unsettling.
And of course, he couldn't be sure if anything that had happened between them was real at this point, or part of Potter's and Weasley's act.
:: :: :: :: ::
Potter and Weasley were arguing in frantic whispers when he returned. They looked away from each other when they saw him, and they didn't speak again for the rest of the afternoon. Draco tried to pretend he hadn't noticed, but he couldn't help feeling a bit paranoid.
Around 4:00 , Weasley gathered up his coat and briefcase. “See you in the morning, boys,” he said, and didn't wait for them to reply before disappearing into the fireplace. Draco watched Potter stare at the flames, and then made up his mind. Time to get some answers.
“Trouble in paradise?” he asked. Potter snorted and looked back to the parchment in front of him. Draco crossed to his desk and perched on the edge, eyes sliding over the cut on Potter's face. “What sort of nasty bug did you have, anyway?”
Potter looked up at him then. “I wasn't sick. I had something to take care of, that's all.”
Draco didn't let his expression change, despite his surprise at a response approaching honesty. “Did you take care of it, then?”
Potter sighed and looked away. “It doesn't matter right now.”
“It mattered to Weasley.”
“Just… drop it, Malfoy.”
“Look, I know there's something you're not telling me,” Draco said, keeping his voice as calm as he could manage. “And that's fine. I understand why you don't trust me, but–”
Potter looked back up at him. “It has nothing to do with trust. It has nothing to do with you .”
“Don't patronize me. I know when I'm being lied to.”
Potter pushed away from his desk and rubbed at his face with one hand. “No one is lying to you.”
“I suppose that's technically true. Not telling me what's really going on isn't precisely the same thing as lying outright.”
Potter stood and crossed to get his coat, and didn't respond.
“Are you leaving?” Draco asked.
Draco felt a twinge of panic wind its way into his resentment. If Potter left now, while things were tense between them, he might not have another chance to talk to him alone. “Did you… want to get a drink, or something?”
Potter sighed. “Look, Malfoy–”
“Fucking hell,” Draco groaned. He stood and ran a hand through his hair. “If this is about Saturday, don't bother. It's clear that you're uncomfortable around me now.”
Potter snorted. “It must be tiring to worry constantly about maintaining your position at the center of the universe. Do you really think this has something to do with our little discussion?”
“What was I supposed to think? One minute you're about to kiss me in a dark alley, and the next you're disapparating, leaving me–”
“I was not about to kiss you!” Potter spat, his eyes wide. “God, you're delusional!”
“And you're a horrible liar.” He stalked towards Potter, watching him shrink back against the wall. “You're attracted to me, and you don't want to be. You're trying to pretend you don't feel it.”
“I don't feel anything for you. Now back off!”
“What's this about, then?” Draco placed his hands on the wall on either side of Potter's head. Potter shrank back against the wall, as if trying to stay as far away from Draco as possible. There was something in his eyes, though, and Draco couldn't help smirking. “You're afraid, aren't you?”
Potter's lips pressed together in a thin line. “I'm not afraid of you.”
“Of course you aren't. You're afraid of this.”
Draco leaned forward until only a few inches separated their faces. He saw something flicker across Potter's face, and it made his stomach lurch. He wet his lips and smiled, lowering his voice to a hoarse whisper. “You'd love it if I just kissed you and got it over with, wouldn't you?”
“Why would I want that?” Potter asked, his voice cracking a bit.
Draco leaned closer, so close he could feel Potter's breath on his lips. “Because you don't have the bollocks to do it yourself, even though you want to. So much for Gryffindor courage.”
Potter closed his eyes – he was trembling. Draco bit his lip. He ought to do this now, take what he wanted. Potter wouldn't know what hit him. He'd probably even let Draco suck him off right here against the wall. He studied Potter's face again, staring at the way his eyelashes fluttered against his pale skin. He had tiny freckles on his nose. His glasses were dirty.
The lurching feeling came back again, and this time Draco understood what it meant: Potter was trouble, the sort of trouble Draco could not afford. He didn't need complications like this in his life, especially not from someone he wasn't sure he could trust.
Draco pushed away from the wall and turned to face the door, jaw clenched.
A hand grasped his arm and he was whirled around, so quickly it nearly threw him off-balance. Potter stared at him for a split second, wild-eyed, and then kissed him.
It wasn't much of a kiss, really – it was far too wet and frantic, utterly lacking finesse – but it made Draco's stomach drop about a foot anyway.
“There,” Potter said, pulling away and trying to smirk. “I told you I wasn't afraid.”
Draco tried to shake off his surprise. How had this situation had been twisted around so quickly? “Well… if that's the best you can do, no wonder you can't get laid.”
Potter shook his head and slung his leather jacket over his shoulder. “Good night, Malfoy.”
“It's not 4:30 yet,” Draco said, hoping he didn't sound desperate. “Are you sure you don't want a drink?”
“Maybe I have a date tonight.”
“With your right hand?”
“The left, actually,” Potter deadpanned. “Got to change it up a bit, you know.”
“Or maybe you could use a hand.”
Potter didn't miss a beat. “Maybe I could. Are you offering?”
“No. I'm just…” He stopped, flustered. He was making a mess of this.
Potter's eyes narrowed. “Just what?”
Draco took a deep breath and released it, struggling not to fidget. “I can't decide if you're serious. You know where I stand, but I have no idea about you. One minute I think you're interested in me and the next…” He was babbling like an idiot now. What was wrong with him?
“I'm not gay,” Potter said.
“Could've fooled me.”
“And I don't know where you stand. You're promiscuous as a rule, and I'm not. Do you think I want to be another tick mark on your bed post?”
“If you're not gay, what does it matter?”
“Just because I'm not gay doesn't mean I'm not interested. You're… appealing, in your own way.”
Draco shook his head in exasperation. “Thanks. I think.” They stared at each other for a moment.
“Shit,” Potter said at last. He took a deep breath. “I'm probably going to regret this, but… still want to get a drink?”
Draco accio'd his coat and beat Potter to the door.
:: :: :: :: ::
One drink turned into four, and drinks turned into dinner. They found a small Italian restaurant neither of them had been to before, and they chatted over pasta and Chianti. After avoiding sharing personal details as much as possible, Draco told Potter about his life in New York – about clubbing and his friends and his flat in Alphabet City and the way Times Square looked at night packed with people. Potter listened politely, even looking interested.
It was close to 10:00 when they stopped on the stairs in front of the Paddington Hilton. Draco bit his lip and thought about the cigarette he'd probably smoke in a few minutes, trying to work up his nerve. He'd never had to work this hard to get into someone's trousers in his life – and he still wasn't sure this was such a good idea.
“Well, good ni–” Potter began.
“Do you want to come up?” Draco blurted. Potter stared at him blankly, and Draco shrugged in a way he hoped was casual. “I mean… if you want.”
“Oh god,” Potter groaned. “I should never have kissed you.”
Draco stuffed his hands in his pockets and frowned. “It's not a big deal, Potter. You can say ‘no'. I won't be offended.”
“It's not that I don't want to.”
“You don't have to explain – I'm not a girl. You either want to fuck me or you don't.”
“It's not that… I mean…” Potter took a deep breath and looked away. “We have to work together. And maybe you can just sleep with people and pretend like nothing happened, but I can't.”
“Who says we have to pretend nothing happened?”
Potter's eyes widened. “I'm not gay, for one thing. I don't want you to think this is something it isn't.”
Draco laughed so loud that the doorman turned a suspicious eye towards them. “God, Potter, you really are naïve. I'm offering you one thing – sex. Really fantastic sex, with no strings. If you want it, great. If not, stop wasting my time.”
Potter looked utterly torn. “I… I should go home.”
“Then go,” Draco said, turning towards the revolving doors. “Go jerk off by yourself.” He pushed through the door and didn't look back.
He walked across the lobby to the lift, rode it to the ninth floor, and keyed his door open. He stripped out of his clothes and crawled under the duvet in the darkness. He'd intended to wank, but he didn't want to now.
It was for the best that Potter had said no. Draco never let anyone get under his skin like this, but Potter had done it without him even realizing it was happening.
“I am so, so fucked,” he whispered into the darkness.
There was a sound like a knock at the door. Draco opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. Had he imagined it? After a moment, he heard it again.
He got up and crossed to the door. He looked through the peephole – sure enough, Potter was standing there in the corridor, looking more disturbed than he had done downstairs. “What?” Draco grumbled.
“It's me, Harry. Can I come in?”
Draco sighed and unlatched the door. He opened it enough to peer through and frowned at Potter. “What do you want?”
Potter rolled his eyes. “To come in? Please?”
Draco stepped back and held the door open. Potter stepped past him into the dark room. He didn't seem to notice that Draco was naked, so Draco made no move to cover himself up. Let the bastard be uncomfortable.
Potter stopped in the middle of the room and looked around at the mess. Draco had woken up late that morning and strewn clothes everywhere in his haste to get dressed. The maids had just cleaned around it. Potter's eyes settled on the rumpled duvet.
Draco closed the door and leaned back against it, waiting. “Well? Did you want to explain your rejection a bit more, then?”
Potter turned to look at him, but didn't reply. In the dim light through the window, the expression on his face looked fierce and determined – a combination Draco wished he didn't find so hot.
Draco sighed, glad for the darkness. “If your intention was to get me to make a fool of myself, you've won. So please fuck off and leave me alone.”
Potter stalked toward him then, his face twisted with something resembling anger. Draco swore under his breath – his wand was across the room, of course. He stepped forward, but he was pushed back against the door so hard his head snapped against it.
And before he'd even registered the pain, Potter was kissing him.
It was a few seconds before Draco found himself capable of responding. This wasn't the rough, hasty kiss of that afternoon – it was one of the best kisses Draco had ever experienced. He melted against the door, his hands snaking up under Potter's leather jacket to tangle in his shirt. One of Potter's hands was in his hair, grasping the back of his head and pulling him closer; the other clenched his shoulder so tightly it hurt.
Draco moaned into Potter's mouth, nearly overcome with the sensation of Potter's tongue sliding against his, of the feeling of a leather and denim-clad body pressed against him, of being so utterly naked and vulnerable. It was the most erotic thing he had experienced in a long time.
Potter shifted against him, an unmistakable erection in his jeans. Draco had grown half-hard from the kiss, but the knowledge that Potter was so aroused too sent him the rest of the way. This was why Potter had come back: for Draco.
Draco pushed off the door and backed Potter to the bed, working to unfasten the fly on his jeans as they moved. Potter stumbled backwards against the mattress, breaking their kiss. Draco tugged Potter's jeans down, but they wouldn't come off over the boots he wore. It didn't matter, though – Draco pushed him to sitting and knelt between his thighs, staring at his cock.
It was bigger than he'd expected: somehow he'd always imagined Potter's heroics were compensation for other things lacking. Of course, compared to Weasley, they were all of them small. He chanced a look upwards, and saw that Potter was watching him, eyes wide.
“You don't have to–” he began.
“Are you kidding?” Draco replied. He leaned forward and licked the head of Potter's cock. When he blew across the wet stripe he'd made, he heard Potter suck in a breath. He couldn't help but grin as he trailed the tip of his tongue down the underside, planting a wet kiss at the base.
Draco loved sucking cock, and he knew he was good at it. Potter was whimpering by the time he finally wrapped his lips around the head. He slid down as far as he could, steadying Potter's dick with his hand, wriggling his tongue and sucking, and Potter shuddered as he moved back up.
He took his time, wanting to make this as good as he possibly could. Potter's shackled ankles were going to be a problem soon, though. He fished his wand off the bedside table and managed to concentrate enough to cast spells to remove Potter's boots and jeans.
Potter didn't seem to notice. He leaned back on his elbows, his thighs splaying and his head falling back. “Oh, god, you're good at that.”
Draco pushed his thighs apart further and came off long enough to say, “It's about to get better.” He guided his wand under Potter's balls with one finger and brushed it against his arsehole. Potter tensed beneath him, and Draco made a shushing noise. “Trust me,” he said, then pressed the tip of his wand just inside.
He hadn't had a chance to use these spells for a while, as he'd been on a Muggle kick lately. The look on Potter's face just afterwards was priceless. Draco swallowed his cock again and didn't wait to see what it became when he replaced the wand with one finger. The lubrication spell eased the way, and he quickly found what he was looking for. He timed the strokes of his finger with the movement of his mouth, listening to the sounds Potter was now making beneath him. He pressed another finger into Potter's arse.
He felt the tension in Potter's body a second before the hand in his hair tightened. Draco moaned before he could help himself – this moment, just when he was about to make someone come, was always erotic. He was never sure if it was because he liked the way it felt when someone came in his mouth, or if he liked the way a cock got impossibly harder just before orgasm, or if it was just the feeling of having such power over someone else, but it never failed to send a jolt of pleasure to his groin.
Potter gasped as he came, almost as if he couldn't manage any words at all. Draco kept fucking him with fingers as he swallowed and sucked him clean.
“Oh, fuck,” Potter mumbled, one hand over his eyes. “That was… god.”
“Scoot back a bit,” Draco said, and Potter complied, Draco's fingers still in his arse. Draco knelt on the mattress between his splayed legs and whispered, “I want to fuck you.” He twisted his fingers and watched Potter's face.
“I… okay.” Potter looked a bit pale.
Draco removed his fingers and positioned his cock. The lubrication spell was renewed with a single word, and he pushed forward. Potter gasped.
“Push back,” Draco told him. “It helps.” Potter nodded, but he didn't look any more comfortable. Draco paused halfway in and stroked Potter's thigh. “Getting better?”
“Sort of,” Potter said through his teeth. “Maybe not. I thought this was supposed to feel good.”
“Most people expect it to hurt.”
“I assumed people wouldn't do it if it hurt.”
“You'd be surprised,” Draco said with a grin. “It will feel good, though. Try to relax.”
After a moment, he felt Potter relax a bit, so he pushed forward again. Potter was gloriously tight and hot, and it was all Draco could do not to fuck him outright. He wanted this to be good, though – he might not get another chance, and he certainly wouldn't if Potter didn't like it.
“Okay?” he asked, now panting himself.
Potter nodded a few seconds later and Draco started to move as slowly as he could bear. He kept his eyes fixed on Potter's face, trying to find a rhythm that would feel good for him. He experimented with the angle until he saw Potter's expression change to one of surprise.
“Told you,” he whispered. He worked harder then, pulling Potter's hips up off the bed for leverage.
“Oh god,” Potter gasped, his eyes flying open.
“You like that?” Draco was sweating now, but he didn't care. Potter's responding groan was punctuated by the sound of their bodies slapping together. “I'm… I'm getting too close,” Draco whispered, closing his eyes. “I'm sorry.”
“No, it's fine.”
Draco leaned forward, pushing Potter's thighs into his chest. He braced himself on his hands and pounded into him.
The world narrowed down to the sensation that was building in his groin. He heard Potter panting beneath him, occasionally making a small sound that could have been either of pain or of pleasure. He wondered if he was hurting Potter, and then his orgasm hit him so hard he didn't care about anything else.
He collapsed on top of Potter afterwards, his ears still ringing. It was a moment before he realized one of Potter's hands was on his back, sliding against his sweaty skin. Potter still had his shirt on, which felt odd against his bare chest.
Draco pushed himself up, feeling awkward. It had all happened so quickly, and he had no idea what to expect next. He stretched out beside Potter and risked a glance at his face.
Potter was staring back at him, eyes dark.
“Well,” Draco said.
“Well.” Potter's expression was guarded, even a bit uncomfortable.
“Are you all right?”
Potter looked at the ceiling. “I can't stay. You know, work tomorrow.”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “We work at the same place, you know.”
“I don't want to impose. You made it clear that this was just sex, after all.”
Draco pressed his lips together, already regretting those words. “Yes, but it could be more sex. It's not even midnight yet.”
Potter made a sarcastic sound. “I don't think my arse could take it.”
“There are spells for that,” Draco quipped, forcing himself to grin.
Potter sat up and glanced around for his clothes. “I do need to go.”
Draco watched him dress in the darkness, feeling more and more awkward. He was usually the one who was leaving as quickly as possible. Was that how Potter felt about what had happened? Draco frowned.
“I guess I'll see you in the morning?” Potter was pulling his jacket on.
“Yes, tomorrow,” Draco replied, pulling the duvet around him.
Potter nodded and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “Right. Tomorrow.” He turned to leave.
“Potter?” Draco asked. Potter turned around, and Draco took a deep breath before continuing. “Why did you change your mind?”
Potter hesitated a moment, and Draco wasn't sure he'd understood the question. He shrugged and gave an awkward smile. “I was afraid you wouldn't ask again.”
Draco smiled. “I don't give up so easily.”
Potter ran a hand through his hair. “And I was horny as hell besides.” He winked at Draco and disapparated.
:: :: :: :: ::
Thursday, 1 February, 2001
The next day passed as though the previous night hadn't happened.
Potter and Weasley did most of the talking during their morning meeting, and pretended not to notice that Draco was unusually quiet. Potter didn't avoid looking at or speaking to Draco, and he didn't seem to feel awkward about any of it.
Draco, on the other hand, wanted to scream. He couldn't look at Potter without thinking about how his face had looked when Draco was inside him, or hear his voice without remembering his moans of pleasure when Draco was sucking his cock. Draco's thoughts kept drifting into fantasies, which shifted into worrying about whether he'd ever get a chance to fuck Potter again.
He finally excused himself to the toilet and stared at his reflection in the mirror over the sink, trying to regain control. He nver behaved like this. Sure, there was the occasional fantasizing after a particularly good night of sex with a hot bloke, but he never felt awkward or uncertain afterwards. He was always the confident one, the one in control, unemotional, and aloof when others were clingy.
A horrible thought struck him as he washed his hands: Was he actually falling for Potter? He winced and looked away from his reflection.
Potter and Weasley stopped whispering and moved away from each other when he opened the bathroom door. Draco gritted his teeth and crossed to his desk. His entire presence here was a joke. Maybe that was why Potter had come back last night – to fuck him into submission. That was all he was good for, wasn't it?
An hour later, a slip of parchment appeared on top of the stack of notes he'd been re-reading. Written on it in a messy scrawl were the words, You said last night that there were spells?
Draco stared at it for a few seconds before looking up to see Potter scribbling intently on a large roll of parchment. He didn't look at Draco.
Draco smiled before he could stop himself. He wrote down two spells along with a short and discreet explanation of what each did, then tapped the note with his wand. It disappeared.
A few minutes later, Potter headed to the toilet. When he came back, he looked significantly more relaxed.
Draco watched him for a while, chewing absently on the end of his quill. If he were honest with himself, he had to admit he'd always found Potter fascinating when they were in school. He'd found him annoying and obnoxious as well, but if he hadn't always been surrounded by his sycophants, who knew? Maybe they could have been – well, not friends, perhaps, but maybe not enemies either.
He glanced to Potter's right and saw Weasley staring back at him. Draco looked down at the book on his desk again.
Weasley watched Draco off and on for the rest of the afternoon. It made Draco so self-conscious that he was unable to concentrate. Did Weasley know what had happened? Had Potter told him? Maybe it was obvious.
“I'm leaving,” Draco said around 4:00, standing and packing a few books into his bag. “See you tomorrow.” He felt Potter's eyes on him as he left, but he didn't turn back.
The walk back to the hotel seemed longer than usual. It was a rare stunning day, cool and crisp, the sky mostly clear. Draco wound his red scarf around his neck again in defiance of the sun. The weather had no right to be so lovely when he felt like shit.
He fell onto his bed and spent a good ten minutes staring at the ceiling, as he'd done after Potter had left the night before. He closed his eyes and let his mind drift back to the moment Potter had kissed him. He still had a tender spot where his head hit the door.
He couldn't help feeling bitter. Despite what Potter had said about not being able to just have sex with no strings, he'd been fine this morning. Draco had been the one pining away like a schoolgirl.
“Stop,” he told himself, sitting up. This was ridiculous. He was acting like an idiot.
Besides, if he didn't do something soon, Potter and Weasley would shut him out of this enterprise altogether. He might not have minded two weeks ago, but it was personal now. It wasn't just a job for his father any more.
He stood and crossed to the desk, sifting through a stack of parchments and books borrowed from the London Library of Magic. He picked up the article from the American professor and considered reading it. There had been something in the abstract about an ancient potion, and he'd been reading books on old magic.
Something shimmered to his right, drawing his eye – the enamel box Potter had given him. He'd forgotten about it. He opened the lid to see a slip of parchment inside.
You left before I had a chance to ask if you wanted to do something tonight.
Draco stared at it, feeling a flicker of something he couldn't name. He should tear the parchment into tiny pieces and send it back. He should throw it into the rubbish bin and ignore it. He should definitely not respond. If he spent another night with Potter, he doubted he could stop himself from falling for him.
He paced the room for ten minutes before he finally picked up a pen.
:: :: :: :: ::
Potter's flat was small and sparsely furnished, but it was in an expensive neighborhood. Draco felt awkward as he stood in the small kitchen, watching Potter gather plates and cutlery.
Potter's suggestion that he come over had caught Draco by surprise. It felt more intimate than any of their meetings so far. Potter had said he was tired of going out and wanted to spend an evening at home. Draco had assumed this meant he just wanted to get to the sex faster. He wasn't going to argue with that.
After a series of confusing notes back and forth, Potter had finally re-charmed the Find-it-Quick card to give Draco directions to his flat. The card hadn't been pleased when Draco had stopped at the wine shop along the way to pick up a bottle of viognier for their dinner, but it helped him all the same.
Potter had picked up Indian take-away for them. He didn't have a dining table for some reason, so they sat on the sofa and balanced plates in their laps.
“How long have you lived here?” Draco asked, searching for a safe conversation topic.
“A few months. I finally managed to sell some property I'd inherited, and I bought this place.” He looked around with a satisfied smile. “It needs some work, but it's fantastic to have something of my own, finally.”
Draco had never owned anything. “You should hire a decorator. No offense, but your taste in furnishings is… well, nonexistent.”
Potter snorted. “I've been a little busy the last few months.”
The conversation remained light and teasing while they ate, but by the time they set their plates aside and drained their wine glasses, an awkward silence settled between them.
“So,” Potter began with forced casualness, “what do you want to do?”
Draco smiled and stretched out his legs, putting his bare feet in Potter's lap. “I dunno. Watch telly? Play cards?”
Potter stroked the sole of his foot. “I don't have any cards. And the telly's in the bedroom.”
“Is it? Then I suppose we'll have to–”
Potter lifted Draco's foot and planted a kiss on the arch. Draco watched as he kissed his way up to the toes, then took one in his mouth.
A very undignified moan escaped Draco's lips, and he melted into the sofa. Potter sucked each of his toes in turn, swirling his tongue around them and nipping them with his teeth. Draco had never known something so simple could feel so good. He was half-hard by the time Potter finished.
“No telly, then?” he asked, his voice a notch higher than he'd intended.
Potter's smile was almost wicked. He proceeded to undress Draco more slowly than Draco would have thought possible, kissing and licking him in places no one had bothered to before. Draco didn't know what to do to reciprocate, so he let Potter do what he wanted and tried to relax.
By the time Potter focused his attention on Draco's cock, he was achingly hard. Potter was kneeling on the floor, one of Draco's thighs draped over his shoulder. He'd kissed a trail down the inside of that thigh and stopped when he reached Draco's groin. He stared, and Draco wondered if he'd ever seen a naked male body from that angle before.
“If you don't want to–” Draco began.
“No, I do,” Potter replied, looking up. “It's just that…” He blushed and looked back between Draco's legs again. “I've never done this, so I'm not sure where to begin.”
“Do what you like done to you.” Potter wrapped his fingers around the base of his cock, and Draco sighed at the touch. “Hell, do anything. You know what it's like. It's all good.”
Potter's tongue slid up the underside and Draco sucked in a breath. “I know, but I don't want to…” he paused and laughed, and Draco looked up at him. “I almost said ‘suck at this'. But that would be the point, so…”
Draco grinned at him. “Yeah, it would.”
Potter appeared to steel himself, and then took Draco's cock into his mouth. It wasn't the first time Draco'd had his dick sucked by a novice, and Potter didn't do a bad job. He seemed to have trouble finding a comfortable position, and he hardly used his tongue at all. Draco made encouraging noises when Potter did something well, hoping he'd take the hint.
After a few minutes, Potter sat back and wiped his mouth. “Sorry, my… my jaw hurts.”
Draco smiled, not exactly sure what to say. “It's fine.”
Potter brushed his hair out of his face and winced. “It isn't, but thanks anyway. I'll try again in a bit.”
They moved to the bedroom and spent the next two hours exploring each other's bodies. Sex was usually a rough and quick experience for Draco – the goal was to come as quickly and efficiently as possible, and then to move on. There was a level of intimacy between them tonight, though, and it was both exhilarating and unsettling.
The first time he came, it was from Potter's hand stroking him, something he turned out to be very good at. The second time he almost came in Potter's mouth – he'd grunted a warning and Potter had jerked away so quickly he nearly fell off the bed.
Draco rarely bottomed, but when Potter asked if he could fuck him, Draco didn't hesitate. He performed a few preparatory spells on himself, then rolled onto his stomach. Potter struggled a bit to push into him, but finally managed.
“Fuck,” he hissed, panting. “I'm not hurting you, am I?”
“No,” Draco lied. He had to grit his teeth when Potter first started moving, but he finally managed to shift his hips to an angle that felt good. Unfortunately, Potter's movements shifted him right back.
“Let's try something else,” he said at last. He straddled Potter and eased himself down on his cock again, then stroked himself while he moved. His thighs were shaking by the time Potter came, but he wasn't far behind.
It was after midnight when Draco stretched out beside Potter and closed his eyes, exhausted. “I'm staying,” he said, tugging a blanket over himself. “So don't even think about kicking me out.”
“I wasn't going to,” Potter replied, yawning. He surprised Draco by spooning against him and draping an arm around him.
Potter's breathing became shallow, but Draco lay awake, wondering what was happening between them. Sometime during the evening, he'd realized that the last time he'd spent a night with someone like this was back in school – with Neville.
He hadn't thought about Neville in years. It had just been sex at first, but it had been after a night very much like this one that Draco had first realized he had grown to care about Neville. It had terrified him, and he'd pushed him away for weeks afterward. It was only because Neville was so patient and determined that they hadn't broken it off entirely.
Draco shivered in the darkness and wriggled closer to Potter. This felt good, too good, really. He had no idea what would happen in the morning, and it scared him. He didn't like the fact that he was so vulnerable, that Potter made him feel something he hadn't felt in years – something he'd tried very hard not to feel, if he was honest with himself.
Draco sighed and tried not to think about it any more.
:: :: :: :: ::
Friday, 2 February, 2001
Draco opened his eyes to see Potter sitting on the edge of the bed and staring down at him. He had apparently showered and dressed, and Draco had slept through it.
“G'morning,” he said, pushing himself to sitting.
“I have to go. I have a meeting at the Ministry this morning.” He hesitated a moment before continuing. “I got an owl last night, just before you arrived. Something's going to happen in the next week.”
“What?” Draco's eyes wouldn't focus. He blinked at Potter.
“Your father passes on intelligence every so often. It's part of the arrangement we have. He thinks there will be a Death Eater attack in London in the next week.”
Draco stared at him, and wondered if he should feel odd that his father hadn't told him any of this. “Are you sure?”
“The last time he warned us, there was an attack in northern England . We didn't take it seriously, because it seemed so unlikely, and… we were wrong. People died.”
Draco pursed his lips. He wanted to know more, to ask Potter to tell him everything – but he didn't want to press his luck. He'd need a subtler approach. “Can I do anything to help?”
“I wasn't supposed to tell you that much. Security clearances and all, you know. But if you can get any more information…” He gave Draco a meaningful look.
Draco nodded. “I'll see what I can do.”
“I've recast the wards to let you apparate out,” Potter said, standing. “Stay as long as you want.” He hesitated a moment more, then leaned down and kissed Draco.
Stunned by that gesture, Draco could only watch as Potter left the room. He heard the sound of the fireplace flaring a few moments later, and then it was quiet. He pulled his knees into his chest and sighed. He didn't want to think about what that kiss had meant, or how he should feel about Potter this morning, or about what had happened between them last night.
He lay down and tried to go back to sleep, but he couldn't. It felt odd to be alone in someone else's flat. He couldn't imagine leaving for work and letting someone stay in his own apartment. His mind was racing with thoughts of Potter and his father, and the possibility of a Death Eater attack. What would it mean if he could do something to stop it? Would Potter and Weasley trust him then, tell him what was really going on?
He got up and dressed, made an attempt to make the bed, and ventured into the main room. They hadn't bothered to clean up after themselves the night before, so he cast some spells to clear up the mess from dinner. With a final glance around the flat, he apparated back to the Hilton.
:: :: :: :: ::
The grubby creature appeared kneeling at his feet. “Master Draco is calling for Ebby! Ebby is worrying Master is angry–”
“Stop groveling. Where is my father?”
The elf stood and blinked up at him. “Master Lucius is at the country estate.”
Draco nodded. “I want you to take him a message and wait for me there.”
:: :: :: :: ::
“I assumed they would tell you all the details,” Lucius said, sipping tea from an expensive antique cup.
“I don't have the proper security clearances, of course, but they tell me enough.” It wasn't true, but Draco hoped Lucius wouldn't press the point. “Enough to know you aren't telling them everything either.”
Lucius's smile was cool. “You can appreciate the position I am in, Draco. If I were to tell everything I know, the Dark Lord would suspect the information came from me. That would ruin our chances of ending this.”
“So you give the Ministry just enough information to give them a sporting chance?”
“I suppose you could say that, yes.”
Draco traced the rim of his teacup with one finger and didn't meet his father's gaze. “I'm not sure Potter and Weasley are telling me everything, either. Considering who I am, I can't blame them for not trusting me.”
Lucius smirked. “I would have thought you could handle that yourself, considering your many talents .”
Draco didn't take the bait. “I came here to ask you to tell me more, something that would help me gain their trust.”
Lucius stared at him for a moment, then set his teacup on the table and snapped his fingers. A house-elf appeared, bowing so low its forehead nearly touched the floor. “Bring me the book that is open on my desk. Be careful not to upset it.”
The elf's eyes widened, but it nodded and disapparated.
They sat in silence for several moments. When the house-elf reappeared, it had an ancient-looking book suspended in the air before it. It levitated the book to the table with great care, appearing to be sweating from the effort. When the book touched down on the table, the elf heaved a sigh of relief and disappeared.
Draco stood to get a better look.
“Don't touch it,” Lucius said, brandishing his wand. “It's cursed.” He waved his wand and the pages turned, emitting a low rumbling. The yellowed pages were covered with an ornate writing Draco couldn't read. Lucius paused to study one page, then gestured with his wand. “Severus and I have been working to translate this spell for nearly a month.”
Draco stared at the page. “What language is that?”
“We do not know the name,” Lucius said, still looking down at the page. “It's more than two thousand years old.”
Draco squinted at his father. “What does the spell do?”
Lucius tore his eyes away from the page, something that appeared to take effort. “It does what we need to be done.” He paused for a moment, so long Draco wondered if he would continue at all. “I am telling you this because I suspect Potter will try to kill the Dark Lord if he has the chance. That must not happen.”
“I didn't think he could be killed.”
“Neither did I, but if Severus is correct, it is a possibility.” Lucius lowered his voice to a whisper, and Draco had to lean forward to understand him. “This spell comes from a dark cult, one that cannibalized the magic of others to gain power for themselves. It will allow us to keep thr Dark Lord alive and use him as a source of great power. Our cause has lost much during his decline, but this will help us regain control. His close supporters are blinded to the madness that is consuming him.”
“And they don't know of this plan,” Draco said, staring at him. He hardly believed what he was hearing. “Are you certain this is possible?”
“We will see. But this is why we need you, Draco. If Potter's plan is to kill the Dark Lord, you must intervene – or we will lose everything we have worked for when he is destroyed.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Weasley was alone in the office when Draco arrived a little past 11:00.
“I was wondering if you'd show up,” he said as Draco pulled his coat off. He frowned at the expression on Draco's face. “Are you all right?”
Draco sat behind his desk and sighed. “I think my father has gone mad.”
“You've only just noticed?”
Draco pressed a hand to his forehead. “Do you know what their plan is, once we've trapped Voldemort?”
“Hypothetically trapped him,” Weasley corrected, giving him a strange look. “Not really. We've just been told to incapacitate him. Why?”
Draco bit his lip and looked away. “I'll explain when Potter returns.”
Weasley stared at him a moment more, then nodded and went back to reading the newspaper.
Draco sat at his desk, still reeling from what he'd learned. He'd thought they had little chance of capturing the Dark Lord at all. Killing someone who was immortal was hardly an option, unless Potter knew something the rest of them didn't. But what was this nonsense about using him as a power source? Draco pressed a hand to his forehead and closed his eyes.
Had he been brought here under a false pretense? Was Lucius crazy, or was he lying to Draco, using him for some reason Draco couldn't yet see? Why would no one be honest with him?
“Good morning,” he heard a voice say. He whirled in his seat to face the door, surprised. No one except the three of them had been in this room in the last two weeks, but a woman who had to be Cho Chang was standing just inside the door. She shrugged out of her smart wool coat and beamed at them.
“Look what the cat dragged in,” Weasley said. “Where have you been?”
“Everywhere,” she replied, tossing her long dark hair over her shoulder. She turned to Draco and smiled. “Draco Malfoy. I heard you were here. Nice to see you again.”
Draco shot a look at Weasley, who sensed his confusion at that remark. “Cho works in the intelligence services, so she knows everything that's going on.”
“Hardly,” she said, draping her coat over Potter's chair and leaning against his desk. “Where's Harry?”
“At the Ministry in a meeting,” Weasley told her. His smile seemed forced. “Does he know you're back?”
“He ought to. I sent him an owl a week ago, but he hasn't written back once. He's going to have to take me out for a very nice dinner to make up for it.”
“Oh, come on,” Weasley said, winking at Draco. “You know how he is.”
Draco smiled. He did indeed know how Potter was.
“Anyway, I dropped in to remind him that we've a reservation for tonight. I've no doubt he's forgotten that it's the anniversary of our first date.”
Draco's smile faded. He saw Weasley glance at him and look back at Chang.
“Can you believe I've put up with him for an entire year?” she said with a dramatic sigh. “I cut things short to get back here in time, not that he'll appreciate it.”
Weasley's eyes narrowed. “As much as you complain about him, I'm surprised you haven't moved on.”
Chang laughed, flipping her hair again. “Love is funny that way, isn't it?”
Draco felt as if he'd been punched in the gut.
And at that moment, Potter walked through the door. Everyone turned to look at him. From the expression on his face, he was quite surprised to see Chang standing there.
“Harry!” she cried, and flung her arms around him. Potter looked shocked, but plastered on an awkward smile when she pulled back to face him.
“You're back,” he said, pointedly not looking at Draco.
“For a whole week,” she said, straightening the collar of his shirt. “And you've forgotten what day it is, haven't you?” The expression on his face made it clear that he had. She made a sound of mock exasperation and kissed him. “It's a good thing I made all the arrangements, then. I'll drop by to pick you up at 7:00 .” She stepped back and grinned at Draco and Weasley. “I've got to run – meetings all afternoon.” With that, she disapparated.
The room was silent for several seconds. Potter had flushed red and was staring at the floor in front of him. Weasley looked uncomfortable.
Draco's heart had landed somewhere below his stomach. He took a deep breath, and then leveled a glare at Potter.
“You… have a girlfriend?”
Potter's face went from red to white. “Well… sort of.”
“Sort of?” Draco repeated, shaking his head. He didn't know how to describe what he was feeling. It was all jumbled up in his chest, a mixture of rage and jealousy and disappointment, and it hurt. “You sort of have a girlfriend?”
“Draco–” Potter began.
“When the fuck were you going to mention this?” Draco asked. He was dimly aware that his voice was raised, but he didn't care.
“I think I'll just go out for a coffee,” Weasley blurted, reaching for his coat. He didn't look at either of them as he disappeared through the door.
“Please don't,” Potter said, leaning back against his desk.
“Don't what?” Draco retorted. “Don't get upset about this? Don't be angry that you deliberately misled me?”
“I never misled you,” Potter snapped. “You never asked if I was dating anyone.”
Draco gaped at him. “I figured the fact that you fucked me precluded the question!”
“It's not that serious. It's just been a thing.”
“It sounds pretty serious to me. She seems to think so, at least.”
Potter looked confused for a split second, and then scowled. “What do you care anyway? I thought this was just about sex.”
It was a moment before Draco could reply. That comment hurt much more than he would have expected it to. “You know that's not true,” he said. He couldn't bring himself to say any more.
Potter just stared at him, a strange look on his face. Neither of them said anything for several seconds. It was all Draco could do not to hurl himself at Potter, to hit him or shout at him, to throttle him for this.
He'd said himself that it meant nothing. He'd said it not two nights ago, and he'd meant it at the time. But it wasn't true – it had meant something, something he hadn't admitted to himself until now.
“I have to go back,” Potter said at last, his voice rough. “I just popped in to pick up some files. Can we talk later? Tonight?”
“You have a date,” Draco replied, his voice flat. “It's your anniversary.” He couldn't look at Potter, not now. He was actually relieved that Potter had to go; he didn't think he could bear to be in the same room with him much longer.
“Right,” Potter said. “I'll… I have to go.” He picked up a package from his desk and walked through the door.
Draco sank into his chair, feeling numb.
:: :: :: :: ::
Weasley returned fifteen minutes later, holding a paper cup in each hand. He glanced around the room and appeared relieved to find Draco alone. He stopped before Draco's desk and held out one of the cups. “Latte?”
Draco took it, looking up at him. “Sure. Thanks.”
Weasley waved his wand and the chair from his desk scooted across the room. He sat across from Draco. “So he didn't tell you about her?”
Draco snorted in response.
Weasley took a sip from his cup and nodded. “I'm not surprised. They've been dating for about a year, but he doesn't seem to think it's serious.”
“How can you date someone that long and not think it's serious?” Draco didn't even try to keep the bitterness out of his tone.
“She travels a lot, for one thing. They only see each other a week out of every month.” Draco scowled and Weasley shrugged. “I'm not trying to make excuses for him, but the thing is… he really doesn't like her all that much.”
“Then why does he go out with her at all?”
Weasley gave him an odd look. “Well, she's hot, for one thing. I hear she's a tiger in bed, too. What bloke could say no to that?” Draco gave him a long look, and Weasley's lips quirked into a smile. “Anyway, he's never really dated much, and when she pursued him, he went along with it. Hermione thinks it was easier for him than being alone.”
“If you're trying to make me feel better–”
“I'm not. Harry's my best friend, and I care about him. I want him be happy.”
Draco frowned. “What are you saying?”
Weasley leaned back in his chair. “Look, Hermione and I have been trying to talk to him about this for months, but he won't listen. He's not happy with Cho, but he won't break it off.”
“Dunno. Maybe he's just afraid of how she would react. He's had enough conflict in his life.” Weasley's expression changed, and he looked guilty and troubled. “I hate the way she treats him. We had them over for dinner once, and it drove us mad to watch her treat him like a child.”
“Hermione doesn't like her either?” Draco was starting to enjoy this conversation.
Weasley bit his lip and hesitated, twisting a ring he wore on his right hand. He looked up at Draco. “I'm going to say something to you, Malfoy, and if you ever repeat it, I will deny it completely.”
“I want you to break them up. Submarine it, bust it up – whatever it takes.” He met Draco's eyes, the expression on his face solemn. “If you care about him at all, take him away from her.”
Draco couldn't speak for a moment. He stared at Weasley, slack-jawed. “I… but you said the other day–”
“I know. But I would rather see him heartbroken by you than wind up married to her. And that's where this is going – she's told Hermione as much, and I know him. He'll go along with it because he thinks it's what he's supposed to do. He'd be miserable for the rest of his life, and he doesn't deserve that.”
“He says he's not gay,” Draco replied. It was the only thing he could think of to say.
Weasley's lips twisted, and he sipped his coffee. “Well, he's not straight either. I know that for a fact.”
Draco found he could only nod his head. He hadn't expected Weasley to be sympathetic, let alone encouraging.
“Right,” Weasley said, standing and sending his chair back across the room. “Back to work, then.”
Draco stared at the papers on his desk for a long time after that, unable to think about anything other than Potter.
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco ate in the train station that night – ridiculously expensive fast-food sushi – and then picked up a few bottles of beer at Sainsburys before heading back to his room. He watched a film on television and drank himself into a buzz, and tried very hard not to think about what Potter and Chang were doing at that moment.
He was awakened by the shift of the mattress as someone sat on his bed. He sat up and fumbled for his wand, cursing. After a moment, his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the still-playing television, and he could see who his intruder was.
“Fucking hell, Potter!”
Potter grinned at him. “If you don't want strange wizards popping in, you should put up wards.”
Draco scowled and set his wand aside. Potter was right, of course. “What time is it?”
“After midnight.” Potter slid closer, eyeing Draco almost hungrily.
Draco felt a shiver of pleasure at that look. It cut through his annoyance rather easily. “How was your date?”
“I really don't want to talk about it right now.”
Potter kissed him, and Draco stiffened and pulled away. “You had sex with her, didn't you?”
Potter's face fell, and he sat back. “Well… she sort of attacked me.”
“What, in the restaurant?”
“No.” Potter ran a hand through his hair, something Draco had come to realize was a nervous gesture. “At my flat.”
Draco could only gape at him. “You took her back to your flat?”
Potter looked frustrated and embarrassed at the same time. “Yes, but all I could think about was you. I could even smell you on the sheets, and I…” He broke off and looked away.
Despite his jealousy, Draco felt a stab of glee at the thought of Chang getting fucked on sheets stained with his own spunk. Take him away from her – Weasley's words drifted through his mind again as Draco studied Potter's face. He didn't look happy. The fact that he'd come to Draco afterwards, apparently still horny, said a lot.
“Take a shower,” Draco told him, his voice firm and cool. “And use soap. I don't want to smell her on you, anywhere.”
Potter stared at him a moment more, and then stood. The light from the television flickered over him as he began to strip off his clothes. He kept his eyes focused on Draco's the entire time, expressionless. When he was finally naked, he let Draco's eyes rake over him for a few seconds before he turned and walked into the bathroom.
The moment he was out of sight, Draco sighed and flopped onto his back. He was not going to lose his head. He was going to enjoy himself, and that was all. Potter wanted him, and that was enough for now.
Potter took him seriously about washing well; he was in the shower a good ten minutes. He was still damp when he stretched out next to Draco, and he smelled of the hotel's French-milled soap. He stared at Draco in the dim light, looking almost anxious.
Draco waited a moment more before kissing him, hard. He was going to do this his way tonight: it would be hard and fast and rough. If Potter liked women who were aggressive in bed, then Draco would show him one better.
He pushed Potter's arms over his head and held them there with one hand while he reached for his wand. He broke the kiss long enough to cast a spell – red tendrils of light emerged from his wand and bound Potter's wrists to the headboard. Potter's eyes widened, but he didn't say anything.
Draco didn't waste time on foreplay. He cast a few preparatory spells and pressed into Potter, ignoring the grimace on his face. He leaned forward, close enough to kiss him, but didn't.
“Did you fuck her?” he whispered against Potter's lips just as he started to pull out again.
“Yes,” Potter hissed, his eyes locked on Draco's.
The slow slide out was exquisite. Draco held his breath and pushed back in. Potter closed his eyes. His face looked more relaxed than it had a moment ago, but he still seemed uncomfortable.
“Did she suck you?” Draco let his lips brush against Potter's as he spoke. He felt Potter gasp.
“Did you eat her?”
“Yes.” Potter tried to kiss him, but Draco pulled away just enough that he couldn't reach.
He changed the angle of his thrusting, and Potter's mouth fell open. “But she can't make you feel like this, can she?”
Potter's response was a strangled groan. Draco reached between them to pull at Potter's cock as he moved, watching his face. He looked so vulnerable writhing under Draco with his hands bound above his head, and the mix of pain and pleasure on his face was unbearably erotic. Draco wanted to kiss him, but he didn't. He just moved, concentrating on making it as good for Potter as he possibly could.
It was on the tip of Draco's tongue to demand that Potter not go near Chang again. Potter would probably even agree now, when he was on the verge of orgasm. Draco closed his eyes. Maybe he would say it later, but not tonight. Tonight he simply wanted to remind Potter what he could give him.
Within minutes, Potter came hard, biting his lip and moaning. Draco finally kissed him then, muffling his cries and pounding into him even harder than before. Potter relaxed beneath him and panted.
Draco had been focusing so much on Potter, he hadn't realized he was close to coming himself. He clenched his jaw when he felt it begin, trying not to cry out. He braced his hands on the bed on either side of Potter, groaning through his clenched teeth.
“God,” Potter said when Draco finally stopped moving. He wriggled, and Draco pulled away and stretched out next to him. Potter blinked at him for a moment. “Are you going to…?”
“You can stay, Potter. I won't kick you out.”
“Untie me, actually?”
Draco grinned. “I think I might just keep you like this. I like it.”
To Draco's surprise, Potter grinned back. “Could you bind my hands elsewhere, at least? I'm getting a cramp.”
Draco fumbled for his wand and waved it in the direction of Potter's hands without looking. A moment later, Potter was rubbing at his wrists and staring at the ceiling.
“I didn't know it could feel like that.”
Draco yawned. “Like what?”
“That good. That was intense.”
Draco smiled. “Go to sleep, Potter.”
“You could at least call me ‘Harry', considering you just tied me up and fucked me.”
“Go to sleep, Harry.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Saturday, 3 February, 2001
“Is that really the time?” Potter mumbled, leaning over Draco to stare at the clock.
“Yes,” Draco said, curling an arm around him. Potter was warm and Draco didn't want him to get up yet.
Potter rested his cheek on Draco's chest. “I have to go.”
“But it's Saturday…”
Potter sighed and kissed Draco before climbing over him and out of bed. He disappeared into the bathroom.
Draco yawned and squinted at the clock. It was nearly 10:00 . He fumbled for the remote and turned the television on. The picture was blurry and he had to accio his glasses from across the room. He searched through the channels and stopped on the BBC World Service.
“–and that's what they're now saying, Richard.” The picture on the screen was split to show a correspondent in a busy London Street and an anchorman in the studio.
“So the earlier witnesses who claim to have heard multiple explosions are now all recanting their stories? Isn't that a bit odd?”
The correspondent nodded. “It certainly seems to be, but a dozen people are now denying having heard these explosions in central London. The authorities haven't been able to locate the source, so it looks as if all is well.”
The anchor shook his head and smiled at the camera. “There you have it. This morning's widespread reports of several car bombs seem to have been–”
Draco turned to see Potter standing next to him, staring at the television. He looked horrified.
Draco gasped, understanding flooding him. “Diagon Alley!”
They dressed as quickly as they could. They argued for a moment over whether or not they should apparate into a situation they knew nothing about, but ultimately decided to do it back to back, wands at the ready. Draco pulled a knit cap over his head, hoping that between that and his glasses, he would be difficult to recognize.
Neither of them were prepared for what they would find.
Large parts of Diagon Alley had been reduced to smoking rubble. People in various stages of injury were stumbling around, calling for loved ones or just looking numb. It appeared that there had been a series of explosions, planted haphazardly along the winding streets. Aurors were already swarming the scene, casting spells to stabilize rubble and move injured people to safety. A dusty haze hung in the air, giving the scene a dreamlike quality.
“Harry!” someone called. A man came towards them, waving his arms. “We could use your help down that way.” He pointed, and Potter nodded and started off that direction.
Draco scrambled after him. “So this was it,” he panted as they jogged down the cobbled street. “This was what my father said was going to happen.”
Potter didn't respond, and Draco felt a twist in his gut. Could he have prevented this? He could have tried harder to get Lucius to tell him what was going to happen.
They rounded a corner into an area where no help had yet arrived, and Potter froze in his tracks. He grew pale to the point of looking green. Draco followed his gaze to a half-destroyed shopfront, and it was a moment before he recognized where he was.
“Fred!” Potter called, scrambling towards the rubble. “George!”
“Harry, wait!” Draco called, running after him. “You don't know if it's stable, or–”
Potter disappeared from view into the rubble. Draco stood in the street, not sure if he should follow. He heard strange sounds coming from within the smoldering heap, as if large objects were being moved with great force. A moment later, Potter apparated in front of him, holding a limp form in his arms. It was one of the Weasley twins – which one Draco couldn't tell.
“Take him to–”
A groaning sound from the shop next door cut Potter off. They stared at each other and listened. They could hear people crying out all around them – cries of pain, cries for help, wordless moans.
Draco took a deep breath, trying not to feel overwhelmed. “Is he alive?”
Potter's face was blank. “I don't know. I have to go back inside.”
Draco helped Potter ease the body to the ground, then watched as he disappeared. Draco stared down at the pale face, smudged with dirt, eyes staring up at him blankly.
They worked for twenty minutes on their own, pulling bodies and survivors from the rubble. They sent up sparks to call for help, but there weren't enough people on the scene yet, and no one came to help them.
“Fucking Fallin,” Harry hissed as he eased the other Weasley twin, who was groaning and clutching his leg, to the ground. “He sends Aurors out to obliviate every Muggle who heard the attack, but not to help us here?”
Draco couldn't answer. He'd been digging through the rubble to reach a child whose arm he'd spotted, but the arm turned out to be all there was.
The work went on for hours, so long that Draco lost any sense of time. Others eventually came – healers, Aurors, survivors who weren't injured. The sun set and they worked by wand and torchlight. Draco had no idea what time it was when someone took his hand and pulled him away, down the street and into a café that hadn't been damaged. He was given a cup of tea and a pastry, and he sat against the wall and ate neither.
No one looked at him or spoke to him for a long time. His face was streaked with dirt and blood, so he doubted anyone would recognize him anyway. After what might have been hours, someone settled beside him and touched his shoulder.
It was Chang. Her face was as dirty as his, her eyes bloodshot and her dusty hair tied back. She looked concerned. “I thought that was you. Are you all right?”
Draco just stared back at her. How could he answer that question? How could she even ask it under these circumstances?
“Harry was looking for you before.” She stood, her expression grim. “He had to tell Molly Weasley that her husband and son are dead.”
Draco felt an odd chill. “Ron?”
“He was working in another part of the district last I heard. I don't know if he knows yet.”
Draco remembered the lifeless eyes of one of the Weasley twins staring up at him then, and he forced himself to his feet. “Where's Harry now?”
They found him sitting alone in the ruins of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. He didn't look up when they came in.
“I'm leaving in the morning,” he said, his voice hollow. “I have to finish it.”
Cho stared at him, and Draco wasn't sure if she knew what he was talking about or not. “I want to help you,” she said.
“You can't,” Potter told her, finally looking up. “No one can, not any more.”
“They want us at the Ministry for a briefing in half an hour,” she said. Her voice was tentative.
“I'm not going. Not when I'm needed here.”
She stared at him a moment more, then nodded and gave Draco's arm a squeeze as she left.
Draco watched Potter for a moment before settling on the ground next to him. They sat in silence for a long time.
“I can't tell you where I'm going,” Potter said at last.
“It's all right,” Draco replied. “You don't have to.”
Potter leaned against him and sighed, sounding immensely tired.
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco pointed his wand at the large wooden doors of the castle, and they opened with a groan. He stalked across the foyer and into the dining room where he'd had breakfast with his father only days ago. He didn't know why he'd expected to find his father there at this hour, but Lucius was there.
Draco knew he looked horrible, and he didn't care. He stopped before Lucius and glared down at him.
Lucius's eyes narrowed, but he didn't look surprised to see Draco. “I wondered when you would come.”
“Did you know?” Draco spat. His fingers tightened around his wand.
Lucius didn't flinch. “I didn't know it would be so extensive. I was under the impression that a few shops belonging to Muggle-borns would be targeted, but I–”
“And you didn't think that other people would be harmed? Five people I knew from school – Purebloods , no less – are dead! And that doesn't begin to account for the children and–”
Lucius stood then and towered over Draco, glaring. “I am not to blame for this! Don't you dare insinuate–”
“You could have stopped it!” Draco shouted. “You could have told me something, and I could have–”
“I didn't know,” Lucius said through gritted teeth.
“It could have been me!”
“It was your mother,” Lucius shouted. “Why do you think I've been working against the Dark Lord this last year? Why do you think I've been doing all of this?” Lucius's eyes blazed, and it was all Draco could do not to shrink back. “Wizards have been dying for months – good people who have always supported our cause. The Dark Lord has killed and maimed them alongside Muggles and Mudbloods.” He leaned forward and his voice lowered to a hoarse whisper. “I have sacrificed more than you can possibly know to fight him, while you've been doing Merlin knows what in America , not even bothering to attend your dying mother.”
Draco clenched his jaw, anger swirling through him with such strength he could barely contain it. “Don't you dare suggest I didn't care about her. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't regret letting you drive me away.”
“You were the one who left. I tried to help you change your ways, to be a responsible adult and take your place in society, but you refused to cooperate.”
“At least my mother loved me for who I am,” Draco retorted.
“And she died wondering why you didn't love her enough to return to her side at the end of her life, to be the man she raised you to be.”
“Shut up!” Draco growled, pressing his wand into Lucius's throat. He was shaking and in danger of losing control of his emotions, but he couldn't stop himself. “Or I'll kill you – I swear it.”
Lucius's smile was cruel, and he didn't look frightened.
Draco stalked away before his father could see the pain in his eyes.
:: :: :: :: ::
Monday, 5 February, 2001
Draco was alone in the office all day. Weasley was with his grieving family, and Potter was still gone. Draco had spent all of Sunday working in Diagon Alley, but by the end of the day he was starting to get suspicious looks from the Aurors who were running the cleanup operation. No one knew he was in the country, and he didn't need to attract attention to himself. Besides, the effort was more organized by midday , and he was no longer needed.
Weasley had a subscription to the Daily Prophet, and it had been delivered by a scruffy-looking owl that morning. On the front page was a story about Potter's heroics on the scene and his mysterious absence afterwards. There was speculation that he had gone off to find those responsible on his own. And for all Draco knew, that was true. Potter hadn't corresponded with him at all, and Draco didn't know if he should even expect it.
He turned the page of the newspaper and scanned the stories there. The details were still trickling out of the Ministry's information office. A third of the buildings in Diagon Alley had been destroyed, and 47 people were killed. More than 200 were injured on top of that, and St. Mungo's was filled to capacity. The funerals were just starting, and the political cleanup was yet to come.
Draco shifted in his chair and groaned – he hurt in places he didn't know he had muscles. He felt lost and useless, and he was uncertain what he should do about that. He didn't want to think about the devastation he had seen, but it was there all the same, waiting for him to close his eyes.
He spent the afternoon searching through Potter's and Weasley's desks, looking for any information about their plan. He found nothing.
When Chang showed up at the end of the day to invite him to dinner, he was relieved to have someone to talk to at last.
:: :: :: :: ::
“I've been here before,” Draco remarked, looking around at the Indian restaurant's colorful interior. “With Harry.”
Chang smiled. “He likes this place. He's funny that way – he finds a few restaurants he likes and sticks with them. He's not exactly the adventurous type.”
Draco kept his eyes on his menu and smiled. “I suppose.”
“So have you heard from him?”
“No. I'm surprised you haven't, considering.”
Chang sighed. “Just because I'm his girlfriend doesn't mean he tells me anything.”
“Surprising considering who you work for, I meant. Why would you think I would know where he is?”
She took a sip of water and shrugged. “You're working together on this project. And he seems to like you quite a lot. I thought he might trust you with that information.”
“If he did, he wouldn't want me to share it with anyone else.”
Chang's smile looked forced, which made Draco smile a bit wider.
“So you two have been together for a year? Sounds serious.”
“It is, I think. You know Harry, though – he can be so oblivious. He didn't even know it was our anniversary the other day.” She grinned and winked. “He made it up to me, though.”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “Did he?”
She paused, as if lost in a daydream for a moment. “What do you think of him?”
Draco shrugged. “I like him, I suppose.”
“He talks about you as if you two were becoming good friends.”
“That's good to know. I hope we are.”
She grinned. “So do I. It would be fantastic if we could all be friends. I despise hanging around with Ron and Hermione all the time. They don't like me.”
“Don't they?” Draco tried to look shocked.
“They think I'm not good enough for him, I imagine. They've no idea how much he cares about me, though.” She smiled again. “So tell me – are you dating anyone right now?”
Draco forced a smile. “No. Not really.”
Chang's lips twisted a bit, as if she found something funny. “I have a friend I would love set you up with. You two would have so much in common!”
“Would we?” Draco wondered if she had any idea he was gay.
The waiter brought their first course, interrupting the conversation. Chang waited until he was out of earshot. “He works at the Ministry, and he's adorable as well. Just your type, I'd imagine.”
Draco smirked. “And how would you know my type?”
Chang grinned and didn't reply.
:: :: :: :: ::
He was awakened in the middle of the night by Potter kissing him. At first, he thought he must be dreaming, but when Potter's mouth closed over his prick, the rush of sensation made him gasp.
Potter crawled back over him and wrapped his fingers around both of their erections, pressing spit-slick skin together. Potter came first, then took his time pulling Draco off. Draco curled into him afterwards and went back to sleep.
:: :: :: :: ::
Tuesday, 6 February, 2001
He woke up alone.
There was a note for him in the enamel box: Sorry to wake you. I just needed to touch you.
Draco put the note in his pocket and wrote Potter back: You can touch me whenever you want.
Weasley was back at the office that morning, looking tired and numb.
“I'm sorry about…” Draco began, standing awkwardly in front of Weasley's desk.
Weasley nodded and gave him a weak smile. “The funeral was yesterday.”
“I would've come.” He hadn't even thought to ask anyone about it. Of course, he didn't really have anyone to ask.
“It's all right,” Weasley told him. “No one is supposed to know you're here, after all.”
Draco took a deep breath. “Do you know where Harry is?”
Weasley shook his head.
“Do you know what he's doing?”
“Yes. But I can't tell you.”
“I know,” Draco replied, looking away. “I just… want to do something to help him. I feel useless.”
Weasley sighed. “We all do, Malfoy.”
An owl from Weasley's mother arrived shortly before lunch and he left, saying he probably wouldn't be back that day. Draco checked the small box for a note from Potter every half hour. It remained empty.
Chang showed up in time to invite him to lunch, and he didn't hesitate to accept the offer. They went shopping afterwards, something that was mildly entertaining. Chang seemed excited by the prospect of being friends with Draco, and he pretended to be enthusiastic in return. It was better than being alone.
They avoided talking about the disaster in Diagon Alley, but Draco wasn't really surprised. Walking around Muggle London, it was easy to pretend it hadn't happened at all. It was only when he was alone that the images filled his mind. Chattering with Chang about whether Potter would look better in a green or a red shirt was easier.
“Have you heard from him?” she asked, holding both shirts up and squinting at them.
“No. I'm trying not to worry.”
“I suppose he can't send an owl from wherever he is,” she said, putting the green shirt away. “But then, he never was good about owling me.”
Draco smiled, fingering the note in his pocket.
“I have to get back to work,” she said as they left the shop. “Do you have any plans tonight? We should go out.”
Draco kept his expression neutral. With everything that was going on, the last thing he wanted to do was hit the clubs. “What did you have in mind?”
“We could meet for drinks. I don't know about you, but I'll need one by then.”
Draco sighed. “Me too.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Potter sent him two notes that afternoon. The first simply said, How are you?, to which Draco replied honestly. The second said, I'll try to visit you tonight.
Draco struggled to focus on something other than Potter or the Diagon Alley attacks, but it was difficult. He rifled through his bag, looking for a book that had an interesting chapter about memory spells in it, and found instead the paper written by the American professor, the one she'd posted to him just before he left New York . He remembered stuffing it in his bag a few days before.
He went to the Pret down the street and read it over a latte. He was only halfway through the paper when he realized he had found the answer he needed – what they all needed. The paper described an old spell that would bind together people who wanted to commit and act of treason or robbery, something they needed to be able to trust each other to complete and keep secret afterwards. The paper even gave enough information for Draco to piece together how the spell was done. It required a potion that looked fairly straightforward to brew, though some of the ingredients might be hard to find.
Draco's heart pounded in his chest as he thought about it. Potter and Weasley had a plan for capturing Voldemort – he was sure of it. The binding spell would provide a reason for them to trust him enough to let him help them. They needed him, more than they knew.
He spent the rest of the afternoon studying the spell and writing out the procedure for brewing the potion. He compiled a list of materials he'd need and gave it to the house-elf Ebby when he returned to the hotel. The elf seemed grateful to have a task at last, and thanked him half a dozen times before he threatened to kick it if it didn't get straight to work.
:: :: :: :: ::
Potter didn't come that night. Draco had thought of little else during his evening out with Chang, and had even cut it short, claiming to be tired.
He lay in the darkness and stared at the ceiling, waiting and worrying. His fingers traced the lines of his mother's bracelet, something that ordinarily soothed him – but not this time. He felt helpless, and he hated waiting.
And then it was morning, and he was still alone.
:: :: :: :: ::
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