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:: :: :: :: ::
27 February, 2004: Friday
“Are you okay?” Manny asked.
Draco looked up from his monitor and rubbed his eyes. “Yeah. Just tired.”
“Hope you don't mind that I got you a mocha instead of a latte.” Manny held out the paper Pret cup and grinned at Draco's expression of horror. “Kidding, geesh. I know better.”
“Thanks.” Draco pinched the bridge of his nose.
“No witty retort? Something is wrong.” Manny waved his hand and the chair from his desk obediently rolled across the floor. He sat and studied Draco for a moment. “Is Harry keeping you up nights or something?”
“No. Not like that. It's nothing.”
“I offered to pick you up a coffee because you've been falling asleep all morning. It's not like you.” Manny's expression was one of genuine concern, despite the lightness of his tone.
“I dunno. I'm having trouble sleeping.”
“It's nothing. Forget it.”
“You should try a sleeping potion. My Tia Emilia has an amazing recipe that'll–”
Draco groaned. “You think I haven't tried sleeping potions?”
Manny's eyes narrowed. “Are you trying to quit smoking again?”
Draco shrugged; it was as good an excuse as any. “Two fucking days without one.”
“You really must be in love,” Manny said, rolling his chair back over to his own desk.
“Or a world-class idiot,” Draco mumbled.
After ten minutes of staring at a decoded report Hermione had epistulared to him that morning, Draco could feel himself slipping out of consciousness. He was so tired he could do nothing about it.
“Draco?” Manny was standing over him.
Draco blinked. He'd fallen asleep.
“Maybe you should take the day off,” Manny said. He looked worried.
“I can't,” Draco replied. “There's so much to do.”
“And you're not getting anything done. You need to get some sleep. Go home.”
Draco sighed. The last thing he needed was to go to sleep, where he might find himself back in the nightmare again. He had a strange feeling that it was connected to everything – to Harry's memory loss, to Death Eaters who had infiltrated the American and British governments, to the truth about Voldemort's fate. But he didn't know how, and he hated being reminded of that nightly.
He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against the desk. “God, I'm… I can't do this. I can't work in this office. I can't keep hiding.”
“What are you talking about?” Manny sat on the edge of Draco's desk.
“I know fuck all about office operations. This isn't what I'm good at, Manny. I'm a field operative. I blend in; I go undercover; I root people out. I'm not accomplishing anything here.” Draco sat up and ran a hand through his hair, pushing it back out of his face. The red lowlights were starting to grow out, which annoyed him to no end. It was a Muggle coloring job, so he couldn't do a thing with it.
“Draco, you're doing fine. You–”
“No, I'm not. I need to get out there.”
“You've got a price on your head. Your father is only one of the people who'd love to get their hands on you, and he's probably the only one who wouldn't kill you on sight.”
“I know it's dangerous. But I came here to help. In fact, I risked my life to come here and help.”
“No.” Manny shook his head, but his eyes were sympathetic. “You came here because Harry asked you to. You came here because this was where he was.”
Draco stared at his own hands. If Harry knew the truth – the whole truth – Draco doubted he'd understand. And that was the crux of his problem. He had to solve this mystery before Harry learned his secrets – because then it wouldn't matter anymore. It was his only chance.
“Go home,” Manny said. Draco frowned, and Manny sighed. “Want to go for a walk, then?”
:: :: :: :: ::
“Mama says it's been raining like crazy in San Antonio ,” Manny said, glancing at the grey sky. “I told her it's the same here.”
“When did you talk to your mother?”
“She emailed me.”
Draco shook his head. “It's amazing that your parents use email. I don't know any wizards over the age of forty who do.”
“Do you know how much a trans-Atlantic goose costs? Besides, she's had to use email for years. Even though the College of Magic is hidden from Mundanes, it's still part of the University.”
“Is that where you studied?”
“No,” Manny replied with a laugh. “I would have had my own mother for western magical theory, which would have been a disaster waiting to happen. I went to the University of Michigan . It has a great College of Magic , one of the top ones in the country.”
“Going to university isn't something many wizards here do,” Draco said. “But I wanted to train to be an Auror, so it wasn't necessary for me.”
“That's a bachelor's degree program in the US ,” Manny noted. “But still – you must have been pretty angry at your father to take that career path.”
Draco shrugged and said nothing.
“I rebelled against my parents by getting married young and not going to graduate school. That's how to piss off academics, in case you were curious.”
“Hermione is going to love your family,” Draco said, grinning.
Manny blushed and was quiet for a moment. “It's happened so fast. I don't… can you really fall in love with someone in two weeks?”
Draco sighed. “Yeah – I think you can.”
They walked in silence until Leicester Square opened before them, bustling with tourists even in this dreary month. They made their way to the center of the square and sat on a bench. Draco's glamour was designed to be as uninteresting as possible, and no one had spared him a glance. Manny received a few curious looks, but Draco might as well have been invisible.
“So how's it going with Harry?” Manny's tone was casual, but Draco knew the question was not.
“Ben said y'all saw him with his ex-wife the other day.”
Draco sighed. “Yes, well… it was nothing.”
Manny opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again. He turned towards Draco. “I know you care about him – and he seems to be a very nice guy – but is there any possibility this is just a rebound fling for him?”
“Of course there's a possibility.” Draco watched a bit of rubbish flutter in the breeze on the ground before him.
“I just don't want to see you get hurt.”
“Like you hurt me, you mean?” Draco asked, raising his eyes to meet Manny's.
Manny's expression didn't change. “You know how much I regret that.” He was silent for a moment, and then looked away. “I was angry at her, at the world, at women in general. And you were there, and you were willing, and… I was curious. I never meant for it to get so complicated.” Manny clasped his hands together in his lap, almost as if he were doing so to keep himself from reaching out to Draco. “But I care about you. I always will.”
“I know. And I trust Harry. I can't explain why. I have no reason to, but being with him feels very… comfortable. Even though he's still sorting it all out, somehow I know it will work, if I don't screw it up.” Draco frowned. He hadn't meant to say that last bit aloud.
Manny smiled at him. “Then don't screw it up. But if he hurts you, I'll have to kill him.”
Draco smiled. “I wonder if he's had this same conversation with Hermione?”
“Probably. Do you think those two ever…?”
“No, I don't.” He grinned at Manny – and then a dark shape caught his attention just behind Manny's shoulder. Draco felt his stomach drop.
“What?” Manny said, whirling around to look in the direction Draco was staring.
Draco blinked, and the shadow was gone.
“Are you all right?” Manny asked.
Draco nodded. “I… thought I saw something for a moment.”
“Saw what? You look like you've seen a ghost.”
Draco tried not to flinch at the irony of the comment. “It was nothing. Let's head back, shall we?”
Manny glanced at his watch. “I've got a meeting with Hermione, actually.”
“A meeting?” Draco repeated. “I'll bet.”
Manny rolled his eyes. “Is that all you think about?”
Draco looked back once as they walked away, but nothing was there. He shivered.
:: :: :: :: ::
The envelope was sitting on Draco's desk when he returned, along with an annoyed-looking owl. And a few pellets.
“Ugh,” Draco muttered, casting a dirty glance at the bird.
“It's been here for a while,” Ben said, peeking through the doorway. “It refused to give the package to anyone but you.” He disappeared from view again.
Draco glanced at the envelope: Derek Malone was written on it in Harry's handwriting. He reached for it, and the owl nipped his hand.
“What the–? Oh, right. Finite incantatum.” The owl blinked at him once as the glamour dissipated, then stepped away from the package. It scowled at Draco until he gave it a treat from the packet he kept in a drawer. It extended its wings as if stretching, then swept through the corridor and out of sight.
Draco banished the owl pellets to the rubbish bin with a wave of his hand and picked up the envelope. It was thick and lumpy, and looked a bit worse for wear. Draco wondered if Harry had distressed it on purpose to make it look unimportant. He opened it and emptied the contents onto his desk. There were several bundles of parchment, each clipped together with a differently colored Muggle paperclip; a few dark-colored feathers; a Muggle still photo of a smiling man holding what looked to be a dead owl in one hand and a shotgun in the other; and several stones.
Draco frowned. Stones?
He picked up a lone piece of parchment. Like the others, it was blank, and had a paper clip on it despite not being clipped to anything else. Draco pulled off the blue paperclip and a jumble of letters and numbers appeared on the page.
“Granger,” Draco muttered. One of the first things she'd done when the FBI office was set up was to meet with each person individually and explain how their own personal cryptokeys worked, how to encode and decode messages, etc. Draco's eyes had nearly glazed over, but he'd left with a new admiration for her.
He retrieved his wand from a pocket and tapped it against the parchment, whispering the key spell. The characters on the page moved and reformed into coherent sentences.
Draco paused to cast a suspicious glance at the stones. They were ordinary bits of rock, as far as he could tell.
Draco decoded the other sets of parchment and set to reading the reports. Aurors had followed standard procedure after what appeared to be a terrorist-style Death Eater attack in a village outside of Durham . A house was destroyed, but there were only light injuries and relatively few Muggles had been affected. One of the Aurors had complained bitterly that she had been prevented from conducting a complete investigation. Draco scanned to the end of the report, and started at the name: N. Tonks . His cousin.
Time for a little family reunion, perhaps. He didn't know her very well, but his father had always said blood was the most important thing. He pulled a blank sheet of parchment and a quill from a tray on his desk.
He rolled the parchment and tied it, then headed to the front office. The receptionist, a young witch named Grizabella, looked up from her computer monitor when he walked through the door. She tapped the screen a few times before casting a guilty glance in his direction.
Draco resisted the urge to tease her. She'd only finished at Hogwarts the previous year and had never seen a computer until they'd hired her. She'd quickly discovered internet porn, though, and there'd been no turning back. She'd become so adept at navigating the web for information that Manny was considering sending her on a Muggle computer course. Draco thought she'd probably leave the FBI for a job designing pornographic web sites if that happened.
“Owl this,” he said, “to Nymphadora Tonks.”
“Yes, sir,” she replied, tucking a strand of mousy-colored hair behind her ear. Draco found it amusing to be called ‘sir' by someone only a few years his junior. She'd once said she remembered him from school, but he'd not recognized her, even though she'd been in Slytherin. Of course, he'd been a bit preoccupied those last years.
She summoned an owl, then shifted in her chair, staring at her hands. Draco knew he intimidated her, but he had no plans to change the situation. There was no reason to get to know her any better.
The owl's arrival broke the tension. Draco handed her the parchment and went back to his office.
Twenty minutes later, Grizabella appeared next to his desk. “It's a reply from Ms. Tonks, sir,” she said. She held out the envelope and jerked her hand away as soon as Draco took it.
The handwriting on the envelope didn't look familiar, but then, he hadn't ever known his cousin very well. Grizabella shifted her weight from one foot to the other beside his desk, hands clasped in front of her.
“Thank you,” Draco said, not looking up.
Draco caught a sidelong glimpse of her wringing hands. “Yes?”
“Might I… well, it's Friday, and it's a bit quiet…”
“You want to take the afternoon off, I suppose.”
He looked up to see her blushing. “It's not up to me. You should ask Mr. Padilla when he gets back.”
Her face fell, and Draco had to struggle not to grin. Manny would never give her the afternoon off, and she knew it. “Yes, sir.” She returned to her desk in the front office.
Draco opened the envelope and pulled out a slip of parchment. Meet me at the Dog and Duck at half past noon. She hadn't even signed her name. Draco glanced at the wall clock; it was nearly noon already.
Tonks didn't even know who he was, but she seemed very interested in talking to him.
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco couldn't remember ever being in a Muggle pub in Britain before. He'd spent a good deal of time in gay clubs when he was younger, but that was the extent of his experience. He'd had to ask Grizabella to help him find the place, and she'd produced a set of directions for him in a matter of seconds from the internet. He'd been shocked to realize the pub was literally just around the corner from his flat.
The Dog and Duck reminded him of a clean, freak-free Leaky Cauldron, small and packed with Muggles in various forms of professional attire. He scanned the room for a familiar face, but didn't see anyone downstairs, so he climbed the narrow staircase to the upper floor. He rounded the corner past the toilets and the unstaffed upstairs bar, and saw a woman with long black hair and dark glasses sitting in the far corner reading a newspaper. She couldn't have looked any more like someone who was trying to be inconspicuous. Fortunately, they were completely alone in the room. Draco rolled his eyes and crossed to the table.
“Ms. Tonks, I presume?”
She started when she looked up at him. He'd cast a glamour charm, but he'd expected her to see right through it.
“Oh my god,” she said, pulling the dark glasses off. Her eyes were wide and violet, and though the shape of her face was familiar, it was effectively masked by her outward appearance. He envied her ability to disguise herself without having to resort to illusory charms. “Sit,” she said, pushing the newspaper aside with a sweeping gesture. It fell to the floor and scattered.
He removed his coat and draped it over one of the many mismatched chairs in the room. Tonks cast a screening spell around their table as he sat, despite the fact that no one else was there.
“Draco Malfoy,” she said, grinning. “I don't believe it. Well, I'd heard rumors that you were back, but–”
“Rumors, really?” Draco asked. They'd been careful, but he knew how quickly gossip spread in the Ministry.
“Here,” Tonks said, pushing one of the two pints of beer on the small table toward him. “I took the liberty of ordering you a drink. Well, I didn't know it would be you , of course.”
“Thanks,” Draco replied, trying not to wrinkle his nose. He liked beer, but he was a bit picky about it.
“You must tell Harry I said hello,” Tonks said, her lips quirking in a knowing smile. “I've not seen him in ages.”
“I will.” So everyone knew about that too, then?
“I'm so glad to see he's moving on. I never liked his wife very much.”
Draco smiled. Tonks was quite a lovely person. He must make an effort to get to know her better.
“Unfortunately, I don't have much time to sit and chat,” she continued. “I'm expected back for a meeting.” She paused and took a rather large gulp from her own glass before continuing. “I'm actually glad it's you I'm going to tell. There are very few people I trust in the Ministry these days.”
Draco tried not to let his surprise show. She trusted him? She hardly knew him.
“I was sent there after it happened. It came out of the blue; there weren't even any rumors that something was going to happen. It's been so quiet these last few years, you know.” She paused to drink another few gulps of ale, as if bolstering her courage. “A house was destroyed in a small village, and some Muggles were tortured – there was no permanent harm done, and we wiped their memories that day after questioning them. But they reported seeing an unusual number of owls in the area during the days prior to the attack. Strange, dark owls, not your common barn owls. One farmer even shot one – it'd killed one of his cats. My immediate thought was that they were shadows – and I later discovered that all records of official Ministry business there had been classified.”
“Did you see any of them?” Draco took a sip from his glass.
“Just the dead one. Its head had been blown off and it was a bit mangled – apparently the farmer's dog had got hold of it. But it looked like a shadow. You know how they spell their feathers so dark to make them resistant to illumination charms and such?”
“Your report noted that you'd wanted to investigate further,” Draco prompted.
“Yes,” she said, slumping down in her seat as if just talking about it was exhausting. “Death Eaters haven't attacked randomly for years. There must have been a target. And the owls – why so many, and why shadows in particular? It has to involve the Ministry somehow. I'm certain there were Unspeakables on the scene before it ever happened, though no one will admit it.”
“So perhaps Death Eaters knew they were there and wanted to disrupt whatever they were doing,” Draco said. “But who was meeting there, and why would Death Eaters know about it and not your division?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Each of my attempts to investigate was thwarted. I was told to stop asking silly questions; that the incident was random terrorism and there was nothing more to do other than to capture the Death Eaters involved.”
“Has anyone been captured?”
“No.” Tonks snorted. “There wasn't much evidence to go on, and no one seems interested in digging around for more. The investigation has effectively stalled.” She drained her beer and set the empty glass back on the table with a thud, as if to punctuate.
“There were some stones collected from the site,” Draco said.
Tonks nodded. “Fragments from the house that was destroyed. Our lab did nothing with them, though. I doubt they even tried. I asked several times, but no one would let me take a look.”
Draco sipped his beer. It was probably best not to mention that those stones were sitting on his desk at this very moment.
“I've got to go,” Tonks said, slipping her dark glasses on once again. “If you want to meet again, let me know. But I have to be careful.”
“I'll be in touch,” Draco replied.
She stood, bumping the table as she did and nearly toppling Draco's glass. “Oops, sorry! And tell Harry to owl me, eh?” With that, she slinked out of the room and down the stairs, looking for all the world like a character from an old Muggle detective film. It was a good thing most wizards didn't watch such films, Draco thought. Her behavior was far more conspicuous than it ought to be for someone sneaking about.
Draco finished half of his beer before deciding to leave. He descended the narrow staircase to find that the main room of the pub was full of people now and getting a bit smoky. It was enough to make him stop and take a deep breath. He'd left his cigarettes at home – he was, after all, trying to quit – but the scent of smoke was far too appealing.
:: :: :: :: ::
The stones were scattered on his desk. Now that he knew how important they were, Draco felt a bit guilty about having left them in plain view.
He picked one up and turned it over in his hand. He could see where it had been recently fractured. Marks that he'd previously assumed were natural coloration were clearly scorch marks.
Draco pursed his lips. There were many spells with the power to shatter stone, but the best were, of course, dark in origin. And dark magic left a particular sort of residue. He couldn't imagine that the lab hadn't looked for it. He set the stone on his desk and pointed his wand at it. He concentrated for several seconds before whispering, “ Resero ”. The stone shimmered before his eyes and he concentrated, watching and feeling and listening.
He'd had a hard time in the bit of Auror training he'd done learning to sense magical residue. It was an advanced and complex skill, and he'd had little aptitude for it, unfortunately. However, he'd improved over the years – and had found he was particularly sensitive to dark magic. It was a useful skill, if not a surprising one.
He stared at the stone, focusing on the faint glow he could now see around it. It was especially difficult to see, almost as if… He stopped the thought and focused even harder. He only had a few more seconds before the spell would fade, and he wasn't sure if he could do it again.
He gritted his teeth and picked the stone up. He wrapped his fingers around it, closing his eyes. If he couldn't see it, maybe he could feel it. The edges of the stone were rough, and the residue was cold against his skin. The chill spread, making his fingers tingle uncomfortably.
And then it was warm – and familiar. Draco's eyes widened and the stone fell to the floor.
His father had been there when the house was destroyed, he was sure of it. Draco collapsed into his chair, drained. Whatever had happened in Durham , Lucius was involved. As were unidentified people in the Ministry, perhaps – people who had possibly even censured Tonks for trying to investigate.
And someone had recently tried to remove the residue – of that he was certain.
There was no way to know how his father had been involved, however. The presence of magical residue could mean anything; it was considered circumstantial evidence in courts because it only implied a spell had been cast in the vicinity of the object.
Draco had been running from his father for a year, even in his dreams, and his first break in the investigation led straight to the man. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He would go and investigate, but he wouldn't tell anyone he knew his father was involved – not yet.
:: :: :: :: ::
“No,” Harry said, leaning back in his chair. “Absolutely not.”
Draco swore under his breath and looked away. “Why does everyone seem to think they can tell me what to do?”
“Because some of us actually can,” Manny said. His voice was smooth and calm. “I know why you want to go, but we can't risk it.” Manny didn't know, of course; he probably thought this was related to Draco's morning outburst.
“I worked five years undercover,” Draco retorted, “in some fairly dangerous situations. I dealt with Muggle gangsters and Death Eaters on a daily basis.”
“And that was before they knew you weren't really a double agent,” Harry said. “Things are different now. We need you to stay safe. Someone else can go and investigate.”
“Who?” Draco asked, leveling a glare at Harry. “Who understands the situation like I do?”
“No one,” Harry replied. “But that doesn't change anything.”
Draco pushed away from the conference table and stood, running his hands through his hair in frustration. When he called this meeting, he'd expected everyone to praise him for his brilliant investigative work and speed him on his way. He'd never expected this.
“Draco–” Manny began.
“Oh, do shut the fuck up,” Draco said, whirling around. “I don't particularly enjoy being treated like a child.”
“Then perhaps you should stop acting like one,” Manny retorted. Draco glared at him.
Harry sighed. “Manny, could you give us a minute?”
“Absolutely,” Manny replied, standing. He turned to Draco as if to say something more, but didn't. Instead, he shook his head and left the room, pulling the door closed behind him.
Harry leaned against the table. “I know you know what you're doing. No one disputes that.”
“Oh, really?” Draco replied, turning to face him.
“Yes, really. It's not that we don't think you can handle it; it's just that you're… a secret weapon of sorts. They don't know for certain where you are, but if anyone were to find you there–”
“They wouldn't,” Draco said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Everyone seems to be dismissing the fact that I'm an undercover expert.”
Harry scrubbed his forehead with one hand, revealing his own frustration for the first time. “Then don't go because I am asking you not to. It's a terrible risk, and I don't think it's worth it right now.” He looked away. “I don't want to lose you over something like this.”
Draco clenched his jaw, considering. Was Harry being sincere, or was he playing on Draco's emotions? “That isn't fair,” he said at last.
Harry shrugged and looked up again. “None of this is fair, you know. It isn't fair that I'm missing an important piece of my past. It isn't fair that I've watched good friends die. It isn't fair that the destiny I was supposed to fulfill… ” He didn't finish the sentence, but sighed and dropped his arms, as if in defeat. “And it isn't fair that I only just found you again. I'm too selfish to let you go so quickly.”
Draco couldn't help but smile. “Again?”
Harry sighed. “Oh… you know what I mean, don't you?” He cast a hopeful smile at Draco.
Draco's resolve melted, against his will. He crossed the room to stand before Harry. “There's nothing wrong with being selfish, you know.”
Harry pulled Draco into his arms and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “That's what I'm counting on.”
Draco let himself be held for a long moment, surprised at how good it felt. Harry's arms were tight around him, comforting and familiar, warm and secure. How had he gone so long without this in his life?
“Please don't go to Durham ,” Harry whispered. “I'll send someone. You can even brief them.”
Draco nodded into Harry's shoulder.
“Thank you,” Harry whispered. Draco pressed his face into Harry's neck and tried to convince himself he'd made the right choice.
:: :: :: :: ::
“Putting on make-up or something?” Draco called over his shoulder as he examined his reflection in the mirror over Harry's bureau.
“Shut up,” Harry replied from the toilet, though he sounded more amused than annoyed.
Draco flicked his wand and made a few minor adjustments to his glamour, and then nodded, satisfied. He tucked his wand away. “What time did we say we'd be there?”
“We have 15 minutes,” Harry said, mouth sounding as if it were full of toothbrush.
Draco picked up a framed picture from the bureau of Harry and Ron Weasley that appeared to have been taken only a few years ago. They had their arms around each other's shoulders, grinning as if they were having a great time. Draco couldn't help but notice that Harry's eyes tended to linger on Ron's face much longer than Ron's did on Harry's. After a moment, Picture Ron turned and whispered something to Picture Harry, and they both laughed and looked out of the frame at Draco.
Draco rolled his eyes and set it down. “Why'd you cut your hair?”
“Sorry?” Harry seemed to have finished brushing his teeth.
“You have long hair in this picture,” Draco said, though he'd moved on to a small white owl figurine that was preening its feathers as it sat in Draco's palm.
“Oh, yeah,” Harry replied. “I dunno. Got tired of it, I guess.”
“You should grow it out again,” Draco said, setting the owl down and picking up a small enamel box. “It looks good on you.” He opened the box, but it was empty. He closed the lid and studied it, frowning. It looked familiar, as if he'd seen one like it somewhere before. He turned it over and nearly dropped it when he saw the WWW mark on the bottom. He placed it gingerly back on the bureau: old Weasley products were nothing to be handled lightly.
“Ready,” Harry said, stepping out of the bathroom at last.
Draco turned towards him and wrinkled his nose. “You've got to be shitting me.” It was his favorite American expression.
Harry blinked at him. “What's wrong?”
“Khakis, Harry? Honestly.” Draco took Harry by the hand and tugged him toward the wardrobe. “We're going to a club, not a golf tournament.”
“I think I look fine,” Harry replied, but he didn't resist.
Draco pulled a pair of black trousers from the wardrobe. “These will do.” He tossed them at Harry and started looking for a shirt. “You've no clothing that's remotely camp, have you?”
“I doubt it,” Harry said, sounding a bit exasperated. Draco turned to see him standing in his underwear, about to step into the new trousers. The outline of his penis was clearly visible through the underpants, leaning slightly to the left.
A second later, Draco was on his knees before Harry, mouth pressed against the fabric.
“Fuck!” Harry gasped, dropping the trousers, hands cupping Draco's head.
Draco could feel Harry's cock growing hard under his lips – that rush of power always turned him on. He looked up and grinned. “Couldn't help myself.” He tugged the pants down, and Harry's cock sprang free.
“I know the fee– ohhh.” Harry's eyes closed as Draco's mouth engulfed him.
Draco had learned quite a lot about what Harry liked in two short weeks. Harry liked pressure, but not too much. He didn't mind the occasional scrape of teeth like some men did, and even seemed to enjoy it early on. He always caught his breath when Draco pressed the tip of his tongue into the slit, and he liked that tongue running under his foreskin too.
They had somewhere to be, though, so Draco settled into a rhythm he knew would bring Harry off quickly. His tongue fluttered and swirled against soft skin, and Harry keened above him.
“You're so good at that,” Harry breathed. “Oh god.”
Draco steadied Harry's cock at the base with one hand and cupped his balls with the other, and Harry spread his legs a bit to give him more access. The underpants were in the way, but Draco didn't want to stop long enough to push them down further. His hand twisted, and he sucked hard.
“Unnhh,” Harry said, and clenched Draco's hair. Draco'd learned that was all the warning he would get. Harry's knees nearly gave as he came. His eyes were clenched shut, and the hand in Draco's hair tightened to the point of pain.
Draco had always liked the taste of semen. He didn't understand why so many men didn't. It was an odd mix of salty and bitter, but it was different every time. There was something so very intimate about letting someone ejaculate in his mouth – yet powerful, too.
Harry pulled his hips back: his dick was usually very sensitive after he came. Draco pouted, as he rather liked a little post-orgasm suckling.
Harry either didn't notice or was ignoring him. He flopped backwards onto the bed, arms stretched over his head. “What brought that on?”
Draco sat beside him and grinned. “I dunno. I just like the taste of you, I suppose.”
“Mmmm,” Harry said, looking up at him. He sat up and fumbled in the drawer of his bedside table, coming up with a tube of lubricant. “Your turn.”
Lubricant? Draco gave him a blank look. Had he taught Harry nothing in the last two weeks?
Harry grinned at him. “I know what you're thinking, you know. Come here.” He scooted back on the mattress until he was leaning against the headboard and patted the space between his thighs. Draco crawled towards him, and Harry indicated he should turn around. Draco sat between Harry's legs, leaning back against his chest. Harry's arms wrapped around him and he unfastened the front of Draco's trousers.
Draco's cock was already aching after watching Harry come, and he groaned at the first touch of Harry's fingers. Harry paused to squeeze a bit of lube into his palm, then wrapped his fingers around Draco's cock. Draco started a bit: the lube was cold, though it soon warmed up with the motion of Harry's hand.
Draco relaxed into Harry's arms, grinning. “This is fantastic,” he sighed. “Maybe we should stay in. You could do this for hours.”
Harry laughed. “You couldn't last that long.”
“Oh?” Draco retorted. He loved a good challenge.
So did Harry. “You won't last three minutes.” Harry hadn't lasted two, but that seemed beside the point.
“Wanna bet?” Draco grinned.
“Yes,” Harry said, continuing with slow strokes. “Actually, I do.”
“What are we wagering?”
“Hmmm.” Harry paused, fingers playing on Draco's skin. “I don't want to dance tonight. And I don't want you to buy me any fruity drinks.”
Draco snorted. “Nothing fruity for you, of course.”
“Well, other than the fact that I'm pulling you off at the moment.” There was a hint of humor in his tone.
“All right,” Draco said, “When I win, here's what I want: you're going to be gay tonight.”
Harry's hand paused. “Sorry?”
“Gay, Harry. Dress, behavior, everything. I want you to dance. I want you to have fun. I want you to relax, mostly.”
Harry's hand resumed its gentle movements. “That's not very fair. I didn't ask for much.”
“We're going to a club. If you won't dance we may as well stay home.” Draco let his hand trail up Harry's arm, fingers lingering over a taut bicep. “If you don't like the terms, you'll just have to win, won't you?”
Harry was silent for a moment, considering. “All right, fine.”
Draco held out one hand and his wand flew to it. He swirled the tip in the air, saying, “ Trifarium clepsydra .” A small hourglass was conjured out of thin air and hung above them, glowing. “Three minutes. Ready?”
“Are you?” Harry whispered, and his lips brushed against Draco's ear.
Draco shivered – he ought to accuse Harry of cheating. Instead, he waved his wand and the hourglass flipped over.
Harry's hand started stroking. Draco relaxed against him and smiled. This wasn't going to be so difficult.
“Do you know,” Harry whispered, “how many times I did this and thought about you?”
“Pulled a bloke off and thought of me? Just once, to my knowledge.”
Harry paused to add a bit more lube. “No, silly. Wanked, thinking about you.” His hand slid against Draco's skin, twisting a little, squeezing. “Thinking about you getting sucked off in the toilet of a club, your trousers around your knees.”
Draco smiled. He knew precisely what night Harry was talking about.
“I fantasized that it was me instead… sucking your cock.”
Draco felt a tingle in his belly. Harry almost never used words like ‘cock'. It was practically out of character.
“And I… wondered if you were thinking about me then.”
“I was,” Draco replied, willing his voice to sound relaxed. “I wanted you to come in – to see.”
“You came while I was watching.” Harry's breath was warm and moist against his ear. Harry's other hand cupped Draco's balls, and he sped up his strokes. “I want to watch you do this sometime. I want to see how you touch yourself.”
“A lot… like this, actually.” Draco swallowed. Harry was rather good with his hands.
Something wet trailed the shell of Draco's ear, circling the jade stud Harry had given him a few weeks ago. Harry's hand tightened. “I've even wanked in the last week, thinking about you. In the shower, on mornings when we're not together.”
“You like morning sex,” Draco said, trying not to let his voice hitch.
“I think about fucking you, and how good it feels.” Harry almost never said ‘fuck' in that context either. Those words coming from Harry's lips were turning Draco on far more that he would have imagined.
Millicent Bulstrode , Draco thought, conjuring up an unpleasant image from the past. In a miniskirt.
“And sometimes…” Draco felt Harry's breath quicken against his skin. “Sometimes I think about… you fucking me.”
And masturbating with… a toad.
“I think about you fucking me with your tongue first, and fingers… and then I try to imagine your cock inside me.”
Toad . Millicent. McGonagall.
“Hard and hot, and fucking me…”
Millicent AND McGonagall.
Harry's hand was moving so fast Draco couldn't focus on it. The friction was glorious, and the heat was amazing, almost like–
Toad, toad, toad.
“You fucking me so hard… and it feels so good…”
The toad image evoked a memory from years before: back in seventh year, Draco had once snuck under a table in the library late at night while studying with Neville. He'd been in the process of sucking Neville off when that damned toad of his had leapt out of a pocket and given Draco the fright of his life. Neville'd made it up to him, though. He'd made it up to him in a rather creative way, in fact… Draco winced. That image wasn't helping.
He squinted at the hourglass. It was getting close. He could make it.
“I want to feel you come inside me,” Harry said, voice rough. Harry was grinding up against him, still hard from a few moments ago. Draco could feel the dampness of Harry's forehead pressed against his cheek. And those words, from Harry…
Draco gritted his teeth. Harry's hand was unlike anything he'd felt before. He'd had rough, quick hand jobs plenty of times, but nothing so intense as this. He struggled to think about something else, anything else. Work, maybe. Several naughty scenarios filled his mind immediately, all featuring Harry pulling him off in semi-public areas at the Ministry. Heat pooled deep in his gut, and he groaned against his will.
“That's it,” Harry whispered, and then Draco's earlobe was being sucked. It was something he rather liked. “Come on, baby.”
Baby? The word was enough to bring Draco back from the edge. He forced his eyes to focus on the hourglass. It was nearly empty. ‘Baby', indeed.
But his body was aching to come, and Harry's tongue was hot and slick against his ear, which wasn't helping. The fingers that had been cradling his balls slipped beneath them to press against the skin just behind.
Draco saw stars. He bit his tongue.
“Shit,” Harry muttered.
And Draco came, hard.
It was a moment before he remembered to look up. The hourglass was empty, but he had no idea if he'd won or not.
Harry wrapped his arms around Draco and sighed into his hair. “How gay do I have to be?”
:: :: :: :: ::
Manny's and Draco's flat had finally been added to the Floo Network the previous day, which made traveling to places that warded against apparition significantly easier. They'd spent an afternoon casting the spells to enlarge it to UKFN standards, and had endured two different inspections. Manny had grown more exasperated by the day, complaining constantly about the slow pace of progress. It wasn't until Draco had joked that he could call and offer to suck someone's cock to speed things up that he'd relaxed a bit. After that, it had still been a week before they received the owl notice that they'd been added to the network and should put up the appropriate wards (detailed in the enclosed twenty-page pamphlet).
So it was with a bit of pride that Draco flooed to his own apartment, followed closely by Harry. They stepped out of the fireplace to whistles from the two people sitting on the black leather sofa.
“Harry, I know for a fact that is not your shirt,” Hermione said, stifling a laugh.
Harry would have had a witty retort under ordinary circumstances, but he seemed for too embarrassed. “I lost a bet.”
“I transfigured it from something dull in his wardrobe,” Draco added.
“Hmmm,” Hermione replied, and turned to grin at Manny. Draco had to admit she looked rather good in her low-cut trousers with a midriff-baring top. She had a lovely figure – which she usually kept well-hidden. Draco turned to Harry and saw that he was staring at Hermione, open-mouthed. Draco nudged him and mouthed the word ‘gay'. Harry frowned.
Draco sent him to the kitchen for a drink and settled next to Hermione on the sofa.
“Who are you supposed to be, anyway?” she asked, studying his glamour charmed appearance.
“Nobody,” he said, shrugging. “Ditched the rugrats again?”
“Yes,” she replied, leaning back against Manny. “My mum and dad are keeping them tonight. They seemed rather pleased that I was going out.”
“They did, didn't they?” Manny added, smiling at her.
Draco raised an eyebrow, but resisted the urge to comment. Harry reappeared with two bottles of beer and perched on the arm of the sofa behind Draco.
“So what sort of bet did you lose that required you to wear such a clingy bit of fuchsia?” Hermione asked, leaning across Draco to finger the fabric. Harry blushed and took a swig of his beer.
Draco caught Hermione's hand in his and grinned. “Do you really want to know?” Hermione's eyebrows rose a bit in response. “You should get your navel pierced,” Draco continued, now stroking her exposed belly with his free hand. “You've got the figure for it. Did you actually carry those babies yourself?”
“Oh, yes,” Hermione replied, laughing. “I was big as a whale, wasn't I, Harry?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, taking another large gulp of beer. “She was, actually.”
Draco raised an eyebrow at Harry's utter lack of tact, but decided not to comment on it. “So how does one nurse two at one time, anyway?”
“Draco!” Harry nudged him from behind.
Draco leaned back against him, tugging Hermione's arm out to the side and staring at her chest. “Well, she has such lovely tits. It was the first question that popped into my mind.” He winked at Hermione.
Hermione and Manny laughed, but Harry clamped a hand over Draco's mouth. “Enough, you. Have a little respect.”
“I don't mind,” Hermione said, grinning. She seemed to enjoy the attention.
Manny leaned in to kiss her neck, winking at Draco. “She just wants to be a fag hag, you know.”
Hermione gasped and pushed him away, but Manny pulled her against him and tickled her sides. She made a squeaking sound and wriggled in his lap, but didn't look like she was trying very hard to escape.
Harry's hand dropped away, and Draco grinned up at him. “Aren't they sweet?”
Harry took a sip of his beer. “Is this the same sofa from your flat in San Francisco ?”
“Yes,” Draco replied. “Lots of good memories attached to this one.” He poked Harry in the thigh until he finally cracked a smile.
“A few in particular,” Harry replied, winking.
The bar was a short walk from the flat, around the corner at Old Comptom Street . There was already a queue when they arrived.
“Truth in advertising?” Manny asked, squinting at the bar's name, which spelled out G-A-Y in colorful lights.
Draco slid his arms around Harry's waist and grinned. He felt Harry tense at the touch. “You'll survive, I promise,” Draco whispered against his cheek.
“And I expect to be well-rewarded,” Harry muttered in response.
One of Draco's hands slipped down to cup Harry's crotch. “If you insist.”
Harry batted his hand away. Draco looked up to see Hermione grinning at them. He winked at her.
Once inside the bar, they found a corner table to lean against, from which they could gaze down at the dance floor below. Manny ordered a round of drinks to get them started. Harry was trying to get into the spirit of things, Draco thought. He hadn't complained once about the clingy fuchsia shirt, and he hadn't refused any of Draco's displays of affection. Well, except for the one. He was even eyeing the dance floor now.
Draco pressed a drink into Harry's hand. “Drink up. It'll help.”
Half an hour and several rounds later, Hermione finally convinced Harry to dance with her. Draco thought it would make a nice warm-up, so he gave Harry a good shove when he began to protest.
Manny elbowed him as they watched the pair dancing below. “So tell me, what bet did he lose?”
Draco grinned at him “Let's just say I can last a bit longer than he expected.”
Manny snorted. “No comment.” His eyes were following Hermione as she danced, her shirt rising up with her movements and accentuating the curve of her waist.
Draco had to admit it was nice to see Manny so enthralled by someone. “Does she mind that you've… been with men as well?”
“Actually, it really turns her on. She likes…” Manny paused, as if his thoughts had caught up with his alcohol-induced words.
“Likes what?” Draco asked, jostling him a bit more. “Go on.”
Manny's blush was visible even in the dim light. “She likes me to talk about it when we're…” He made a vague gesture.
“She wants to know the details?” Draco grinned. “Sounds like a girl who'd like a strap-on.”
Manny gaped at him.
“Don't tell me you haven't thought about it. You liked to bottom as much as anyone.”
Manny took a big gulp of his drink. “Well, if we're going to get that personal, how does Harry like it?”
“I wouldn't know.”
Harry and Hermione returned from the dance floor grinning, and Harry surprised Draco by kissing him. “Want to dance with me before I come to my senses?”
Draco let himself be pulled down the stairs and onto the dance floor, through a sea of writhing bodies and into Harry's arms. The house music thumped away and he got lost in the sound, the light, the feeling of Harry's body pressed against his. Harry's hands settled at his waist, holding him close, and his lips brushed against Draco's. For a moment, Draco felt as if he were floating there.
Someone tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned to see a cute boy grinning at him. “Are you who I think you are?” he asked.
Draco turned to look at Harry, who shrugged. His glamour tonight was a new one, based on someone he'd seen before. It could have been a celebrity he'd seen on telly; he couldn't remember. He grinned at the boy. “Maybe I am. Why?”
“I just knew you were gay,” the boy gushed, nearly bouncing with excitement. “I knew that whole thing with Britney Spears was for show.”
Harry made a choking sound, as if trying not to laugh. The boy's eyes narrowed at Harry, as if trying to decide if Harry was someone he should recognize as well. If only he knew.
“Dance with us,” Draco said, pulling the boy between them. He turned him to face Harry and pressed tightly against him from behind.
“Oh my god,” the boy said, reaching back to run his hands down Draco's side. “This is so hot!”
Draco glanced up at Harry, who looked a bit uncomfortable. “Just for fun,” Draco mouthed. Harry raised one eyebrow, and looked down at the boy sandwiched between them. He couldn't have been much older than eighteen, and he was the kind they'd have called a twink back in New York . Draco hooked his fingers in the waistband of Harry's trousers and tugged him forward as much as possible, so that he was grinding against the boy with every move. The boy leaned his head back against Draco's shoulder, and Harry's eyes followed the line of his neck with more than a little longing.
Draco smiled at Harry, and Harry returned it. This wasn't about the two of them, and they both knew it. It was about Harry overcoming his inhibitions, and about each of them learning to trust the other. Draco had little doubt they could take this boy home with them if they wanted. Maybe someday.
When the song ended, Draco rewarded the boy with a kiss and sent him on his way, then pulled Harry into his arms once more. It was with a renewed sort of intimacy that they danced now, the energy between them nearly erotic. Draco's lips brushed against Harry's twice before their mouths finally met.
Draco had nearly forgotten where they were when he heard a voice in his ear say, “Get a room!” He looked to the side to see Manny grinning at him.
“Bugger off,” he replied, capturing Harry's lips with his again. Harry moaned against him, as pliant with desire as Draco had ever seen him. Maybe getting a room was a good idea after all.
“Actually,” Hermione said, sliding close enough to whisper, “you might want to reconsider. Harry's ex is here.”
Harry started at that, looking up. His eyes fixed on someone across the room, and Draco could feel him tense.
Draco turned to look; a group of women were standing on the edge of the dance floor giggling. One wore a perverse sort of bridal veil decorated with plastic erect penises. Standing nearby, dressed for the party, was Cho Chang.
“Fuck,” Harry muttered.
“Fucking hen party,” someone near them said. “Do they have to rub it in our faces?”
“What's she doing here?” Harry asked, looking as if he were thinking of running away at any moment.
“Well, she's clearly here with someone who's getting married,” Hermione said, clutching Harry's arm as if she thought he might try to run away as well. “Perhaps a relative, from the look of it.”
“Just ignore them,” Draco said, trying to capture Harry's attention again.
But it was too late. Cho stared at Harry from across the dance floor, a look of surprise on her face. Harry tensed even further.
“Come on,” Draco sighed, tugging his hand. “Let's go have a drink.”
The four of them moved off the dance floor and up the stairs, back to their corner table. Manny disappeared to get more drinks.
“Who does she think she is, anyway?” Hermione snorted. “She's been a right bitch, and she acts as if she's the victim.”
“What?” Harry asked.
“Not helping,” Draco muttered, sipping his drink.
Hermione sighed. “Oh, Harry, it's just that… she's been telling people that the reason you two broke up was that you like men, and—”
“And that I was neglecting her?” Harry snorted. “That I couldn't get it up? Is she saying that as well?”
Hermione looked as if she didn't know what to say. She looked at Draco, and he shrugged in response. This wasn't going to end well.
“Fine,” Harry continued, leaning against the wall. “I don't care, anyway.”
Draco leaned against him, taking his hand. Harry squeezed it once and dropped it.
Manny returned with their drinks. Harry took one and knocked it back with alarming speed. His eyes were glued to the dance floor, where Cho was dancing with her friends, casting the occasional scornful glance in Harry's direction.
“This is ridiculous,” Draco said at last. “This is a gay bar. We can't let straight people control the dance floor.” He glanced at Manny and Hermione. “No offense.”
Manny shrugged. “So go dance.”
Draco tugged at Harry's hand, but Harry shook his head. Draco scowled in frustration and headed down to dance alone. He was soon found by the boy who'd ‘recognized' him earlier, who seemed delighted to have a chance to get Draco alone. Draco didn't listen to the kid's prattle about music and famous Muggles, though – he kept an eye on Cho and her group while they danced.
She apparently hadn't seen him and was paying him no attention. The boy draped around him began chattering on about liking his last album quite a lot. Draco just smiled and nodded, somewhere between amused and annoyed. The boy's hands crept down to cup Draco's arse, and he leaned forward to whisper in his ear: “I really want to suck your cock.”
Draco laughed and peeled the boy's hands away. “I don't think my boyfriend would like that very much.”
The boy smiled up at him through long eyelashes. “I'll do him too. I'll even do you both at the same time.”
Those were the days , Draco thought. He'd been about that slutty once. Or twice. He smiled and kissed the boy's forehead. “I'll have to ask him and let you know, okay?”
The boy pouted, but he took the hint and drifted away. Draco glanced around. Cho was nowhere to be seen. He looked up and could see Harry still safely ensconced between Manny and Hermione on the upper level of the club. Draco frowned and slid to the edge of the room. Perhaps she'd gone to the toilet.
“Hey, aren't you–”
“Yes,” Draco said, turning to smile at the man who was staring raptly at him. “But I'm trying to keep a low profile tonight, all right?”
“Would you sign my chest?” The man peeled off his shirt to reveal a truly stunning torso.
Draco blinked. “I would, but I… seem to have forgotten my name.”
The man held out a marker and grinned. “Oh, I think I can help you with that.”
Three autographs and one sloppy kiss attempt later, Draco managed to escape into the men's toilet, hoping to change his glamour. He slipped into a stall and leaned his forehead against the door.
“Well, well, if it isn't the elusive Draco Malfoy.”
He turned to stare at Cho Chang, who had somehow managed to apparate into precisely the stall he'd chosen. “Fuck,” he said.
“You haven't changed a bit,” she remarked, brandishing her wand. “No one can hear us, by the way.”
“How convenient,” Draco replied. His wand was tucked into a secure pocket of his trousers, and he couldn't reach it without any sudden movements.
Cho pointed her wand at his chest. “Clever disguise for someone who ought not attract attention to himself.”
Draco forced a cocky smile. “Maybe that's what I want.”
“Why does that not surprise me?”
“Because you're overly suspicious and not terribly clever?”
The tip of the wand pressed painfully into his sternum. “And you're an arrogant arse. Harry may not know what you're up to, but I do.”
Draco smirked, though his stomach twisted a bit. “How do you know what I'm up to?”
She returned the smirk. “Oh, please , Malfoy. I was there.”
There? Draco hadn't a clue what she was talking about, but he didn't want her to know it. “That was a long time ago.” At least, he hoped it was.
“Perhaps,” she said, staring at him intently, “but I haven't forgotten. Harry may have forgiven you, but I haven't.”
“Of course Harry's forgiven me,” Draco replied, trying his best to inject a smug tone into his voice. “He's so sweet that way. You didn't deserve him.”
She snorted, and the stare turned into a glare. “And Hermione? Has she forgiven you as well?”
“Why shouldn't she?” Draco asked. His free hand was only inches from his wand now. If he could keep her distracted for a moment longer…
“You really are heartless,” Cho spat. “She doesn't know, does she?”
The blank look spread across Draco's face too quickly for him to wipe it off.
“She doesn't know,” Cho said, brows furrowing. “And I'll wager Harry doesn't know either.” She stepped back against the toilet and extended her arm, leveling the tip of her wand over his heart. “I should kill you now and save everyone else the trouble.”
Her step backward was the opportunity Draco had been looking for. He managed to wrap his fingers around his own wand, and at the word ‘trouble' had it pressed against her chest as well. They stared at each other for a long moment.
“We seem to have reached an impasse,” Draco said.
“Draco? Are you in there?” It was Harry's voice.
“I'll tell him if you won't,” Cho spat, and then disapparated.
Draco exhaled, feeling his knees tremble beneath him. He opened the stall door and Harry slipped inside.
“Are you all right?” Harry asked. He took Draco's hand. “You're shaking.”
Draco closed his eyes and fell back against the flimsy stall barrier. He had no idea what Cho was talking about, but she seemed to be telling the truth. What had he done that Harry would not forgive him for? And why didn't he remember?
“You know I care about you, don't you?” he whispered.
“Of course I do,” Harry replied, pulling him into his arms. “What's wrong?”
Everything , Draco thought. Or it will be if you find out what I've done . Draco didn't answer, though; he just stared up at Harry instead.
Green eyes considered him for a long moment before Harry stroked Draco's cheek with one finger. “Let's go home.”
“Okay,” Draco replied. But it was a few more minutes before he let Harry open the stall door and lead him away.
:: :: :: :: ::
Lucius's eyes were cool and grey. “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.”
This is a dream , Draco thought. Maybe if he could say that aloud, he could make it stop.
Lucius leaned forward and brushed a kiss against Draco's cheek. “I'll contact you in the usual way,” he whispered, then turned and walked away.
It's a dream , Draco repeated to himself. He opened his mouth to say it, but no sound came out. His father disappeared into the shadows.
Draco leaned against the alley wall and heaved a sigh of frustration. He opened his mouth again, but still couldn't speak.
A hand grasped his wrist and whirled him around in the darkness.
Draco started; he'd forgotten about this part. He stared into the shadows, but it was as if he were looking through a dark veil. The hand squeezed his wrist tighter, to the point of pain. Draco tried to pull away, but he could only sink to his knees. The hand released him, and a voice spoke somewhere near his ear: “He has the key.”
Draco sat up in bed, heart pounding. Harry stirred next to him, but didn't awaken. Draco wrapped his arms around his knees and shivered.
:: :: :: :: ::
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