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:: :: :: :: ::
“And why should I help you?” Draco asked, taking one last drag off of the cigarette. He blew the smoke up above his head, where it disappeared into the light haze that so often covered San Francisco . “You won't even tell me what those plans are.”
Lucius's eyes glinted as they followed the cigarette Draco dropped to the pavement and put out with his shoe. He took a step forward and stroked a black-gloved finger down Draco's cheek. “All in good time, boy. There is something I want you to do.”
Draco stared at him, feeling his stomach tighten. “I haven't changed my mind. I have no intention of–”
“All I ask now is for your assistance in capturing Potter. We know where he is. We can take him easily, but we'll need your help to control him, to convince him to cooperate.”
Draco looked away and pursed his lips, thinking. He'd been walking this line for far too long. He'd been able to avoid choosing sides for longer than he'd ever thought possible, but it looked as if the end were coming at last. He turned back to his father, but found himself unable to speak: his mouth wasn't cooperating with his brain.
Lucius paused a moment, then leaned forward and brushed a kiss against Draco's cheek. “I'll contact you in the usual way,” he whispered. Even his breath was cold. Draco suppressed the urge to shiver as Lucius turned and walked away.
Draco leaned against the alley wall and exhaled. I'll contact you in the usual way. He'd run the other direction, if he ever saw that–
A hand grasped his wrist and whirled him around in the darkness. He shouted and lunged towards it.
And sat straight up in bed, panting.
“Shit,” he whispered, rubbing at his face with one hand. “Fucking dream.”
A hand touched his wrist, and he couldn't help but start.
“You okay?” Harry asked. He was squinting at Draco in the dim light.
Draco forced himself to relax. “Yeah. Sorry to wake you.” He slid back under the duvet and took a deep breath.
“Yeah,” Draco replied, turning to look at him. Harry's eyes were dark, and his hair was splayed all over his pillow. He looked so different without his glasses.
Harry took Draco's hand in his and squeezed it. “I hate nightmares.” For a moment, he looked as if he might say something more, but he didn't.
Draco looked away, focusing instead on their intertwined fingers. Harry only wore two pieces of jewelry: a ring that used to belong to Ron Weasley and a bracelet that used to belong to Draco. Both adorned his right hand. Draco traced the ring with his thumb and toyed with the idea of asking Harry if he'd ever taken it off.
He didn't have to ask about the bracelet, of course. He missed its weight on his own wrist, its reassuring smoothness against his skin. It had been a constant reminder that his mother, somewhere deep down, had cared for him. Now it was just a reminder that he cared for Harry – far too much. He was tempted to look at Harry again, to see if that feeling was mirrored in Harry's eyes. Draco closed his eyes instead.
Harry sighed. “Draco–”
A muffled sound came from the other side of the wall. They looked at each other, surprised. The sound was there again, a little louder this time, distinctly a voice. Two voices, rather; one of them said, “Oh god...”
“Oh god.” Harry's blush was even visible in the dim light.
Draco sat up, tilting his ear towards the wall. “They must've come in late. They probably don't know we're here.” There was a regular pattern of moaning, a squeak indicating a shift in the mattress, a gasp of breath, and then more moaning. Draco grinned at Harry.
Harry looked completely mortified. “I don't want to hear this!” he hissed, sliding down to pull the duvet over his head.
“Oh, come on,” Draco teased, tugging at the duvet. “Since when are you such a prude?”
“I'm not a prude. I just don't want to... it's private and...” Harry rolled his eyes and let go of the duvet, a gesture of defeat. “Oh, it's pointless explaining this to you.”
“You're a prude. Just admit it.”
“I am not.”
A whimpering sound could be heard through the wall now. Draco stretched out beside Harry, listening.
Harry closed his eyes and sighed. “I could have got on fine without knowing she makes that much noise in bed.”
Draco rolled onto his side and leaned forward to whisper in Harry's ear. “Or what she sounds like when she's being eaten out?”
“You don't know that's what they're doing!”
Draco couldn't help but grin against Harry's cheek. “She's the only one making noise. He's never this quiet unless his mouth is occupied.” He traced the shell of Harry's ear with the tip of his tongue.
Harry swallowed. “I... suppose you'd know about that.”
Hermione's moans seemed to reach a crescendo, and then it was quiet for a moment. Harry took a shaky breath, then turned onto his side and kissed Draco.
Harry was a fantastic kisser, though Draco had never told him so. Draco had never really spent a lot of time kissing people. Kissing had always been a rough, quick prelude to sex, but with Harry, it was something else entirely. Harry pulled back until their lips were barely touching, just enough that their breath mingled. His hand stroked down Draco's side, slowly moving lower, almost teasing. Draco remained as still as he could bear. He loved the tension, and Harry was becoming very good at playing his body like this.
The sound of the headboard thumping rhythmically against the wall shattered the moment. They stared at each other for a few seconds, and then began to laugh. It was beyond a cliché; it was ridiculous, and they both were bordering on hysterical after two minutes of it. They struggled to stay quiet, staring at the ceiling and listening to the thumps and Manny's grunts and Hermione's cries.
After five minutes, Draco began to feel a bit inadequate. He stole a glance at Harry, who had a thoughtful expression on his face.
“He never lasted that long with me,” Draco muttered.
Harry snorted. “Who could?”
“Is that...?” Harry paused, biting his lip. “Do most men take that long?”
Draco wasn't sure if this was insecurity or genuine curiosity. “Not in my experience. But that's what women like, isn't it?”
Harry's face clouded.
The thumping sped up and became erratic, accompanied by intermittent sounds from Manny and Hermione, and finally the noise ceased altogether. Draco grinned at Harry, and then applauded. Harry stared at him for a long second before finally joining in with a whoop.
“Encore!” Draco shouted, laughing.
Draco grinned. Harry pulled the duvet over them both and settled down again, draping an arm across Draco's chest. Warm and comfortable, Draco closed his eyes, hoping he wouldn't dream.
:: :: :: :: ::
24 February, 2004: Tuesday
The owl was rather unusual, though no one noticed. Its feathers were a dark grey-brown, and in certain light it almost looked black. But its most unusual feature by far was a white mark on its breast: nearly a circle, as if someone had taken a paintbrush in hand and made a swirling swipe at the bird.
It fluttered to a rooftop, scanning the ledges of the building below for pigeon chicks left alone in their nests. One pigeon eyed the owl suspiciously, cocking his head and cooing, settling down further in his nest. His mate paced nervously beside him, keeping an eye on the owl as well.
The owl turned its gaze to the street below, which was bustling with people on their way to work. None of them looked up. The owl's eyes followed a few as they walked: an old man carrying a sack of fruit home from the green grocer; two school children chattering to each other and swinging their satchels about; a young woman carrying a briefcase and rushing to work. The owl turned its attention back to the pigeons.
The young woman on the street below checked her watch and frowned, then ducked in the door of a Pret a Manger. She ordered two caffe lattes and a pastry at the counter, smiling when the cashier flirted with her through a thick eastern European accent. She brushed her dark hair out of her face, collected her purchases, and winked at him, earning a smile that revealed a bit too much information about the man's dental history. A middle-aged man in a stylish coat opened the door for her when she reached it. She smiled her thanks, ducking her head just a little.
Back on the pavement, she veered onto a side street and narrowly avoided colliding with a man in a smart suit – who apologized and tried to engage her in conversation before she politely repeated that it was fine, no harm done. She had to get to work, she said, perfect red lips quirking into an amused smile. He watched her walk away with a sigh.
She rounded a corner and stopped before an antique shop. Its windows were full of dusty objects, and the sign on the door was turned to ‘closed'. It was always closed, though no one noticed. It was an altogether unremarkable shop on a quiet street.
The woman looked up and down the street, and then whispered a word to the peeling paint on the door. She paused for a moment more before stepping right through solid wood into a brightly-lit office building.
She walked past a receptionist, who barely gave her a glance, and headed toward a suite of offices in the back. She walked through another door into a large room containing several desks, computers, various pieces of equipment, and a variety of exotic houseplants. A man sat at one desk, tapping at a keyboard and staring intently at the screen of his computer.
She contemplated him for a moment, taking off her coat and settling the coffee and her briefcase on a desk. She picked up one of the cups of coffee and walked over to him.
“Good morning,” he said, not looking up from what he was doing.
She placed the cup next to the keyboard, then perched on the edge of his desk. “Latte, with a shot of hazelnut syrup.” She crossed her legs and her short skirt hitched up a bit. She let her voice lower a notch. “Just the way you like it, Mr. Padilla.”
Manny glanced up at her, and seemed a bit startled by the view. “Good morning,” he repeated. He picked up his coffee. “Thanks.”
She smiled and leaned forward so she could see the monitor. “What are you working on?”
“That lead you were supposed to investigate,” he replied, sipping his coffee.
She bit her lush red lower lip. “Oops. I was going to get to that this morning.”
Manny raised one eyebrow. “Sure you were. Well, if you're going to be late, bringing me coffee certainly smooths the blow.”
“Anything else I can do to atone?” she asked. She tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear and smiled, lips parted just a little.
“No,” Manny replied, turning back to his work.
“Are you sure?” She leaned forward a bit more.
Manny's eyes darted up, first to her exposed cleavage and then to her face. He realized what he'd done a moment too late, and winced.
The woman grinned. “I'm going to tell your girlfriend you looked down my blouse.”
“And I'm going to tell your boyfriend you were flirting with me,” he retorted. “Now will you please get your lovely ass off my desk and get to work?”
She grinned and hopped to her feet, straightening her skirt. A wolf whistle sounded behind her.
“Hey, baby!” A young man was leaning against the door frame. “Where's my coffee?”
She shot him an annoyed glance. “Get your own fucking coffee.”
“Oooh, testy,” he replied, smirking. “That time of the month?”
She rolled her eyes and flipped him off.
“All right folks, enough,” Manny interrupted. “Meeting today, remember? Ben, have you got that report finished?”
“Almost,” Ben replied, and disappeared from the doorway.
“And you're not going to the meeting like that,” Manny said, turning to the woman.
She leaned against her desk and smiled. “Why, am I distracting you?”
“Yes,” he replied, turning back to his keyboard.
“I think you like it.”
He ignored her, scrolling through a spreadsheet instead.
After a moment, she heaved a dramatic sigh. “Oh, all right. Finite incantatum.” Her image shimmered, and then Draco Malfoy stood in her place. “You know, people are terribly nice to pretty girls.”
Manny smirked. “Thinking of making the change permanent?”
“Very funny.” Draco settled behind his desk. “If you wouldn't mind sending me those files–”
“The ones I've been working on?” Manny asked, a note of false indignation in his voice.
“And I do appreciate it so,” Draco replied, not looking up from his own monitor, which was firing to life. He pushed his glasses up his nose and affected his best Brooklyn accent. “Make it snappy, wouldja?” The computer whined. “Shit, more updates for Wizard XM already?”
“Yes,” Manny snorted. “I told you we should've gone with Linux. They have a fantastic magical interface. But no –”
“I know, I know. I've sold my soul to Microsoft.”
Manny's wand tapped the screen of his monitor. “Epistula.”
Several files appeared on Draco's monitor. He opened one, only to have a pop-up window appear, telling him he had to restart his computer immediately so the new Wizard XM updates could be integrated. “Or risk certain system failure and destruction! ” the pop-up warned, complete with the image of a cranky-looking wizard scowling and shaking his head at Draco.
“Fine,” Draco grumbled, and passed a hand over the screen.
“Updating!” the screen displayed in a cheery font. “Why not step out for a cup of delicious Starbucks TM coffee while you wait? The nearest Starbucks to you is —”
Draco tapped the screen with his wand to turn the sound off, and then opened his briefcase. He had several leads to follow, so many that it was hard to know where to begin. Ordinarily, it would have been a challenge to relish. He liked sneaking about, assuming false identities and gaining the trust of unsuspecting people. But having a price on his head took a bit of the fun out of the job. Glamours were a way of getting around the Muggle world unrecognized, but they wouldn't do him much good when he started tracking down Death Eaters.
And the more he thought about it, the more realized that was what he'd likely have to do. He couldn't see another way out of this mess.
:: :: :: :: ::
At 11:00, they apparated to the Ministry office on Farringdon Road where Harry and Hermione worked. Hermione's assistant Peggy met them in the apparition room. She was a cute, slender brunette – and the model for Draco's morning glamour charm. Ben flashed her a big California smile, and she winked at him. Manny and Draco had a bet going on how much longer it would be before those two started shagging.
As they headed toward the meeting room, Draco felt a knot twist in his stomach. He hadn't seen Harry since Sunday afternoon. They'd disagreed on what to do that evening, and the simplest solution had been to go their separate ways. Monday had been busy and by evening Draco hadn't yet heard from Harry. So naturally, he didn't seek him out; he waited for Harry to call or owl with plans for dinner, or to apparate over while Draco was watching telly, or to show up just in time to slip into bed with him. He'd finally gone to bed after midnight without hearing from Harry at all.
Harry was already in the meeting room conferring quietly with Director Bass, and didn't look up when they entered. Hermione glanced up from the notes she was studying and smiled. She'd been mortified Sunday morning after being overheard in the throes of orgasm. Draco had taken great pleasure in teasing her throughout breakfast. “ This jam is sooooo good, ohhh, god… ” Harry'd had to kick him rather hard before he'd finally stopped.
Harry wasn't still cross about that , was he?
They took their seats around the small conference table. Peggy brought a pot of tea and some biscuits and then settled at the end of the table with a dictation quill and a scroll. She whispered to it and it began scribbling.
“I'll begin,” Harry said, standing to hand out copies of a report.
Manny would probably grumble later that Harry could have simply emailed everyone the file in advance to save time. Of course, the Ministry didn't have internet access yet, a fact that had surprised both Manny and Ben. When he'd moved to the US years ago, Draco had been surprised that American wizards used so much Muggle technology.
Harry had yet to make eye contact with him, or to greet him in any way. Draco sighed, pushing his glasses up on his nose. He'd only worn them today because Harry always seemed to like them. Desperation did not become him; that was for certain.
His copy of the report was dropped onto the table in front of him. There was a yellow magic-stick note on top, and on it was printed in Harry's tiny scrawl: Missed you yesterday . And just like that, the knot in Draco's belly dissolved. He looked up to see Harry settling back down at his seat.
“We've heard reports of Death Eater activity outside of Durham,” Harry said, “which wouldn't ordinarily be of interest to our investigation, but in this case, the activity occurred during an official visit by unidentified persons on classified Ministry business.”
“And you have no idea who those visitors were?” Manny asked.
“We have some leads,” Harry replied.
“Leads,” Draco repeated, digging out a quill and carefully writing, Me too – lunch? on the magic-stick note. “That's all we've got as well. In fact–” He dug his working file out of his briefcase and rifled through the pages. He pressed the magic-stick note to the top page and handed his list of leads to Harry. “These are the ones we're investigating at the moment. Suspicious travel is one of the flags we look for. Maybe there's some overlap.”
“Unfortunately, there's not much that's suspicious about a trip to Durham ,” Hermione quipped.
“North Carolina?” Ben whispered to Manny. Manny gave him a long look before shaking his head.
Harry studied Draco's list, making a few notes on it as he did. “We can give you classified information on these, up to Level 5. Beyond that–” He glanced at Bass, and they exchanged a meaningful look. Bass nodded, and Harry handed the papers back to Draco. “If you send me a copy of this, I'll see what I can do.”
Draco glanced at the sticky-note on the top page, where Harry had written Got a meeting. Dinner? Draco looked up and smiled. “That would be fantastic.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Manny and Hermione had hinted they didn't want any company over lunch, so Draco had talked Ben into going with him. Draco had glamoured himself to look fairly unremarkable, much to Ben's chagrin – he'd apparently been hoping to have lunch with a facsimile of Peggy.
“Have you ever even spoken to her?” Draco asked as they walked up Shaftesbury Avenue .
“There's never time,” Ben replied, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets. “She smiles at me, but she's always busy, and I never seem to get a chance to talk to her without everyone else around listening.” He sighed, looking for all the world like a forlorn teenager. “Think Hermione would give me her number?”
“Not all wizards have phones here,” Draco reminded him. “But it wouldn't hurt to ask. She works for Hermione, after all, so she might have a mobile.” Harry had said that Hermione's zeal for integrating Muggle technology into the Ministry's operations had only intensified since she'd met Manny and learned more about how the FBI operated.
They stopped before an Indian restaurant called Mela, a favorite of Harry's. “This is the place,” Draco said, studying the menu posted in the window.
“Sounds great,” Ben said, glancing inside. “Ummm… What did you say Harry was doing for lunch?”
“He had a meeting,” Draco replied. “Why?”
“Well, that sure looks like him in the restaurant… having lunch with a really pretty girl.”
Draco's eyes wouldn't focus for a moment. It was Harry, though, sitting at a small table near the back of the restaurant. The woman sitting across from him was Cho Chang – at least, she looked like Cho. It had been a few years since Draco had seen her.
“That's his ex-wife,” Draco heard himself say. “I guess that was his meeting.”
“Ex-wife?” Ben snorted. “Looks a little cozy to me. If I were you, I'd march right in there and say something.”
Draco swallowed and shook his head. “I'm not supposed to be seen, remember?”
“But she was trained as an auror.” Draco couldn't drag his eyes away from the table. “I can't risk it.”
Cho reached across the table and took Harry's hand, and Draco looked away. He took a deep breath and started walking.
Ben jogged to catch up. “Hey, are you okay?”
Draco shrugged. “How about Thai?” They'd walked nearly ten minutes before Draco remembered to look for a restaurant.
:: :: :: :: ::
Harry had asked Draco to meet him at Paddington Station at 7:00 . Draco had returned to his Peggy-esque glamour from that morning, and Harry didn't immediately recognize him. Draco watched him from a distance for a moment, and then sauntered forward, stopping right in front of him. Harry gave him a quizzical look, which turned into a surprised yelp when Draco leaned forward and kissed him. Draco stepped back and winked.
Harry looked something between shocked and amused, but he rolled his eyes and offered Draco his arm. They walked to nearby Cristini, a cozy Italian bistro with sunny walls. They were seated near the window; the waiter even pulled out Draco's chair for him.
“This is quite strange, you know,” Harry remarked over his menu. “I didn't peg you for a drag queen.”
It was on the tip of Draco's tongue to make a remark about this being more Harry's type, but he didn't.
“Just trying to mix it up a bit. Besides, people are a lot nicer to a pretty girl than a poncy bloke, no matter how cute he is.” He felt Harry's eyes on him, but he didn't look up. “If it bothers you, I can change it.”
“Wouldn't the waiter be surprised?” It seemed to be a rhetorical question. “Want some wine?”
Draco scanned the list. “How about a Chianti?”
They ordered, and the waiter brought them bread and San Pellegrino. Draco wandlessly cast a conversation screen around their table.
“What can you tell me about the Unspeakables?” he asked.
Harry blinked at him. “Not much. I don't know much, to be honest. Why?”
Draco shrugged. “I was looking into that incident near Durham that you mentioned today. There was some strange owl activity reported in that area at the time. One of the owls was shot by a local Muggle and turned over to the authorities, along with the message it was carrying. The message self-destructed in the hands of the Muggle police, who had to have their memories appropriately modified. The owl was taken back to the Ministry's owlery, where it was identified as one that had been officially dead for several years.”
“So it was a shadow,” Harry said. “Interesting. There are a few departments who use shadow owls, and most of their workers fit in the category of Unspeakable.”
“Hence my interest.” The waiter arrived with their antipasti and poured the wine. He smiled sweetly at Draco as he walked away. Draco swirled his glass and watched the legs of wine slip down the sides. “You wanted to know how deep the Death Eater connections went. How far are you willing to go?”
Harry studied his own wine glass. “As far as it takes to get my memory back, at least. After that, I'm hoping the rest will fall into place.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco was both tense and relieved when Harry asked him to stay the night. There was little prelude; they headed straight for the bedroom. Draco dropped the glamour and Harry kissed him hard, tugging their clothes off and backing them towards the bed.
Harry was being much more aggressive than usual. It crossed Draco's mind that Harry'd been appreciating his appearance all evening and that was why he seemed so excited now. But he pushed the thought away and let Harry press him onto his belly. Harry plastered his back with kisses while his hands seemed to be mapping out the surface of Draco's body. Draco smiled: Harry was quite good with his hands. He felt the cheeks of his arse being pressed apart and a wand tip pressed slightly in – and then the tingly feeling of a spell flooding into him. He sighed and relaxed into the mattress.
What was it he'd been tense about? It could wait until he'd come a few times.
Harry bit his arse playfully, causing Draco to yelp. After a few more bites, Harry was holding Draco down to keep him still. Draco laughed, and then moaned as Harry's tongued wormed its way between his cheeks.
He was surprised every time Harry did this. It was something most of his lovers had been squeamish about, including Manny. Harry actually seemed to like it, though.
Before Draco knew it, he was pressing his arse up into Harry's face, begging for that tongue to probe even deeper. His cock was hard and aching, hanging between his thighs and leaving little trails of pre-come on Harry's duvet. Harry's tongue stroked in and out, lapped at the skin around his hole, and dipped down to tease his balls. Draco could only mumble incoherently, alternately wishing Harry would keep doing what he was doing, or would hurry up and get to the part where he fucked him.
When Harry pressed into him at last, it was a long, slow burn, just enough to take the edge off and bring him back from the brink of orgasm. Harry had overdone the lubrication spell a bit, so there wasn't as much friction as Draco usually liked, but that just meant Harry could pound into him.
Draco ended up on his hands and knees, braced against the headboard while Harry rammed into him. It was rougher than the way they usually did it, but Draco liked it. Sometimes hard and fast was easier to deal with than slow and sweet.
Harry was loud when he came, much more so than usual. He collapsed against Draco's back, sweaty and panting. He finally managed to pull out and flop onto his back next to Draco.
“Oh, god, that was…” He took a deep breath. “I'm sorry, give me a minute.”
Draco stroked his erection and considered. Harry would recover and then would suck him off, probably. But the sight of Harry flat on his back, knees apart, was giving Draco other ideas.
He crawled between Harry's thighs and leaned down to kiss him. “That was good, wasn't it?” Harry nodded and let Draco plunder his mouth. Draco's hand slid down between them, and then one finger circled Harry's hole. “You're so good with your mouth,” Draco whispered. “Mind if I return the favor?”
Harry mumbled a weak protest, but Draco had already slid down and pressed Harry's thighs into his chest. He'd been able to cast a wandless elutus for years, though he hadn't done it for Harry before. Harry gasped at the spell, then whimpered as Draco's tongue flicked across sensitive skin.
Draco hadn't rimmed Harry before; he simply hadn't had an opportunity in the last week. Harry gasped above him in a way that made Draco wonder if anyone had ever done this to him. He took his time, circling with the tip of his tongue, then pressing gently into the center.
When his tongue breached Harry's body, Harry made a strangled noise. “Why do I feel so… odd about liking this?”
“Because it's dirty,” Draco replied, then thrust his tongue back in.
“Oh god.” Harry pulled his knees up harder, as if trying to open himself even more as Draco's tongue stroked in and out.
Draco's cock was so hard it hurt. He wanted nothing more than to bury himself in Harry, to feel heat and pressure, and to watch Harry's face while he fucked him. He reached for his wand and crawled back up Harry's torso.
“Harry, I really want–”
“Okay,” Harry whispered, eyes dark and unblinking.
Draco paused. He wanted to ask Harry if he was sure, but he didn't want to give him a chance to change his mind. He pressed the tip of his wand into Harry and whispered the lubrication spell, then repeated it on himself. No such thing as too much lube the first time. He positioned the head of his cock and stared down at Harry's face.
Harry was a little pale, but he looked like he was trying to relax. Draco smiled and kissed him. “Ready?”
Draco pressed forward and met immediate resistance. He knew it had to hurt, but he pushed a little further in. Harry's eyes were squeezed shut. Draco paused, uncertain. “Are you–”
“Stopstopstop,” Harry spat. “Please… out!”
Draco withdrew with a sigh and settled down next to Harry, watching his face.
“Sorry, but… that really hurt,” Harry said. His face was pale and his eyes were still closed.
Draco didn't say anything. He figured ‘you weren't relaxed enough' wouldn't help. He just kissed Harry's shoulder and waited.
There was a long silence. “I'm sorry,” Harry said at last, rolling onto his side. “I really wanted to try.”
“I know,” Draco said. “We'll try another time.”
Harry smiled and looked down at Draco's wilting erection. “Want me to take care of that?”
“Not now,” Draco said. He climbed under the duvet and gestured for Harry to join him. “Maybe later.”
:: :: :: :: ::
The pounding sound woke them up. At first, Draco thought it was Manny and Hermione again, but then he remembered where he was. Harry sat up, looking a bit disoriented.
The clock read half eleven, and someone was pounding on the door.
“Stay here,” Harry said, pulling on a pair of pyjama bottoms and picking up his wand. He pulled the bedroom door closed behind him.
“I'm not exactly helpless, you know,” Draco muttered. He lay in the dark and listened. After a moment, he saw the light go on under the door, and then he heard voices. They were speaking quietly, whoever they were. It didn't sound like trouble.
He pulled on his boxers and crept over to the door, opening it a crack. Harry was sitting on his couch with someone, and they were talking. The person flung herself into Harry's arms, and that was when Draco recognized her: Cho.
She was upset about something and Harry was apparently trying to comfort her. Draco couldn't help the flame of jealousy that flickered in his throat. During the afternoon, he'd managed to convince himself that their lunch “meeting” was nothing of consequence, just a goodbye of sorts. Harry had said something about divorce papers, so maybe he'd just been delivering them to her.
But this – a beautiful woman knocking on his boyfriend's door late at night and collapsing into his arms? Draco snorted. He pushed the door open a bit further and strained to hear the conversation.
“–realized Aaron is a complete arse, that's all. She was one of his students, not that he cared.” She sat back and wiped her eyes.
Harry was staring at her, a strange look on his face. Draco only knew a little about why they'd split up, but he was fairly certain it had involved Cho cheating on Harry with this Aaron fellow.
“I miss you, Harry. I've been such an idiot, and I know you probably hate me now, but–”
“But I made a mistake, Harry.” Her dark eyes welled up with tears and she took his hand in hers. “I don't expect you to take me back, or anything like that. I just wanted to…” She trailed off, lip quivering.
Harry exhaled and stared at their joined hands. He seemed at a loss for words.
Cho looked down at their hands and fingered Harry's ring. “For a moment, I thought this was your wedding ring. How long have you had this?”
“A few years,” Harry replied, looking up. “I just started wearing it again recently. It was Ron's.”
Cho's head jerked up at that. For a moment she looked as if she wanted to say something but couldn't. Finally, she cupped Harry's cheek with her free hand and leaned forward to kiss him.
Harry seemed frozen to the spot, like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Draco waited for him to jerk back, to say no, to push her away. But he didn't. He just sat there, waiting for her to kiss him.
Draco knew it was a terrible idea, but he couldn't stand it any longer. He pushed the door open and coughed. Harry jumped, as if he'd just remembered where he was. Cho looked up and gasped.
Well aware of how debauched he looked in just his boxers with his hair mussed, Draco stepped forward and sat on the arm of the couch behind Harry. He smiled coolly at Cho and leaned forward to put a hand on Harry's shoulder.
“Malfoy!” Cho spat, eyes as wide as saucers. “I don't… but you're…”
“In the States? A Death Eater? Dead?”
“Here!” she said. Her mouth opened and closed again, as if she couldn't find the words to express her shock.
Harry leaned back against Draco and sighed. “He's working for us, and we… that is… Draco and I…”
“It's what it looks like,” Draco added, helpfully.
Cho sank back against the sofa cushions, stunned. “This is… oh my god.” She looked up at Harry again. “How long?”
“A few weeks,” Harry replied. He looked away.
Cho's face was clouded for a moment, and then her eyes met Draco's. There was a spark of something there, something oddly familiar. Draco's eyes narrowed in response, and Cho's lips pressed into a thin line. She stood, dragging her glare away from Draco as if by sheer will. “I'm sorry to have disturbed you. I should leave.”
Harry stood and put a hand on her shoulder. “I'm sorry about Aaron. He was a pretentious wanker who fucked around. But it wasn't like we had much of a marriage, anyway.”
Cho turned a forced smile to Harry. “Why did we even bother?”
“Because we thought it was the right thing to do,” Harry said, brushing her cheek with one finger.
Cho seemed to be struggling to maintain her expression of sad acceptance. “Of course.”
“Good night,” Harry said.
Cho nodded and opened the door. She looked back and shot a scathing glare at Draco before closing it behind her.
Harry turned back to Draco and sighed. “Oh god. That was… interesting.”
Draco held out his hand. “Come back to bed?”
“Not just yet.” Harry sat on the sofa and pulled his knees into his chest.
Draco clasped his hands behind his back. “Harry, I'm sorry.” He had no idea what for, but it was what one said in these situations, wasn't it?
Harry shook his head. “I can't believe she–” He paused and pursed his lips. Draco stared at him, not certain what to do. “She came to cry on my shoulder because he cheated on her with some Uni girl, as if I would… After she…” Harry swallowed, and Draco realized he was trying very hard not to lose control of his emotions.
Draco exhaled and sat next to Harry. He had no idea what to say.
Harry stared at the floor for a long moment. “I'm sorry.”
“It's not your fault your ex-wife is a self-centered bitch. I could have her killed, if you like.”
Harry laughed, but still wouldn't look at Draco.
“Come to bed,” Draco said again, keeping his voice gentle. “Please?”
Harry looked up at him at last, eyes bright. “Go ahead. I'll be along. I just need a few minutes, all right?”
Draco felt his stomach knot up again.
:: :: :: :: ::
Lucius's eyes narrowed as he watched Draco drop the cigarette to the pavement and put it out with his shoe. Draco stiffened when his father reached out to touch his face. “All in good time, boy. There is something I want you to do.”
Draco was frozen to the spot. Why couldn't he move? “I haven't changed my mind. I have no intention of–”
“All I ask now is for your assistance in capturing Potter. We know where he is. We can take him easily, but we'll need your help to control him, to convince him to cooperate.”
Draco closed his eyes and tried to concentrate. He needed to find a way to get out of this, but his mind was swimming just enough to prevent him from thinking clearly. Funny, he didn't remember drinking tonight.
In fact, he couldn't remember anything from tonight.
Lucius leaned forward and brushed a kiss against Draco's cheek. “I'll contact you in the usual way,” he whispered. Draco swallowed – there was something about those words that terrified him. Lucius turned and walked away.
Draco leaned against the alley wall, his father's final words ringing in his ears. I'll contact you in the usual way.
A hand grasped his wrist and whirled him around in the darkness. Draco reached for his wand but couldn't wrap his fingers around it. He looked up, and his wrist was released. There was no one there.
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco started awake, only to find he was still alone.
:: :: :: :: ::
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